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Fear Is The Key - 2nd Half
By: Tony Butcher
NO CHANGES were made by either team at half time. A sense of deja vu struck. Within a minute McDermott chipped a pass over the top of the Wednesday defence. The ball skipped off the turf towards Pressman as Boulding ran past Maddix, about 23 yards out, just to the left of goal.
Maddix decided that Boulding was faster than a speeding bullet, and was bound to reach the ball, so fell across the back of our little man. Elleray strode over and waved a yellow card, then the red. Broomes went mad shouting and screaming, and several Wednesday players surrounded Elleray.
Maddix walked off very, very, very slowly. No not that quickly. He hung around the edge of the penalty area for ages, even as Butterfield prepared to take the free kick. Maddix was almost part of the wall. Butterfield's eyes glazed over, he saw his destiny, he is the future of English football. He curled the free kick around the wall, the ball clipped the heels of Kuqi, careered up towards the top left hand corner and Pressman acrobatically tipped the ball over the bar.
Hold your horses, take it again. Maddix was still on the pitch, so Elleray gave Butterfield another chance for opportunity to knock. Again Butterfield curled the ball round and over the wall towards the top left hand corner. Again Pressman flew across his goal and just managed to tip the ball over the bar for a corner. We "ooed", we "ahhed", we soon fell silent again. The feature of the second half was the utter, dreadful silence from the Town supporters. A few isolated anti-yorkist chants were the sum total of the "support". Hardly anything positively behind the team. A few Town supporters tried to create some noise, to start "Mariners, Mariners" etc, but the rest sat nuzzling their holdalls. Like truculent brothers forced to attend their little sister's first dancing class, the Town fans were there in body only.
With 10 men, Wednesday, of course, rallied, dug in, defended stoutly, and were generally stimulated by the perceived injustice. There was barely a change in the Town play, still static, hesitant, fearful. And when Town players did move they tended to move in the same plane, so that the player with the ball could see three Town players in front, all in a line. No options, no one to pass to, no flow to the game.
There were rare moments of hope and invention and, to the surprise of many, it was Butterfield who provided them. He quite clearly had the beating of the full back, Burrows, making a sucker of him several times with dinks and feints. From one silky smooth weave down the right Butterfield beat three defenders, cut inside and, from 20 yards out, to the right of goal, totally miss-hit a left foot shot, which dribbled to Pressman at his near post. Before reaching the goalkeeper the ball had sent a formal letter of apology for it's lateness by second class post.
And then it was Bradley Allen's turn to miss-hit a shot. A bit of a scrambled move down the right saw the ball played in to Allen inside the penalty area, with his back to goal. He swayed to his left, then spun to his right, fooling his marker and creating space for himself, about 10 yards out, near the 'keeper's left hand post. A huge gap appeared, the whole of the left hand side of the goal was open, unmanned and generally unencumbered by human life forms of any description. Or even the man who ate all the Chupa Chups.
Allen seized the day my friends, and dragged a weak, miss-hit left foot shot towards the bottom left hand corner. It would have been a goal too, if Pressman had not been alive. But as he continued breathing this hope was scuppered. Town were encamped in the Wednesday half, but creating almost nothing. A few crosses, a few corners, all cleared easily. Town kept retrieving the ball butâ€¦.. that's it, but. Pouton swung a right foot volley from 25 yards over the bar and wide of goal. It hit seat J49, or to be more accurate (than Pouton) it hit the person sat in seat J49. It probably woke them up too.
There were quite a few "almost" moments, but they kept foundering on Broomes' boot, head or knee. Whenever danger threatened Broomes appeared, playing the game of his life; the swine! It was his boot which deflected a Butterfield shot, from the centre right edge of the area, into the ground up, up and away from Pressman (a not quite beautiful balloon in goal) and a foot past the right hand post. It was his foot which stopped Allen, near the penalty spot as the ball ricocheted around the area. It was his head which cleared as Allen was about to bear down on Pressman on the edge of the area.
Slowly, slowly it dawned on everyone inside the ground that Town were never going to score, you could just feel it. And then the fear was that Wednesday would nick something. As they'd spent the first 25 minutes of the second half inside their own penalty area it didn't look likely, then, suddenly, Town endured five minutes of intense pressure. All self-induced through slackness.
