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And Then There Were Nine...Rotherham Report
By: Tony Butcher
A CLEAR blue day, virtually windless with just the merest hint of a chill to greet our four feathered friends from the adjacent county. And a whole bunch of them there was too, packing out the Osmond Stand, with even the green seats containing humanity, rather than the usual odd steward.
Grimsby Town 0 Rotherham Utd 0
19 Oct 2002, Nationwide League Division 1
Or even an odd unusual steward, take your pick.
The Towns fans, or those that bothered to turn up, were in sanguine mood. Support is dwindling, with clumps of empty seating seen in all three Town stands. So itâ€™s good to see the locals rallying behind the club again. Nothing fancy to report in the pre-match build up. The usual stuff, a kick, a trot, a miss, a Gallimore funny face pull. Oh yes, Galli, heâ€™s back.
Town lined up in the usual 4-4-2 formation, as shown. Oh no, Livvo, heâ€™s back. This news brought forth varied reaction. Some liked the theory, most shuddered at the reality. What creativity there was was wrapped up inside Kabbaâ€™s crazy ankles and rumbling shoulders.
Rotherham? Well they lined up in a 4-4-2 formation, looked bright eyed and bushy eared, appearing to be as eager as a fly in a bottle. They had that comfortable look about them. Comfort can lead to complacency, of course.
The referee wore a yellow shirt. Was that significant?
Rotherham kicked off towards the Pontoon and within 4.67 seconds the ball had sailed majestically over the head of their right winger and into the back of a waiting ambulance. Is the speed at which a team kicks the ball out of play from the kick off related to their league position? Must we factor in the height at which the ball crosses the line too? Surely thereâ€™s a mathematician out there who could work it out? I won't ask you again.
The game started quite slowly, and was a bit dull. Byfield kept nipping about down the channels, but was generally shepherded to safety by Ford, whilst Lee played in the Ronnie Moore mode, "rumbustuously", which led to some manly tangling and tussling with Raven.
But nothing much happened near goal. Not that Town got near the Rotherham goal at all, with Livvo acting as a midfield shield for the Rotherham defence. In the early, boring, part of the game magic moments were flee-ee-eeting. Oh look, thereâ€™s Livvo, heâ€™s *near* the ball. Well done! Kabbaâ€™s attempts to control the ball caused much mirth, one could almost hear the Yorkshiremen chuckle from the Pontoon. The first attempt on goal I can remember came from Santos, who played a one-two with Kabba and sliced a shot over the bar, over the scoreboard, over the roof and over the Pier. Itâ€™s probably about to hit the ionosphere .....now.
There were a few wibbles in the Town defence, with Ford almost scoring a wonderful lob over Coyne. Under pressure near the right edge of the penalty area and facing goal he decided to play a nonchalant flick with the outside of his right boot, which arced over Coyne towards the top right hand corner of the goal. Coyne back-pedalled furiously, leapt up as if to head it out, then clearly thought "sod it" and parried the ball away. Curiously, no Rotherham player appealed for a back pass, which it was. A little later Ward fell when the ball was lobbed over his head and he tried to head it back to Coyne. There was a very strange bounce, as if it had hit a divot, though Livvo was at the other end of the pitch. Whatever, Rotherham wasted the opportunity, as their left winger decided to dribble across the face of the penalty area, only succeeding in running into four Town defenders. Now thatâ€™s the kind of success I like to see.
After about 15 minutes, Rotherham won a free kick about 20 yards out, right in the centre, after Ford slid in to tackle Garner, who tried to dink the ball over the horizontal centre back. Fordâ€™s feet missed the ball, but he did block with another, less obvious, part of his anatomy. To the indignation of all in the Pontoon the referee gave a free kick. McIntosh loped up and curled a left foot shot over the wall and about a foot over the bar, with Coyne wishinâ€™ and hopinâ€™, and prayinâ€™ it was over. And still the game trundled on, with no hint of skill or excitement. Livvo drifted across the face of the penalty area and, from the right, curled a left footed shot a couple of feet wide of the â€˜keeperâ€™s right hand post. No Town supporters raised even an eyebrow in anticipation, no "ooohs", no "ahhhs", for it was Livvo, we knew what to expect. But a corner? Then we woke up, but fell asleep again when that plan came to nought, just half a page of scribbled lines on the training ground. Rotherham immediately broke away and Pouton ran the full length of the pitch to flip the ball away as Byfield (I think) was about to shoot, inside the Town area. The Pontoon roared Pouton on for a great track back. Yes, thatâ€™s the excitement we were getting. A satisfying tackle was greeted like a triple step over and double Lutz with handstands. Another Rotherham breakaway, after about 25 minutes, from a Town corner saw Santos also run back 50 yards, but the psychopathic teddy bear simply walloped the opponent from behind, right in front of the referee. A yellow card, no arguments there.
