League Two Form Guide
Question of the Week
Will Paul Hurst stay at Grimsby?
Where Eagles Dire: Palace Report
By: Tony Butcher
A DULL, slightly chilly day in dull South London. To alleviate the dullness Palace had designated this match "family fun day", but every day is a fun day with Grimsby!
Crystal Palace 2 Grimsby Town 0
23 Nov 2002, Nationwide League Division 1
The "fun" consisted of a two people dressed in orange on stilts (as Fozzy Bear would have observed had he got Â£20 to spare "Fuuuunnnneeee"), a John Prescott lookalike (allegedly the sponsorâ€™s logo), a mixed sex dancing troupe which was hopelessly out of time and succeeded in churning up the middle of the pitch (an unsubtle bit of Franciscan gamesmanship, no doubt) and the Crystal Palace players warming up in a circle, jigging, jiving and doing Harry Worth impressions in time to the music. Townâ€™s contribution to "fun" was to use green bibs in their pre-match warm up. Wilkinsonâ€™s a local, he should know green is an unlucky colour for mariners, let alone Mariners.
Around 150 Town fans shuffled around with grim fortitude in the usual overpriced, badly situated bits of plastic and wood, only slightly cheered by the free 4-bar Kit Kat with every hot drink purchased. Rowan, Cooke and Ward shuffled down the steps and into the heart of the Town support, which indicated to most that they werenâ€™t playing today. Rowan and Ward were impassive, but Cooke cheerily munched on a steaming burger (or was that what he called Groves?). Butterfield was soon spotted jogging and failed to receive hoots of derision, merely a "wahey" and applause from the 20 die hard youngsters at the front. The matchday programme featured Jogging Danny B with a double page action photograph. Technicians marvelled at the technology, surely theyâ€™d used one of the fastest shutter speeds available to catch him so perfectly, with no blurring. It was like a still life.
Town lined up in a 4-4-2 formation as shown. The last two substitutes (Parker and Soames) sounded like a pair of manservants.
The teams ran out to the usual jabbering nonsense from the garrulous idiot employed as the tannoy announcer, together with a tediously obvious underscore. Premiership pretensions lead to a severe loss of dignity at these grasping nearly clubs. Silence is golden.
Oddly, Town emerged in the all blue away kit, which of course meant that there was no colour clash at all. Of course not, those black and white stripes were just like those blue and red ones. Or perhaps they mistrusted Butterfield and thought heâ€™d have an acid flashback and monotonously pump balls up to Town players. Who knows. Town played in blue, the referee in all black and let the heartaches begin.
Town kicked off towards the non supermarket end, the left as seen on television, with a McDermott surge down the centre right, winning a throw in. The next 10 minutes were quite terrible, with Town playing as if clad in moon boots and moon suits. Slow witted, slow footed, just going through the motions, which is a description and a metaphor. Palace were just Palace, with extra Trevor Francis rubbishness thrown in. Their tactic was so cunning your gran could order it over the internet - hoof it up towards the really quick little number 8, Johnson. It caused a few minor flutters, and brought the locals to their feet occasionally, but nothing tangible or worth describing in any detail. A couple of crosses which Coldicott cleared in the middle of the Town area, both from the Palace right, with Gallimore retreating in Corporal Jones mode. But nothing frightening, nothing remotely interesting.
After about 10 minutes a long punt by old Kit Symons (thatâ€™s all he seemed to do all day, the boring long punter) down the Palace right went over Gallimore, over Gavin with Johnson briefly behind the defence. Coyne rushed out to the edge of the area and dived at Johnson as the little baldyboy swayed to his right. The ball bounced off Coyne, onto Johnsonâ€™s shins and Johnson fell over Coyne. Only the most desperate Palace fan tried to claim a penalty, which was about 30% of those present, but even they had no real heart in the claim. Anything else happen in the fist 15 minutes? A couple more Palace crosses, one of which Coyne punched away near the line, another looping gently through the area and away from the far post. Anything happen in the next 5 minutes? Nope, it was really awful. They hoofed and chased, Town occasionally put Palace under extreme pressure, pinning them back in their own half with long passes that drifted out of play for throw ins.
Then gradually the worm turned. Town stopped aping Palace and began to pass to each other and, more dangerously, Pouton and Oster began to dribble down the centre. A couple of Oster surges suggested a certain je ne sais quoi, and after 20 minutes a Town attack worth describing. Pouton thrashed away in midfield, eventually winning a tackle right on the centre spot. He surged forward and, 25 yards out, caressed (by his standards) a pass to Livingstone on the left wing. Livvo, unmarked in the space where the Palace right wing back should have been jogging, awaited one of the centre backs, cut back onto his right foot and, from just inside the penalty area, perhaps 16 yards out, curled a beautiful cross into the heart of the box. Mansaram, beyond the far post, tricked his marker and swayed out, then across to the penalty spot. Completely unmarked, and with all the time in the world, Mansaram decided to flick a bullet header into the far corner. The ball grazed his forehead and drifted two or three yards wide of Kolinkoâ€™s left hand post.
