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06/04 Leicester 2nd Half
By: Tony Butcher
NEITHER team made any changes at half time, and all went swimmingly for Town for quarter of an hour. They broke in numbers, causing problems to the ageing defenders. Bolder and Mansaram were menacing the Foxes down the Town right with some excellent link up play.
Leicester City 2 Grimsby Town 0
05 Apr 2003, Nationwide League Division 1
Within the first five minutes, Mansaram received the ball on the half way line, close to the right touchline. He knocked the ball over Taggartâ€™s head and spun around the giant haystack, who tried to halt The Flash with a kick in the goolies. Fortunately he missed. Mansaram continued down the line, cut inside, looked up and crossed towards the near post. Bolder, about eight yards out, leant back and wellied a right foot half volley just over the bar, as Campbell flung his arms up in frustration. A few minutes after that, Leicester made tentative enquiries down the Town left, but Santos made an enormous tackle, then another, to rip the ball off the foot of a sneaky Reynard. And thus started a flowing move from left to right, then down the touchline, with Campbell flipping a back-heel volley pass down the line to send McDermott free, who passed into Bolder, just inside the penalty. Bolder stepped inside one challenge and tried to crash a singing left foot drive, but miss-hit it slightly and the ball rumbled low to Walkerâ€™s right. The floppy haired fopster, plopped onto the ball with no great concern. Free flowing or what!
This was just too good to last, wasnâ€™t it. Town in the slight ascendancy, Leicester huffing and puffing, but Town creating the danger. The Town fans were beginning to believe. Big mistake, pride comes before a fall, if not a foul. A couple of Leicester attacks nearly caused worry, with Groves deflecting a shot wide of the post after a drag back to the edge of the area. Mmmm. Benjamin stepped inside Santos and, from the left corner of the Town area, cracked a curling left footed drive around two defenders and towards Coyneâ€™s left side. Coyne caught some thermals, hanging like a barn owl above his afternoon tea, and one handedly pushed the shot aside. Well, we liked it. Around the hour mark Leicester exerted some consistent pressure, with Town being unable to clear a free kick, the ball just kept coming back into area. Eventually the ball was sliced out to the Leicester right and a cross was hit in towards the near post. Ford and Santos both went to head the ball with no Leicester player challenging. The ball skimmed off Fordâ€™s head across goal and beyond the far post. Scowcroft raced around the back and from a narrow angle, perhaps 10 beyond the far post, hooked a first time cross back into the centre. BENJAMIN, unmarked and just a few yards out dived forward and headed into an open goal. Finally some noise was heard from all those blue clad blobs out there in the cold distance.
The game became a touch tetchy after this, with some fruity tackles and salty shoves. Rodgers, in particular, lost touch with Planet Earth, clattering a Town player, then engaging in a slanging and shoving match with Campbell, who was pulled away by an irate Irishman and calmed down by Matt "the peacemaker" Elliott. Other players ran across and there were several slap and tickles going on behind the refereeâ€™s back. The upshot of all this heaving and ho-ing was a yellow card to Rodgers and a Town free kick halfway inside the Leicester half, right on the touchline. About 10 minutes later Rodgers, sitting in his tin can far away from you, re-entered the solar system, having taken some stress pills and a huge gulp of oxygen. Leicester got a couple of free kicks near goal, one of which Izzet curled to Coyne, the other was charged down when tapped sideways. And there were more crosses and Santos headers away. You know, the usual sort of thing. Halfway through the half Boulding was seen preparing to come on, and rather nice hair he now has, having used his recuperation time to grow a bit of a bounce on his bonce.
With about 20 minutes left Leicester lobbed the ball down the middle, McDermott intercepted a flick on, but headed straight back to Benjamin, who simply dinked it over the top to the unmarked Stewart, just to the left of centre and about 20 yards out. The perfectly positioned Town fans cried "offside" and all the players seemed to stop. Stewart finally got the ball under control, walked forward and shot against Coyne. The ball rebounded out to DAVIDSON, a bit further wide than Stewart and just inside the penalty area. He carefully steered the ball wide of Coyne and just inside the right hand post. At this a party started, for the Leicester fans realised that fate was beyond tempting. They taunted the pocket of Grimsby tucked safely in a corner. They considered that Town were going down with Derby and, eventually, that Leicester were going up. They then started a Mexican wave, which is to their shame (and the half dozen Town fans who joined in). The ground may look blandly American, but they didnâ€™t have to act like them. This is football, not frisbee flipping .
A couple of minutes after the second goal Groves was replaced by Boulding, which gave the newly confident Leicesterovians a further opportunity to show how far their civilisation had advanced - 40 miles to the west to St Andrews - for they adopted the oh so funny Birmingham trick of shouting "who" when the opposition substitutions were announced. Read your programme, or look at the scoreboard. With the introduction of Boulding, Town reverted to a 4-4-2 formation, with Hughes and Bolder in the centre. This gave Leicester more space into which Izzet, in particular, could advance and they continued to pile forward, creating half chance after half chance. Forgive the lack of detail, but when Town are 2-0 down there is no real point in continuing, the game is over, so peripheral matters become fascinating. Why was the Mighty Mariner wearing large shorts patterned with bears over his jeans? Is that a Rasta I see before me, for that surely isnâ€™t local hair for local people? Ooh look, some pigeons!
