Question of the Week
Do you support Cleethorpes Town?
21/04 Millwall 2nd Half
By: Tony Butcher
CLARIDGE replaced Dublin for Millwall, Town kept the same team. Ah, now it was official, Town really werenâ€™t bothered - they came out way before Millwall.
Millwall 3 Grimsby Town 1
21 Apr 2002, Nationwide League Division 1
Within 30 seconds Boulding was seen, and did something worth mentioning. He chased down a chip into the left hand corner, won the ball off the full back who failed to caress the ball out of play. Boulding turned, ran into the box, wiggled, waggled and shimmied past another defender, cut the ball back from the bye line, where it ricocheted between a Millwall playerâ€™s heels and rebounded back to the goalkeeper.
A Town revival? No. A couple of minutes into the half Millwall had their only shot in the second half, and it allowed Coyne to remind the world that he is a good goalkeeper (despite conceding so many goals). After another long throw (you may be bored reading about it, we were bored watching them) was chucked in from the Millwall right, the ball bumbled and rumbled around the penalty box, finally dropping to Harris (I think) about 15 yards out near the corner of the area. He hit a first time shot through a thicket of players at head height. Coyne saw it late and dived to his right , punching the ball away from above his head with his left arm. The ball dropped to his right and Groves managed to get his big toe to the ball before Claridge. Coyne picked up the ball and threw it out to Boulding on the Town right. He collected the ball inside the Town half and simply ran at the Millwall defence. One defender fell on his backside as he was turned towards Bow Bells, two more wobbled over towards the scampering striker. Boulding wellied a firm right foot shot from about 15 yards out and near the edge of the penalty area, which the goalkeeper saved at the foot of his left hand post. An exciting 30 seconds, the likes of which we shall not see for many months.
Straight after this Robinson replaced Cooke, with Butterfield going to the right and Robinson the left. Cooke had been kicked early on, and been a peripheral figure for much of the game as a result. Just after this change Robinson was cynically hacked from behind by Lawrence, who was booked, presumably because his surname brings the game into disrepute. The referee dropped his yellow card, the crowd jeered.
Laughing along with crÃ¨me de la crÃ¨me of South London litter and gliteratti, the referee ran off and collided with Coldicott, tumbling slowly to the ground. They love their clowns in this part pf the world. The free kick was taken quickly, from the wrong place, re-taken and Groves strode upfield, did a Pouton step over, thrust past a defender and was in prime position 25 yards out. He looked up and played a short pass to his right, releasing Butterfield. Butterfield, being the Man who Can (in his own mind), put his foot on the ball, allowed the defence to regroup, a full back to tackle him and completely wasted a moment of danger by trying to, quite frankly, show off for the cameras. What did Millwall do? They simply ran off up field, having a 4v3. Fortunately for Town, Ifillâ€™s cross was headed clear by Todd, who was having a fine old time in the second half, now that he didnâ€™t have Dion Dublin to mark.
The second half was drifting by, with Millwall sitting back and content to hit Town on the break. The result was oodles of Town possession, but... The usual "but" with Town. After about an hour, Ward (who had been much better in the second half) crumpled after knocking the ball out for a throw in and was replaced by Burnett, which meant Coldicott retreated to right back. The Town midfield then became much more fluid, with players swapping positions and, quite bizarrely, Butterfield becoming a playmaker, sweeping from right to left at will. Of course, this meant the pace of the game dropped from light jog to gentle stroll, which suited Town fine as possession was retained for minutes on end, winning many throw ins. Chances? You must be joking, the season had ended, each team content with what they had, this was exhibition football. The exhibit being those players out of contract. Robinson was again very lively, though not very effective on the wing.
There were minor moments of concern for each side. Butterfield hit a low, slow dribbler straight at their â€˜keeper; Chapman allowed Ifill to knick the ball down the touchline when he thought it was going out, though the cross went straight to Coyne. Very, very minor moments as you can tell. After about 70 minutes Burnett hit a screaming 30 yarder which skimmed the advertising hoarding 5 yards to the right of the goal. It was that close. Yeah! A couple of minutes later Chapman left another ball which Ifill kept in play, Todd erased the nasty stench of danger by using his large personality to good effect. The cross hit his bottom.
