Question of the Week
How long before new manager arrives?
10/03 Forest 2nd Half
By: Tony Butcher
NO changes were made by either team at half time, with Town reverting to the old trick of making the opposition hang around for a few minutes before they finally emerged.
Nottingham Forest 2 Grimsby Town 2
10 Mar 2003, Nationwide League Division 1
The first couple of minutes meandered a bit, just midfield clashes and smashes, with the first moment to rouse the crowd being a Mansaram turn towards goal, with him being mugged by several Forest players about 30 yards out, to the right of centre. Got to admire the lad, he didnâ€™t give them his mobile phone. Ford trundled forward, Oster raised a hand and floated the ball into the penalty area. Ward came off his line and leapt into a bundle of players, about 10 yards out at the far post. His punch was more of a flap and the ball dropped about 20 yards out. POUTON raced forward, jumped up and did a goose-stepping volley which fizzed low through several legs past Ward and into the bottom right hand corner. As the ball hit the net he ripped off his shirt and threw it in the air, turning to receive the plaudits from the Town fans, except he went to the wrong bit and was staring at some displeased lacemakers and children. At this point the consensus was that the "Town were staying up", quickly followed by a warning about counting chickens before conception.
And the siege began. At first it was simply an encampment beyond the moat, near the trees. Excursion parties were sent out to test Town, but they never got near goal. As in the first half, the only early attempt at goal was from a corner on the Forest right which was floated into the centre. Hjelde climbed all over and above his marker to steer a header a few inches wide of Coyneâ€™s right hand post.
A little later Harewood looped a header over and across Coyne, but it landed on the roof of the net. Oohs from the crowd, more to keep themselves interested than anything. Pressure, pressure, but no break in the dam, the great Hoover dam that was sucking and soaking up everything thrown towards it. Huckerby irritated, Harewood muscled, but they were not getting through to Coyne. Huckerby was fortunate to stay on the pitch after Gallimore chipped the ball down the wing and the "Lincoln, Newcastle, Coventry, Man City reject "(take your pick as the insult of choice, the Town fans couldnâ€™t decide) left his boot in the way of Galliâ€™s beautiful left foot.
Galli crumpled, a gaggle of players bounded over, shoving each other and Huckerby was eventually booked. Lucky boy, some refs do, some refs donâ€™t, some ref need a lotta lovinâ€™ and some would send him off. And this heralded a period of pettiness, all centring upon Huckerby. After a player was felled in midfield, Coyne rolled the ball out for the physio to rush on. Play restarted with a Forest centre back lofting the ball down their left wing, behind McDermott, who trotted back. Huckerby, the iconoclast, ignored convention by bursting into the area and bearing down upon goal. McDermott was forced to retreat and do a last ditch tackle to save the day, and Huckerbyâ€™s highlighted head, for if heâ€™d scored several Town players would have decapitated him there and then.
After about 20 minutes Forest saw the light, or rather the darkness spreading before them and replaced a defender, Hjelde, with another lightning quick striker, Johnson. And now it really was a siege, cannons belted into the wall, tunnels were dug, fiery balls were catapulted over the top Ugly football, but passionate, finally the home crowd roared and sucked the play towards Coyne. Within a minute or so of coming on, Johnson nearly scored. Harewood burst down their right, surged past a couple of defenders and, from somewhere near the corner of the penalty area, swiped a raking shot across the area. The ball seemed to be going towards the far corner but hit something about six yards out and flew over the top. The something was the unmarked Johnson, who somehow managed to clear from under the bar. Hope rose at the Town end, was this our day? Maybe, for Harewood, again, bundled down the wing with Galli reverting to a former self and back pedalling like a determined interviewer collaring a time share swindler. Harewood rolled along the bye-line and crossed to Johnson, at the near post, who side footed extremely wide from about 10 yards out.
Is there more? Of course there is. It didnâ€™t rain, but Forest poured forward. Twice Forest players side footed the ball over the bar from exactly the same spot, about 10 yards out level with Coyneâ€™s left hand post. Firstly a deep cross from their left was headed back across towards the near post by Harewood, and a midfielder whacked it over. Five minutes later Johnson wellied it over after a low cross by Harewood (I think) on their right. Wahey, theyâ€™ll never score. More songs, more raucous premature celebrations from the Towns supporters, especially as Town occasionally broke away dangerously. Pouton, Oster and Mansaram kept bustling and hustling the centre backs, especially Brennan, a man barely alive to the ball. He seemed to sleep through most of the second half. Almost, almost, that word which should precede any description of Town football, for there were several moments when Town outnumbered Forest. But one loose pass, or failure to look up, and the moment was lost. Mansaram was almost through on goal, but Ward raced off his line to pick the ball up on the edge of the area. Lovely first time pass from Oster, mind. Oster broke down the right and seemed to try an audacious clipped, curling shot into the bottom left hand corner as Ward came off his line anticipating a cross field pass to the unmarked Pouton. Or was it Mansaram, or was it both? Best of all was when Groves advanced down the middle and pinged a low shot from about 20 yards, which fizzed across the turf towards the bottom right hand corner. Ward plunged and saved at full stretch, comfortably, but well.
