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23/11 Palace 2nd Half
By: Tony Butcher
NEITHER team made any changes at half time. And the game started then stopped, as the Palace centre back, Mullins, collapsed in a heap, holding his face after challenging Livvo.
Crystal Palace 2 Grimsby Town 0
23 Nov 2002, Nationwide League Division 1
When I say challenge, Mullins headed the ball out with Livvo near. Perhaps it was Livvoâ€™s psychic aura again, the imminent arrival of Livingstoneâ€™s visage was enough to cause psychological trauma in the soft southerner. Or maybe he headed Livvoâ€™s shoulder.
As in the first half, nothing much happened for ages. Town had a five minute spell of pressure, and occasional football, during which the referee annoyed and perplexed many non Crystal Palace fans present. Campbell was fouled as he burst through 25 yards out on the centre left. A Palace player stood in front of Campbell and delayed the free kick as the little scamp was trying to take it quickly. The referee decided to give Campbell a stern lecture for complaining. Palace player not booked, free kick not brought forward 10 yards. The fleeting thought crossed many Town fansâ€™ minds that it was possible to conclude the referee wasnâ€™t being consistent. Oster took the free kick, curling it low and slow a yard wide of Kolinkoâ€™s right hand post. No excitement.
A couple of minutes after that the big one, the usual one, the "ref done us down (maybe) moment". McDermott surged infield inside the Crystal Palace half and rolled a pass to Livingstone, just outside the penalty area on the right. Livvo let the ball roll on downstream and into the penalty area. Mansaram ran across to receive the pass and was bundled over from behind. At all relevant times his feet were in the area, only his body left the box after he was fouled. The referee pointed to a spot, not the spot, one foot outside the penalty area right in the centre. Much arm throwing and head rolling from the Town players and support. Gallimore took the free kick, curling a low powerful shot around the wall, with Kolinko parrying the ball away from his right hand post, seemingly via the woodwork (or whatever they make the goalposts out of these days. MDF?) The referee pointed to his whistle, waggled his finger at Gallimore and made Town take it again. This time Pouton curled it around and over the wall to Kolinkoâ€™s left, whereupon Trevor Francisâ€™ "best mate honest" punched the ball away for a corner.
Galimore jumped around in a tantrum â€˜cos Pouton wouldnâ€™t let him take the free kick and Gavin headed the corner wide and high. And that was as good as it got for Town.
Palace had barely got in the Town half during the first 15 minutes. The ball had, of course, but rarely was a Barca wannabe in close proximity to that obscure inflatable object of desire. For once I am not referring to Livvo. Then, in one bound, Palace were free. A break down the Town right , some one touch passes into space and finally Gray passed to Adebola, about 10 yards out and the same wide of goal. Adebola flicked his marker aside, strode forward and smacked a left foot shot against the side netting and into his paymasters behind the goal. We werenâ€™t worried, it was Adebola, who just looked like heâ€™d miss. At this Francis hauled off Black and replaced him with Aki Riihilahti, how else can you get rid of all those vowels at Scrabble. I wondered what heâ€™d done since directing Leningrad Cowboys Go America. The Palace fans booed, Black ripped off his shirt and flung it at the bench and Palace won a free kick near the half way line. The ball was lumped forward towards Adebola, who had his back to goal, there was a bit of heaving and ho-ing, he turned to his right, knocked a couple of Town players aside and was free about ten yards out, to the left of goal. No worries, itâ€™s ADEBOLA, he never scores, heâ€™s rubbish... heâ€™s scored. The lumbering loper smacked a low shot across Coyne and into the bottom left hand corner. It couldnâ€™t have been closer to the post without hitting it. Here we go again, a rubbish Palace team stuffs Town. Why do we bother coming here?
