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Question of the Week
How long before new manager arrives?
12/10 Watford 2nd Half
By: Tony Butcher
NO CHANGES were made by either team at half time. Watford kicked off and, to prove their first division credentials, kicked the ball straight out of play, but higher than Town had managed. The first chance of the half came the way of the yellow perils.
Watford 2 Grimsby Town 0
12 Oct 2002, Nationwide League Division 1
A ball was played over the top down the Town centre left. Webber was miles in front everyone so, from our unique position 150 yards away and at 90 degrees, we knew instantly he was offside. Years of watching Town told us that. Despite the universally held view in our neck of the woods, the linesman didnâ€™t wave his magic wand and end our worries. Webber ran on, and on, and on, cutting inside, outside, inside, outside, inside again. Then outside. A combination of Webberâ€™s strange tendency to dribble like a dog and Santosâ€™ fantastic covering ensured that he was forced wider and wider. Webber did wriggle past Santos, but he was at such a narrow angle the resulting shot rebounded off some part of the leader of the Marseilles massive and Wales, Wales number 4 flopped upon the ball as it rolled towards the bye-line.
Iâ€™ll make it easy for you, the second half replicated the first. Town had the ball most of the time, Watford threatened on isolated breakaways and at corners. There werenâ€™t many moments of high excitement in the first quarter of an hour, with Town looking quite good tippy-tappying the ball in little triangles, but the final pass seemed to elude them (yeah, I know, you know that anyway, itâ€™s de rigueur for a Town supporters, taken as read). Pouton took more and more control of the game in the centre, driving himself, and the team, on. He lead by example too in the moaning stakes. And hereâ€™s where the referee started to infuriate, rather than mildly annoy. Exhibit number one, a Town breakaway after 15/20 minutes. The ball was played up to Kabba near the halfway line on the centre right. He laid the ball back to Campbell (I think) who played a fantastic first time pass up to Pouton 30 yards from the Watford goal, unmarked, and free, free as a bird. Kabba had been clobbered from behind and was motionless upon the grass. The referee monitored the Town move, looked at Kabba second time, looked at Pouton, saw he had controlled the ball, looked back at Kabba and blew his whistle, applying the disadvantage rule, of course.
The Town players, lead by Pouton and Campbell, went mad, and rightly so, for the referee ordered a drop ball, with Watford kicking the ball back to Coyne. No free kick, no booking, no advantage. Superb defending by Watfordâ€™s emergency centre back.
Kabba wriggled down the right and, 20 yards out, waggled a shot a yard or so high and wide of Chamberlainâ€™s left hand post. The flow was back with Town and Kabba was a-motoring now. Then, a few moments later a quite wonderful move from town, down the right, initially involving Cooke and Ward. The ball was played up to Kabba in the centre, who laid a first time flick through the Watford defence to the left of the Watford penalty , Mansaram spun past his marker and, from eight yards out, wide of goal, played a pass back into the centre. Chamberlain was stranded by his post as Kabba ran in. Fortunately for Watford their little right back, Doyley, was fast enough to get across and shin the ball a foot wide of Chamberlainâ€™s left hand post. Fortunate for Watford that their defender was no Doyley Carthorse, otherwise Town would have had a richly deserved equaliser.
Watford attack! Nothing happened.
Town continued to press forward, the passing and movement was sublime at times, starting from the back. When Coyne eventually stopped fly kicking on to Big Bald Blokeâ€™s head, or directly out of play without passing GO, that is. Ward and Barnard started to push up, and Town started to spread play most impressively. With about 20 or so minutes left Mansaram was replaced by Livvo, just to add extra pace. Mansaram is an odd cove, he doesnâ€™t do that much, but occasionally he links fantastically with Kabba to frighten the life out of the opposition. Kabba clearly works better with Mansaram than with loveable Livvo, the lumpen lumbering lodestone. Mansaramâ€™s last contribution was to fall in the area. He received a pass from Kabba, about 10 yards out to the left of goal. He tried to turn but slipped as the defender came through him to clear (and was gently tugging his shirt at the same time - something we could see being 30 foot above the incident and directly behind). Personally I would have given the penalty for a foul by the groundsman - the Town players kept slipping and tripping over the turf all through the game.
Despite Livvoâ€™s arrival, Town still had the game by the throat. A corner on Townâ€™s right was curled high into the centre. Santos rose above the world to head towards the centre left of the goal. It wasnâ€™t a powerful thump, the ball seemingly looping a bit. Kabba threw himself forward and the ball disappeared from view as Chamberlain, Kabba and a defender all converged on the same spot. It looked, for a fleeting moment, like a goal, but the ball suddenly appeared on the ground as Chamberlain dropped it, then belly-flopped onto the plastic pig.
