Question of the Week
How long before new manager arrives?
26/12 Derby 2nd Half
By: Tony Butcher
DERBY made two changes at half time, they took off Adam Bolder and someone else who was so anonymous and ineffective in the first half I donâ€™t even remember who. On came Giorgi Kinkladze and Izale McLeod, who older fans thought was a brand of toilet paper. Ah, mmmm, oooo, well, thatâ€™s interesting.
Derby County 1 Grimsby Town 3
26 Dec 2002, Nationwide League Division 1
Kinkladze immediately started to cause a bit of discombobulation with his mazy dribbling, attracting Town players like, well, defenders to Kinkladze (as seen on TV). Derby had a chink of a chance when Kinkladze dribbled across the left side of the Tow area towards the centre, then out again. Santos dived across and swept the ball out towards the right, but straight to Morris, unmarked just outside the box. He went past Gavin and sliced the shot a yard or so wide of Coyneâ€™s near post. Pfft, pathetic, thankfully. Town continued to raid sporadically, with Mansaram bothering the Rams with his persistence and occasional pace (he was flagging, clearly in pain from his first half battering). I have a vague recollection of a couple of crosses which drifted through the Derby penalty area, as midfielders strained to get forward Mildly interesting at the time, hinting at possibilities. Derby had the ball more than Town, but werenâ€™t really doing anything hairy-scary with it. Sure, they crossed, than ran, they fell over. But did Coyne touch it? Just a couple of crosses, no problem.
After about 10 minutes Town made a curious and unpopular substitution. Cooke, very unhappy, was replaced by Parker, still doing a work placement at Town for his GCSEs. Cooke had played fine, nothing wrong at all with his contribution, both in terms of effort and production. What the heck was Parker going to do? Go to right back? No - a man marking job on Kinkladze! And that caused much spluttering and mirth. Famous old Kinkladze was going to be marked out of the game by a 12 year old? Yeah, right. Yes, right, he was. Parker was fantastic, sticking to the Georgian gimcrack like irritating chewing gum to the sole of his gold plated boots. Wherever Giorgi went Parker was never more than a yard away. During a long delay caused by an injury to Campbell (a fine contrivance, as Campbell had lost possession and Derby were off an a heady breakaway) Parker mimicked Kinkladzeâ€™s every move. Sway left, sway right, bend down, walk to the touchline, back to the middle.
A wonderful example of discipline and concentration. If Parkerâ€™s mum wants to know where he is, for he hasnâ€™t come home for tea since he went to that football, he is settling down to dinner in a large detached house in the Derbyshire countryside. Now thatâ€™s man-marking. Kinkladze rarely touched the ball in the remaining 35 minutes, and certainly produced nothing worth describing. Parker was superb and the management should be lauded for this tactical change which neutered Derbyâ€™s only creative spark. Start whistling Gregory.
More long shots drifting wide form Derby, who cares if they canâ€™t shoot straight. Next up itâ€™s Town. A Chettle swirling, curling cross to the far post was headed back across goal by Groves. With four Town players lined up across the 6 yards box the ball bounced beyond them and seemingly out of play. Oster ran after it, kept it in play, spun and chipped the ball behind everyone. Well it is pantomime season. "Behind you!" shouted the more sober Town fans. Ah well, that was our only chance this half and we didnâ€™t even shoot. Could we hold on for another 25 minutes? Not half mate. Town broke away down the centre, with Oster receiving a pass in space on the left (Campbell and Oster switched wings in the second half). Oster lost momentum, trying to trick his way past wise old Barton, who hassled and harried Oster backwards. Oster fell to the ground after the merest of glancing touches by Bartonâ€™s hand. The referee didnâ€™t give a free kick, so Oster simply looked at him and enquired, in the style of Oliver Twist "can I some more free kicks mister?" Yes you can young scamp. About 20 yards out, close to the corner of the penalty area. The Town centre backs, all 20 if them, lumbered forward. Oster waited and Santos suddenly made a darting run towards the near post, reciprocating for events leading to his goal last Saturday. The â€˜keeper was distracted and OSTER wrapped his right foot around the ball and shanked the free kick into the top right hand corner. More chance for laughter, for Oster had brought joy and goodwill to all Town fans. Marvellous. We are singing anymore, by the way.
As the Town fans danced and sung we were oblivious to the game, so most missed the immediate response from Derby, which was a miss. A cross from their left was dropped into the centre of the box and Christie, appearing to be unmarked and about 10 yards out, glanced a header just wide of Coyneâ€™s left hand post. Derby made another substitution, bringing on another winger, which resulted in them having a 3-4-1-2 formation, or so I guess, as they had a lot of bodies running around in those vague positions. Perhaps I shouldnâ€™t attempt to dignify it with analysis, as they were a bit of a mess tactically, just throwing the ball forward and trying to use pace and sheer weight of numbers to equalise. Crosses rained in from left and from right, deep into the area. Santos head, Santos boot, Gavin head, Ford forehead - no matter how many crosses went in, a bit of a Town body got in the way. A corner from their right was flung high to the far post, headed back across goal and a small Derby player flashed in a shot from inside the 6 yards box. Never fear, Chettleâ€™s thigh is here and the ball ballooned off the forgotten man and out for another corner. Oster even began to take to toy with his opponents, disdainfully caressing passes and flicks, even inside the Town penalty area. Santos got in on the act, spinning like a jenny through three "tackles" by Derby players, before laying off a pass to Chettle. Well, class will out.
