Question of the Week
How long before new manager arrives?
13/08 Wimbledon 2nd Half
By: Tony Butcher
NEITHER team made any changes at half time, though in a change from last season it was Town who emerged first and had to hang around like stuffed aubergines waiting for the opposition to come out. The sense of anticipation was palpable, there were only 45 minutes left!
Grimsby Town 0 Wimbledon 0
13 Aug 2002, Nationwide League Division 1
Town had a real go at them for the first 10 minutes, visibly quicker, more alert. Within a minute there was shot. Like rhythm, who could ask for anything more. It all came from quick thinking by Campbell. The ball went out for a Town throw about 25 yards out on the left, in front of the Stones/Smiths/Findus Stand. Campbell picked it up and immediately threw it into the box to Rowan, unmarked and about 15 yards wide of gaol and a dozen yards out. He headed back and across towards the near pot. Livingstone, with his back to goal, about eight yards out and just to three or four yards to the left of goal, shielded, swivelled and hooked a volley across the face of goal and a yard over the bar. A minute later Cooke scurried down the right and whipped over a cross and..... (see my earlier comments). After 50 minutes Town should have scored.
The Franchise Mercenariesâ€™ central defenders tried to play total football about 35 yards out on their left. Imagine Mark Lever, on a very bad day, trying to play one-touch keepy-uppy with Galli, the morning after the night before, and you get some idea of the wondrous ball skills and precision passing on display. They simply played a delicious defence splitting back pass, which Rowan hurried onto and he was free, bearing down on goal on the Town right. He drifted into the box, with still no *bledon* defender around. When about 15 yards from goal, and just wide of the â€˜keeperâ€™s near post, Rowan tried to drive the ball through the goal keeper. Oddly the goalkeeper didnâ€™t dematerialise, or reveal himself to be a holographic depiction of what a goalkeeper would be, and the ball cannoned away towards the right hand corner flag. Cooke retrieved the ball, it was crossed back, nothing else happened.
Now what did the red shirted opposition do in response? They started to attack a bit more, abandoning their reliance on the medium sized boot to Shipperley, and instead having midfielders drive forward towards the heart of the Town defence.
It caused quite a few moments of intense worry for the Town players and supporters alike. Fortunately, most of the time, Chettle simply stood in the right place to whisk the ball off an insurgentâ€™s boot. And if Chettle was away, the cat came out to play, with Coyne racing off his line to smother the ball. After about an hour *they* won what felt like their first corner. It was curled in low and fast from their right. The ball whizzed through the area, with a series of dummies by the Town defenders allowing the ball to travel, unimpeded, off the pitch for a goalkick. Or was that a series of dummies in the Town defence allowed the ball to ravel unimpeded through the area? Just after this, Nowland wriggled around on the left edge of the Town penalty area and whacked a cross-shot wide of Coyneâ€™s right hand corner.
I have the vaguest of recollections that one of their centre backs, unmarked, headed a corner, or maybe a free kick, from their left gently into Coyneâ€™s midriff. Very vague that recollection, as the game was beginning to pall again, the expectations raised by the Town opening had rapidly descended as the game spiralled down into a turgid midfield clog. A battle, a fight, a glorified pub match. It was rotten. For a 15 minute period in the middle of the half Town couldnâ€™t string two passes together, Livvo got worse and the heckling started. From icon to bygone in 10 minutes. It isnâ€™t his fault, he tries, but heâ€™s not even the player he was. Some people expect nothing from Livvo. They have high hopes, obviously. The moribund minutes were enlivened by, oh why bother, - Cooke, fill in the blanks yourself. He must be a mightily frustrated human being. On the left Campbell was the hidden hand of fate, unseen by the human eye, leaving Gallimore to attack and defend. The few times Galli did stride forward he was easily thwarted by Darlington, an extremely quick and able right back. Pouton was revelling in his role of playmaker, spraying passes across the park with abandon. And sometimes straight to the Travelling Wilburys, right in front of goal. Danger, danger everywhere, but never a chance to score, as the Town defence always managed to crowd them out.
But sometimes, sometimes, Pouton succeeded in playmaking, principally with first time 30 yard passes from centre left over the full back to Cooke, who hugged the touchline like an old fashioned nappy. But ... the only moments worth describing are when Cooke tried a volley from the edge of the box which sliced wildly, and slowly across the area towards Livvo, who hung his back leg out, like a dog against a tree. Cue more Livvo baiting. A little later a fine one touch move down the Town right sent Cooke clear again. He crossed dangerously to the far post where Rowan lurked and Livvo lumbered. Bizarrely Livvo leant forward and tried to punch the ball in. He missed the ball, he missed the defenderâ€™s head, as usual he missed everything.
