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15/02 Gillingham 2nd Half
By: Tony Butcher
NO changes were made by either team at half time. So more of the same. Well, sort of. Gillingham didnâ€™t completely blast Town into orbit, nor even smack their behinds much.
Gillingham 3 Grimsby Town 0
15 Feb 2003, Nationwide League Division 1
The flatness on the terraces was reflected on the pitch - both sets of players knew the match had been won, so Town didnâ€™t want a total humiliation and Gillingham didnâ€™t want to risk injury or a sending off.
So nothing much happened. Again. In the first couple of minutes of the half there was a brief glimpse of a hint. Coldicott controlled a high, skied clearance beautifully and perfectly near the centre circle. He dribbled forward and laid a superbly weighted through ball with the outside of his right boot, splitting the defence. Thompson surged into the gap between the left back and centre back, but was weak, giving up near the ball as Nosworthy eased across. You just know that if that had been at the other end it would have been a goal. For Town, it was hardly approaching a moment of danger. Many moons later Cooke crossed into the near post, the ball was gathered by Brown with Thompson being several yards away. Gallimore punted a couple of free kicks straight into Brownâ€™s hands, Boulding was seen once. And then there was the penalty that wasnâ€™t, after about an hour. A Town corner from the left was curled low into the near post and a Town player stooped and flicked the ball on. As the ball was travelling towards the bottom left hand corner it hit a hand, which was attached to an arm, which was connected to a body, which wore a blue shirt. No penalty given. Why waste those precious few goals in a lost game anway?
Thatâ€™s just about it, apart from two McDermott inspired moments. He exchanged passes with Thompson, surged into the penalty area and hit a cross shot into the six yards area. The ball went past Brown, was miss-kicked by Smith, and the Town support claimed a penalty, for it is always a penalty when the ball hits the backside of an opponent, isnâ€™t it? In injury time (yes sir, injury time!) Town had a shot. McDermott surged down the right, laid a pass down the line to Thompson who twisted inside and flipped a short pass into the edge of the penalty area. McDermott chested the ball down and hit a first time left footed half volley which slapped against the advertising boards a yard or so wide of Brownâ€™s near post. Pick the bones out of that and try telling me Town werenâ€™t dominant. Brown had performed heroics in the second half, only a man of such steel and fortitude could keep back to the tide of tedium and remain awake.
I havenâ€™t, in this half, taken any cheap shots at the sitting duck that is Gallimore. Donâ€™t worry, you know heâ€™ll oblige his public. If the secret of great comedy is timing itâ€™s a good job that tackling is no part of the laughsmithâ€™s art. Galli in back-track mode is a pitiable sight. Sometime in the early part of this waste of space that was the second half, Gallimore was startled by the ball landing behind him. Ipoua rolled around the drinking manâ€™s full back, Gallimore held his shirt but Ipoua, sportingly ignored this hand of cod and continued spinning, like a wheel within a wheel, on the centre left of the Town area. His final twirl, Anthea, produced a low right foot shot dragged across the face of goal. Coyne flew out towards the Thames and managed to get the tippiest of finger tips to the ball and knock it just wide of the far post. Ignoring the many crosses which dipped in and out of the Town area I shall proceed to go without collecting Â£200. As the game dribbled to itâ€™s inevitable conclusion the substitutions started. Gillingham brought on the mammoth Sidibe, whilst Town brought on Chettle (Livvo-lite, which is a compliment, by the way) for Boulding, after about 70 minutes. Five minutes later Soames replaced Cooke, and five minutes after that Gallimore was replaced by Barnard. Gallimoreâ€™s slow trudge to the touchline was accompanied by some appreciative applause from the Gillingham support. Two Town fans started to clap, but soon gave up, which was a perfect metaphor for the afternoon. Oh, if you are interested, the changes resulted in Town going to a 4-3-3- formation, with Thompson on the left, Soames on the right of attack. No, you werenâ€™t interested, were you.
Gillingham almost scored again just after the first substitution, Ipoua (I think) cut in from their right, taking advantage of a Gallimore retreat more ignoble than an overly fawning courtier. The ball was played back from the bye line into the centre. From a rucking bundle of players the ball was played against the post and out for a corner. Hessenthaler emerged from this bundle, leaping around in frustration. Donâ€™t know why, donâ€™t care, far too far away to see. It looked as though one of the Town players had crashed a first time shot against the post, so I think weâ€™ll claim that as a bit of Town ill-fortune, just for the heck of it. Anymore? Well, a cross from their left went through the middle of the area and just missed the far post. A couple of headers were sent into the back of their new stand and Coyne completely miss-kicked a back pass out to the left of goal, sending the ball spinning back towards the bye line and forcing him to jump at and block the resulting shot. The two blond haired Gillingham substitutes had shots which were irrelevant, but if Town had done them they would have counted as moments of high excitement.
We had to look elsewhere for our entertainment. Perhaps the moment the referee cuffed Hessenthaler round the ear when signalling a throw-in? Or when the Gillingham supporters, so incensed by the display of incomprehensible flapping and whistling by the referee, called him a fork lift truck, or am I misinterpreting the Kentish twang for subtlety and irony? "The refereeâ€™s an Anker" was surely reference to Anker Fork Lift trucks, local employers of note and renown. Look, when the afternoon is that awful your mind does wander in strange and unusual places. Soames looked like he was sinking, for a couple of times after he turned past his huge markers he ran on his knees. Or perhaps it is a new tactic, to actually run between the legs of opponents, accompanied by appropriate music.
This feels like a low point in a low season, but then again, thereâ€™s always next week. Town, literally, donâ€™t look strong enough to survive. Football is sporting Darwenism, so eventually the weak perish. Is this it?
At least it didnâ€™t rain.
Nickoâ€™s Man of the Match
The few Town fans who turned up were the real star performers, simply for their fortitude and stoicism. If a player really, really has to have it then Georges Santos, on the basis that he did irreparable harm to his brain by heading the ball so many times. Without him, the defeat would have been much worse. So another negative award.
P Taylor. He went out of his way, mostly, to annoy the home support with extremely odd decisions. Even the most one-eyed Town supporter couldnâ€™t work out why he gave some of the free kicks he did. Equally, he was far too willing to book players. Although he did book Gallimore for being rubbish, you canâ€™t be wrong all the time.
He doesnâ€™t deserve anything higher than 5.9. So he gets 3.2871 (recurring)
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