That was it, game over, 30 minutes left, just a matter of how many they could be bothered to score. Palace players were invigorated by the second goal, suddenly bothering to hoof and run, rather than just hoof. A couple of minutes after the goal Gray turned the flagging Macca inside out, cut into the penalty area and, from about 8 yards out and the same wide of goal, wellied a right footed drive at shoulder height towards the left hand corner. Coyne plunged to his left and parried spectacularly. His first save of the day, and a superb one too. As it turned out, his last save too. Curious game. From the corner, swung in to the near post, 8 or 9 yards out, Riihilahti thumped a smackingly hard header a few inches over the centre of the goal. Close, but Coyne had it covered. So calm down all you Pallisers. McDermott was immediately replaced by Parker, the boy scout doing bob a job week at Town. A few minutes later another corner from the Palace right, swung in to the near post, was glanced by Powell across the face of the goal and just a few inches wide of Coyneâ€™s right hand post. Mmm, getting closer, and even we thought that it was going in. Did Town attack? Sort of. Oster had some fleeting moments where possibilities were possible, but never probable, but Town didnâ€™t even get into the Palace penalty area again. There was a shot, from Campbell, 30 yards out when he received a throw in and tried a Pouton-like lobbing volley, but it went a yard or so over. No-one kidded themselves that Town would be scoring one, let alone two. Itâ€™s Selhurst, what do you expect?
With about 15 minutes left Groves replaced Coldicott, and about the same time Palace brought on a little ginger scamperer, Williams. He scampered around and allowed the home supporters another chance to "ooh" when he tried to chip Coyne from just inside the penalty area, on the left. The ball landed on the roof of the net, but Coyne was always in control. The two goal lead brought forth the usual attempts at lame humour from opposition fans, Yeah, yeah, yeah, fish, north etc. Some of the chanting aspired to coherence. Sometime, who cares when, Derry curled a free kick from about 25 yards onto the face of the crossbar, with Coyne motionless and probably bored.
The last act of Livvo was a recreation of Hoddleâ€™s finest goal. Livingstone twizzled near the bye-line, about 10 yards to the right of the Palace goal, flicking the ball between his legs, spinning and instantly chipping the ball on to the roof of the net. Ok, I admit it, it was an attempted cross. In the context of the second half, it was a Town chance. Livingstone was replaced by Soames with 8 minutes left and Soamesâ€™ only contributions were to tell Oster off for not passing to him and to give away a fee kick by viciously throttling a Palace playerâ€™s arm with his own bare throat. What an evil goblin he is. There is very little else to describe, another Adebola miss-kick inside the penalty area and thatâ€™s your lot. Palace fans had the chutzpah to shout "hoof" when Groves cleared a cross. Or perhaps they appreciated the style of the swinging boot, being long term connoisseurs of the lumpy approach to football. Oh yes, I have forgotten Livingstoneâ€™s attempt to strangle Riihilahti after the spiky haired scrabble cheat caught the back of the Livvosaurusâ€™s head with his forearm. Amazingly, the referee merely told Livvo to calm down and gave Town the free kick.
And hereâ€™s another small incident not worth a hill of beans - Fordâ€™s decision to play as a right winger for a few minutes. And quite decent he looked too. So another block for Terry Cooke then. There was a longish stoppage when Ford headed the back of Adebola. The whole ground heard a mighty snap as bone hit bone, but Ford got up, threw the bandage away and rode on into the dust.
Thatâ€™s it, three minutes of added time, no more action, no points, and frankly no point in turning up. No one was awful, no one was good. A few Town players were a little annoying in their indulgences, particularly Oster, who wanted to shimmy too far, and Pouton who stepped over continually, but couldnâ€™t pass. He also seemed to tackle timidly. McDermott was not fit, Gallimore improved after a shocking opening quarter of an hour. Galli needs something to wake him up, to fire his ire. He improves with rage. Gavin and Ford were fine, as Palace didnâ€™t break through the centre, relying upon the hoof and hope. They needed space to use Johnsonâ€™s pace, which they only got after the second goal went in. But letâ€™s not fool ourselves, once the referee didnâ€™t give the penalty Town were quite poor. In the end Town didnâ€™t deserve anything from this game. They did for an hour, but games last a bit longer than that.
Write it off, forget about it. It was dull, it was poor, it was typical Town at Crystal Palace.
Nickoâ€™s Man on the Match
Very difficult to decide, as there was good and bad in everyone. Ford, just. He seemed to make less mistakes than anyone else.
Mr T Parkes. Interesting, as he was mainly unobtrusive, rational and competent. Except for a couple of decisions which decided the game. His first acted as a catalyst for the first goal, and the non-penalty was just illogical. He was heading for a high 7, but he lost 2.023 for assisting the home team and some more for not landing on both feet when pirouetting. So, and I know many will disagree with this, he gets a spankingly high 4.8906.
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