Question of the Week
How long before new manager arrives?
12/08 Doncaster 2nd Half
By: Tony Butcher
NO changes were made by either team at half time. Except that Doncaster came out buzzing, bursting and battling. The Town players stared like they had in the first half, ambling, wondering and dreaming.
Doncaster Rovers 3 Grimsby Town 2
12 Aug 2003, Carling Cup 1st Round
For a quarter of an hour the game was played just 10 yards in front of the Town fans. Wave upon wave of red and white hoops, flailing the Town defence. Doncaster missed three sitters, stone-bonker sitters.
After just a couple of minutes Doncaster won a corner on the Town left. It was played short and somehow Crowe and Barnard managed to let the corner taker stand two yards beyond them, unmarked. Arms raised hopefully for offside they watched as a little scuffling midfielder dribbled along the bye-line towards goal. The shot was kicked away by Davison at his near post, with the ball flying out to a slightly bigger scuffling midfielder, 20 yards out in the centre of goal. The first time dipping volley, well, dipped, just over the bar. I tend to find dipping things dip, donâ€™t you? Or am I being old fashioned?
A few minutes later some more dreadful defending by Town. Loose clearances, miss-hits, and standing around resulted in the ball being passed directly to a Doncaster player just outside the penalty area on the Town right. The ball was rolled gently between Cas and Crane.Fortune-West turned inside Crane, who promptly fell onto his backside. Davison eventually raced off his line and the Doncaster Beau feinted to his right, then checked the ball back to the left. Davison plunged forward and missed the ball. Fortune-West started to sweep his boot towards the ball, but Crane returned and smacked the ball away and got several studs embedded in his ankle for his trouble. The linesman flagged and Fortune-West was booked and went bonkers, moaning and moaning and moaning and moaning and moaning. He moaned well after his initial booking, even placing a hand on the refereeâ€™s shoulder at one point. Heâ€™s probably still moaning now, as you read this.
And thereâ€™s more tales of derring-do in defence. It was just like the previous incident, awful hacking and thwacking on the centre and right, with Doncaster players unmarked, Town payers passing to them and backing off. The left winger was sent beyond Cas, at the edge of the penalty area, about a dozen yards out. He whisked in a fast, low cross to the far post, with Davison stranded at the near post. Open goal, just eight yards out and Anderson produced a superb stretching, volleyed clearance, sending the ball a foot over the bar. Phew.
Shall we pass over Craneâ€™s stupidity in raising his hand when a deep cross to the far post sailed over his head. Fortunately the ball missed as it travelled over and then back as Fortune-West headed high and wide. Yes, I thought we should.
By this time the floodlights were on, and they are worse than Blundell Parkâ€™s. If anything, visibility dramatically deteriorated with these B & Q garden lighting fitments on. Or perhaps they were saving money and only had them on dip, not full, beam? Whatever, things happened down at the far end, and we can only guess at who did what and where they were when they did it. Ten Heuvel and Boulding indulged in some keepy-uppy one touch volleyed passing down the left touchline, with the yet to be satisfactorily nicknamed Ten Heuvel flicking Boulding free. Boulding surged to the bye line and whipped in a low cross, which went in front and beyond Crowe. Campbell dribbled down the right, after being sent free by some lovely flickery and trickery, and crossed to the near post, whereupon Boulding leant back and steered a volley way over the bar from perhaps 10 yards out. Perhaps, maybe, it was dark.
Town began to keep the ball, probing, thrusting and generally starting to cause a bit of panic in the Doncaster defence. Just a bit, a hint, a soupcon of fear. Just past the hour Town exerted some concerted pressure, with Hamilton picking up a loose pass in midfield, surging to his right, pursued by three little bears. Mummy and daddy bear snapped at his ankles, and Hamilton was sent flying after a terrible sliding tackle from behind. Hamilton rose up, squared up and wrestled one of the offenders to the ground in the style of S Livingstone, a Carlisle player. Half a dozen assorted players sprinted up and started pushing, shoving and generally causing a hubbub. The referee pulled Hamilton away and, after a few minutes, produced a straight red card. Off went Hamilton. The referee turned towards the original sinner, and out came a weedy yellow card. The Town crowd, already in a very agitated mood, had a minor eruption, with the police lining the pitch and carting off various young men. A policemanâ€™s helmet was obtained and dealt with appropriately deep within the bowels of the Town support.
