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10/08 Norwich 2nd Half
By: Tony Butcher
ABANDON all hope, all ye who enter. It got worse, much worse. As the sun got higher, the day hotter, the Town players wilted. The defence just looked, well, old. Thereâ€™s no other way to describe the back four.
Norwich 4 Grimsby Town 0
10 Aug 2002, Nationwide League Division 1
McDermott was probably the pick of them, but that isnâ€™t saying much. One day weâ€™ll have live without him. Itâ€™s approaching very quickly, as even he was making mistakes, looking tired and small. Chettle just ran out of steam, Groves creaked and made us groan, whilst Gallimore substituted his panicky retreating of the first half for standing in no mans land during the second. Campbell disappeared again, so was no help to Corporal Jones.
Most importantly, the referee and linesman came out in green shirts, having been wearing black in the first half.
The first 15 minutes of the second half were dull, poor but even. Town never threatened really, whilst Norwich hinted at a threat when a Town attack foundered. The best chance Town had was when they were awarded a free kick 30 yards out. A Norwich player stopped Town taking it quickly and was booked (presumably for stupidity - Town were never going to score, so why kick it away?). The referee marched forward 10 paces (thatâ€™s ever decreasing paces, they got smaller and smaller as he got nearer and nearer the penalty area). Ah, a chance for Gallimore to waste it. You think Iâ€™m being too negative? Gallimore waddled forward and slapped it into the shins of the 3rd player from the right. Norwich broke away. Danger was only averted by a poor Norwich pass which Chettle, the only Town player back on the edge of the Town penalty area, managed to divert when three yellow perils roamed free as a bird.
After 56 minutes Robinson was replaced by Rowan. There was a rumble of discontent that Livingstone remained whilst the hard working loanee was taken off. At least Robinson was a nuisance to Norwich. Rowan still looks like a 14 year old Nintendo addict in need of several large meals, and played like one. He was easily brushed aside, even by the smallest of the Norwich players, and added value only because the referee took pity on him and eventually started to award free kicks for bullying in the schoolyard.
A few minutes after Rowan arrived the third goal arrived. Again sloppy, slacky, play by Town down the left. Gaps everywhere, no cohesion, no Campbell. A Norwich player (I donâ€™t care who), about 30 yards out, chipped a pass into a space between Groves and Gallimore. The ball skipped off the grass and the bounce deceived the stooping Groves, who missed his intended header. Coyne came out, stopped, than came out again as MULRYNE made a deep, long, unattended run. He controlled the ball, flipped it back inside and calmly walked (yes, walked) past Coyne and slowly caressed the ball into the empty net. A really awful goal to concede, humiliatingly inept defending and maybe even goalkeeping. At this point the Norwich fans started to delude themselves into placing any importance on this result - they even started to laud their central defender, Kenton, for his unerring ability to run faster than Livingstone "youâ€™ll never beat Daz Kenton". It was nice of them to bring a smile to our faces in these troubled times
A couple of minutes later Campbell was surreptitiously kidnapped by aliens and replaced by Barnard, who is stockier and taller. Within a couple of minutes of coming on Barnard had whacked a 20 yard volley just over the bar following a half cleared corner. The word is rasping. Around the same time, one of the Town players had a drive deflected up and over the bar, with the Norwich â€˜keeper stranded. A fleeting moment of hope that summed up the day - a maybe moment, but we needed luck to make it a happy moment. To follow Town is to add up the "ifs" in life.
There was a Town move, somewhere on the middle of the half, which could be categorised as adequate. It ended with a clipped cross from the left, beyond the last centre back, for Livingstone, 10 yards out, who headed straight at the goalkeeper. Only the youngest three Town supporters raised themselves from their seats in anticipation, the rest of us were firmly glued to the plastic. Livvo did manage to get the grumpy Grimbarians off their seats a few minutes later in what can only be described as the curious case of Mr Livingstoneâ€™s bottom. A Cooke corner from the left was swung high, high, high beyond the back post. Livvo wheeled away from his marker and the ball bounced off his, hahem, "lower back" and gently into the goalkeeperâ€™s arms. Debate raged on Livvoâ€™s intentions. Was he (a) letting the ball bounce of his bottom, bamboozling the defence with his posterior skills, whilst spinning to hit a terrific volley into the top corner? or (b) completely clueless? The jury didnâ€™t even retire for contemplation - cluelessly guilty.