Town really looked like conceding when McAnuff dribbled through three or four challenges near the half way line and tapped the ball on past the last man. He was away, he is young, he was free, his teeth are probably nice and clean, he was on the Town left. Coyne came out, stood next to him as McAnuff dithered, then Coyne knocked the ball sideways. McAnuff re-collected the ball, turned and crossed low to McDermott, who cleared appropriately. A few minutes after that Shipperley, about seven or eight yards out and levellish with the far post, rose above Groves and headed firmly, flatly, but over the bar following a cross from their right. The ball only just crept over the bar.
On 75 minutes Town tried to make a substitution. Up went the board - number 7 to come off. The crowd bayed, Pouton turned round, stood tall, puffed out his chest and shook his head. Wilkinson and Roger jumped up and stopped the substitution. Barnard sat back down again. Pouton had been limping slightly after a very heavy tackle, but made a point of racing even harder (if that be possible) into the next tackle to prove his fitness. He emerged with a bigger limp. Around this time Campbell completely fluffed a shot from 20 yards after good build up play by Town. Pouton looked disgusted, Campbell ran off sheepishly. Rowan was replaced by Jevons (who had been the recipient of supportive chants from a dozen teenagers in the Pontoon) after 81 minutes. The crowd booed Rowanâ€™s substitution as he had performed adequately, certainly more effectively than the big number 10. Within a minute Jevons nearly scored. Cooke zipped and zapped down the right and whipped in a low cross to the near post. Jevons ran in front of his marker and, from a couple of yards out, swung his right boot. The ball ballooned up and into the Pontoon. One minute later the clearly exhausted Cooke was replaced by Barnard, with Campbell moving to the right. As Barnard came on he waved his arms around at the Main Stand. Again there was vocal unhappiness at the replacement of Cooke, rather than Campbell. Barnardâ€™s contribution to road safety was this - he fluffed an attempted 25 yarder, which set up a Mercenaries counter attack, he twice passed directly to *them*, setting up counter attacks. He didnâ€™t exactly rip the starting place off Campbell, did he.
Apart from a couple of dribblers that went 5 yards wide I canâ€™t remember the opponents having any other shots, just a few alarming breakaways which petered out on the edge of the Town box. Sounds like us really, doesnâ€™t it. But Town nearly scored, oh yes. Neat interplay down the right ended up with Campbell drifting inside and clipping a cross into the middle of the box. Jevons, unmarked after drifting back off his marker, leant back and glanced a header from near the penalty spot, which curled slowly a few inches wide of the â€˜keeperâ€™s right hand post. He certainly looked like he was trying to impress. And he did in the 10 minutes he was on. A guaranteed 90 minutes of such commitment would be ideal. In added time Jevons raced down the right hand touchline, tricking his way past three defenders before it all petered out in typically Town fashion.
Thatâ€™s it, thatâ€™s all the juice I can squeeze from this lemon. No opposition fans, no atmosphere, no strikers, no goals. At least the ref didnâ€™t go bonkers this time (although that would have woken the crowd up). Was there anything positive to come out of this? Cookeâ€™s crossing, superb, utterly wasted on Town though. Chettle looked very, very assured and should work very well with Ford. Gallimore (apart from one minute where he was absent from his position as they has two players free on their right) was much, much closer to planet earth. Heâ€™ll be landing within the next week Iâ€™d say. Although with Derby coming up, that may be with a bump. Rowan worked hard and looked sprightly at times, but he should have scored. That, after all, is what his core function is. The negatives are all too obvious, and have been known for a long, long time. The opposition got the revenge they wanted for their 6-2 slaughter; they bored us to tears.
Still, at least we didnâ€™t have the ignominy of losing to that lot. As the football saying goes - "All disrespect to the officials of Â£Â£Â£Â£Â£Â£..."
Nickoâ€™s Man of the Match
Two candidates really, Mr Chettle for his calmness and subtle stopping, but Nicko unanimously goes for Terry Cooke, who gets the sympathy vote too. A fit Robert Taylor would have a field day with our little Cookie Monster around.
M Ryan. Him, never to be forgiven. However today he didnâ€™t do anything totally outrageous. The bookings of Pouton and Livingstone was a little strange, as each was booked for something they didnâ€™t do - they both missed tackles. And Coldicott was unfortunate too to be booked for being strong, but ever so slightly miss-timing his sliding lunge. The opponent still has all the right number of limbs attached, what more did the ref want? It pains me to be so reasonable, but he gets a straight 6.
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