The result of all this was that Town were awarded a free kick, just inside the Doncaster half, on the centre right. Anderson looked up, saw the goalkeeper off his line and Beckhamâ€™ed it. The ball sailed over the falling goalkeeper, hit the inside of the far post and bounced out straight to Boulding, who half controlled the bouncing ball. As Boulding was about to smack the ball into the empty goal a Doncaster defender travelled horizontally at a cruising altitude of 3 feet, , scything down the little scamp at about waist height. Penalty. But it didnâ€™t look as though the Doncaster defender was even booked. A small matter, who would care about that, with Town about go 2-0 up, eh? Letâ€™s be big about it, letâ€™s be smugly magnanimous. ANDERSON strolled forward and wellied the ball down the centre right as the goalkeeper dived to the left. Wahey, a flukey 2-0 win. Never mind the quality feel the width of victory
Ah summer time, when the winning is easy. Letâ€™s relax and watch the last 20 minutes drift by, as the clouds drift across the moon, giving an eerie pink tinge to the sky. Snap out of it, this is Town, it doesnâ€™t matter who plays for us, who manages us, itâ€™s Town, so we are damned to see history repeated ad infinitum. We were about to live in interesting times, which I may remind you was a Chinese curse. Groves replaced Ten Heuvel, with Town going to a conventional 4-4-1 formation. Letâ€™s hang on to what weâ€™ve got, itâ€™s not a lot.
Doncaster should have scored immediately, when the Town players were still rubbing their chests in self appreciation. A cross from their right was allowed to be clipped into the middle of the goal. Fortune-West, just half a dozen yard out and unmarked, flicked a header a couple of feet wide of Davisonâ€™s right hand post. On earth we call that missing. And again, a couple of minutes later, a little blond haired bundle of energy was allowed to spin around at the corner of the six yards box, on the Town left, his shot running along the side netting. Just awful, awful defending, with huge gaps between the defenders for passes to be played directly to feet, straight in front of goal. Oh, not again. A midfielder burst through, unmolested by man or beast (or Ford and Crane) inside the area on the centre left with just Davison to beat, but our man in electric blue raced off his line and parried the resulting attempted dink.
We needed some more dilithium crystals, the whole ship was breaking up, we couldnâ€™t hold it anymore. With just a quarter of an hour left, for the 876th time, the ball was rolled up to Fortune-West, who easily held off the Town defenders just outside the Town area on the centre left. He attempted to turn, but was half blocked, the ball ricocheted off the stumbling Grovesâ€™ shins straight back to the huge lunk, about a dozen yards out, wide of goal. Davison came out, FORTUNE-WEST took one step and rolled the ball underneath our man and into the centre right of the goal. Davison proceeded to walk around the defence, putting a consoling arm around some distraught youngsters.
The shakey ship shook further, with Doncaster sensing weakness. Sensing? The klaxon had been klaxoning all night, with two red lights spinning as well. How could they miss it? Like they missed all those sitters, I suppose. And it was at this point that Townâ€™s luck really ended, which also provided a fantastic scapegoat to cover up the multitudinous sins of the match. Yet again, Town failed to clear the ball, passing clearances straight back to Doncaster players just outside the box. On this occasion, it was on the right, and the ball was clipped back to Fortune-West. He turned and played the ball through a gap between Cas and whoever had accidentally stumbled into a centre back position (probably Crane) and Barnes was free inside the area. Cas ran back, Barnes fell spectacularly and with very little artistic merit. Of course the crowd claimed penalty, of course the referee gave it. And applying a consistent approach, produced a red card for the rather sheepish looking Cas. Consistent as in consistently sending off Town players, of course. Was there contact? Sorry, couldnâ€™t tell. Barnes was between us and Cas, but Cas didnâ€™t complain about the award of a penalty, which suggests some contact was made. Given that two Town players were haring over towards where Barnes would have been if heâ€™d stayed upright, then Cas wasnâ€™t the "last man". But, there you are, we should be used to this, shouldnâ€™t we. Why did we think relegation would change anything? The Town players went ballistic, especially Campbell and at least one of them got booked for dissent. BARNES got up and smashed the penalty to the right as Davison plunged his left. Actually, it may have been down the left, but so what, the damage was done.
