League Two Form Guide
Question of the Week
What should happen to the EFL Trophy next season?
Being Town: Norwich Report
By: Tony Butcher
AN AIRLESS, broilingly bright day, with perhaps 500 or so Town fans scrunched up together in the old wooden shack (bottom right as seen on TV).
Norwich 4 Grimsby Town 0
10 Aug 2002, Nationwide League Division 1
Even the same insults flowed between the supporters. Ah, football, itâ€™s back, despite the world, nothing changes.
Town lined up in a 4-4-2 formation. Everyone played where youâ€™d expect them to be, thatâ€™s if youâ€™d guessed correctly that the invisible man, Campbell, would be picked. If you did, advance three spaces. The matchday programme had just two errors in it. We have Alan Poulton in midfield (though at least they pronounced his name right when announcing the teams) and Stuart Cambell at number 8. A bit slow these Norfolkians, as the Town fans have been taking the P out of Campbell since last season.
The warm up was the usual to-ings and fro-ings, though the substitutesâ€™ shooting practice was a bit worrying. Little Bradley Hughes didnâ€™t seem able to stop any of the curls, chips and blasts from going in. We really do need Coyne to stay fit. The teams ran out to the strains of Star Wars. How yawnsome by the Wensum.
One of the teams kicked off, with Town playing towards the goal as seen on the left when viewed on a television, which is, in effect, away from the Town fans. The first few minutes were comfortable for your average Mariner, with no scares, just gentle tapping of the ball between Groves and Chettle, with the occasional punt towards Livingstoneâ€™s head. After a couple of minutes, Town got a free kick out on the right, about 25 yards from goal. Cooke swung a low outswinger towards the near post which Livingstone glanced across the face of the goal. From our incredibly poor, and impaired, view it looked close. But it was Livvo, so excitement dissipated very quickly. The next few minutes saw a couple more Town attacks that promised, but delivered the usual. Robinson nearly turned in the box, Livingstone nearly smashed a stunning volley into the top corner.
The ball dropped, his right boot swung, they did not meet. But "ooooooooh", as we like to kid ourselves.
The pattern continued, with Town having most of the possession, but having a disconcerting propensity to seek out Livingstoneâ€™s head, which is a bit like seeking out new worlds, and new civilisations, with the ball going boldly where no ball has gone before. Even worse, Galli seemed to be the designated playmaker! Robinson hustled and harried, like a livelier Jack Lester. But the effect was the same as the real Jack Lester. Moments of danger that flittered before being frittered.
Norwich broke away effectively, which was a pattern throughout the match. How ironic that the home team had to rely on breakaways. Roberts, the hallucinating Town fansâ€™ Livvo, was a very strong target man, with flicks on and flicks back to his scurrying partner, McVeigh. The Town defence looked decidedly ropey when anyone ran at them. There was much retreating, especially by Mr Gallimore, who resembled a sleeping man on a lilo off Humberston yacht club. At ease with his life and oblivious to the gathering storm. Coyne fumbled a long shot from one of the little Norwich players (Mulryne, I think). Coyne seemed to go right, then left, before flailing to his right again, dropping the ball and flopping on it as it rolled towards some on-rushing strikers. Mmmmmmmm, a bit worrying. Another Norwich break, where the ball was laid back from the edge of the penalty area, resulted in a Norwich player placing a shot around Coyne from the left side of the area. Coyne, again, seemed to go the wrong way firstly, then he adjusted his feet and dropped to his right and parried the (rather slow and weak) shot away for a corner. The corner was swung in towards the far post, where Coyne punched away, the ball was returned quickly and Kenton, unmarked and about 15 yards out on the centre, headed firmly wide of Coyneâ€™s right hand post. Oooh. And then there was the quick Norwich break ("QNB") down the Town right where the ball was clipped over Groves and the offside Roberts (all the Town fans were level and he was at least a yard offside) stooped, about 10 yards out, and headed tamely to Coyneâ€™s right. Coyne easily drooped onto the header. A minute or so later another QNB down the Town left saw the ball looped over Groves and beyond the far post. Roberts sprang high and headed softly over Coyne and over the bar. The game was now 12 minutes old.
