Question of the Week
Do you support Cleethorpes Town?
Trick Or Treat? Burnley Report
By: Tony Butcher
A WINDLESS, temperate evening with around 400 Burnleyites gathered together and grooving in the Osmond Stand. A eerie silence matched the weird mood in the ground, partly created by the marketing of the game as an (almost) Halloween special.
Grimsby Town 6 Burnley 5
29 Oct 2002, Nationwide League Division 1
Why was there a pile of leaves in the Ticket Office? Ambience, or someone couldnâ€™t be bothered to sweep them up? The Mighty Mariner wore a witchâ€™s hat and a cape; two 7 foot Grim Reapers stalked the referee and linesmen as they warmed up (excellently subtle intimidation) and there was a fancy dress competition for the most frightening appearance, won by Townâ€™s number 10. Ho-ho indeed, the first, and last, Livvo joke of the night.
Town have a new warm up routine, where they all gather in a circle and half a dozen wear bibs pretending to be defenders whilst the others pass it around. All very well, but there was a lot of standing around looking gormless as Wilkinson tried to explain the intricacies. And that was the pre-match build up, along with suitable music. They played the "Monster Mash" at least twice, though I didnâ€™t hear Steve "Dandy" Livingstoneâ€™s hit "Suzanne Beware of the Devil". A trick missed, I feel.
Town lined up in the usual 4-4-2 formation as shown. The substitutes were Allaway, Rowan, Cooke, Mansaram and Parker. Bags of experience on the bench then. The continuing exclusion of Cooke was greeted with dismay, as was the absence of Robinson from the squad. The home fans had turned up, but that was as far as the expectation went.
Town kicked off towards the Pontoon and refused to play the 1st division game, retaining possession for seconds on end. Before kicking the ball out for a goal-kick. The game was extremely uneventful for the first minute, and then Town had an attack, which immediately laid bare the paucity of nous in the Burnley defence. Livvo won a flick on, Kabba ran quickly, Burnley quaked.
From this point on the game became surreal, and it is impossible to recall in what order things really happened; they blended into a seamless procession of strange happenings, barely explainable through the appliance of logic.
After a couple of minutes, Town had some concerted pressure down the left, a pass, a cross, a half clearance, a cross back in from Barnard, about 30 yards out near the touchline. Livingstone, on the centre left edge of the penalty area flicked the ball on into the middle of the area. KABBA sprinted forward, rolled past the so-called defender, who fell over, and from the very centre of the box, about a dozen yards out, slashed a right foot shot across Beresford and into the bottom left hand corner. Yes, the Burnley defence parted like the purple sea. We laughed.
Burnley were playing with three forwards, which meant spaces everywhere, but also danger, for they donâ€™t half move slickly when attacking. A team who place an emphasis on wing play, they tried to utilise the huge Taylor. But Raven was dealing quietly, but effectively, with him. Until the 10th minute when Raven, at a throw in, suddenly sank to his knees. The referee wandered over, had a long conversation and walked off the pitch with Raven, who then slumped on the bench, head in hands. All very odd, and it took a minute to get the substitute on, which resulted in a big old shuffle of the cards. Cooke came on and went to right wing, Campbell went to the left, Barnard to left back and Gallimore to centre back. Gallimore stood next to Taylor and we all gulped and pulled some funny faces, for Taylor towered over Tony G.
Burnley helped Town by passing the ball out of play, without passing GO, so there was a spell of nondescript football where virtually nothing happened, the crowd was silent, gazes started to drift to the bright lights in the Humber. Then Burnley started to pass to each other and the Town defence showed itself to be a theoretical entity, only visible in laboratory conditions, to those wearing large plastic goggles and using a Petri dish. Some crosses caused panic and scrambles inside the penalty area, though the only shot to get through the thicket of bodies zipped a yard wide from about 20 yards out. Enough for a feet warming "ooh" by the Burnleyites but, viewed dispassionately from the Pontoon, we could see it was always going wide, so no worries mate. And Davis sliced a wild shot almost over the roof after a short free kick was tapped to him, 25 yards out in the centre.
Oh, hang on, whatâ€™s this? A simple chip upfield was flicked on by Livingstone, about 35 yards out, on the centre left, into a big space behind the Burnley defence. Kabba hit warp factor 7 captain, took the ball on into the area and, from about 12 yards out, and seven yards wide of the goal, hammered a left foot half volley across Beresford and an inch or two wide of the left hand post. Flippinâ€™ â€˜eck! Livvo was playing like heâ€™s supposed to, winning headers and acting as a wall off which bouncy Kabba bounced and terrified Burnley.
Letâ€™s skip a few pages shall we, missing out those humdrum "moments of danger". After about 22 minutes something very annoying occurred. Town broke up a Burnley attack on the left and started a slick counter attack. Barnard, near the half way line, played a brilliant defence splitting pass to set up a roving, rampaging midfielder...in claret and blue. With the whole of the left side of the Town team steaming upfield and out of position, Burnley simply whipped the ball down their right, smacked a high cross beyond the far post, whereupon one of their big players outjumped Ward and headed back across goal. Across goal into a big, big, big space where TAYLOR lurked unattended by cloakroom staff or defenders, and stooped to head the ball into the bottom left hand corner from about seven or eight yards out.
