Question of the Week
What should happen to the EFL Trophy next season?
I Donâ€™t Love the 80s: Sheff Utd Report
By: Tony Butcher
A TEMPERATE, still evening with around 300 Town supporters shuffling uncomfortably on the steep benches that, like the Beacholme, is "Reet good value." With just five minutes to go before kick off, there were about 2,500 people in the stadium, with the hordes seeping in like dry rot.
Sheffield United 2 Grimsby Town 1
17 Sep 2002, Nationwide League Division 1
Town lined up in the sky blue away kit in a 4-4-2 formation, as shown. Ford played at left back, otherwise it was the same as at Coventry. And today Matthew, Pouton was Poorten according to the tannoy announcer, who also declared that three was the magic number. Three points to go third.
The teams ran out to the theme from Star Wars. Now I wonder, do they see themselves as the evil Empire or the rebel forces? What is their self image? Neil Warnock as the Grand Moff Tarkin?
Sheffield United kicked off towards the Town fans and immediately "launched it", from which they got a throw in on the Town left. That just gave them an opportunity to fling a long throw into the heart of the Town penalty area. This was cleared, just, by Groves, the ball striking Asaba on the arm. Play on, what! They worked the ball out to their right, crossed, and Asaba, eight yards out in the centre, headed a couple yards over the bar. Here we go again, thought the Town fans "up and under" with Town wilting. But no, sir, Town countered down the left with a series of one touch passes. Barnard curled a longish pass down the touchline and Kabba sprinted away, muscled past the defender and crossed to the near post. Robinson knocked the ball back first time to Barnard, 12 yards out to the left of goal, who toe poked a half volley a few feet over the angle of post and bar. One minute gone, two shots. Hmm, interesting.
Back down the other end now. A high ball, a Peschisolido header infield and an Asaba dipping volley from 30 yards. Over the bar, no trouble. From the goal kick a few midfield muddles and McDermott collected the ball inside the Sheffield United half. He surged into a huge gap and kept on going. The defence retreated and he still kept on going and, from the edge of the area, scuffed a low shot wide of the â€˜keeperâ€™s right hand post. Four minutes, four shots. Mmm, very interesting.
And still thereâ€™s more. A Blade break down their right had Town in a bit of a fluster. A low cross zeroed in on the unmarked Asaba, near the penalty spot, who sent a skimming, diving header comfortably over the bar. Town simply went down the other end and frightened the life out of them. The ball was curled down the right touchline and Kabba frazzled the left back, outpacing, out muscling and out thinking him, with a shimmy, a twist and a burst of pace. Kabba got to the byeline and wellied a low cross through the penalty area, about eight yards out. Robinson was ahead of his marker with the goal a-gaping in front of him, but he made the merest of touches, sending the ball off towards the corner flag, not the corner of the goal.
Thereâ€™s even more, you know. Kabba, then Barnard, down the left, a cross to the near post to Robinson, who turned and had a shot deflected a yard or so wide of the â€˜keeperâ€™s right hand post. This was exciting. Barnard curled the corner deep into the centre of the penalty box and the unmarked Chettle, perhaps eight or nine yards out, headed horribly high. Horribly, horribly high.
It hasnâ€™t finished yet. Coldicott dispossessed a feeble, blunt Blade on the Town right, slipped a lovely pass up to Kabba on the edge of the penalty area, who spun across the face of the penalty box towards the Town left. He suckered the right back over, leaving a massive gap into which Barnard was enticed by a very tempting invitation to party. Barnard zipped a fast, low cross into the centre of the goal, about eight yards out and ROBINSON ran in, opened up his body and steered a right footed shot to the â€˜keeperâ€™s left. 300 people went to that party. And all this after just eight minutes.
After this excitement, the game settled down into humping and lumping, occasional moments of danger and many moments of midfield mundanity. Ford was frequently caught out of position against McGovern, who United sought out at the drop of a baseball cap. But Fordâ€™s pace and inability to retreat like Galli stopped too much sneaking through. Kabba scared Sheffield witless (not that any Warnock team has much of that anyway) with his bursts of strength, pace and, wait for it, aggression. Town have scary man up front shock. Livvoâ€™s not scary, heâ€™s more a pantomime villain. Behind you!
The isolated Blade attacks brought enough to justify "Ooohs" from idle watchers 100 yards away. Crosses, but no-one there, at least no serious footballer. Peschisolido, the diving dwarf, peeled away from Groves and, just beyond the far post, gently headed a deep right wing cross at Coyne. Peschisolido held his head in his hands, sank to his knees and ran his fingers through his hair. But you canâ€™t kid us matey, youâ€™re rubbish and you look like youâ€™re wearing a wig.
After about 25 minutes, there really was a fright for Town. Asaba was sent free in a wide right channel on the edge of the box. From about 10 yards out and the same wide of goal, he hit a low shot across Coyne, who parried firmly into the centre of the box. The ball, fortuitously, went straight to Campbell. Had Townâ€™s luck changed? A few minutes later, following a breakaway, a deep cross from their right arced into the centre of the penalty box. Asaba, unmarked, steered the ball towards to goal with his arms next to his head. The ball gently rolled wide of goal but the referee didnâ€™t give a free kick. Now, sirs, it was time for Dannyâ€™s usual moment of brilliance (no. 1). A free kick lumped into the box was headed on by Murphy. Asaba drifted into a big hole right in front of goal, eight yards out, and powered a header low towards the bottom left hand corner. Coyne was a grey haze as he flung himself across and parried spectacularly. All hail the magnificent Mariner.
Town harried and hassled, briefly flirting with attacks which often faded through over indulgence, principally by Kabba, who just kept on trying to dribble through everyone like a manly Donovan. After about half an hour, Kabba received a pass in the middle of the Sheffield half, turned, wiggled and waggled through three defenders, shivered past a fourth and had his shot blocked by a sliding, desperate lunge from the fullback. Sheffield continually attacked down the Town left, occasionally managing to zip in crosses, the most dangerous of which flew into the near post towards Asaba but Coyne carefully dived forward and scooped the ball up into his comforting, grey eiderdown.
Just before half time, Chettle rather ponced about near the half way line, way out on the left following a bit of one touch buck passing between the whole of the defence. Chettleâ€™s lackadaisical attempt to chip the ball down the touchline was charged down by Asaba, who surged down the left, cut in and only a brave sliding clutch by Coyne averted catastrophe. The price paid was a lump on his back, with Asaba remaining on the ground rubbing his bruised ego.
Half time: Sheffield United 0 Grimsby Town 1
And thatâ€™s all the news thatâ€™s fit to print about the first half. Very pleasing it was too. A cracking opening 10 minutes and Sheffield United never looked like scoring. The locals were beginning to chunter with very audible groans whenever Asaba had the ball. Most parts of the Town team were functioning well, with the very clear exception of Pouton, who was dreadful. Never in the right place, hardly tackled and ended up being piggy in the middle. Thank heavens for Coldicott, who did the work of two Titans. Ford struggled but was perfectly able to recover by using his sound defensive brain. No panicky retreating, no standing off allowing crosses; he largely nullified their principle source of danger. Robinson and Kabba spent a lot of time running down the channels, which meant that Town were underpopulated in the penalty area, hence a lot of crosses and no-one there. But overall, this was fine. Young Mr Grace popped his head into the dressing room (when Pouton was in the loo) and said "Youâ€™ve all done very well."
Stu's Half Time Toilet Talk
"Thereâ€™s no way theyâ€™ll not score."
The report continues in the second half.
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