Palace continued to hump high balls towards the lumpy Adebola, who was causing Gavin and Ford difficulties, mainly because the referee didnâ€™t see anything wrong with Adebola using his bulk to barge and bundle Town players out of the way. Fortunately, Adebola was unable to shoot, twice getting himself free inside the penalty area, to the right of goal and "doing a Jevons" by scuffling a shot gently into Coyneâ€™s arms. Oh yes, there were more crosses which Coldicott cleared, none of which brought anything remotely like a goal scoring opportunity for Palace. It was noticeable that at corners and free kicks their number 10, Derry, hung around about 25 yards out and no Town player bothered to mark him, but the ball wasnâ€™t going near him, so why bother? Woah, hang on, Palace had a shot! Black, who appropriately seemed to be playing in the black hole behind Adebola and Johnson, hit a first time right footed shot three yards wide of Coyneâ€™s right hand post from the left edge of the penalty area. The Palace fans "Oooooooohed", but without cause. Shall we be kind to them and say they were being ironic? Only one team was playing football, if only in spits and spots as it started to drizzle. Mansaram and Oster almost scored a sublime goal, with a bit of fast one-twoâ€™s through the left side of the Palace penalty area. As Mansaram was about to sweep the ball in Mullins stretched forward and nicked the ball away. A few minutes later Oster surged down the centre and slipped a perfectly weighted ball to his right. Livingstone, in space about 12 yards out, near the edge of the penalty area, let fly and hit a programme seller behind the goal.
The game was meandering lazily towards half time and some more free Kit Katâ€™s when something surprising, yet unsurprising, happened. With about 5 or 6 minutes left to half time Oster attempted to dribble through two Palace defenders about 10 yards inside the Palace half, just to the right of centre. The ball bounced up and the referee gave handball. Oster stopped playing, picked up the ball, moaned a bit, then lobbed the ball gently back three yards to where the "offence" occurred. The referee immediately pulled out a yellow card and marched the ball 10 yards forward from where he was standing, which wasnâ€™t where the free kick was originally given. The Town fans all sunk down, knowing what was going to happen next. The ball was pumped up to the edge of the box and half cleared to Derry, about 25 yards out, in the centre. He leant back and thwacked a right foot volley towards Coyneâ€™s right hand side. The ball hit a Town player on the edge of the penalty area (PROBABLY GAVIN) and spun away into the bottom left hand corner. As Coyne stood helplessly on the other side of the goal, the tannoy announcer played some music and gleefully introduced the goal scorer as Shaun Derry, getting the crowd to bark the name back at him. The Town fans barked something too.
Just after the flukey goal Palace had another shot, excited as they had become. Someone surge down the Town right, cut inside and smacked a rising shot a foot or two over the bar from the edge of the area. Apart from another Adebola muscle, hustle and scuffle into Coyneâ€™s arms, they did nothing else; not that theyâ€™d done much in the first place. Town, on the other hand, had a couple more efforts. An Oster corner from the left was half cleared to Campbell, 25 yards out. He hit a deliciously disguised pass with the outside of his left boot back out to Oster. And to think that the Palace fans thought he was shooting. Oster controlled the ball immediately, awaited the defender, swayed outside, then back inside, drifted into the penalty area and from a narrow angle about 8 yards out slightly miss-hit a right foot shot, which was half blocked by a diving challenge and the ball bounced up comfortably into Kolinkoâ€™s midriff. A couple of minutes before half time Pouton flayed away in midfield and the ball fortunately bounced forward. About 30 yards out he tried an audacious lobbing volley. Was this the moment weâ€™d expected, the Kolinko Clanger? Like a hazelnut thereâ€™s one in every bite. Kolinko was off his line and back pedalled, just managing to palm the ball back into play. He fell back into the gaol, with the ball bouncing around three yards out. Kolinko lost his footing as he attempted to get up and who better to be pounding forward to tap in the rebound but Livvo? Well, anyone I suppose. Just our luck it was the slowest player on the field, failing to reach the ball by perhaps a yard. His mind was there, his feet werenâ€™t.
Half time: Crystal Palace 1 Grimsby Town 0
And then it was half time. After a rotten opening quarter of an hour Town had improved and were approaching adequacy. A draw at half time would have been perfectly logical and any neutrals present may well have used the phrase "fair" too. Town created the best chance (Mansaramâ€™s) whereas Palace hadnâ€™t really created anything. It was the usual artless whacks and hopeful ricochets. And they had what they hoped for.
The most annoying thing was that Campbell clearly had the beating of their right wing back, but Town just didnâ€™t bother with the left hand side. The Phantom Menace was eating the Jogging Lettuce for afternoon tea, but they stopped serving the sandwiches.
Stu's Half Time Toilet Talk
"Who put horse tranquilisers in the pre-match beans on toast?".
The report continues in the second half.
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