Town had, seemingly, weathered the minor squall, and for the next 15 minutes completely controlled the game. Coldicott and, especially, Pouton did what they pleased. In Poutonâ€™s case this was to show off. A couple of inconsequential long shots from Robinson and Campbell, both of which dribbled safely and slowly to the Norwich â€˜keeper at least kept the Town fans interested. After 23 minutes they purred, then gave a rousing cheer. Some interplay down the Town left resulted in the ball being laid across the half way line to Pouton. In one move he spun, back flicked the ball between his legs and into space, continuing his forward surge. Coldicott ran on and tapped a first time pass back into the space Pouton was heading for. Pouton then curled a pass with the outside of his right foot out to Cooke, who was a-hugging the touchline, 30 yards out. Cooke shimmied inside, then shammied outside before curling a flat outswinging cross beyond the penalty spot. Robinson feinted to go towards goal, hung back and met the header perfectly. Well, almost. His header curled a foot wide of the â€˜keeperâ€™s left hand post. Such a pity heâ€™s Lester-esque in his finishing. A minute of so later Pouton, energised by his successful trick, produce not one, not two, but three step-overs in a long and winding run down the Town left. He crossed and the unmarked Robinson, leaning back, headed well wide. The long and winding run didnâ€™t lead to a score.
Campbell fizzed down the left, drifting past a couple of defenders and curling a right foot cross towards the near post, which was sliced out for a corner. The Norwich â€˜keeper then dropped the ball from the corner under pressure from Livingstone, Unfortunately, the ball bounced back into his hands as he turned and grasped the stinging nettle.
So far, so good, the Town fans realised that their yellow clad hosts were silent. There was only one team in control and it was the monochromes. Oh how the Town fans crowed, and just as they crowed their mightiest they were eaten by an unexpected fox. With about 30 minutes gone, Norwich broke away down the Town left. Nothing particularly worrisome, just a few passes up to the edge of the box, then a lay off to a midfielder about 25 yards out. The old Town defence had, again, repelled the raiders. Nothing to worry about. Oh, there was. MULRYNE whacked a middling shot. Coyne went to his right then suddenly changed direction and plunged to his left. The ball drifted wide of Coyne at chest height and into the net. That old deflating feeling came back. Weâ€™d forgotten, over the summer, what it was like to follow Town. Now we remembered.
Town did try to respond, visibly upping the tempo, with Cooke whipping in cross after cross, but either Robinson miss-timed his leap or it was intended for Livvo. When Cooke dies theyâ€™ll find that written on his heart.
Norwich still broke away dangerously, but rarely actually had an effort on goal. Much potential danger, not much produced. Rivers regularly drifted past Lilo Galli, the most fearsome moment being when he drilled a low cross back from the bye-line which missed everyone. Roberts bundled and barged his away around the field, regularly giving away free kicks and occasionally making interesting passes to McVeigh. Chettle and Groves dealt with them to a certain extent. Chettle had a pleasing tendency to stand in the right place, which was fortunate because his legs move slower than Grovesâ€™. But, thereâ€™s always a but, the defence always looked like it was about to make a mistake. And with three or four minutes left to half time they did. A QNB was half repelled, the ball was chipped in from their left midfield towards Roberts at the back of the penalty area, about 15 yards out. He drifted away from Groves and tried to place a dinky little header behind Chettle. The ball hit Chettle and bounced free to McVEIGH, about 12 yards out, who placed a right foot shot across Coyne and into the right hand side of the net as Groves and Chettle were prostrate before him. A clumsy, scruffy, daft goal to concede. Despite bossing possession, Town were 2-0 down. Annoying, very annoying indeed. In the last minute of the half Gallimore managed to whack a shot a foot over the bar when 20 yards out and right in the centre. I canâ€™t be bothered to clutch at any Livvo straws - there were quite a few moments when you thought "if only it wasnâ€™t Livvo who the ball was running to". God bless â€˜im, and all who sail in â€˜im, but....
Half time: Norwich 2 Grimsby Town 0
So, the first 45 minutes of the season passed, and boy how Town had passed. Beautifully at times. A joy to behold the intricate passing movements. Between the penalty areas Town had been superior. If only we were marked on points for style. Norwich were very ordinary at times, frequently passing the ball out of play and displaying a certain unease when approached by strangers. Many times they miss-controlled under pressure. Coyne was not solid, seemingly being at fault for the first goal, the second was a typical goal conceded by Town, a bit of sloppiness, and an inability to deal with loose balls in the box. So was there hope? Of course not, it was merely a matter of keeping the score down. There was great world weary annoyance that what the absent fans read in black and white will not reflect what the black and whites had produced. Campbell looked far sprightlier than he has done since he signed permanently, allowing the cynics suggested that competition for his starting place has caused him to try a just a little bit more. Oh, how cynical.
Stu's Half Time Toilet Talk
"Those trousers belong at Woodstock".
The report continues in the second half.
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