Question of the Week
What should happen to the EFL Trophy next season?
02/11 Gillingham 2nd Half
By: Tony Butcher
IT started to rain, a drizzly, mizzly, thin, soaking rain. No changes were made by either team at half time, and the game started with a whimper, as Town played some old style religion, hoofing up the touchline for goal kicks.
Grimsby Town 1 Gillingham 1
02 Nov 2002, Nationwide League Division 1
A couple of minutes into the half, as the ball was down near the Pontoon, a firework was lobbed over the top of the open corner between the Osmond Stand and Findus/Stones/Smith Stand, presumably from the house which had been the venue of the free fireworks display at half time. This multi-exploding air banger landed inside the penalty area, about a dozen yards out near the edge of the area and sent Coyne scurrying for cover. After a few seconds the referee stopped play, wandered down to the Osmond End and some stewards belatedly ran up the steps to the back of the temporary seating to "have a word".
Gradually Town started to assert themselves, down the right, of course, through Oster, even more of course. The ball started to flow from Town foot to Town foot, with Livingstone just about keeping up with play, for he was beginning to flag. About five minutes into the half Kabba was sent free down the right touchline, but the left back, Perpetuini, placed an arm gently across Kabbaâ€™s back, then tugged the flapping shirt. Kabba fell spectacularly and a yellow card was waved at the Gillingham player. I canâ€™t remember what happened from the free kick, so nothing interesting, obviously. The next Town break was again through Kabba, this time down the left. After barging his was down the line, attracting three unsuitable suitors in red, and drifting into the penalty area, Kabba looked up and rolled a perfect pass into the path of Campbell, 20 yards out, right in the centre. Campbell pointed his boot at the ball and it just about made contact, for the ball dribbled two yards wide, very, very slowly. His head was in his hands before the ball crossed the line, even before the first groan from the Pontoon. The Town players were even doing disappointment at speed.
I havenâ€™t described any efforts on goal from Gillingham yet. Well, I canâ€™t describe what didnâ€™t happen. Youâ€™ll have to wait a while longer for them to get in the Town area. The game was still all Town, with waves of attacks flowing across the savannah like wildebeest in Torbay. Oster, shimmied, shammied, rippled his shoulders and gracefully glided past the left back, sending Perpetuini back towards the Medway.
Oster was free, inside the area, but right on the bye-line. He looked up, saw just one Town player in the penalty area and caressed a cross over Brown, the ball landing on Poutonâ€™s shins four yards beyond the far post. Not an unusual occurrence that, the Pouton shin/ball clash. Whatever, the ball bounced off Pouton, on to Nosworthy and back to Brown. Pouton partly redeemed himself a couple of minutes later with a surge down the left and, wait for it, wait for it, a left footed cross. Not just any old left footed cross, this one was any good. In fact, quite superb. From a very narrow angle, about a dozen yards wide of goal, Pouton crossed low through the 6 yard box. The ball travelled great distance and had many adventures before passing the far post . Kabba arrived by first class post, just in front of the surly postman on his bike, sliding forward and, from about 6 yards out, and a similar distance beyond the post he hooked a right foot shot towards the bottom left hand corner of the goal. Brown zipped across his goal-line and managed to block with his right forearm, clutching the rebound as it was about to roll over the line for a corner. Another excellent save by Brown, who had to be reminded that we hadnâ€™t come to watch him play well. Flippinâ€™ jobsworth!
Another couple of minutes, another chance. Oster, on the break, turned and flipped a defence-splitting pass with the outside of his right boot, sending Kabba free, about 25 yards out. Kabba fended off his marker and, from about the edge of the area, to the left of goal, clipped a right footed shot a yard over the bar as Brown hared out of his goal. Around this time Gillingham managed to get a cross into the Town penalty area. Nothing happened of any great concern. And still more Town raiding, this time McDermott, after a bit of passing, passion, possession and triangles down the Town right, burst forward, drifted past two defenders and completely miss-hit a right footed shot from 25 yards out. The ball rolled out of play just the three yards wide of goal. Would we ever score? Well, Livvo wouldnâ€™t, for he was replaced after 67 minutes by Mansaram. In truth, Livvo had shot his bolt by the end of the first half, and the substitution was well timed. Still the attacks flowed towards the Pontoon, like eager shoppers in Asda on a trolley dash. Kabba, collected his trolley on the half way line and ran off down the aisle sweeping up fruit, vegetables, cat food, tins of condensed soup, all with the shop assistants frantically following with a stop watch. Just as he reached the wine and spirits section his time was up, for he dragged a shot wide of the right hand post, when a pass to the unmarked Mansaram or Oster would have been much, much wiser.
Five minutes after the Town substitution Gillingham took off Ipoua and Shaw, who had both shrivelled into the woodwork during the second half. But Town still had the momentum with them, Mansaram added some fluidity of movement to Town attacks, as his arms and legs were here, there and everywhere. Ah, here we go, we knew this would happen. Gillingham got a corner with about 15 minutes left. All the big defenders went up, to go with their big midfielders and huge strikers. Bound to score, arenâ€™t they. The corner was curled into the near post from their right, but Coldicott leapt forward and magnificently cleared with a diving header. The ball travelled 30 yards out towards the touchline, under the Findus/Smiths/Stones Stand, where Kabba raced on to it, turned his marker and rumbustuously harrumphed his way up the touchline. The crowd rose, the noise level rose higher, Kabba got near and nearer the goal, looked up and spotted Oster preparing to make a diagonal run behind the covering defender. Kabba curled a pass round the defender into the empty space about 25 yards out, on the right of the Gillingham goal. Oster sprinted forward and was alone inside the area. Brown raced off his line, Oster controlled the ball and dropped his shoulder to get Brown to dive. Brown stayed upright. Oster raised his left foot to feign a shot. Brown stayed upright, Oster swayed to his left, Brown dived, OSTER went further wide, making Brown crumple to the ground, and clipped a shot into the roof of the net. The crowd roared, the roof raised, the Town team descended upon Oster and smothered him in collective joy. Welcome home indeed young man. Brown had simply been mesmerised by the Lorelei, the unwary â€˜keeper lured to the ground with the rattle of Osterâ€™s hips. And frankly it needed something exceptional to get past Brown, who had a staggering game.