Norwich began to blossom, pinging first time passes across the pitch, one touch flicks and tricks, with supporting runs. At 3-0, with the sun out, a deflating opposition of old men with a kid and a crock up front, itâ€™s the very least they could do for their paying public. Rivers (I think) burst in to the area on the Town left and hit a hard low drive across the face of the goal. Another one of them turned on the left edge of the penalty area and curled a shot across the face of goal. Coyne had to race out of his goal a couple of time, a few desperate hacks at crosses, a few bundles around the edge of the area and Town were men on the edge of a total breakdown. However it was still only 3-0.
Nope, it was four. With less than 20 minutes left Pouton and Coldicott dispossessed Holt, 30 yards out from the Town goal, then stood around as Holtâ€™s legs whirled and won the ball back. He tapped the ball into the space between our former "clogs of war" and the vanishing centre backs. Another little pass and McVEIGH was all alone, inside the area. He awaited Coyneâ€™s arrival and carefully lifted the ball over the grey man and into the bottom right hand corner.
What more to say? Nielsen came on for the last 15 minutes, to much vocal comment from the thoroughly dismayed Town supporters. A couple of headers and nothing much else from him, he was easily dealt with by Simon Ford, who came on for the last 10 minutes to replace Chettle. A Norwich corner from their right was swung high to the far post where a central defender headed wide from about 2 yards out. McDermott was outpaced on a QNB, the cross was hit towards the near post, about 10 yards out, and Roberts dived forward and headed quite wide and high. And Town had a couple of chances. Firstly Livingstone turned the ball inside to Rowan, about 8 yards out, just wide of goal. He was unmarked and he carelessly leant back and lifted the ball way, way, way over. Then Livingstone was free, inside the box, five or six yards out to the right of goal. He just couldnâ€™t catch up with the ball. Why bother? Itâ€™d be a wasted goal, wouldnâ€™t it. Town arenâ€™t going to score many, so they all have to be important goals, you know, the 1-0â€™s. Fifteenâ€™d do.
Ah, back to the game. A couple more Norwich chances pinged across the area, both involving Kenton. Didnâ€™t go in, so what, who cares, game lost anyway. There were three minutes of added time, during which Town fans trickled away like disappointed suitors. By the wonders of technology the happy news spread like wildfire, Millwall had imploded. Town werenâ€™t bottom anymore, and some cheery souls taunted the Norwich fans with that. And then they realised that Townâ€™s goal difference is already 10 worse than Rotherhamâ€™s.
Is there anything positive to take from this? Well, yes. The first half was a decent performance, with Town playing excellently for 20 minutes, the half time score really flattered Norwich. Robinson seems to be a workaholic, but in the grand tradition of Grimsby Town strikers, cannot score. Barnard has a thumping shot, but didnâ€™t do anything else to allow anyone to have strong views on his capabilities. The negatives were Coyneâ€™s odd footwork (he kept going the wrong way for long shots), Grovesâ€™ carelessness (in one instance in the first half he passed directly to McVeigh 30 yards out and had to save the day with a last gasp sliding tackle back to Coyne), Chettleâ€™s slowness, Gallimoreâ€™s doziness, McDermottâ€™s receding powers, Rowanâ€™s physical weakness, and Livingstoneâ€™s existence. It wasnâ€™t all bad, just mostly.
Roll on Wimbledon. Letâ€™s hope we do.
Nickoâ€™s Man of the Match
It can only be a half man of the day. So who will take the half biscuit? Pouton had an excellent first half. Letâ€™s leave it at that.
P Walton. Annoyed the home fans by booking a couple of their players and not letting Roberts get away with too many gratuitous cloggings. And mostly by not booking Livingstone for some typically late challenges. No huge decisions to make, seemed to be adequate. An extremely acceptable 6.63
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