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Livvo is the Past: Wolves Report
By: Tony Butcher
YET another clear afternoon with a soupcon of wind discernible, to those with feathercuts and new romantic wedges, in the home of nostalgia. Around 250-300 Town fans sat in their usual seats (to the right as seen on TV) to hear the usual taunts from the frustrated Wolves fans to our left.
Wolverhampton Wanderers 4 Grimsby Town 1
26 Oct 2002, Nationwide League Division 1
But alas. We heard none, has reality finally struck the perennial premiership favourites? Just half a dozen youths in woollies (thatâ€™s knitwear, not the picâ€™nâ€™mix emporium) attempted any "banter". "Shall we sing a song for you?". A Town fan requested "Quando, Quando, Quando", but they failed to oblige. Donâ€™t todayâ€™s youth have any appreciation of *This Islandâ€™s* musical heritage?
Town warmed up by moving gracelessly between cones, followed by graceless missing during shooting practice. There were unsubstantiated reports of kicking practice by Allaway and Coyne, which boded ill for those who have tired of the long ball to *near* Livvoâ€™s head.
Town lined up in the sky blue kit in the usual 4-4-2 formation, as shown. Pouton pronouncement was today "Pootâ€™n", though it edged towards the topical "Putin". Rootinâ€™ tootinâ€™ Putâ€™n, the cannonball express.
The pre-match ritual of whipping the crowd into a frenzy seems set in stone, the traditional "Hi Ho Silver Lining", and "the Liquidator" (how appropriate for First Division clubs) which went on, and on, and on, and on, up to 3:03. The game could not, of course, start until the last bar of ska. And why all those balloons and fireworks? A sparkling cascade of fire greeted the teams as they ran on the pitch. Letâ€™s hope Town donâ€™t try that nonsense, as itâ€™ll only be cascades of sparklers, twirled by a local dance troupe shivering in the wind.
Hopes were low amongst the Town fans for history tells us that if Wolves need the points for promotion we always stick a spanner in their spokes. If the manager needs a win to keep his job...well sir, step right this way. And history is very big in Wolverhampton.
In an unusual security alert all bottle tops were confiscated because of "them lot from Sheffield". Donâ€™t they do their homework? Sophisticated Sheffielders move to Humberston, so Town fans wouldnâ€™t "cause crowd pandemonium that the police canâ€™t control" with plastic bottle tops. Or even without them.
Wolves kicked off towards the Town fans and displayed their arrogance and conceit immediately. Ah, premiership pretensions on show - they didnâ€™t kick it out of play within the first 10 seconds. They passed, moved and passed again, working the ball out to their left wing. A cross, an unmarked Nathan Blake, a downward header from near the penalty spot, a Coyne scramble and parry from just inside the left hand post, a corner. Corner cleared courtesy of Santos, the Mount Vesuvius in the middle of the pitch.
The Town fans perked up a bit after another minute or so of mildly diverting football, with Town passing it along the ground to team-mates. After just a couple of minutes the ball was lofted forward from the right touchline towards Kabba. A Wolves defender half cleared, only succeeding in heading the ball vertically to Santos, about 30 yards out, right in the centre. All stood off and cowered at the sight of the movable man mountain. He eventually controlled the ball and laid off a pass into space inside the area. KABBA peeled away from his marker, drifted left and seemed to miss-hit a left foot shot from about fifteen yards, to the left of goal, watching as the ball tumbled, bumbled and stumbled across the face of goal, over the goalkeeperâ€™s hands and, eventually, into the bottom left hand corner. The silence was golden, the noise black and white. We laughed a lot in between the joyful jumping.
Wolvesâ€™ reaction? To continue as they started; a fluid passing game, with midfielders casually infiltrating the spaces between the Town defence and midfield. A tip-tappy game which caused some problems up to the edge of the area but their unwillingness to cross, and also their inaccuracy when they did, helped Town a lot. The height of Raven and Santos was a big hindrance to them and an asset to us.
But chances? They had â€˜em. A huge moment of danger was created by a break down their right and a deep hanging cross to the far post. The ball dropped over Ward, and Blake brought the ball down on his chest, three or four yards out, just beyond Coyneâ€™s right hand post. Ward spun round and hooked the ball away for a corner as Blake was about to shoot. A few minutes later another swift break down their centre right saw the ball whizzed out to Cameron, about 20 yards out, just to the left of centre. Ward slipped as the ball was passed to Cameron, allowing the big bulky Scot to glide past the Waltham waif. Ward half recovered and as Cameron was about to shoot slid across, but Cameron checked back to set up a shooting chance from about 10 yards out, level with the six yard box. The ball fizzed across the grass, took a slight deflection and went over Coyne and, as if by magic, the Raven appeared, almost on the goal-line itself to flick the ball over the bar and far, far away. Another cross from their left was headed, again by Blake, a yard or so wide of Coyneâ€™s right hand post. The home fans "oohed" mightily, but it was always drifting wide. We were as happy as a teapot.
