Question of the Week
How long before new manager arrives?
17/09 Sheff Utd 2nd Half
By: Tony Butcher
THERE were no changes made by either side at half time. The Sheffield United goalkeeper should really have made a change at half time as his hair clashed badly with his jersey. Lime green and ginger just do not go together.
Sheffield United 2 Grimsby Town 1
17 Sep 2002, Nationwide League Division 1
And he looked like he was action man with real hair. Can he talk too if you pull his cord?
Town, as usual, kicked the ball out of play straight away. The first action of the half was deep down on the Sheffield left, where Kabba charged down an attempted clearance. The defender tried to shield the ball as it rolled out of play but Kabba shrugged him aside and burst infield towards goal. The weak linesman flagged for a free kick, such tosh is the dull reality of First Division officiating.
Well, not much happened for most of this half. They huffed and puffed, but not a straw was blown away from Townâ€™s thatched cottage. Crosses, hoofs, more crosses, but chances? No, not with Asaba and Peschisolido on the pitch. It was all pretty calm for Town, not much feather rufflage. There were rare moments when something almost happened, but the story of the first part of this half was the sudden ability of the linesmen to see offsides; some even were. There was a five minute period when Town attacked with a series of corners. The nearest Town got to scoring from these was one from the left which was swung beyond the far post to Robinson, who ghosted in like Todd used to do. From about eight yards out, he carefully volleyed a shot through a chaotic six yard box. A Sheffield United defender sliced the clearance over the bar. Apart from a Kabba shot which went a couple of yards wide of the near post, thatâ€™s Townâ€™s efforts on goal in the second half. Pressure, but no shots.
After about an hour, Warnock, Britainâ€™s leading whine merchant, substituted his sloppy, soppy strikers with a big, clumsy Dutchman and Ndlovu. The big, clumsy Dutchman lumped a couple of Town players before the referee finally booked him for a knee high, studs up late block. It barely made up for the booking Kabba got for "scoring" after an offside decision or for not booking Barnard and Robinson for turning, stamping fouls.
Sheffield United in shot shocker. McGovern flung in a cross from the right and Tonge ran across from the left to the hear post, sending a free header high, wide and ugly, but somehow beautiful to us. Town fans were increasingly emboldened and began asking "who are yer?" when the locals made a noise. Most often when they got a throw in. Are they that desperate? Given the sparse crowd, "where are you?" would have been more appropriate. The Yorkists lost in a sea of plastic.
Cooke replaced Barnard with about 20 minutes left, which surprised no-one as Barnard had been Campbell-like in his presence and Butterfieldian in his activity. A decent first half but a liability in the second. Still nothing much was happening. A few flurries as the Blades swept forward but rarely anything going near Coyne. A period of pressure built up after Pouton needlessly tripped up a midfielder, for which he was booked. Itâ€™s not just Gallimore who can hit free kicks into the wall, as theirs rebounded up and across the area, followed by some head tennis. Finally, Tonge volleyed a yard or so wide of Coyneâ€™s right hand post from 20 yards. They oohed, we pffted.
With less than 15 minutes to go, it was still so far, so good. Easy, peasy, central defence squeezy. Warnock tired of the nonsense and brought on his big gun, Wayne Allison. Big, brutish and snorting. Another in a long line of players who always score against Town. Within a couple of minutes of coming on, Allison had drifted away from Chettle into space, 10 yards out, to the left of centre. The ball was chipped over to him and he thumped a header low across Coyne, but our man plunged perpendicularly and parried. Most exquisite and satisfying. The hope continued, but the game was retreating towards Coyne as United abandoned their stylish, one touch, subtle skills (by the way, thatâ€™s irony for all you first time readers). They whacked and hacked around to simply lift the ball as high and as long as possible. Their goalkeeper was even drop-kicking it right into the Town penalty area. With eight minutes left, something wicked Townâ€™s way came. A corner from their right was smacked to the far post, Chettle allowed Allison to drift away and also failed to anticipate the flight of the ball. ALLISON rose unhindered and headed down into the ground, across Coyne and into the centre left of the goal. Cue music: the theme from The Professionals. I donâ€™t think there is anything worse than that. Cheesy and risible and enough to make the mildest, meekest Mariner seethe.
So a draw plucked from the chicken of victory, no it got worse. Much, much worse. With a minute left, Robinson challenged on the right edge of the Sheffield area. He fell backwards and tripped the defender. The â€˜keeper hammered the free kick straight down the field, Allison and Chettle jumped. Both missed the ball and it bounced up just outside the Town area on the left. A gaggle of flapping footballers converged. The ball continued on into the area and TONGE sprinted in and hit a perfect, thundering, looping volley over Coyne. More annoying music, Town players and fans distraught.
Mansaram and Rowan immediately replaced Kabba and Campbell. The tannoy announced three minutes of added time. About a minute later the referee blew his whistle and it was over. Donâ€™t you just hate the 80s. Town deserved victory, if not for the chances created in the first 10 minutes, then for the way they had easily repelled the Blades. But, thereâ€™s always a but, isnâ€™t there. Occasional sloppiness cost points again. Sheffield United were what they always are, but less effective. It rankles to such mediocrity, especially as Town had played with confidence, cohesion and no little skill.
Make of this what you will, but Town are improving. Town are seemingly this yearâ€™s Stockport, but they are actually much better than that. Thereâ€™s always next time.
Nickoâ€™s Man of the Match
There are only two candidates. Coldicott did a double workload, but today thereâ€™s only one Danny Coyne. Two fantastic saves and some speed and bravery in coming off his line with boots flying around his chest.
Markâ€™s UnMan of the Match
Embarrassing in his ineptitude, a waste of a shirt, unable to contribute anything to road safety, Mr Alan Pouton. It hurts, but itâ€™s true.
Mr Clattenburg. A bit fussy, not great, not awful. His decisions when to book were rather strange, but overall he was average. And so gets 6.32.
The report continues in the second half.
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