Todd chased down a long clearance near the right touchline, inside the Town half. He stood off waiting for the ball to go out of play, allowing Kuqi to run around him and nod the ball further down the line. Kuqi bundled his way forward into the penalty area, where he hit a low drive into the side netting on the right of Coyne's goal. Kuqi did it again to Todd a couple of minutes later, and to Groves later on. Further examples of the lack of concentration in the heart of the Town defence. In this five minute spell of pressure Wednesday forced two or three corners, infiltrated the Town penalty relatively easily and almost, almost scored.
A throw in on the Wednesday left was chucked to Quinn, who appeared to control the ball with his arm. He looked up and, from about 20 yards out near the edge of the penalty area lofted a looping volleyed cross to the far post. Gallimore ambled back, Coyne danced across his goal-line and they both waited for the ball to go out for a goal kick. Hamshaw ran around the back, stretched out his right boot and volleyed across the face of the goal from a few yards out. Apart from a corner a few minutes later, Wednesday didn't threaten again. The corner from their right was whipped into the near post, glanced on and McDermott (I think) headed away from near the goal-line.
Was there to be a stirring last quarter of an hour from Town? Was there to be a tactical change, a change in personnel, something to change things? No. The crowd became restless, with some starting to heckle individual players (with Coldicott bearing the brunt of some of this frustration).
There were a couple more chances for Town, and most frustrating they were too. The most glaringly inept came from Boulding. A bit of inconsequential Town pressure following a free kick on the right resulted in one of the centre backs heading a cross back from left to right, about 10 yards out. The ball slowly bumbled through the area, about six yards out, with no-one near. Pressman stayed on his line and Boulding sprinted forward. Ah, an open goal. Here it comes, he can't miss. But he can jump over the ball, like the quick brown fox. A Wednesday defender slid across and fly-hacked the ball away with Boulding not even challenging. It appeared, from behind the gaol, that he welched out. About five minutes later Todd barged forward, tried a shot from the edge of the penalty area, in a central right position. A Wednesday defender threw himself across the flight of the shot (it was probably Broomes). The ball was diverted across the face of the goal to Allen, about 8 yards out and unmarked. He raised his right boot and only managed to get the merest of touches on the ball, barely diverting it from its illogical path.
Town were never going to score, but maybe Wednesday would do it for us? Well, almost. Another period of pressure saw Town manage to get behind the Wednesday defence on the left. Campbell (I think) crossed towards the near post and Haslam swung his right boot at the ball. He managed to slice it over Pressman and over the bar for a corner. I told you they were rubbish at shooting too. All of which nonsense leaves just one more effort on goal to describe. After 88 minutes Campbell was replaced by Robinson, who proved a little slippery and elusive around the left edge of the penalty area. In the last minute he latched on to a half clearance and, from 20 yards, just to the left of goal, swung a right foot volley which went a foot or so over the bar. There were three minutes of added time and that merely meant there were three more minutes of turgid dross and reflections on another missed opportunity.
That was that, and that could well be that. There was no team play today, just a bunch of individuals watching other individuals in similarly coloured man made fabrics. No cohesion, no concentration, little aggression too. It was like they have switched off, having "done the job" already. Well I've got some bad news for you sunshine, it's not over yet. The decline of Todd continues, and that is very worrying. His arrival, and performances, proved to be a catalyst. And so have his lackadaisical, disinterested saunterings. He still owes us one.
There were very few positives to take, perhaps only that Town didn't lose. Boulding and Allen returned to old failings, Coldicott looked bereft of confidence, and Pouton lacking in energy. It seemed a real struggle for him to get his legs moving; you could tell he was trying, but his body wasn't responding. It was just a bad, bad game. Wednesday were extremely determined, especially once Maddix had finally disappeared down the tunnel, with Broomes being by far the Man of The Match. However they didn't look particularly threatening either. Another game to forget in a hurry.
Nick0's Man of the Match
Difficult. Gallimore was excellent in the first half, though shaky in the second. Campbell and Butterfield both played OK, but were rarely seen, like giant pandas. Town just didn't pass the ball to them enough. On balance there is only one candidate, JOHN McDERMOTT. He was solid in defence (battling well with players almost twice his size) and again did two jobs, being Town's most effective attacker, with his overlapping runs down the right. In the second half he always seemed to be the player available to receive a pass and start an attack. No challengers. McDermott's the man.
Some small errors, like the non-advantage in the first half and a couple of wrong decisions for corners, but overall he was (and I say this most grudgingly as I will never forgive him for Notts County in 1992) alright. He was even sensible in not booking Sibon and Allen for a tussle in the second half, where Allen tripped up Sibon after a shove and shake. It pains me, but 7.3.
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