At about this time Mansaram replaced Boulding. The last 10 minutes were a bit of a siege, though Town did have a couple of attacks. In the first, the ball was worked neatly to Anderson, who cut in from the centre left and hit a fiercely struck right footed skimmer low through the area. The goalkeeper just managed to tip the ball around the post for a corner. From that corner, on the Town left, Barnard, curled it back to Anderson, just like at Plymouth, but Andersonâ€™s shot went a foot or so wide of the right hand post. Clearly Doncaster didnâ€™t watch "Goals on Sunday". .
As the 4th official put up the board - 5 minutes of added time - Doncaster ratcheted up the pressure, balls were pumped forward, bodies collided. A Doncaster midfielder crossed the ball directly into the Town fans, without passing "go". Well caught at deep midwicket. The catcher turned round and chucked the ball out of the ground. Petty, I know, but hugely satisfying in the circumstances. The new ball rolled free just outside the Town area on the left, with three Doncaster players seemingly against just Barnard. Fortunately they went backwards. Unfortunately the full back miss-hit a cross-shot, which bobbled slowly through the box. All the Town players stopped, some putting their hands in the air. Davison appeared to stop. They all wanted the linesman to put his flag up. He didnâ€™t and the inappropriately named BLUNDELL stretched and poked the ball in from about 8 yards out at the far post. Crane was furious and ended up being booked for saying rude things to the delicate petal of a linesman. At some stage Mansaram got booked too. Who didnâ€™t, eh? It is entirely possible that some of the Town fans were booked for looking at the referee in a funny way. Campbell may have been booked for walking on the cracks of the pavement.
Town fans drifted off, disillusioned with both team and referee. Game over, game long over, well before the final whistle. As soon as Doncaster scored their first goal, we could all see their players roused, whilst Townâ€™s wilted. They were a team, organised and unified in purpose. Town were just a lot of more talented men, who thought that was enough in itself. Someone, somewhere would always do something to save the day. There were suggestions of wonderment to come, for on a handful of occasions two and three Town players managed to pass to each other, to link, to forge a common bond, and Town looked oh-so sweet. It was possible to see what Groves is trying to piece together. But the important word is together, for they arenâ€™t yet.
Crane played like we feared he would when he first signed. Long gone are those carefree days of friendlies when he looked like a big Handyside, he argued with his fellow defenders quite a bit (not a good sign, is it) and at times looked feeble. And heâ€™s 6 foot 5! Crowe ran quickly in a straight line a few times, but always seemed betwixt and between, being a piggy in the middle as the ball was popped around and over him. Cas was just odd. Neither of them look like a right back - bring back McDermott, no matter how many legs he hasnâ€™t got. Hamilton took a long time to do anything, whilst Campbell was back to last seasonâ€™s infuriating cameos - fleeting moments now and again. The central midfield was lost early on, so there was little passing from Town. Anderson was superb when he had the ball, which trained observers state was 11 times, if you count the penalty. I think Iâ€™d like him to touch the ball more, and that means Town should stop having a fixation with the right hand side. Barnard was an improvement on the previous holder of the office of the worshipful left back, and when he did go forward was a danger.
But overall Town were poor, very poor and a victory would have been extremely fortunate, relying upon Doncasterâ€™s striking inabilities. The referee is a fine excuse, but letâ€™s not kid ourselves, Doncaster were the better team.
There is something there, the Town house looks nice from a distance, but the roof is still leaking.
Nickoâ€™s Man of the Match
Well, after much thought Nicko has brushed aside the claims of Michael Boulding, despite his fortitude, and Darren Barnard, despite his occasional international calmness. First of the season goes to Iain Anderson, everything he did he did for Town. Most excellent. If only Town would actually passed the ball to him.
C Boyeson. Vaguely Town-a-phyllic in the first half, having a dislike of defenders touching Ten Heuvel, he flipped out in the second. It was a feat of some kind to avoid sending off the persistently dissenting and permanently fouling Fortune-West, as was his leniency towards two footed slide tackles from behind which uprooted several Town trees. Consistency. Not a difficult word to pronounce, but an alien concept to this preening ninny. They fouled, we got booked. And sent off. It is not possible to give him a mark other than a derisory 0.9051, for he did actually turn up. Anymore and youâ€™d be up for a disrepute charge before the FA just for reading a diatribe. So Iâ€™ll keep a Groves like silence for now, to save you. There are many lines above, read between them.
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