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Instant Kabba: Bradford Report
By: Tony Butcher
AN old fashioned English summer rainstorm drenched the dark satanic hills in the hours before the game, but lo, at three oâ€™clock the sun was up, the sky was blue, it was beautiful and so was Manningham. Even the burnt bits.
Bradford City 0 Grimsby Town 0
24 Aug 2002, Nationwide League Division 1
A temperate windless afternoon, just perfect for free flowing football. Stop laughing at the back. The ground itself has two massive stands, which dwarf the pitch and would obviously be imposing when full. They werenâ€™t full, they were not even half full, barely a quarter full. Hello? Is there anybody out there? Great expanses of seats were bereft of humanity, a soulless echo could be heard whenever two or more Bradfordians spoke. They claimed a crowd in excess of 10,000. They must have played their joker before the game, Guido.
The Town players warmed up as usual, with two interesting additions and one omission which pleased half the travelling 300 muttering Mariners. Woo, thatâ€™s Big Bob roaming the earth like dinasaurs did! And that bloke, that must be Kabba! He is physically so not a Town player, which made him exciting. He is not white, weedy and wan. Big shoulders, big thighs, compact and powerful. He looked like a 100m sprinter (and an archetypal Crystal Palace player). No Jevons, not even as a sub. Not to be seen, missing presumed deficient after his Derby performance.
As the Town players kicked about a young boy queued for some food. He called out to Gallimore, casually signing autographs by the barrier. "Galli?" and the icon looked quizically towards the pre-teen. "Do you want a pie?".
Town lined up in the usual 4-4-2 formation, as shown. The starting XI started in the positions youâ€™d expect, with the Campbell-Coldicott line trying to keep the confederates at bay in the middle.
In the dying embers of the pre-match warm up Bradley Hughes silenced the Town support. He let virtually every shot in, mostly through his hands. Letâ€™s hope the Ipswich game is called off, weâ€™d like to keep the score in single figures.
Some sought to divert attention from the impending doom by reading the programme, the profile of Neil Woods being a particular favourite. Especially the photographs. 80s bouffant, tight shorts and one where he looks like heâ€™s wearing make-up. Gallimoreâ€™s left foot has been officially downgraded from "beautiful" to "sweet", which is one way of saying it is "attached", and Bradford have a player called Juanjo Carricondo.
Town kicked off towards the Town support and, for 20 minutes, all was well. Like the Trumpton clock, Town were passing the ball steadily, sensibly, never too quickly, never too slowly. Kabba had clearly only been introduced to the Town players within the previous 45 minutes, yet there seemed to be an instant chemistry between him and the unfit Taylor. Town fair dominated the first 20 minutes. Taylor and Kabba formed a partnership that frightened the Bradford defenders. Pace, power and some intelligent flicks - everything we havenâ€™t had this season. Taylor may move slowly, but he moves slowly in to the right places. Kabba was very eager, and had quite a bit of pace, even when dribbling with the ball. With Taylor acting as a strong wall, even Campbell was seen making runs into the box. It was all extremely heartening to see something that promised action. The biggest plus was movement. Kabba was always attempting to make runs behind defenders, zig-zagging his way through the boredom and pain of being catapulted into shot-shy Grimsby. Kabba was always running to the blind side of the centre backs and into the channels.
Oh, you want to hear about actual events? Well, thatâ€™s different. The mood was upbeat, though the bare facts donâ€™t appear to support the positive tone. A couple of scuffed shots, a volley hooked into the 2nd tier of the stand, a free kick over the bar, a cross cleared for a corner. Doesnâ€™t sound exciting. Somehow it was. Kabba made things happen, even though his first touch was a really poor turn straight into the defender, as if the ghost of Donovan past had returned. But he got better, much better. Receiving the ball on the touchline with his back to goal around 10 yards from the half way line he spun and burst down the Town right, driving and bullying his way through three challenges. He drifted into the centre and from 20 yards scuffed a left footed shot a yard or so wide of Davisonâ€™s left hand post. He did the same down the Town left, this time hitting a weak shot from the edge of the area which bumbled towards Davison like a maiden aunt on a Sunday jaunt to Budleigh Salterton, in Mid July. Taylor threw his arms out wide in frustration, for he was unmarked on the left edge of the area. On 15 minutes Barnard dinked a ball over the top down the Town left. Kabba ran across from the middle, outfought Uhlenbeek, the infamous Gus of Wind, and curled his shot onto the cross bar, the ball bouncing down on the line and out again. Ooooooh, but oh. The referee had already given Bradford a free kick for the trifling offence of fending off Uhlenbeek with a left forearm in the nose. Pfft, itâ€™s a manâ€™s game, isnâ€™t it? There werenâ€™t many Town fans who would have made that decision, and the referee was informed of such in very basic language. The Town fans used concise terms when commenting.
