Question of the Week
Will Paul Hurst stay at Grimsby?
13/04 Burnley 2nd Half
By: Tony Butcher
AS USUAL Town ran out a couple of minutes after Burnley, which gave us plenty of time to size up the Burnley substitutes, for on came Taylor and Gascoigne, one of them to a personalised reception.
Grimsby Town 3 Burnley 1
13 Apr 2002, Nationwide League Division 1
Iâ€™m sure Gascoigne will now feel his footballing career, not to say life, is complete, for his boyhood dream of running out on the lush turf of Blundell Park has now been fulfilled. Some wags adopted the Birmingham "joke" of shouting "who" when his name was announced. Weâ€™d find out soon enough.
The second half was a damp squib for Town, with players and fans alike merely waiting for the referee to end the game. The players sank back and seemed to be content with holding what they had. Thatâ€™d be three extremely important points. Town had perhaps two efforts on goal. Maybe, and I can only remember one of them. Butterfield turned on the middle left edge of the penalty area and tried a spinning, first time left foot chip over the goalkeeper. The ball dropped behind the goal, so it must have missed "comfortably". Half way through the half Cooke clipped an interesting flat, spinning cross which seemed to get a couple of deflections before being hacked away from the edge of the 6 yard box. And that was it as far as Town attacks go. Burnley completely dominated the second half, without ever seeming to have any belief that theyâ€™d score, let alone win. You could see it in their faces, each player looked thoroughly dischuffed at having to play at Blundell Park, there was a lot of shoulder shrugging and face pulling.
They had many moments when they almost had chances, and the most important moment was the first, after about 50ish minutes. The ball was knocked over the top of the Town defence, down the centre. Briefly it seemed that Johnson was free. Chapman ran back and "fell" over Johnson, right in the middle, right on the edge of the penalty area. Chapman stayed down clutching his face, the linesman appeared to signal for a Town free kick, the referee waltzed over, stroked his chin, looked again at his linesman and merely gave Burnley a free kick. Chapman finally got up when he realised he wasnâ€™t getting sent off.
After an interminable delay, where McDermott kept retreating to the near post, then back to the wall, Gascoigne chipped the free kick into the wall and over the bar for a corner. Cue more baiting from the Pontoon. Gascoigneâ€™s face was already purple, even though he had done little running. It was noticeable that all his energy was expended in dribbling with the ball between the half way line and the Town penalty area. He hardly went anywhere else on the pitch. If anyone was "running" the game it was him, but fortunately he was having one those days where he was King Midas in Reverse. The Town players took it in turns to have the honour of tackling him and, as one Pontoon wag pointed out, "even" Butterfield go the ball off him, so what are we frightened of?
Well, his footballing mind, not his feet, which continued to spray passes out for goal kicks and into Coyneâ€™s arms. Just after the free kick Moore side footed a shot high and wide from 20 yards after a quick breakaway (instigated by Gascoigne) had pulled Townâ€™s defence into an unusual shape, like a flaccid soufflÃ©. There were a few moments of danger when Gascoigne started to run at the Town defence, but his passes kept rebounding off Town shins, or the Burnley strikers were offside. What tension and fear existed for the Town fans finally ended about 20 odd minutes from the end when Gascoigne had a golden chance. He ran through the back line following a half clearance, the ball was returned into the penalty area and he made a diagonal run from left to right. He controlled the ball on his chest about 8 yards out, drifted wide of Coyne and clipped a first time half volleyed pass-shot across the face of the goal and a yard or so wide of the right hand post. The crowd rose as one to applaud Gascoigne, chanting his name, which he acknowledged. We knew that he was no longer Gazza, merely Gascoigne, a footballer.
