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30/11 Leicester 2nd Half
By: Tony Butcher
NO CHANGES were made by either team at half time, though the weather had changed for it was bucketing down with rain. Town started at a higher pace and were zipping the ball about well, always seeking to use the wings.
Grimsby Town 1 Leicester City 2
30 Nov 2002, Nationwide League Division 1
Some momentarily interesting thrusts by Town were repulsed after indiscriminate crosses and some well timed tackles by Elliott and Taggart. After about four minutes Town broke down the right through Oster, who looked up and pinged a pass out to Barnardâ€™s toe on the left wing. Barnard, the Welsh wizard of the wing according to the 2003 Town calendar, for once lived up to that soubriquet by twisting by the pool, sending Sinclair several different ways at once. Barnard, approaching the edge of the penalty, area knocked the ball past Sinclair and ran around the lumbering Leicesterman. Sinclair raised his left arm, rubbed it around Barnardâ€™s nose, and hauled Barnard to the sodden turf. Yes, he used his charm to stop Barnard. Free kick to Town, booking for Sinclair who went bonkers, leaping around, gesticulating at the referee. The free kick came to nought and Leicester set up an attack, but wasted the opportunity as they crossed to the unmarked Dickov, who slid across the grass but couldnâ€™t reach the ball. Whilst Coyne was ambling about waiting to take the goal-kick there was a hubbub from the Lower Smiths/Stones/ Findus. The referee turned around, looked at his linesman, walked up to Sinclair and thrust a gleaming red card in his face. Sinclair went even more bonkers, aggressively remonstrating with the referee, looking like he was about to physically assault him. Loads of players from both sides ran up and tried to form a barrier between furious Frank and the Lemon Meringue. Sinclair was literally dragged away by men of peace like Pouton and Barnard. You never thought theyâ€™d be seen in blue helmets, did you.
Eventually Sinclair walked off and the game continued. Within 30 seconds Rogers was booked for sliding through the back of Campbell right on the half way line, next to the tunnel. By this stage the whole ground was bouncing in righteous fury. The Town fans for the tackling by Leicester, the Leicester fans because the worm had turned on them. Funny how it took them 50 minutes to realise the ref didnâ€™t know what he was doing.
The Rogersâ€™ tackle merely created the conditions for Town happiness, as it allowed Town to mount some serious, concerted pressure, with corner after corner, perhaps 4 or 5 in a row. From the last one, hit by Pouton to the near post, the mirror cracked. The initial corner was poor, being too low and it was headed back out and eventually back to Pouton, who hit a first time dipping, volleyed cross towards the near post. OSTER ran across from the centre and, from about 6 yards out, leant back and steered a careful header across Walker and into the bottom left hand corner. A rather excellent finish, especially as he appeared to have been given a gentle nudge as he was about to head the ball.
Sit back for twenty minutes of Town dominance. The passing and movement from Town was exquisite at times, with Oster the fulcrum, the band leader conducting some gentle bossa nova rhythms. Aye-aye-aye-aye moossy, to help us through the night. The rain poured down, as did the Town attacks, wave upon wave, mainly down the right with Oster, Campbell and McDermott ranging freely. Just after the goal Town could, maybe should, have had a penalty when an old style bit of wall passing resulted in Oster being briefly behind the defence near the bye-line. He crossed firmly and the ball hit Davidson on the hand and went out for a ....corner. If your luckâ€™s in the referee gives a penalty. Davidson was only a couple of yards away from Oster and had put his hand next to his thigh. Perhaps the referee heard the same slap as us and though "thigh!". It wasnâ€™t. A couple of minutes later the Town supporters tried again for a handball when a defender controlled the ball with his shoulder. Well, thereâ€™s no harm in trying, is there. All in the Pontoon agreed weâ€™d have given it.
Thereâ€™s more. Further jinking and jiving down the right shredded the Leicester defence, Oster moved across the face of the penalty area, slipping a pass back to Coldicott, 20 yards out to the right of centre. He hit a first time swinging right foot dipper which forced Walker to lean back and tip the ball over for a corner. The next effort was Townâ€™s too. A great breakaway down the centre and right, saw Oster drift into space behind Livingstone and receive a short pass. He zoomed down the centre, attracting the defenders to the middle. Campbell sprinted down the right and Oster waited for the appropriate moment to make the appropriate pass. Campbell was free inside the area about 12 yards out and wide of goal. He dragged a first time shot across the face of goal, missing the far post by a couple of yards and Barnard by a similar distance. Yet more crosses and attacks by Town foundered upon the giants in the centre of their defence. The Town football was beautiful, but wasnâ€™t quite good enough to produce a cascade of shots. Itâ€™d be a bit hard to blame it on the bossa nova, as Oster was much more effective in the second half.