After about 70 minutes Ward was replaced by Bolder, who, if anything, added to the steel and determination. He clogged well in a Poutononian way, devouring ankles like a hungry Yorkshire Terrier (ah yes, heâ€™s another one who is an exception to the rule, isnâ€™t he). Each Town defender managed to make a vital block as the ball dropped in the area. Groves headed onto the roof of Coyneâ€™s goal as the ball was up and down the area like a confused milkman, and then there was the moment we thought they finally had scored. Robert Lee, standing 20 yards out on the centre left, pinged a slicing right foot shot across Coyne and just, just wide of the top left hand corner of the goal. Oh there were other efforts, but donâ€™t concern yourselves with them, the usual humdrum lashings from the desperate, that troubled no-one but the stewards in the golf buggies. With just 10 minutes left, Oster should have scored his third, coincidentally the Town third too. Bolder mugged a dilatory defender on the Derby right, just outside the penalty area, and passed inside to the unmarked Oster, in the middle of the goal, 20 yards out. Instead of advancing into the penalty area and lobbing the ball over the flapping â€˜keeper, he tried to blast an unstoppable spinning volley into the top corner. He did blast it, but into the top corner of second tier of support. At this the Derby supporters began to ooze out of the stadium, the silent reproach of ten thousand tear stained eyes.
And with this Town made a final substitution, Mansaram finally relieved of duty, replaced by little Soames. Mansaram was booked for walking off the pitch too slowly (a really daft decision, he wasnâ€™ that slow, the crowd got to the ref in the end). Sure, Derby flung more crosses in, but thatâ€™s just boring, what did Town do? Well, Soames turned and hustled the defence a couple of times, once crossing to the near post, which was cleared for a corner, and later managing to force a throw in, thus wasting more time. Ah, that corner. Town were time wasting with 10 minutes left, but so what, not our problem, is it, and itâ€™s been done to us a thousand times. Derby huffed and puffed, but only managed to con the referee into booking Santos, when Christie fell clutching his head and squealing like a pig after a header. In the last minute Derby got a corner, which was cleared towards Lee, but Groves got there first and poked the ball forward. Lee slid across and cynically hacked Groves down. The referee allowed advantage and Oster (I think, or it may have been Campbell) drove forward towards the half way line. Derby had left only a couple of players back, and both were flapping like a gnu. Soames peeled away and was perhaps 15 yards to the left of his putative marker. The ball was played forward into the Derby half and Soames ran on, and on, and on, into the penalty area. Two Derby defenders raced back and the tiny Town tot tried to cut through the middle of them. The ball rebounded off Barton, back on to SOAMES and he was alone, 12 yards out. He turned round, saw the â€˜keeper rush off his line and simply toe poked the ball under Grant and into the bottom left hand corner of the goal. The Town supporters exploded with happiness. There now seemed double the number, leaping, wailing, hailing the heroes, those unlikely cockleshell heroes. Yes, thatâ€™s a point in the bag as an ultra realist observed.
The remaining Derby fans continued to shout "You donâ€™t know what youâ€™re doing", presumably at Gregory. There was a long, long hold up as Lee was stretchered off, injured in trying to stop Groves. As Lee departed, the board showed three minutes of added time and more locals poured out, freeing the escape routes for the delirious Mariners. Derby had a few more efforts on goal, a header, a sliced shot, an attempted chip which sank into a bunker on the third fairway. But we werenâ€™t watching, their fans werenâ€™t watching, it was party time in a large shed. Finally the game finished and the Town players leapt around, with Chettle the demented cheerleader and disco Georges boogieing the night away.
What spirit, what flair, what the heck was going on out there? Typical Town, when you least expect it they produce a pearl. And the biggest pearl of all from the Oyster boy. Every single one of them contributed, they never stopped running, never stopped tackling, concentrated all game and were collectively the polar opposite of the Preston pants. What a Happy Christmas.
Nickoâ€™s Man of the Match
Now this is so, so difficult, Nick is tempted to say "them all". Santosâ€™ tackle was worth the admission alone, Osterâ€™s goals, Parkerâ€™s Kinkladzethon, Campbellâ€™s vigour, Mansaramâ€™s indefatigable spirit. But as an old sentimentalist, Nick smiles towards Paul Groves, simply for lasting and leading, a thoroughly sensible performance, doing the simple things well and returning from his Preston career ending trundles. There, that shocked everyone, didnâ€™t it. But boy, that Santos tackle.
M Fletcher. Curious man. Mostly fine, made some excellent decisions, especially not giving a penalty against Santos for twice controlling the ball with his arm (accidentally of course) and the advantage for Townâ€™s third goal. But also allowed himself to be suckered by the crowd and Christie to get a couple of Town players booked. The home fans were complaining because he wouldnâ€™t give them everything, so, on balance, I think 6.87 is a very fair score. He wasnâ€™t perfect, but perfectly adequate.
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