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17/08 Derby 2nd Half
By: Tony Butcher
NO CHANGES were made by either side at half time. Derby came out and changed their style, abandoning the more direct game and trying to set up the front two for combination flicks and tricks around the edge of the Town penalty area.
Grimsby Town 1 Derby County 2
17 Aug 2002, Nationwide League Division 1
And they should have scored a couple in the first few minutes of the half. A diagonal ball into the middle, right on the edge of the Town penalty area, was delicately headed into space by Ravanelli. A short, shaven headed Derby midfielder ran through the Town defence and, from what seemed to be a dozen yards out to the right of Coyneâ€™s goal, massively miss-kicked a shot several yards wide of goal, the ball careering off his big toe and into a family picnicking on the Site of Special Scientific Interest, the very spot that the "Wimbledon" supporter sat on Tuesday night. I understand that the National Trust will be making an offer to preserve that seat for the nation.
And then, out of the blue, another opportunity for Ravanelli. Nothing seemed to be happening, a Derby player clipped in a low, flat diagonal pass from the right over Chettle and onto Ravanelliâ€™s left boot, about 12-15 yards out, just beyond the penalty spot. He raced forward, adopted a Roy of the Rovers pose, and whacked a volley a few inches just over the bar. Townâ€™s response? Campbell had a shot from the edge of the area which hit a Derby player inside the box (in both respects). Not much of a response really. Rowan and Jevons got weaker and weaker as the game progressed, with Rowan especially visibly running out of steam around the 60 minute mark. But more trouble for Town before then. After 50 minutes Ravanelli rolled around Chettle, leaving our man in a heap, holding his side. A minute later he was off, replaced by Simon Ford, who got a rousing cheer.
Now the masterclass was nearly over. You see, thatâ€™s why Derbyâ€™s strikers cost billions and Townâ€™s cost thruppence haâ€™penny. Ours kick it just over the stand, they kick it just over the bar. But they create an awful lot more chances, so one is bound to go just under the bar eventually.
What more to say? Not much for Town, as attacks, if I may be allowed some poetic licence, foundered at the forwards, who were not quick enough to collect balls over the top, or strong enough to hold off a challenge. There were isolated moments to raise the hopeful Town fan from their seat, but they were just that - isolated, fleeting and ultimately frustrating. Ford, soon after he came on intercepted a through ball, advanced up field and played an excellent pass through the Derby defence, setting Jevons free. But up went the linesmanâ€™s flag, down sat the Town fans. Derby had more of the play and started to press Town more when the defence had the ball, resulting in a Galli faux pas. He dawdled on the ball, seeking to feign a punt, then cut back inside. Unfortunately for the man with arguably the finest left foot in his house, he turned back into another Derby player. He now had two bearing down on him. He panicked, but refused to launch it long, instead he noticed a Town player 35 yards from goal, unmarked. He drove a low pass directly to this Town player who, for some inexplicable reason, was wearing a white shirt and white shorts. Derby broke forward, the ball being tapped wide then drilled back in low as Galli was caught in some barbed wire no-mans land as a flare lit up the night sky. Ravanelli ran onto the cross and, from about 10 yards out, to the left of goal, toe poked the ball 4 yards wide of Coyneâ€™s left hand post, as our grey goose squawked at him.
Ford was given every opportunity to show his speed of foot and thought, making several well timed interceptions and generally placing Mr Ravanelli in his big pocket. Quite simply, Ford must start from now on. Ravanelli was a constant menace with his movement off the ball and ability to shield the ball under pressure. Town mostly dealt with this by surrounding him with a clamp, with Coldicott the chief warden. But Ravanelli had a strike partner, the effervescent Christie, and it was he who was the catalyst for the defining moment of the second half. With 15 minutes left Christie was allowed to control the ball about 35 yards out on the Town right. He turned and surged towards the centre, jinking past a couple of challenges, and eventually sucking Gallimore into the middle. He then laid a short pass out to Morris on the left edge of the Town penalty, who cut in past the dazed and confused Galli before whacking in a hard shot across Coyne towards the right hand corner. Coyne leapt horizontally and firmly parried the ball out beyond the far post, whereupon it was knocked back towards the near post. Ford stuck out a leg, diverting the ball out to the edge of the penalty area, levellish with the right hand post. BOLDER raced in, swayed past a couple of Town defenders and lashed a rising shot into the very top left hand corner of Coyneâ€™s goal. It wasnâ€™t exactly a surprise that Derby had scored again, as they had shown more verve and vim up front, but it still felt slightly unwarranted; they were not exactly stamping all over a severely weakened Town team. They looked like they belonged in the same division as Town. And that ainâ€™t too much of a compliment either, accidental Derby tourists.