Around the 70 minute mark Leicester had a shot, which cheered up their supporters no end. A Town attack had been half cleared to the edge of the Leicester penalty area and their substitute, Stewart, let the ball bounce over his shoulder and simply sprinted away down their left wing. Coldicott pursued valiantly but vainly. Stewart was held up by McDermott, back tracked and then scythed down near the touchline about 30 yards out, by Coldicott. The free kick was lumped up to the penalty area, dropping almost vertically onto Elliottâ€™s right boot just inside the box, level with the near post. He hung out his leg and steered a volley towards the bottom right hand corner. Coyne appeared from behind a thicket of players to tip the ball away for a corner. It seemed to be an important, and magnificent, save. A few minutes later another Leicester attack, again Stewart was the catalyst with a surge down their left, and a cut in and across field. Town repulsed rather than cleared and the ball eventually made its way to Impey (who had been brought on immediately after Sinclair had been sent off) on the touchline, in front of the last supporter in the Stones/Smiths/Findus Stand. Barnard harried, then attempted a sliding, hooking swipe. Impey managed to tip the ball down the line and the fix exited pursued by a bear. From virtually the corner flag Impey twizzled and arced a huge high cross towards the edge of the penalty area. IZZETT, about 16 yards out and nearly level with the near post with his back to goal, leapt up and, from head height, smacked a right footed bicycle kick into the top left hand corner of the goal. A brilliant strike which even had Town fans clapping. We all just sat silently, looking around at each other, shrugging. What have we done to deserve this?
The goal, not the fact but the manner, seemed to deflate the Town players for a while. Leicester had more of the play and Town struggled to recreate the momentum of just a few minutes earlier. About 5 minutes after that goal Soames replaced Groves, with Town seemingly going to a 3-4 3 formation. Soames caused a few problems for Leicester with his close control and strength (heâ€™s small and stocky), but chances were not clearly created. McDermott, after some one touch play down the Town right, fizzed a 25 yard shot across the face of goal with Barnard sliding in near the penalty spot, just missing the ball. Oooh! Pouton, receiving a pass form the left about 25 yards out slipped as he shot, sending the ball a couple of feet over the bar. Soames received a little dinked pass with his back to goal on the edge of the 6 yard area, to the left of goal and had his shirt violently heaved about, just enough to halt his progress, but he didnâ€™t fall down. Only a corner resulted. Near the end, following a free kick out on Townâ€™s right, Gavin had a header from about 6 yards at the far post which hit a Leicester player on the line, bounced back out and his shot was charged down for another corner. Pressure, pressure, pressure, but no absolutely clear cut chances, just scraps.
Leicester utilised the space afforded with Townâ€™s all out attack, especially through Stewart, who was a real handful. He probably should have scored late on when he was free inside the penalty area after a mazy dribble, firing a low shot a foot or so wide of Coyneâ€™s right hand post. There were also a couple of shots from the right hand side of the Town area which flew into the crowd, one close, one exceedingly not. As the murkiness descended, it became harder and harder to see what was happening down at the Osmond end, not that we particularly wanted to see another Leicester goal. As the minutes rolled on it was Leicester that were more likely to score than Town, Town huffed and puffed but didnâ€™t look like blowing the house down. There were three minutes of added time which produced, err, nothing much. Except more bookings, including Walker for time-wasting. The opportunity for the teenagers to should the obligatory "wwwwwwwwwwww-alker" at goal kicks doesnâ€™t come around often, and they did not miss that trick, though "ppppporker" would have been just as accurate, for podginess is creeping up on Walkerâ€™s stomach.
And then it was over. Unusually, given that the opponents had 10 men for 40 minutes, the crowd didnâ€™t boo or complain, recognising that Leicester were "any good". Sometimes it isnâ€™t just down to what Town can, or canâ€™t do. Two freak goals did for Town, and in the second half Town were doing enough to justify parity at least. No one played badly, just the isolated error, here and there, but Leicester had the gumption to seize upon those errors. And in the end thatâ€™s what separates the Premiership from the boys.
Nickoâ€™s Man of the Match
Special mentions must be made of Gallimore and Barnard, who played very well indeed. But Nick0 casts a beady eye towards the sponsors and recognises that they arenâ€™t always wrong. ALAN POUTON, back to what the crowd loves - tricks, flicks, manic tackles and moans.
M Dean. And warning it be. He spent the entire first half backing Leicester and he flipped in the second. Clearly he worked on the theory that, if both sets of supporters are calling for your head in a bucket, you must be impartial. He was not capable of applying the laws consistently. Or was that wilful? Whenever he blew the whistle one waited with apprehension - it wasnâ€™t possible to guess which way heâ€™d point. Or why. Curiously, he had one linesman who never gave offside, and one who always did. The Norwegian jury has decided the score on the door, Isla, is 4.479. And he should be grateful for the final 0.009
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