And Brownâ€™s behaviour after this was staggering too. Heâ€™d reacted to the Pontoon barracking which stated their belief that he, a young man, was available for short term hire. And started to make some gestures of disgust towards the crowd. Someone threw what looked like a trebor mint at him, which he complained about. He wasnâ€™t very effective as the refereeâ€™s back was turned when he made a point of picking up a small white thing. He mouthed at the teenagers aggressively, which just encouraged them to keep on questioning his current market value for short term letting. The goal made Gillingham try just that little bit harder, but still nothing particularly frightening happened. Coyne had to make a save when Saunders hooked a low shot in from the left edge of the penalty area, clutching the ball at the second attempt. Coyne punched a cross away, erm, let me think. Thatâ€™s just about it really.
Town continued to haunt Gillingham on the break, with Kabba and Oster getting a bit too cocky at times, showing off some extravagant flicks and tricks, such as the big one-two they performed near the managersâ€™ dug out, with Kabba doing a back flick and Oster a weak shot from 25 yards. Around the time of the goal there was a Town break down the right which resulted in Mansaram drifting into the penalty are and cutting a cross back just behind the other strikers (yes, Iâ€™m classing Oster as a striker too). Mansaram is more and more resembling the echo of a distant time, Keith Alexander, with his ungainly lope, and deceptive speed. Is he fast or slow? With just a couple of minutes to go, Town broke up a Gillingham attack and zipped the ball forward on the right. Mansaram readied to burst free as Oster diverted the ball forward. And there he was free, down the right. No, the linesman, belatedly and seemingly incorrectly, flagged him offside. It looked to those in the Pontoon that Mansaram had been behind a red shirt. Brown took the free kick from within 5 yards of the right place, an unusual display of leniency by the pedantic linesman and referee. The ball was pumped forward, half cleared and knocked out wide to the Gillingham left. Johnson, made as if to burst down the touchline, but turned back inside and clipped a cross towards the far post. SAUNDERS out-jumped a Town defender and, from a centre left position, somewhere in the middle of the area, powerfully headed back across Coyne and into the upper part of the right hand corner of the goal. Brown turned round and taunted the teenagers, which meant he got another trebor mint for his troubles as he exchanged unpleasantries with someone a decade his junior.
Gillingham seemingly looked confident of victory, piling forward, but it was Town who came nearest to scoring again. In added time, after a spell of Town pressure and a breakaway down the right, the ball was crossed towards the unmarked Campbell on the left edge of the Gillingham area. Campbell stretched for the ball, but fell under a challenge. Some hopeful Pontoonites muttered penalty, but with no conviction, and Gillingham broke away. The referee stopped play as Gillingham crossed the half way line and ran over to the linesman who was patrolling the Stone/Smiths/Findus side. Pouton leapt about, the crowd in the lower section started to cheer, the referee pointed towards the goal. Then they all leapt about in disappointment. The referee awarded Town a free kick a yard outside the area, level with the corner of the penalty box. Puzzling, to say the least, for if Campbell had been fouled it was a couple of yards inside the area. Oster took the free kick, there were crosses, half clearances a corner and Pouton glanced the corner over the bar from inside the 6 yards box. Then it was over.
A cracking game, with two good sides playing well. But Town were magnificent at times, and Gillingham have their goalkeeper to thank for the avoidance of a drubbing. If it wasnâ€™t for him Town would have scored at least 5, and it would have been deserved too. The interesting aspect to Townâ€™s play was the way the ball was switched across the pitch at pace, and forward. Kabba and Oster look galaxies beyond anything weâ€™ve had for a long, long time. They had an instant rapport, each thinking and moving at high speed. Campbell was rarely seen, not because he was hiding, but because virtually everything filtered down the right, where Macca and Oster were awesome. In defence there were no problems at all. Quiet, efficient, some height, some strength, and some pace, Ford and Gavin looked an excellent partnership. Apart from the first minute there were no confusions at all. Ford, marginally, was the more impressive of the two, but thatâ€™s very marginal.
All in all Town looked like a top 10 side, with pretensions of a play-off place. And so did Gillingham too. Make no mistake about it, this was a top class 1st division game. The result was, ultimately, disappointing, but the performance gave every Town fan present a safe, warm, proud feeling. This was football, Jim, exactly as we want it.
Nickoâ€™s Man of the Match
It really is choosing from a high base line. Ford was super, Macca great, Kabba, apart from his shooting, incredible. The sponsorsâ€™ Kabba of the match was Kabba, but Nicko plumps for the return of the prodigal son, JOHN OSTER, and not just for sentimental reasons. The boy was magnificent; fit, fast, free roaming, free thinking, with defensive discipline. Ooh, he had everything, and a goal too.
Ray Olivier. A little man who seemed to get smaller as the game progressed, the incredible shrinking referee seemed to have a bit of a Napoleon complex, being extra pedantic. The booking of Livingstone was daft, as the ref had insisted that every free kick be taken from exactly the right spot, so Livvo kicked the ball 3 yards to the right place, only to be booked and the ball walked forward 10 yards. The non-penalty decision at the end was bizarre, but overall he wasnâ€™t that bad, we are quibbling about minor matters. 6,892, he lost some for the oddness of the this decision.
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