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Question of the Week
How long before new manager arrives?
14/09 Coventry 2nd Half
By: Tony Butcher
NO CHANGES were made by either team at half time. We had two minutes of hopeful hoofing, with Pouton taking a tumble during a hefty tackle. Worryingly, he got up limping. Tens second later he was up, haring and raring around. Phew.
Coventry City 3 Grimsby Town 2
14 Sep 2002, Nationwide League Division 1
Town lumped the ball forward, probably from Coyne and Pouton, just inside the Coventry half down the centre, back headed on to Kabba, who was about 40 yards out with his back to goal. Kabba chested the ball sideways, turned and sprinted to the right in a huge looping arc. Shaw tried to keep up with Kabba, tried to hold Kabba, but failed completely on both counts. By this time Kabba was on the corner of the penalty area and free. Barely a Town supporter stirred, after all, he had twice fallen over the ball in a similar position during the first half. He carried on into the area and set himself to shoot from about a dozen yards out and probably the same wide of the goal. The ball fizzed across the turf, past the Opal Fruit, and into the bottom right hand corner of what regular attendees at football matches refer to as "the goal". After a brief moment when all 150 Town supporters looked askance, askew and at each other, we leapt like Ben Chapman. KABBA had scored, not only a goal, but a flaminâ€™ great one. By our standards. The Town players went bonkers, running and jumping around like theyâ€™d just won the FA Cup and, as is traditional, they celebrated long into the night.
Ah, what a lovely feeling. A goal, a goal by a striker, a damn fine goal by a striker and Town leading. Almost straight from the kick off Coventry attacked down the own left. Galli remained in the bar toasting Kabba whilst Chippo lofted a deep cross into the 6 yards box. MILLS rose above Groves and headed firmly down to the bottom right hand corner of the goal. Coyne got a hand to it, but the ball trickled over the line. After a series of Calamity Jane moments down the left, Gallimore was taken off 5 minutes later, replaced by Ford in a direct swap. The effect was immediate, as Chippo no longer had time or space. Ford simply ran up to him when he had the ball and tackled. See Galli, thatâ€™s all it took. If only youâ€™d though of that.
Or even lardy boy Barnard, who Butterfielded his way through the game, stamping his authority on the same 5 yard patch of turf. Never, ever, bothering to track back, or cover for his left back, he was seen looking at the unmarked Chippo a few times, then admiring the resultant cross. Shocking play from an "international". Itâ€™d be shocking play in the Conference, wouldnâ€™t it.
It was a very strange game now, actually watchable, with wave upon wave of attacks, mainly by Coventry, but Town did press too. There were vast acres untouched by human feet, which meant an open game - crosses, shots, songs, laughter, jokes old and new. Townâ€™s best move followed soon after Gallimoreâ€™s removal. Kabba (I think) careered off down the right, got to the bye line and crossed through the centre of the 6 yard box. We oohed, of course. Barnard strolled forward unmarked, controlled the ball and, from 8 yards to the left of goal crossed back to the unmarked Pouton, near the penalty spot. Pouton set himself to steer the ball wide of the citrus stopper. Unfortunately, Pouton steered the ball into the ground and it bounced up nicely for Hyldgaard who plucked it safely from the sky to his left. A few minutes later Barnard stroked a careful corner from the Town right to the unmarked Pouton, 25 yards out, just to the right of centre. Pouton leant back, dreamt of Paul Scholes, and leathered a mighty right foot volley, which cannoned off the back of a desperately tumbling Coventry defender for another corner. A small moment that led to nothing, but an indication that the confidence of a goal was raising the standard of Townâ€™s football, and individualsâ€™ aspirations. Pouton again almost created something by surging forward down the middle from a searing double crunch tackle by the Pouton/Coldicott double headed monster. Poutonâ€™s lovely pass to Kabba, in space on the left edge of the Coventry penalty area briefly offered a glimpse of goal. But Kabba decided to cut inside and dribble past all of the Coventry central defenders, the three stooges. The result was predictably lame, as Kabba made a 6 yard pass sideways for himself, which he got to, spun, and fell over. It would have been simpler to shoot
Coventry were more overtly driven on by McAllister in the second half, which led to quite a few hairy moments, if that be a proper simile for the tonsorially challenged oldster. Coventry tried to exploit their physical superiority by pushing the nine foot giant, Bothroyd, against McDermott, but that didnâ€™t work, so they resorted to the old trick of playing football, one-twos around the area, with midfielders sprinting forward to support. Cue panic. Bothroyd spun on the edge of the Town area and, from a central position hit a right footed hooking half volley low to Coyneâ€™s left. Coyne saved brilliantly, parrying to the side. Ford was alert and easily blocked Chippoâ€™s attempted follow up shot. Konjic hooked a curling chip from 25 yards straight at Coyne, Coyne punch-parried a shot from close range following a scramble and later waved excellently to his right following a shot from near the penalty spot, again following a Keystone Cop farce of a scramble. Twice, a big Coventry player tried to bully his way through the Town defence in the penalty area. A-tissue, a-tissue, they all fell down. Coldicott and Ford, Chettle and Campbell, both acted as human walls to block a battering ram. The ball fell to some blue clad player, he swung his boot, the ball went through a thicket of legs and Coyne made that save.