What happened next? Still more worrying breaks by Burnley, with Pouton appearing like a shopkeeper, to swipe the ball away from a Burnley striker as he was about to shoot, seemingly free on goal and inside the penalty area. Or was that later? Who knows, who cares. It happened sometime between 7:45 and 8:30. Coyne saved with his feet after another swirling, twirling counter attack down the Burnley right, with Gallimore and Ford all in a tizz. There were crosses, there were scrambles, there were no more goals for five minutes. Then, it happened, the event that proved we had entered a parallel universe. Town exerted some pressure, with the ball going in and out, and in and out of the penalty area like a squeezebox. We "oohed" for the sake of it, but the ball ended up with Barnard, about 30 yards out under the Stones/Smith/Findus Stand. He looked up and carefully clipped a flat cross to the far post, where LIVINGSTONE peeled away from his marker and, from just inside the 6 yards box, headed back across the face of goal. The ball slapped off his forehead and arced slowly, slowly, slower, slower still across Beresford and towards the bottom right hand corner. After the fifth bounce the ball crept over the line and stopped. In the back of the net. Rapture for us, for Burnley it was now apocalypse. As the ball softly, softly went towards goal, someone started to sing "Daisy, Daisy", in the style of a HAL 9000 computer. They finished before the ball got to its final destination. Oh, who cares, a goal, a deserved goal from the ironic icon.
Where are we now? 2-1 to Town. Just three minutes later it wasnâ€™t 2-1 anymore. The beginnings of a Town attack was broken up on the Town right (after a loose pass by Cooke, I vaguely recall). The ball was whizzed forward quickly to the half way line, where a striker appeared to miss/dummy the ball at hip-height. The ball went straight past Ward into the "channel behind". Blake (I think) raced away, and Burnley eventually fizzed a low cross towards the near post. I MOORE, with his back to goal, near the edge of the 6 yards box, spun past Ford an wellied a low, left footed shot under/through Coyne and into the bottom corner. Pools of sorrow soon turned to waves of joy in the Pontoon as, straight from the kick off Town chipped the ball up to the left edge of the Burnley penalty area. Straight onto the chest of their left back, Branch, who calmly stepped back, chested the ball down, slipped and watched Cooke race forward, nip the ball away and dink a short pass into the centre of penalty area. KABBA sprang up from behind a human toadstool (Mr Nohair, the Burnley centre back), took the ball forward and thwacked a low shot across Beresford into the bottom left hand corner. Half an hour gone, thatâ€™s all, just half an hour.
Burnley continued to pester Town with crosses, twists, turns and some perceptive interplay around the edge of the Town box, but defending that is best described as dogged kept them at bay. The little Town players were snapping around the ankles of the Burnley strikers, in packs, like terriers. Feet, knees, backsides, everything was placed in the way of shots and crosses. Desperate it was, but hanging on in quiet desperation is the Grimsby way, as we know. Town attacked with equal verve. Sometime around here Kabba burst past Gnohere, past another defender, down the right touchline, into the area and crossed low, behind Livvo and a bit too far in front of Pouton. A few minutes later Town either scored or had a near miss, I canâ€™t remember which came first, the chicken or the dog. The goal, probably, so here goes.... After about 35 minutes Town shredded the paper thin Burnley defence on the left, yet again, with a one-two and a flick from Kabba. Twenty yards out, near the touchline Kabba (I think) turned and passed inside the full back for Cooke to burst free . He looked up, tricked his way past a defender, looked up again, and curled a brilliant low cross through the 6 yards box to the far post, where CAMPBELL, the Phantom Menace, glided in unmarked and touched the ball in from about a yard out, standing right next to the post. A magnificently created goal, like the days of yore, it could have been Childs/Rees/Gilbert (only slightly less podgy and with less facial hair).
And again, memories of magic moments under the miserable manager returned. Town pressure, with a cross, half cleared beyond the far post to Barnard, who, from a narrow angle, spun and whacked a high cross beyond the far post. Cooke, ten yards beyond the goal, and about five from the bye-line, waited, wait-wait-waited for the ball to drop, bent his back and volleyed the ball into the ground. It bounced over Beresford towards the far corner, but the â€˜keeper leapt and just managed to punch the ball up in the air, towards Coldicott, on the centre left of the area. His attempted volley bounced up high, off a defender towards Pouton, the king of the miss-hit shots, who miss-hit his attempted volley into the ground. The ball bounced off a defender towards another Town player. Oooh, it was exciting, though probably very exacting for the Burnley fans.
At some point Gnohere was substituted and Burnley reverted to a 3-4-3 formation. That caused problems, big problems to Town.
Half time: Grimsby Town 4 Burnley 3
As half time approached Kabba, from about 20 yards on the centre left, had a shot, after a lay off by Livvo, which he slightly "topped". The ball still trundled towards the bottom right hand corner, with Beresford only just managing to slump on the ball. Now if only Town could keep the two goal lead to half time, everything would be fine and dandy. But Town are Town, arenâ€™t they. Two minutes after the board had been flashed that two minutes of extra time were to be added, the tannoy announced "two minutes of added time". So, four minutes after the board went up, Coyne completely miss-kicked a simple clearance out of play, 35 yards out into the Lower Smiths/Stones/Findus. Rodger was jumping up and down pointing to his watch a la Ferguson. Burnley took the throw in quickly, pinged a cross deep and high towards the far post. Ward miss-timed his jump and, from the edge of the area, near the centre, headed vertically. The town defence retreated and allowed a Burnley player to race forward and control the ball. BLAKE wriggled, waggled his bottom, and twisted across the face of the penalty area, drifting to the right, before scraping a firm low shot across Coyne into the bottom right hand corner. Two seconds after Town restarted, the referee ended perhaps the most bonkers 45 minutes (give or take 2 or 4 minutes) seen at Blundell Park this millennium. What was the score again?
After all that I think Iâ€™ll just go and have a lay down. I suggest you do to. As a bad Irish comic once said "thereâ€™s more....."
Stu's Half Time Toilet Talk
"What would Lionel Bienvenue make of that?".
The report continues in the second half.
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