The geographically confused Forest fans attempted to taunt the small knot of Townites "Stand up if you hate Yorkies". No trouble with that one down at our end. "Stand up if you hate Torquay" Errr, why? Or did they mean Derby? Or Torbay. After all Torquay, Torbay, whatâ€™s the difference. Still Forest rattled the loose fitting cage, Santos boomed headers away, one so thudding it went from the 6 yard box to centre circle before bouncing. I think weâ€™ll claim that as a shot, shall we? Santos also used his big manly chest to cut out a cross. Harewood twice bundled and barged his way through from an inside left position. Firstly Santos used all his limbs, and important parts of his personality to wrestle massive Marlon away, a little later Harewood got to within 6 or 7 yards of goal, but a combination of McDermott and Gallimore swiped the ball off his toes at the last minute. All Forest, everyone down at the other end, corners, crosses, all fizzing through the area, with a monochrome foot, knee, head or bottom getting in the way. A cross from their left to the far post and, oh no, here it is.. No! Harewood, glanced a header a few inches wide of Coyneâ€™s left hand post, the ball rippling along the side netting, confusing many. But still Town hung on, hung on, the pressure incessant, hordes of red streaming towards goal, the ball constantly whacked in, little subtlety, much desperate defending. Coyne leaping around punching, blocking, catching and, just once or twice, saving. Huckerby flashed a drive from the edge of the area straight through a gaggle of Grimbarians into Coyneâ€™s midriff. Hughes stretched, Groves strained, Santos headed, Ford flicked, Pouton flung himself everywhere, sometimes near the ball too. Mansaram, limping for most of the second half, was almost substituted with about 20 minutes left, with Livingstone ready, but he stayed on after a dangerous run down the right brought a corner.
With five minutes left Pouton and Mansaram were replaced by Barnard and Livingstone. Campbell trotted over to Poutonâ€™s position, centre right of the middle three, with Barnard as the auxiliary left back. In their time on the pitch Livingstone got near the ball and Barnard sliced a clearance up the touchline, apart from that I didnâ€™t see them touch the ball. They may have done, they may have been involved in the series of goal mouth scrambles up the other end, but it was impossible to tell. It was all a jumble of black, white and red as Johnson flung in huge flat zooming throw ins from both sides. More corners. More crosses, the clocked ticked down. It was here, 90 minutes up, just injury time. Surely that was it, Town wouldnâ€™t do it again would they? As the Town fans were standing up preparing to celebrate, it happened. It? Yes, it. A cross was half cleared beyond the far post, high towards Oster near the corner of the penalty area. The ball dropped and a couple of Forest placed raced forward, with Oster directly under the ball. Oster attempted to jump but fell, certainly trying win a free kick. The ball was headed forward, behind the defence for Harewood, who bullied his way towards the bye-line, sucked in a couple of Town defenders and crossed into the centre of the area. WILLIAMS, somewhere close to where Groves had scored, slid forward and brought that empty desolation to the hearts of the few. Again, yet again, points tossed aside like they were loose pennies to the Man who Broke the Bank at Monte Carlo. This was Ipswich all over again, solid, fine, a plan going to plan, but carelessness at the end will cost jobs in two months time.
In the three minutes of added time Forest pressed for a winner, with Town just, just holding out, despite more of the same pressure route one football. The Town end was silent, hollow eyed and ashen cheeked. Lady Bracknell was not around, and didnâ€™t need to be. The game ended, the Town fans stunned, applauding the players more out of a Pavlovian response than a conscious thought. We looked on the pitch and saw not Forest, but Swindon, Chesterfield, Notts County. We saw next year. We turned to look but the first division was gone, we cannot put our finger on it now, the dream has gone. Individually, collectively, there wasnâ€™t that much wrong with Town. But it is what individuals do on the pitch under pressure that makes, or breaks, and some wrong decisions are made at crucial times. If Pouton had stood six inches to the left he wouldnâ€™t have deflected the ball in, if several players at the end had stood still they would have cut out the cross. Small things have big consequences. So another draw that feels like a defeat. It would be much easier for the travelling support if they played rubbish and lost 5-0. It that flippinâ€™ tantalising, fleeting sight of distant hope. If April is the cruellest month, Town are the cruellest team.
"If", "almost", they sum up the lot of a own supporter. Now weâ€™re almost in the second division. Thereâ€™s always next year.
Nickoâ€™s Man of the Match
Such a difficult one, but Nicko, viewing comfortably at home would surprise even himself by giving it to Groves for his goal and his intelligent use of the ball; retaining possession, setting up passing movements. Only Pouton was a little below par, but even he did something, if you count a goal as something.
S G Tomlin. A few small things that could have gone Townâ€™s way, but he wasnâ€™t that bad. Pity about the free kick that led to the first goal. Overall no complaints. A score of at least 6.9746 is the only score possible.
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