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19/10 Rotherham 2nd Half
By: Tony Butcher
NO CHANGES were made by either team at half time. Town kicked off and refused to kick the ball out immediately. Surprisingly, Rotherham continued to play in the half-baked way they'd played in the first half.
Grimsby Town 0 Rotherham Utd 0
19 Oct 2002, Nationwide League Division 1
They were a little more direct, but there was still a lot ambling about by their podgy midfield, who took much umbrage at the stern swashbuckling challenges meted out to them, particularly by Pouton. The very first action of the half was a surprise to all, with Town almost sneaking a goal. Kabba chased a ball played down the left hand touchline, spun, bundled and surged to the bye-line, crossing towards....no-one. The ball veered towards the top near post, forcing Pollitt to tip it away with some discomfort. The corner was clipped high towards the far post by Barnard where Raven, unmarked and about 10 yards out, slightly miss-judged his leap and the ball skimmed off his forehead softly and well wide. Did this wake Rotherham up? No. We had another half dozen minutes of midfield battling, with Town strung across the pitch in two lines of four, closing down space, snapping at ankles, hustling and harrying in the old way. It was noticeable that when Kabba broke away there was always a Town player racing up the pitch in support, initially Campbell being the designated supporter.
Then two incidents to further fan the flames. Rotherham tried to break quickly from the half way line, right in front of the dug-outs. Raven flew across and slid at Byfield, who knocked the ball forward and rolled. Oh dear, Ravenâ€™s off here. No, Byfield booked for diving. Cue angry arguments with the referee, led by Lee. Two minutes after, just about 10 minutes into the half, Lee burst down the touchline in almost exactly the same spot. Raven again flew across, legged Lee up, who rolled, rolled, rolled, writhed and rolled again. Yellow card number two for Raven and off he went. A lenient referee may have allowed Raven another chance, as it was a slightly miss-timed lunge but, then again, why give someone the opportunity to fall and the ref a chance to send you off? It did appear that some of the Rotherham players were seeking Ravenâ€™s dismissal, and I do point a very long ET-like finger at Lee.
The second sending off raised the roof a further 6 inches as the home crowd were enraged beyond normal safety levels. The ground reverberated to deep, deep booing and rancorous shrieks of rage. Every tackle, clearance, throw-in even, was met with a wall of noise that echoed around and around. Questions were certainly raised about the refereeâ€™s competence and even right to exist. He was not popular, even less so when a series of little decisions kept going against Town, including being another referee to apply the disadvantage rule to Town after a chop on Campbell. All of which served a useful purpose, for it meant the Town players were given a quick fix of adrenalin. Pumped up by the perceived injustice, the crowd seemed to create an invisible 10th player, then a transparent 11th.
Town reshuffled to a 4-3-1 formation, with Gallimore at centre back, Barnard at left back and Campbell, Coldicott and Pouton in the centre. Sounds negative doesn't it, with Town just trying to hold on. In reality, it was Town who created the best chance. Ward intercepted a pass deep inside the Town half, ran forward and passed up to Kabba in the centre circle, who turned and ran at the defence. Another futile headlong run against a brick wall? Hang on a second, Ward sprinted up the touchline, into a gaping hole where their left back should have been, and received the ball back from Kabba. Ward took on the covering defender and crossed from just outside the area, near the touchline, towards the near post. Kabba and McIntosh converged on a spot 6 yards out, level with near post. The ball bounced off the defenderâ€™s shins and slowly bumbled towards the bottom left hand corner. Pollitt just, and only just, managed to change direction and tip the ball an inch wide of the post for a corner. ROAR. The corner was floated towards the far post, bouncing off a defender, off Fordâ€™s back and into a space 6 yards out. Kabba, unmarked, turned and Pollitt plopped onto the ball as Kabbaâ€™s boot swung. ROAR again.
Rotherham didn't produce anything for ages, so they kept making substitutes, taking off defenders and midfielders and throwing on strikers. Eventually Mushy Pea Moore did the obvious thing and sent on Mark Robins, to a sotto voce groan by the Town fans. Yet another in a long line of strikers who always score against Town. Everyone has one, apart from us, obviously. From this point, with about 20 minutes left, Rotherham suddenly became a threat. On occasions it was like they had more players than us! At corners Town literally didn't have enough players to mark everyone, which was a little concerning to say the least. There was an intense period of pressure with about 15 minutes left which started with a cross from their right to the far post, which was headed down into the ground at Coyne from about eight or nine yards out. A minute later a header from a corner landed on the roof of the net, and a minute or so after that we thought they'd scored. A swift one two down their left resulted in the winger getting beyond Ward, crossing to the near post where Robins peeled away, went back towards the ball, and from about six or seven yards out, level with the post, headed firmly down and a few inches wide.