After 74 minutes Livingstone raced onto the field, replacing Allen. Both players got suitable receptions. A minute later Livvo got his first touch - a foul. Livvo was rubbish, but as he is Livvo, a living legend in his own lunchtime (and Town were 3 up), all was forgiven. Five minutes later Robinson replaced Butterfield in a straight swap. Robinson touched the ball a few times, did nothing special, nor made any mistakes. Around this time Burnley started to get closer and closer to the Town goal, mainly through Johnson, who had drifted into a right wing position. Item one, he got to the bye line, zipped in a cross which received the merest of touches as it flew through the penalty area and Taylor, unmarked at the far post, didnâ€™t jump. The ball bounced off his forehead in a very gentle arc, very high and a yard or so wide. Item two, Johnson got to the bye line, inside the penalty area, whipped in a low cross through the 6 yard box. The goal was wide, wide open. Davis lollopped towards the ball just beyond the far post and shinned it well wide and high. A couple of minutes later, after a corner was only half cleared, Davis, about 20 yards out on the left, sent in a curling cross towards the middle of the area, about 10 yards out. Briscoe ran into a gap and thumped a header straight down the middle of the goal. Coyne leant back, leapt up and tipped the ball over the bar. Ah, the Magnificat in goal.
With 5 or 6 minutes left, Gascoigne, right in front of the Lower Smiths/Stones/Findus near the half way line, arrived a little late in tackling McDermott, who had slightly overhit the ball. McDermott stayed down in a heap and was eventually replaced by Ford, again in a straight swap.
Finally they scored. In the last minute Johnson was sent free down the Burnley left, near the corner of the penalty area, he raced to the bye-line and hit a low, hard cross in towards the near post, 4 yards out. BRISCOE ran in, opened his body and steered a right foot shot high across Coyne and into the top left hand corner. Hardly a sound, no celebrations from the Burnley players, and eventually some ironic cheers and jumps from the remaining Burnley supporters. Half had gone by then. Itâ€™s never fun being at someone elseâ€™s party. They had sat silently listening to the Town fans party on down dude, and watched as we bounced around contemplating another season of party pooping.
Ah yes, Iâ€™ve remembered the momentary attacks by Town. A Coldicott run down the right to beat the offside trap, resulting in a throw in as the goalkeeper fly-hacked away most unconvincingly. And, in the last minute another long ball down the right saw Boulding sprinting away. The ball went into the area and the goalkeeper came out to the left edge of his box, tried to control the ball with his stomach and dribble out of the area. He missed. Boulding was so surprised by this mad â€˜keeping that he stopped and the defender was able to clear.
Ah thatâ€™s it. Game over, season safe, every paying customer who was left in the ground was happy. There was a very minor pitch invasion, with perhaps 100 youngsters streaming onto the pitch. After a tannoy announcement saying "get awf our land" they got off immediately, and five minutes later the whole squad came out to do a lap of honour. Only after the tannoy had announced the scores elsewhere. Of course we cheered, but we already knew - there were enough radios and mobile phones to alert us to the relevant facts. There was particular schadenfreude at Barnsleyâ€™s demise. A club with Premiership ambition and potential? Whoâ€™s crying now? The only Town fans who left were those in the sponsors seats in the Findus/Smiths/Stones Stand. You can imagine the scenes and the sounds. Groves got a massive cheer, and so he should. Whatâ€™s Paul Groves ever done for us, eh? Even Todd seemed to be content to be part of the team celebrations. Cooke walked around with a baby in his arms, Gallimore and D Smith looked ecstatic, and Willems walked around a bit sheepishly at the back. They were happy, we were happy. Weâ€™re all happy.
Cometh the hour cometh the men, how could we doubt them? They did what they had to do in just 45 minutes, where they simply walked all over a team who are playing for a Premiership place. Iâ€™m smiling, are you?
Nickoâ€™s Man of the Match
So many to chose from again. Obviously Boulding was important, with two RIGHT footed finishes. Two cool, calm finishes. Two great finishes. Todd was back to his arrogant best, and Groves was Groves. However Nicko, controversially, picks ALAN POUTON, as he was irrepressible at times, and, especially in the second half, almost single handedly stopped any thoughts of a Burnley comeback.
M Pike. At times he was a bit too relaxed and insistent of letting the game flow, but overall he was sane. 8 out of 10, especially for not sending off Ben Chapman!
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