With 10 minutes left Mansaram was replaced by Livingstone, the creation memorably described as resembling an igloo made of marzipan; and Bolder was replaced by Cooke. All this meant that Cooke went to right wing and Keane move to central midfield. I hesitate to described Livingstone for Mansaram as a like for like swap, but in the context of loose generalisations it was, a striker for a striker. Cookeâ€™s first contribution was a good cross into the near post which was headed away for a corner. A good cross, but a pity it was towards midget Michael and not the looming Livvopottomus. Cookeâ€™s second cross was a high, droopy, loopy scoop which was a waste. His third appearance was far more interesting. A Town attack was half cleared and the ball was immediately zipped forward to Boulding, offside and 25 yards out to the right of the Leicester goal. Boulding shinned the ball towards the bye-line, got it caught up between his ankles, turned around once and from a few yards wide of goal rolled a pass behind Elliott to the unmarked Livingstone, seven yards out at the near post. Now an untrained Livvo watcher would assume that the talismanic terminator of Tranmere â€˜keepers hilariously miss-kicked the ball off his shins. How little these people know. Livvo spotted Walker a yard off his line and decided this was the moment when he would show the world his delicate nature, heâ€™d show "that Zidane bloke" how to do it. Livvo chipped a beautiful spinning lob over Walker and the ball thumped against the face of the crossbar, bouncing out to the right of goal. Cooke raced in and smashed a first time volley from about eight yards out, which hit Elliott, and was parried by Walker across the face of goal. Livvo waddled forward, the ball hitting his shins, bouncing back towards Walker and, finally, from a yard out, Livvo lashed the ball into the roof of the net. Unstoppable, and the most beautifully created goal, ever, today, by Town, on balance. Up went the Town support, down went the Town support, all in one seamless movement, for the linesman had flagged for Livvo being offside. Drat, drat and triple drat. "Offside? Moi", Livvo never said. Yes Livvo, the Archie Rice of Grimsby, was on the pitch, his mind was boggling and, like all bad sit-coms, it was with outrageous results.
A minute after Townâ€™s disallowed goal Scowcroft jumped at Coyne at the near post, the ball ran loose, Benjamin smacked the ball in Town got a free kick, for Scowcroftâ€™s unsubtle molesting of the revered one. One of the pigeons flew straight down one of the exit tunnels, and I refuse to make a Dick Dastardly reference here, or a caustic reference to any Town player; they donâ€™t deserve lazy criticism. I thought the pigeons were rubbish though, no co-ordination in their swooping. Around the same time, Hughes curled a shot from about 20 yards just over the bar. Towards the end Livvo turned in midfield and flicked a pass with the outside of his right boot between two defenders. Unfortunately, it was slightly overhit and Boulding just failed to get there before Walker. Apart from a Santos surge down the centre, when he took on four Leicester players before overhitting his through pass to Boulding, that was Townâ€™s attacking. Our only moment of potential excitement was when Elliott decided to duck underneath a deflected cross and, for the splittest of seconds, a comedy consolation goal was a possibility. But it didnâ€™t, so it wasnâ€™t. Oh well, why waste a goal. Leicester had numerous opportunities in the last 10 minutes, with Benjamin dragging a shot wide from the left side of the Town area. Stewart hesitating when attacking a bouncing ball about 10 yards out with just Coyne between him and goal. Coyne did one of his star jump blocks. Ford managed to get himself in a tizz by kicking the ball against an attacker when clearing, the ball arcing over Coyne and being swiped clear by Ford himself. The Leicester substitute, Wright, twice cut inside from their left and dragged shot wide of the near post. Stewart tried a speculative volleyed cross shot from about 25 yards way, way to the right of goal, which Coyne caught easily at chest height and, right at the very end, another injury scare. Some dreadfully casual defending saw Town keep kicking the ball against Leicester players, then themselves. The ball crazily bumbled around the area and finally through to Coyne, who jumped on the ball, let it go and had to snatch the ball off a strikerâ€™s foot. In the process he got a kick on the hand. .
Finally the pigeons went home and so did we. The Town fans applauded the team off, for they had performed OK. It was simply that Leicester were a better team, they looked a bit more solid at the back and had better strikers. Benjamin was a pest all day and was bound to score, the laws of probability were on his side. Town didnâ€™t look awful, but the song remains the same as they resembled a relegation side - occasional errors in defence and lightweight upfront. The bit in the middle was fine. Taken in isolation, this was just a normal, average game between two teams at either end of mid-table. But with six games left, the look ainâ€™t enough. This isnâ€™t ice skating, you donâ€™t get points for style.
Farewell Leicester, we shall not see the likes of you for many years. Get some more toilets for next time.
Nickoâ€™s Man of the Match
There should be a default setting here, for again, it was the great Grimsby Gaul, Georges Santos, literally heads above the rest. No-one was poor, he was simply the best, with some huge headers, especially after he had twice been decapitated, some fine control in intercepting passes and exciting surges upfield.
Mr D Crick. A curious fellow, seemingly afraid of making a controversial decision in the penalty area. Distinctly average, though not awful, he was in danger of losing control when Rodgers embarked upon his exploration of Andromeda, and he ignored the Taggart-Groves bickering. He needs a score doesnâ€™t he? Well, how about 5.967?
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