Question of the Week
How long before new manager arrives?
11/01 Wimbledon 2nd Half
By: Tony Butcher
GOOD grief, whatâ€™s going on here then! Town made two changes at half time. Coldicott was replaced by Barnard, and Boulding by Mansaram, with Barnard going to left midfield and Campbell into the centre.
Milton Keynes Mercenaries 3 Grimsby Town 3
11 Jan 2003, Nationwide League Division 1
Town started the second half sloppily, allowing the Mercenaries to apply some ineffectual pressure. The old Town habit of standing off players in wide positions reared its ignoble head, thus a series of long diagonal crosses were pumped into the box, meaning corners, corners, corners. Town were practically giving them away like a DFS sale. Theyâ€™d be mad not to take up an offer like that.
After a couple of extremely minor moments of potential concern (a block, a miss, a weak header, a chip and chase, all neutralised way before Coyne was called to give evidence), Francis missed a howlingly free header, and so we howled our pleasure. A corner from their left was swung high to the middle of the goal, some head tennis saw a bit of the old in-out, in-out, as the ball looped up, down, around and about. Ah, safety, the ball was arcing beyond the far post, Gallimore leant back and headed sideways, back across goal, straight to the unmarked Francis, perhaps 6 yards out. The Town fans stood up, ready to berate the raggle-taggle left back, but seamlessly altered their vocal chords to applaud a fantastic miss. Francis headed a foot over. A couple of minutes after that, perhaps 7 or 8 into the second half, Town slipped 3rd gear to accelerate away from the horse and cart XI. Nothing much to warm the frozen toes of Townites, Iâ€™m sure some tiny hands were frozen too. As Town piddled about in midfield, someone knocked a high lump up to our big lump, Livvo, about 25 yards from goal. Livvo headed on into the penalty area. Andersen turned and miss-kicked his clearance, the ball rolling gently up the middle of the pitch. Campbell sprinted forward and cracked a first time shot from 25 yards. ANDERSEN stood in the way, turned and deflected the ball into the ground with his hand, with it continuing like a stealth spinning top, up and over the flailing, wailing Davis, and into the bottom right hand corner. Oh , â€˜twas brillig, leading the slimy toads. But, we should remember, beware the Jabberwock, their jaws bite and claws catch. The Opposition fans used to sing "Weâ€™ve got Trond Andersen" as a boast, they werenâ€™t now.
There then followed 15 minutes of fantastically dull, poor football. Town simply concentrated on defence. Ah, I said concentrated and defence in the same sentence, surely that canâ€™t be right. But it was, for the quarter of an hour was pleasant in the sense that the Opposition seemed incapable of staying onside. Nothing of note happened, though the referee had begun to step beyond irritating to annoying with his failure to see fouls on Town players. When Town attacked there was more than a hint of arrogance in the build up, with loads of one touch flowing moves across the pitch. Gallimore was seen doing a volleyed cushioned lay off with his instep, Barnard succeeded in replicating the Eric Morecambe moment, though an elbow in the face soon stopped him in his tracks. Of course the referee gave a free kick to them. Clearly Barnard had headbutted the defenders elbow, with cynical intent to injure...himself. Shocking and surely a red card!
The Opposition manager stood on the side of the pitch issuing secret instructions to McAnuff. He neednâ€™t have bothered, we heard every word. And how come McAnuff has changed his name from Jobi to Joel? Will all their players do the same when they slink up to Buckinghamshire, the natural home of the Red. Noel Shipperley? Tron Andersen? Rio Leo-Croker?
All was going well, just 23 minutes left, the after match entertainments were being arranged, the Division One table being contemplated, some thought they should count the crowd. Then a dreadful Feydeau farce began, starring Mr Coyne, with support from Cooke and Gallimore, who spent the last half hour running around in ever decreasing circles. The Opposition left back decided to set off on a barnstorming run down the middle. Town allowed him to advance from the half way line before anyone bothered to get near him. Hawkins let fly from 25 yards, the ball cannoned off Groves backside, rebounded off Hawkins and dribbled towards the edge of the penalty area. Cooke ran back and passed to Coyne, not noticing the tiny figure of Darlington, who sprinted at our occasional international ball boy. Coyne hurried his kick from about the edge of the 6 yards box, "topping" his drive horribly. The ball flew at an angle of approximately 68 degrees, smacking the sleeping AGYEMANG slap bang between the eyes and looping towards goal. Coyne and Gallimore seemed to look at each other in amazement as the ball went between them and drooped over the line. Agyemang seemed to be way off to the left of goal and about 15 yards out and appeared to be trying to get out of the way, preserving his new hairstyle. It was some miss-hit by Coyne and a total fluke. But then again Townâ€™s goals had been a bit lucky too, really. But, of course, we deserve our luck.