Town did not wilt, they didnâ€™t give up. Barnard dinked a fine through ball in between the central defenders from about 25 yards out which Coldicott only just failed to reach, being cleverly blocked a la McDermott, by a hirsute Derby defender. Coldicott was then replaced by Robinson, after about 80 minutes, as Town changed to a 4-3-3 formation (which ended up as 3-3-4 when Groves hared forward in the last few minutes). Town had their best attacking spell around this time. Jevons was sent free down the left, he turned inside a defender and, from the bye line inside the penalty area, looked up and crossed behind Cooke, who back off and awaited the dolly cross. He leant back and smacked a half volley a few inches over the bar to the right of the centre. Cooke was really determined to retrieve the game, even sprinting back 30 yards to dispossess a Derby player inside the Town half to set up another town break. It felt like there were waves of Town attacks, but that may be the perception of a starving man. Jevons rather gave up on a through ball at one stage, where a little bit more application would have created danger. His mere presence would have been enough as Poom was rickety and decidedly rocky. Robinson was booked when Higginbottom stayed down after a challenge. Higginbottom had a tendency to make the most of minimal contact, and earned the further wrath (if that be possible) of the Blundell hordes when he clutched his head and squealed after a Rowan challenge. He immediately jumped to his feet and ran off when he noticed heâ€™d got the free kick and the referee wasnâ€™t going to send Rowan off.
The controversial incident is coming up now. With about 3 or 4 minutes left Town won a free kick in the centre left of the Derby half. Cooke hit a shallow curling cross into the area, where Groves, about a dozen yards out and wide of the â€˜keeperâ€™s right hand post, threw himself forward and headed across goal. The ball looped, dropped and was going wide, but lo, hereâ€™s Jevons, flying through the air with the greatest of ease. About 5 yards out and level with the left hand post he disappeared behind the giant Poom. Time froze, the ground was silent, up popped the ball, lazily lolloping over the â€˜keeper and into the net. The Town fans and players looked at the linesman, his flag remained down, it was a goal, the referee seemed to have given it, the crowd celebrated. Poom went batty claiming a handball, racing to the linesman whose flag remained down. The referee came over and...awarded a free kick to Derby, booking Jevons for (presumably) handball. The Pontoon grizzled, growled and issued forth a chorus of disapproval.
In the remaining minutes Groves headed a corner a foot over the bar and headed high from the edge of the area, the ball arcing gently to Poom, who still managed to look unsteady in catching the ball. Derby had breakaways, but I canâ€™t remember any particular chances being created, certainly Coyne didnâ€™t have to make any more saves. The game ended, a familiar result. But this time there really were positives to take from the game. The all round team performance was fine, individually too. The difference between the two sides was really the ability to finish. Ironically their expensive and highly rated strikers were Town-esque in their ability to miss. There was a certain cohesion by Town (forwards excepted) which, considering the spatchcock nature of the selection and the injuries during the game, was encouraging. But it all comes back to the same complaint "if only we had a striker". Always does, doesnâ€™t it.
And another thing - the crowd. Above all the crowd were starting to find a voice, there were periods of longuer and silence, but when roused they railed and rallied the team. We normally have to wait until March before the Town fans bother to turn Blundell Park into a wall of sound; maybe our desperation is starting early this season.
This was a game where we expected to be thrashed and ended up being annoyed by a narrow defeat. Neither side could have complained at a draw, which would have been a very fair outcome. But football ainâ€™t fair.
Nickoâ€™s Man of the Match
Groves had a good second half, Campbell a super first half. Ford excelled when he came on, whilst Chettle was solid and assuring when he was on. But, for a full game of exhibition defending, a true master, Mr JOHN McDERMOTT.
A Leake. Weâ€™ve had him before, he was not impressive then either. Very happy to book, but unwilling to differentiate between cynical clogging and miss-timed, ordinary, run-of-the-mill tackles. One never felt confident heâ€™d make the correct decision, so 5.2. The Jevons "goal" doesnâ€™t gain, or lose him points, he just lacked authority, never seemingly controlling the game or players.
The Fishy wishes Livvo a speedy recovery!
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