A couple of minutes later - pandemonium. Santos tricked and barged his way through the Rotherham defence, about 25yards out to the left. Garner, who had the physique and stubble of a Sunday League Division Two teamâ€™s gifted but temperamental playmaker, legged him up from behind, with a mild raking stamp. Santos waggled his boot at Garner, got up , shoved him, then was pushed over himself. Loads of Rotherham players ran over, as did Pouton and Livingstone (I presume, though Livvo ambled rather than ran) and much continental slappings ensued, being manly chest beating and pouting. Pouton engaged in a lengthy, intimate, philosophical discourse with Garner, and, as one would expect the charabanc trippers behind that goal enquired whether the referee would consider that Mr Santos should be removed from the field of play. Which they shortened to "Off, Off, Off". The Town fans had a contrary view. As Garner was still alive, Santos could not possibly have touched him. Right? Out came the red card (not a second yellow) and our weapon of mass destruction was off with 75 minutes left. No UN resolution required here then. Santos is at times like a glowering inferno - heâ€™s outta control and heading your way. The linesman flagged with some style to attract the refâ€™s attention, which resulted in the shaven headed Rotherham centre back being booked, presumably for being the only player who tried to calm things down. The result of all that was a Town free kick, which Gallimore curled around the wall and into Pollittâ€™s midriff.
A couple of minutes later, as Rotherham were about to take a corner, Livingstone was replaced by Coldicott and Town shuffled into a simple 4-4-1 formation. Rotherham didn't threaten at all really for the rest of the half. The occasional breakaway which fizzled away like a cheap firework, with a few offsides thrown in for good measure. I can't remember Coyne having to make what independent observers would call "a save" from a Rotherham player in the first half. The Town players ran around like furies, gradually rousing the crowd from initial resigned silence to combative carousing. If anything, Town had the best efforts on goal after Santos disappeared. Pouton, twice, cut in from the right and pinged left foot shot towards goal, the first of which only just failed to curl in at the far post. Kabba too had his trademark rumble in the jungle down the flank, twisting past a couple of defenders, drifting across the face of the penalty area and slightly scuffing a shot low to the near post. Easily saved, but justification for a roar from the crowd.
Whenever Rotherham threatened to create anything a Town boot, bottom or bonce got in the way, with Ford particularly thriving in the last ditch clearance. Raven managed to get himself booked for upending Lee. The moaning, groaning Lee, who spent all game mouthing off or rolling around on the ground. What an irritant he was, and not for anything he did with the ball either. Ah, I've remembered now, the moment they nearly scored. Some interplay 25 yards out on the Town centre left ended with a little pass between Gallimore and Raven for Byfield to zoom in on. Ravenâ€™s outstretched right boot managed to half clear as Coyne raced off his line to collect. The ball went straight to their right back who immediately lobbed the retreating, stranded Coyne, a la Barnard against Derby. The ball gently curled, curved, arced and dropped a few inches over the angle of post and bar.
Half time: Grimsby Town 0 Rotherham Utd 0
And that was the first half, where nothing happened except a bit of testosterone posing, which made the game spin off in an entirely unexpected direction. They may have had Warne on the pitch but it was the ref who chucked in a googly to spice things up. Scoreless was about right on the balance of play and chances created, but , as one would expect, hopes were low in the monochrome ends. This daft season continues daftly. Still, 45 more minutes, anything could happen and probably would.
Stu's Half Time Toilet Talk
"No matter how slack I try to be they won't sack me".
The report continues in the second half.
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