There were numerous moves where Town threatened, but nothing quite came of it. Usually through Kabbaâ€™s desire to be an instant hero, which resulted in a shot rather than a pass. The over-riding memory of the first 20 minutes is movement, the boys in blue (for Town played in the sky blue away kit) were a constant blur.
And then the game ended. After 20 minutes Taylor challenged strongly in midfield, started to limp, then he sat down clutching his ankle. Then he was taken off, to be replaced by Rowan. Really that was it is far as Town attacking goes.
Observing Rowan and Kabba, two footballers of roughly the same age and experience, was most instructive. Rowan just looked disinterested, weak, dopey, clueless compared to our new loan star. Rowan trotted where Kabba sprinted, Rowan watched where Kabba challenged. Kabba always moved when the ball went forward, Rowan stood around waiting for the ball to go to him.
Without Taylor the ball was just not sticking up front, so Bradford gradually gained ascendancy. It took them about 35 minutes, but they took control. In the first 15 minutes they had a couple of crosses and one shot which skewed 5 yards wide of Coyneâ€™s right hand post. No worries, no danger, no concerns whatsoever. If they threatened, Chettle swept across and imperiously dealt with danger. But, as the ball started to ping back towards the Town defence, Bradford started to have fleeting moments of danger. Principally, Cadamarteri began to turn and run at the Town defence down the left, causing Gallimore to panic and retreat. After about 30 minutes they managed their first shot on target. Some nonsense defending down the Town left saw their midfielder surge into the box, the ball being laid back to some player (frankly I donâ€™t care who, he was small and a long way away, wearing that garish shirt). From about 15 yards, to the right of centre, this small man employed by Bradford City whacked a first time right foot shot through a crowd of players. The ball seemed to hit Coyne on the chest and balloon up, up and away for a corner.
A few more Bradford crosses followed, usually way overhit, nowhere near professional footballers. Not even the substitutes warming up down the side. From one cross on the Bradford left Ward nearly managed to rise above Chettle at the far post. But he didnâ€™t, Chettle headed out for a corner. Yes, that was a highlight of the half - a defender headed out for a corner. Ward headed the corner a foot or so wide of the right hand post. Donâ€™t panic reader. We, the viewer didnâ€™t, for McDermott was standing next to the post and simply let it pass. Another small Bradford clogging midfielder, probably Kearney, sliced a shot from the edge of the area a few yards wide of Coyneâ€™s left hand post. Anything else? Oh yes, one more moment that could have brought tears to the eyes of the travelling Townites. Cadamarteri went on a long winding road down the Town right and infield, that led to the edge of the area, beating three or four Town defenders on this procession. He appeared to lose control but still managed to shoot. Coyne dived low to his left, parrying the ball back towards the centre of the goal. Gallimore leapt forward and wellied the ball away for a throw in.
Half time: Bradford City 0 Grimsby Town 0
There you are, thatâ€™s it. Iâ€™ve wrung as much as I can from the thrice used tea bag that was the first half. Goodish for 20 minutes, rotten for the rest. Bradford fans would have the opposite view, but then they are the opposition. Two ladies diddilly-diddilly-dee. Two relegation ladies diddilly-diddilly-dee. The only matters not yet described are the fouls on Kabba. Molenaar was booked for his first whack from behind, the second had the referee running towards him, reach for his back pocket then realise that heâ€™d already been booked. So a finger wag was the punishment. The third whack got another free kick, but still no card. After this the Bradford defence and midfield took it in turns to try and kick Kabba into Elland Road. The more effete Bradford players merely tried to kick him into the town centre.
So promise dashed by Taylorâ€™s creaking body. But what would the second half bring? Frankly, a draw would have been willingly taken at half time.
Stu's Half Time Toilet Talk
"When does Rowan take his GCSEâ€™s?"
The report continues in the second half.
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