Town still threatened on the counter attack with Barnard, Campbell and especially Ward bombing up to support the mighty Kabba, who had four markers but still kept emerging with the ball. Ward won a couple of corners when his crosses slapped against flabby parts of the big shaven headed centre back. Perhaps off his arm on one occasion, but only perhaps; no-one really appealed, we were so wrapped up in just making noise. Ward also slashed a drive a foot or so wide of the â€˜keeperâ€™s left hand post following another fantastic sprint and support to Kabba. Town players were everywhere, but at times there just weren't enough as Rotherham, rather belatedly, started to play with a bit of intelligence, keeping possession and switching wings constantly. There were at least three occasions when there were four of them against one Town player, but the final pass was always intercepted, which was most fortunate. Crosses kept flying in, with Ford and Gallimore heading, heading, heading away. Corners in, corners cleared. Coyne even came off his line to catch a couple too. As the game reached the last ten minutes Rotherham were reduced to shooting from outside the penalty area. Their right back, Bryan, twice slashed the ball a foot or two wide of Coyneâ€™s right hand post, a couple more squirmed through the thicket of legs, but straight to Coyne. The pressure built, but the time ticked on. Could Town get the fabulous point they deserved?
At last Coyne was forced to make a save. Daws, 20 yards out on their centre right, cut inside, saw just Barnard in front of him and let fly, zinging a right foot drive across Coyne and towards the right hand corner, at hip height. Coyne, with grace and glamour, floated upon the thermals and tipped the ball a few inches past the post. Hail to the Chief, the magnificent man was a flying machine. Here we go again, a deep cross from their left dropped between the defence and Coyne, slowly arcing through the penalty area nine or ten yards out. One player jumped and missed, another, near the far post and unmarked, leapt forward and missed, another, unmarked beyond the far post slid forward and missed. A crumpled, crestfallen mass of mid-table madness in the Town area. And finally, Cyril, their best chance. A deep high cross from their right towards the edge of the 6 yards box dropped over Ward. The striker took the ball down on his chest, leant back and volleyed the ball over the top of the scoreboard. A huge rollicking roar rose from the Town stands, everyone standing, jumping, shaking fists, shaking everything.
Pouton indulged in some more step-overs, with a most complicated and slow version, just under the Stones/Smiths/Findus causing much confusion in the minds of the watching Millers. Campbell started to surge forward, Barnard started to raid freely down the left. All fantastically spirited stuff. A Barnard raid foundered upon the clashing boot of a defender. The referee, of course, waved play on as Barnard was prostrate. When the ball was eventually kicked out of play the referee slowly, slowly walked to the prone left back, right in the corner between Stones/Findus/Smiths stand and Pontoon. A perfect opportunity for the Town fans to vent a collective spleen, and I am sure Barnard stayed down longer than required just so the referee endured the long invective.
With less than 10 minutes left, Kabba was replaced by Mansaram, receiving a huge ovation for his unquenchable desire to run for Town. All alone for an hour, against four big blokes, he caused them many, many problems. What a Guy! Mansaram seemed to have been told to play like Livvo, for he ambled around as if he'd just run a half marathon. Unco-ordinated, slow of foot and mind, he was a bit of a mess. And with five or so minutes left Ward was replaced by Cooke (which meant Coldicott went to right back). Ward had literally run himself to a standstill, being incapable of movement after his 28th foray down the right. The lad ran his heart out for Town. Which just leaves one more effort on goal to describe - a Town one too. Mansaram received the ball just inside the Rotherham half on the Town right. He spun around four times, with the ball never, ever, more than 6 inches from his body, but never, ever, under control He managed to attract three defenders and the ball squirmed away to the centre, about 25 yards out. Cooke hared forward and thwacked a first time shot which zipped through a couple of defenders. Pollitt saw it late, leant back and just managed to tip the ball over the bar. The noise deafened, with the crowd roaring Town on. Who cares that there were only two Town players in the area for the resulting corner, itâ€™s the noise that counts. There were three minutes of added time, no worries for our heroes. Pouton led half the team in a lap of honour as the crowd rose as one (excepting the Yorkists, of course) to salute the weary warriors.
0-0 at home against Rotherham. Sounds boring. No way Jose. The crowd seethed, the players showed tremendous willingness, discipline and no little skill. There were so many positive aspects, collectively and individually. This could be a very important game for Town, for it would have been very easy for them to cave in. But they didn't. Town had a bit of fortune in the last quarter of an hour but they deserved it for the season so far, and this game in particular. The collective performance makes you feel proud to be a mariner. It was an exhilarating experience, in itâ€™s own way.
Nickoâ€™s Man of the Match
Ooh, there are so many to choose from, itâ€™s almost unfair to single one out. Ward was wonderful until his legs gave way. Whoâ€™s McDermott? Gallimore, despite his propensity to run like a man whose trousers are falling down, was excellent, almost faultless. Ford only made one error, the almost catastrophic back pass, but otherwise played beautifully, matching pace with pace, strength with strength. I could go on and mention everyone, but for once the sponsors got it right - ALAN POUTON a true captainâ€™s performance, leading by example and acting as the motivator, the organiser, pumping passion and driving the demonic defenders on.
Mr R Beeby. I am obliged to give this man, the custard tart, -0.67. Not for the double sendings off because for each one the Town player put themselves in the position of appealing to his better nature. Just generally, the man did not control the game, did not grasp the mechanics or logic of football. This was not a particularly dirty game, just a couple of minor melees that were not managed properly. He spent the last five minutes giving free kicks to Town, perhaps to try and even things up. They didn't.
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