And still they rolled forward, helped by some increasingly mad refereeing decisions. Chippo launched a Kato style kung-fu tackle on Barnard, a free kick to Town, no booking. Coldicott leapt up vertically to head the ball, with a Coventry player a few feet away. The referee gave Coventry a free kick, I presume because Coldicottâ€™s artistic inelegance offended aesthetically. Town never really dealt with the free kick, with Groves and McDermott only half clearing down the right. The ball was returned immediately and hoofed back out to Mills about 5 yards outside the Town penalty area on the right. Mills knocked the ball back over the top towards the byeline and Groves turned slowly and trudged back towards the ball. Mills, like a hyperactive toothbrush salesman on the M45, drove his sky blue Sierra into the back of the OAPâ€™s Morris Traveller. He bounced theatrically off Grovesâ€™ back and appealed, as did some of the more hopeful Coventry supporters. A small whelp of "penalty " could be heard drifting on the breeze. And the referee, stood only 5 yards away, immediately, and with relish, pointed at the penalty spot. The decision was so shocking hardly any of the Town players complained. It truly defied logic. Groves wasnâ€™t booked for whatever he was supposed to have done. The Coventry players celebrated the award of a penalty with suspicious enthusiasm, like it had been "won". McALLISTER walked up and placed the ball to Coyneâ€™s right as he dived left. Comment not required, Iâ€™ll let the facts speak for themselves. There were 20 minutes left.
As we, the faithful few, slumped down and muttered about the referee, something wonderful happened. The Town players were roused to respond. The ball was lobbed down the Town right and Robinson realised that the defender had misjudged the flight of the ball, with it skipping of the defenderâ€™s head and back towards the bye line. Robinson ran on, cut back and crossed to the far post. POUTON ran in unmarked and, from about 10 yards out and level with the post, stooped and headed the ball down into the ground. The ball looped up and over a defender, and continued up and over the mortified Morten, rolling down the back of the net on his right hand side. Pouton did a magnificent cartwheel and sprinted down the touchline to the Town fans waving his arms around in exuberant exhortation.
The next 10 minutes were not too worrying, except when they were. Coventry pressed forward, with much crossing but little concern for Town. It was the counter attacks which were the problem. The referee ignored a handball by Mills (I think) and allowed Coventry to continue attacking. Safri surged forward down the middle and, from just to the right of centre, smacked a hard, fast, low shot across Coyne towards his bottom right hand corner. Coyne magnificently smothered the turf and tipped the ball a few inches wide of the post. A couple of minutes later, the little shaven headed substitute, Pipe, scuttled free down the centre, again following the break up of a Town attack. The Town defence ran back, he shot from the edge of the area, but dragged it a few feet wide of Coyneâ€™s left hand post.
The time ticked away and it was beginning to feel like a good away point being carefully folded into the envelope, the stamp being prepared for stickage. Just a minute Mr Postman, it isnâ€™t time for collection just yet. With about three minutes left, Barnard tackled Safri right in front of the Town supporters, winning the ball and knocking it out for a throw in as Safri squealed and leapt in the air. The referee gave Coventry a free kick, in a dangerous position, on the touchline, about 25 yards out. McAllister trotted over, waited for the big Coventry players to line up all in a row. He curled in a superb pacy cross which skidded off BOTHROYDâ€™S head and arced over Coyne into the top right hand corner. Unstoppable, though Coyne almost got a finger tip to it.
Town immediately prepared two substitutions, which these days take ages to arrange through the good offices of the 4th official, such that Mansaram and Rowan came on for Barnard and Robinson in the 89th minute. Rowan took up a left wing position, which was more than Barnard did. Town lumped the ball forward, which was true desperation as Coventryâ€™s defenders were just bigger than any player Town had on the pitch. There were a few moments which got the Town fans off their seats, with the very last kick of the game being the nearest. Chettle lobbed the ball back into the area, Rowan shielded the ball about 12 yards out in the centre, knocking it on to Mansaram, about 8 yards out, who stretched out a leg and diverted the ball slowly, slowly past the â€˜keeper and a few inches wide of the right hand post. But the linesman had, as usual, raised his flag. Offside, game over.
Pfft, the manner of the defeat does rather stick in the throat. A bad first half was certainly cast into canyons of the mind by a thoroughly entertaining second half. Really neither side deserved to win, or lose. A draw would not have caused too many heartaches, even though Coventry had the bulk of possession and the better chances. They didnâ€™t need the referee to help them, and help them he did. Flicking through the programme before the game the statistics showed that Coventry score most of their goals with headers in the last 15 minutes, whilst Town concede most of their goals through headers. And thatâ€™s what happened.
Once Gallimore was taken off, Town were much better defensively. In essence, Ford must play somewhere in defence if he is fit. The centre of midfield was fine, such that Coventry supporters were overheard in the streets after the game praising our two "cloggers". The forwards started to look like forwards after a goal had been scored, and Town began to look like a team. I stress the word began, as there are still problems in the wide midfield positions. The reaction of the Town fans at the end says it all - as one they applauded the team, and supported them.. no boos, no moans, no calling for sackings or droppings. We recognised what we saw. This time, defeat was courtesy of matters without our control.
Nickoâ€™s Man of the Match
Coyne? Maybe, for some good saves. Pouton? Maybe, through his more obvious contributions. No, today itâ€™s Stacy Coldicott, who ran his little heart out, flinging himself here, there and everywhere doing lots of little, but very important, things in defence, and covering for the defence. Every dog has his day.
Mr Ross. I wonâ€™t bother analysing him, itâ€™s all above. He was, as far as Town were concerned, fine for 60 minutes. His debatable decisions were mainly against Coventry. But he spent the last 30 minutes annoying everyone, and particularly us. The penalty decision was just wrong on every level. Careless whistling costs jobs. He gets 2.01
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