Watford in another attack! Calm down. Their player cut inside from their right and lifted a "shot" high, wide and ugly. Result, scrum down, 25 yards. A little later fans almost "ooed" when a cross bumbled slowly through the area, for no one, a cross that could have lasted years.
Disadvantage number two. Campbell near the half way line on a quick break, with Town outnumbering the Watford defenders. The referee called play back for a Town free kick inside the area. And a minute later yet more fury emanated from all monochromers. Pouton was felled by their number 23, Hands, who was the sort of player despised by opposition supporters. He likes to leave his mark, as late as possible. Felled as in, he caught Pouton very late. And a minute later Hands brought down Campbell when Campbell surged away on a quick break. Campbell tried to take the free kick quickly, but Hands stood on the ball and argued. Two opportunities for a booking, but not taken. You see, heâ€™d already been booked. The result of all this was that Pouton was booked for complaining, though Pouton had the sense to drag Campbell away before he too was booked. These may seem like minor moments, but they did halt Town and help Watford.
With about 15 minutes left Watford brought on a midfielder, Vernazza, who was rather unkindly greeted by certain Town fans to a rendition of Colonel Bogey "Vernazza, has only got one...". Come on, surely we could have more sympathy for a victim of crime?
And still Town pressed. Kabba had a couple of furious forays down the right, resulting in corners and crosses. Chamberlain made some desperate parries and punches from crosses, with Cooke lobbing one of these back towards the top left hand corner, but with insufficient power or elevation. As Town pushed forward more and more, there were, of course, gaps at the back. Watford wasted a couple of golden opportunities through players being greedy, which was nice for us. All they needed to do was pass to the unmarked player on the edge of the area but they were attracted to the blue shirts, like an undiscerning Top Man customer. Coyne was forced to make a save from one of these rare moments of cohesion and danger. Webber (I think) dribbled past Santos on a breakaway, swayed to the right of goal and, from seemingly just a few yards out, hit a shot against Coyneâ€™s bottom. A further wibble was caused by a break down their left, a cross to the near post and Santos intercepted with a flying cushioned volley back to Coyne. The Watford fans roared claiming a back pass, for they too recognised Santosâ€™ imperious ball skills. Of course he meant to do it, itâ€™s easy.
Itâ€™s not over yet. With five or so minutes left Cooke was replaced by Robinson and after a fine flowing move Pouton hit a low fizzer from 20 yards which was diverted a yard wide of the right hand post by the studs of a defender. Kabba burst down the left and cut inside, beating one defender and falling when nudged gently by a second. "Penalty" cried the Town fans, more in hope than expectation. No, of course not. We roared and roared on the boys in powder blue, with Santos and Ford almost permanently stationed inside the Watford area. All of which meant that Town would be a little vulnerable on the break. In the second of the three minutes of added time a hoofed clearance bounced behind Ward. He chased back with the Watford substitute, Smith, who out jumped and barged his way forward. Ward chased, but Smith was a little too quick, bearing down upon Coyne on the centre. SMITH glided to the right and whacked a right footed shot into the centre left of Coyneâ€™s goal from perhaps 15 yards. With that, 50 or so Town fans got up and left, frustrated by the result, given the performance, I presume. Which was a pity, as the players deserved an ovation from all, not just the ones who bothered to see out the last 37 seconds.
So another defeat to another mundane team, that should aspire to be 14th. But thatâ€™s another mundane team that takes its chances, I suppose. The Town performance was, overall, probably the best so far this season, with a back four that looked quite good, especially in the centre. Kabba continued in the same form as he ended on Tuesday; he was hot, hot , hot. I just wish theyâ€™d cast Livvo in bronze and place his statute on the bench to "inspire". Town passed, Town moved, Town dominated really. The second goal was the result of pushing everyone forward, these things happen (and they frequently do to Town). The first goal resulted from the usual thrashing around at a corner, the ball just fell to an opponent. These things happen (and they frequently do to Town).
Town look ok now, lets hope that the returners donâ€™t disrupt what weâ€™ve stumbled into. The only negative to take from this game was the result but that, in the end, is the important thing. If you can have an encouraging defeat this was it. It was 2,000 light years from the home performance last week.
Nickoâ€™s Man of the Match
Well, letâ€™s see, Ford and Ward were impressive, and Pouton eventually returned to some dazzling form, doing step-overs and back flicks all over the place. One man stood head and shoulders above all. Quite literally. Georges Santos, mean, moody, magnificent? Oh yes. A touch tackling, ball playing centre back, like a psychopathic Handyside.
S Tomlin. Youâ€™ve read the report, he was quite pathetic really. He managed to infuriate both sets of supporters, though I assume the Watfordians were playing up their image of self aware ironists by chanting "you donâ€™t know what youâ€™re doing" at him, for overall they benefited from his little madnesses.
I feel inclined to award 3.8, as he showed himself incapable of understanding what was happening. He would have got even lower marks if heâ€™d awarded Town penalties.
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