You could see the Town players deflating, and the Opposition perked up no end. And within another minute or so theyâ€™d got another surprising goal. A deep cross from their right, somewhere near the touchline about 30 yards out, was pumped into the centre of the box aiming, as usual, for Shipperley. Ford challenged but Shipperley glanced the ball on into a space between Coyne and McDermott. Macca hadnâ€™t bothered to track back with Darlington, allowing the pesky little blighter to sneak around the back. DARLINGTON smashed a shot from seven yards out, straight at Coyne, the ball rebounding off Coyneâ€™s forearms, onto the near post and in. Can you hear the home "fans" sing? No, no. Was it the 15:58 to Purley rattling home? Was it the air conditioning? No, the few humans behind the other goal were flapping their seats furiously, attempting to make a noise of some kind. Now thatâ€™s a sound which shouldnâ€™t have intimidated the Town players, they are used to the tipping of seats when a goal is conceded. Only without the accompanying growls.
More air left the Town bag, but a little foot pump called Mansaram kept the hope afloat. Just after the goal, Town indulged in a little bit of passing and moving down the right, with McDermott raiding like it was 1993. McD chipped the ball up to Mansaram, who spun and from about a dozen yards out, hooked a shot a foot or so high and wide of the top right hand corner. The Opposition continued to pour forward, with a couple of long shots safely tumbling across the universe and into Coyneâ€™s waiting arms. No worries there. And now, the value of Mansaram became obvious. The ball was chipped down the left hand touchline towards the corner. Mansaram sprinted past Williams and controlled the ball. He was the only player within 40 yards of goal, so waited, waited and then carefully rolled a pass back from the bye-line to the edge of the penalty area, right in the middle. CAMPBELL steamed in, open his body and steered a right foot shot across the face of goal and halfway up in the left side netting. The Town fans erupted, running up and down the gangways, leaping with unadulterated joy. Less than twenty minutes left, surely theyâ€™d concentrate, or were they intent on being Banana Splits too?
To the chagrin of all right minded people, it took just one minute for the Sour Grapes to give Town a duffing up. Agyemang received the ball just inside the Town half, on their right. Barnard jogged back, Gallimore back tracked, so Agyemang continued. When about 20 yards out he slipped a pass through a gap between Groves and Gallimore into which Francis, all 9 foot 6 of him, ghosted unseen. FRANCIS, 10 yards out and to the right of goal, waited for Coyne then tapped the ball through Coyneâ€™s legs, the ball hitting the ankles, rolling slowly, slowly towards the foot of the near post and just dribbling over the line. More seat slapping, more fury and frustration in the travelling Townites.
The rest of the game was mainly Opposition attacks, with very infrequent Town breaks. There were quite a few moments of panic as crosses dropped near them, but despite headers and shots, nothing that appeared to be going in. The nearest was a Shipperley dainty feint on the edge of the area, followed by a careful right foot shot that went a few inches over Coyneâ€™s left hand post. As time ticked down, Coldicott was seen urging Soames to be introduced, presumably for the immobile, some say inert, Livvo. But no substitution was made and Town ended as theyâ€™d started the half. There were three minutes of added time, during which Town won a couple of corners. The first brought a scramble, ending when the referee made up an infringement. The second brought a torrent of deserved abuse upon the referee. Just 2 minutes 52 seconds after the board was put up showing 3 minutes of added time, Cooke swung a corner high, into the centre of the penalty area and...the referee blew for full time as the ball approached the penalty area! An astounding thing to do, for we all know that referees have been instructed to end games in neutral areas. Even the most cynical of Town supporters wouldnâ€™t call the middle of the 6 yards box neutral.
There we are, a couple more points thrown away by individual errors. Coyneâ€™s kicking was rotten all game, sliced, hooked and rarely straight. His fluff for the first goal has been on the cards for weeks now. But above all, the problems Town had were down the left, the last thing Town need is two Gallimoreâ€™s on Ice, for that is what they got in the second half. Heading for Man of the Match in the first half, Gallimoreâ€™s afternoon descended from good to horrendous, via pantomime and farce. He spent the entire second half backing off, allowing the Opposition to cross at will. Only the dimmest footballer would think that a wise thing to do against them. But he wasnâ€™t helped by Jogging Darren B, who was barely a presence in defence. Campbell was a constant threat when breaking forward and he did his best in hassling the much bigger Opposition midfielders. It was one of his better games today. Groves was more than adequate for 70 minutes, then his legs went west as his head went east. Itâ€™s called old age.
Itâ€™s Selhurst Park, isnâ€™t it. Thereâ€™s something about Norwood which brings out the worst in Town. We didnâ€™t lose, thereâ€™s something.
Nickoâ€™s Man of the Match
Being a contrarian, Nicko will shock many with his choice. Yes, Campbell was effective, and deserves his honourable mention, but throughout the game there was one boot that kept clearing, one head that kept appearing. I canâ€™t see anything to fault him with, itâ€™s the surprising Mr Chettle.
M Thorpe. Managed to get intimidated by an empty ground. No big decisions to make, no penalties, no sendings off, not many fouls, yet he was appalling in his decision making. The nadir was the end, that ridiculous ending at a Town corner, but a few minutes earlier he had shown willingness to assist the home team. Mansaram was penalised for foot up when Williams stooped to head the ball at knee height. I donâ€™t think he was worthy of a score, so 0.
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