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25/01 Bradford 2nd Half
By: Tony Butcher
THE players lined up and waited for the man nominally in charge of this farrago of feeble foolishness. Speculation was rife. Had he been arrested by the Police for conduct likely to cause a breach of the peace? Had Groves locked him in the toilet?
Grimsby Town 1 Bradford City 2
25 Jan 2003, Nationwide League Division 1
Two minutes later, the referee and his little garden gnomes came out, escorted by Stewards and a wary police eye. Still less joy for Town support as the linesmen switched, so that they continued to work the same defences, meaning the Town defence still had that non-flagging fool, whilst the Town attack had the one who couldnâ€™t stop raising the red and yellow lantern: the worst of both worlds.
Town kicked off and, despite the numerical disadvantage, had the better of the first 10 minutes or so. The first effort on goal was by Boulding, after a couple of minutes. Receiving the ball about 35 yards out on the right he twisted turned and dragged a low shot a couple of feet wide of Coyneâ€™s left hand post from just inside the area. Campbell bellowed his annoyance from the far post, as Boulding had not seen him. There again, how can you blame Boulding for not seeing the invisible man? A couple of minutes later, after a bit of flickery and trickery down the Town left, Campbell spun past his marker and, from the bye-line crossed to the far post, just over Boulding. And a little after that Chettle won a tackle just inside the Bradford half, took the ball forward 10 yards and thwacked a drive from 30 yards just past Davisonâ€™s left hand post. All very good considering, and still Bradford had done nothing.
Surely theyâ€™d attack sometime? The game was still the footballing equivalent of a nine month old compost heap, but that was fine, as long as things stayed as they were. Chettle had played very well, in contrast to Ford who sleepwalked through the first half, ambling and dambling about as if he was saving himself for a dinner date. However Chettle always makes one mistake a game, doesnâ€™t he, Just the one, but... Nothing was happening of any consequence, with the ball rolled back to Davison in his own penalty area. Adequate Aiden wellied the ball downfield, towards their Ward a few yards inside the Town half on the centre right. Chettle decided to run across from the centre to head the ball, leaving Gray alone. He was a couple of yards away as their Ward and Ford challenged, the ball flicking off into the space just vacated by big old Steve.
Gray was completely alone, down the centre and trundling towards Coyne. From about the edge of the penalty area, just left of centre, GRAY curled the ball around Coyne and into the bottom left hand corner. Unlike last week, there was no popular groundswell of groaning. The supporters supported, attempting to encourage the players.
The goal galvanised Bradford and Town were just hanging on, trying to repel these vandals at the gates of home. Bradford visibly upped the tempo, hitting balls higher, barging into tackles harder. Crosses whipped in, corner after corner was won, with last gasp defending, blocks and hacks as the pressure was tight as a tourniquet, dry as a funeral drum. A cross from the right was dinked into the centre of the penalty area to the unmarked Gray, about 8 yards out, who headed softly to Coyneâ€™s right. An easy save done with a flourish . A cross shot from the left spun through the area and wide, a corner from the left headed against the bar from about 10 yards out at the back post. The pressure was bearable, just. Barnard, for once, was caught out down the left. The winger managed to outpace him and cross into the middle of the penalty area to the unmarked Lawrence, somewhere close to the 6 yards box. Lawrence placed his shot as Coyne stood motionless on the line and I Ward slid across the turf on his backside to block for a corner.
Maybe Town would get away with it, a point earned in trying circumstances? Yes, maybe, for even though Bradford poured forward they couldnâ€™t get any shots on target. There was always a foot, a knee, a thigh, a head in the way. A short corner pulled back to the edge of the area? Donâ€™t worry, Groves headed the resulting shot clear as Coyne sailed towards his top right hand corner. A scramble in the box and a Bradford player about to shoot? Relax, Bolder appeared as if by magic, then Groves, then Barnard. They all took turns to be a mini hero for a minute. The crowd did have something to complain about after about 65 minutes. Cooke, who was a human dynamo and the only attacking spark, was replaced by Mansaram. There was a reshuffle with Boulding retreating to a left sided midfield position, Campbell on the right and Mansaram alone at the front. It didnâ€™t work Campbell was still an ephemeral presence and hardly helped Ward out in defence. Boulding played more as a left winger than a midfielder, exposing Barnard to double and triple attack. Manasaram? Well, he had a couple of miss hit long shots, but otherwise was not particularly effective.