Town were almost overrun on occasions, but overall quite comfortable, playing some fine football (the Santos inspired triangles to clear danger were most smilesome). And a few chances were being created on the break, especially down the right. A Ward surge and cross was pulled back towards Campbell eight yards out at the near post. His attempted hook was diverted wide by a sliding, slicing gold boot. The corner was glanced uninterestingly wide by Raven. One Town fan "oohed", just for the sake of it. But only one. After about 20 minutes or so Town almost, almost sneaked a second goal. A corner from the left was hit beyond the far post to Livingstone (almost his first, and only, touch in the first half), who headed down, across the face of goal. The ball was half hacked clear to Vlad the impaler Pouton, just inside the penalty area on the right. His shot was typically Poutonian, dragged wide, but it sneaked through several legs to Kabba, about 10 yards out almost level with the far post. Kabba did a Zola-like hop and flick with his right foot, sending the ball towards the bottom right hand corner. The ball bounced like a beach ball between the groynes, slowly wending its merry way towards the net. The goalkeeper, the huge goalkeeper, suddenly sprawled across and just managed to tip the ball away at the very last moment.
Around the same time Ince was booked for moaning, which I understand is a FIFA regulation, number 98(d)(ii), as amended in 2001. His 3rd moan of the afternoon was over a goal kick, claiming far too vociferously for a corner, with "â€™kinell" inserted at every third word. As some Town fan deep, deep, inside the bowels of the Town support shouted "Oh shut up you tart", which rather summed it up nicely.
So far, so good. Then not. After half an hour, some Wolves pressure resulted in a midfielder lining up a shot from about 25 yards out, just to the left of centre. Ford flung himself at the ball and it struck him on the hand. The referee immediately gave a direct free kick as the Town players complained that it was not intentional blah, blah, blah. Too late, decision made and an air of inevitability settled upon the stadium. Coyneâ€™s Seamanesque weakness at free kicks was the subject of much muttering, especially when we realised who was about to take the free kick - Dennis Irwin, popping his head up for almost the first time in the game. IRWIN carefully placed the ball, making sure the makerâ€™s name lined up with the goal, and drove a curling, dipping right foot shot over the wall and high into the centre right of Coyneâ€™s goal. Finally, the Wolves fans made some concerted noise, with a Pavlovian chant of "youâ€™re not singing anymore". We werenâ€™t anyway was the gist of the Town fans collective response. We are far too used to fleeting moments of hope dissolving into dusty disaster for a premature rooster roster. Oh yes, and it looked like Kabba was booked for complaining to the referee about the award of the free kick.
More crosses, more shots from Wolves, none too close, so not worth describing. Just a bit more pressure from them, though it was Town who came nearest to scoring. The ball was dinked around between the centre circle and the edge of the Wolves penalty area, with a final lofted pass over the defence for Livvo to sprint onto (when you have stopped laughing at that concept please continue reading). A Wolves defender, just inside the penalty area in the centre, headed very weakly away as their â€˜keeper came off his line. The ball dropped right in the centre, right on the edge of the penalty area for Barnard, who hit a first time right footed half volley down the centre of the goal. The goalkeeper leaned back, leapt up and spectacularly tipped the ball over for a corner. On such moments games turn.
Just one more worrying moment after that, somewhere in the last couple of minutes of the half. Wolves counter attacked quickly down their right. The ball was played up to Blake, just outside the area, who attempted to control the ball with the outside of his knee, thus knocking the ball on into a gap behind Ford and Raven. Rae ran on from midfield and hit a toe poke right foot shot three yards wide of Coyneâ€™s right hand post. Donâ€™t worry, Coyne had it covered. There were five minutes of added time, for a couple of long injury hold ups, mostly after a Wolves defender headed the back of Kabbaâ€™s head inside the first ten minutes. Clyde ran back with a bandage round his head, Kabba continued after a shrug.
Half time: Wolverhampton Wanderers 1 Grimsby Town 1
There you are, fifty minutes of fun. The scoreline was probably fair, as both teams had good chances, though neither was totally dominant. Wolves had by far the greater proportion of play, but didnâ€™t do that much with it, whilst Town looked lively and threatening on the break. Until the ball went near Livvo, that is. Poor, poor Livvo, the legend and the reality sit uncomfortably upon the same rocking chair. Perhaps the fans should club together and buy him a pair of slippers and a nice thick tartan blanket for Christmas, so heâ€™ll take the hint. But apart from him, the Town players had looked ok, though Pouton was beginning to get a bit ratty and angry with the referee for all the small decision that werenâ€™t going his way. Especially when Rae kept tripping him up and getting away with it.
It was going far too well. There must be some kind of disaster round the corner. After all, something has gone wrong in virtually every game this season. Weâ€™ve had the freak own goal, we had the mad referee, what next?
Stu's Half Time Toilet Talk
"Who said Santos is a cycle path?".
The report continues in the second half.
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