And the moment came when all Town fans arose, for HE had arrived. With about 10-15 minutes left there was a small earthquake, about 4.2 on the Richter Scale, for Livingstone took off his tracksuit and entered the gladiatorsâ€™ arena. Bradley Allen, the invisible man, was taken off, and on came our Towering Inferno; heâ€™s out of control and coming your way. Or rather the ball is outta control and heading your way Mr Millwall player. Livingstone was dreadful, absolutely dreadful. We love him, but heâ€™s good for only 10 minutes a season, and those 600 seconds of beauty were two weeks ago at Carrow Road. He was barely aware of where the ball was in relation to his body. Hey, no spatial awareness Livvo. His introduction meant yet another tactical change, with Boulding going to the left wing and Robinson to the centre. Robinson had a fine last 10 minutes, being the only Town player to cause any difficulties to the Millwall defence, or shoot.
Ooh. Let me see, what happened in the last 10 minutes. Robinson attacked at pace down the right, cut along the bye line and crossed to the near post. The ball was half cleared and Butterfield did something of no great consequence which resulted in a corner. It was swung in from the Town right and Groves headed down, a bit softly, straight at the â€˜keeper from about a dozen yard out. A couple of minutes later Robinson controlled the ball just inside the Millwall half, on the Town left, turned, swayed left, then right, surged infield then swept a firm drive from about 25 yards. It skimmed off a defenderâ€™s chest and skidded a yard wide of the â€˜keeperâ€™s left hand post. Todd hit a magnificent pin-point pass from inside the Town half, on the right into a space behind the Millwall defence. Robinson bent a run behind the last defender and reached the ball just as the â€˜keeper reached the edge of the area. Unfortunately, Robinson missed the ball and it plopped up nicely into the â€˜keeper hands. A minute later Robinson turned his marker in the middle of the Millwall half, swept forward and, from 25 yards, thundered a right foot drive into the goalkeeperâ€™s chest.
In the last minute Coyne almost misjudged a long punt forward, as he allowed the ball to bounce and had to run back to catch it. And the final moments of normal time saw Livingstone dominate possession by trying a long shot, which pummelled the backside of his marker, he regained possession, lost it through bad control, regained it again, lost it again, and finally fell over, exhausted, having moved his feet for seconds on end.
That was the game; a forgettable end to a strange old season. The 90 minutes was irrelevant, and was played in that spirit really, as Town were not so much a team as some people who could occasionally raise enough energy to try to show a few tricks at someone elseâ€™s party. Livvo would have been better off singing folk songs on the stairs, perhaps with a cable knit sweater, and Bradley Allen on pennywhistle. Collectively, Town were the perfect guests. They brought the beer and crisps, but read a book in the corner. The moral is if Pouton doesnâ€™t crunch and Coldicott doesnâ€™t clamp then Town donâ€™t play. Itâ€™s as simple as that.
All the players wandered over to the Town fans and waved, with Todd giving a thumbs up which said "goodbye, and thanks for all the fish".
Itâ€™s over now. Have a serene summer.
Nickoâ€™s Man of the Match
PAUL GROVES. Made fewer mistakes, concentrated longer, was basically better than any other striped one. Todd excelled in the second half, but was unable to cope with an ageing Premiership striker in the first. So PG it is.
Mr A Butler. Unobtrusive and fell over, which always gladdens the heart. No obvious mistakes, no complaints. One of his linesmen was rubbish (Not giving one offside in the first half when Millwall had plainly conceived a plan to have players standing offside but not "active"), but the referee wasnâ€™t. No major decisions had to be made, but there were not many quibbles to be had about the little ones. Being picky one would say he indulged Millwall in a couple of overly firm thwacks, but why bother, Town didnâ€™t. He gets 8 from a benevolent, end of season judge.
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