With about 15 minutes left, a defining moment, we thought, the one to prove it would be Townâ€™s day. Uhlenbeek surged forward down their right, exchanging passes near the penalty area and flying on. About 12 yards out he fell, just like Reid did last week. The referee booked Uhlenbeek for diving, which, shall we say, displeased him greatly. In celebration, one of the householders behind the Pontoon threw back the ball that Barnard had managed to send over the roof towards Ramsdenâ€™s car park. Either that or it was raining balls, hallelujah. Hang on, just a few more minutes to hang on. Yikes! A Bradford attack down the centre saw the ball rebound off legs and heads, but always back to them. Finally Ford cleared, but it hit a Bradford player and went straight to the unmarked Jorgenson on the right side of the penalty area, perhaps a dozen yards out. Coyne sprang into action, haring out and blocking the shot with his feet for a corner. Phew, just five minutes left. And hereâ€™s the Town winner! It wasnâ€™t. Barnard won a free kick out on the left, about 30 yards out. He swung in the free kick and the ball drifted over two sets of heads to Groves, at the far post. Groves stabbed a half volley goalwards from the edge of the 6 yards box. The ball zoomed a couple of feet over the bar and we all sat down again.
With just about five minutes left Soames replaced Boulding. Boulding had been able to do little in the second half, though he was briefly free on goal down the centre. Only the linesmanâ€™s flag halted a certain goal. And, by the way, he wasnâ€™t offside, unless FIFA changed the rules yesterday afternoon, for a yellow shirt was between him and the Pontoon. The shirt physically obscuring our view of Boulding. Oh dear, this sounds like one long moan about the officials. Well, facts are facts, they were dreadful. Where are we now? In injury time, all three minutes of it, and where did they come from? Town were given a free kick just inside the Bradford half. Campbell carefully placed it on a Bradford head, attempting to chip it towards the right hand corner flag. There followed a bit of head tennis, sliced clearances and Ford knocked the ball forward off his knee. Except it didnâ€™t go forward, but sideways into a big space where no Town player existed. Bradford broke away and played the ball out to Jorgenson on the right, about 25 yards out. JORGENSON cut inside and, from somewhere near the edge of the penalty area, curled a right foot shot over Coyne and just under the bar in to the top left hand corner.
In the remaining minute or so Barnard was fouled near the touchline under the Smiths/Stones/Findus Stand by the youngest and thinnest Bradford player, Francis, who had already been booked. The referee pulled out another yellow and off the boy went, very slowly. It was a completely arbitrary yellow card, as the foul was no worse than several dozen earlier in the game. Perhaps this was the refereeâ€™s way of showing his fairness? Of "evening things out". Well it didnâ€™t, 10 men for 45 minutes doesnâ€™t equate to 10 men for 45 seconds. Barnardâ€™s free kick resulted in a scramble, a clearance and the final whistle. The crowd applauded the Town team off, and made plain their lack of satisfaction with the standard of officiating.
What more to say? it felt just like last yearâ€™s game against them, with many a frustrated Pontoonite wondering how a club in administration can afford ref purchasing. Only joking Mr FA, of course. All of which rather glosses over Livvoâ€™s stupidity and the individual errors which allowed Bradford, that rotten carcass, to live again. There was no reason to heckle the players today, for they tried, in trying circumstances. So no-one did. One day Town may be able to send out a first team, letâ€™s hope it comes very soon, for time is running out again.
Itâ€™s only Portsmouth next. Easy.
Nickoâ€™s Man of the Match
Honourable mention in despatches to Groves and Cooke, but the number one man today was the least expected Welshman on the pitch, Mr Darren Barnard. In the words of a young man sat two seats away "He was ace!". If only he did this every week we wouldnâ€™t have to put up with the wandering minstrel at left back.
Mr Clattenburg. You know heâ€™s going to get a low score, especially when I remind you he was the referee against Stockport last season, the one where Pringle had his leg snapped in two. This man should not be allowed near a Grimsby Town game, his decision making does not suggest a clear mind, uncluttered by negative thoughts towards East Coast fisherfolk. As leader of a "team" of officials he also takes the rap for the worst linesmanship seen since most televisions were black and white. He has "previous" and will forever be playing a negative joker when it comes to marks. He doesnâ€™t get points deducted for the Livvo sending off, but he does for sending off Francis, which was a pathetic attempt to "even things up". As was his consistent awarding of free kicks to Town 10 yards either side of the half way line, in a non-threatening position. Ooo, did I mention the handballs? Well, he never saw any. There was at least one appeal for handball inside the Bradford area in the second half as the ball plopped to the ground at a suspicious angle. I would be happy if we never saw this individual ever again. Perhaps we should send someone to terminate his command. Heâ€™s out there under no decent, civilised control. His methods are unsound. Terminate with extreme prejudice. Pass the prawns will you?
Oh, a score - minus1.5607.
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