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16/08 Port Vale 2nd Half
By: Tony Butcher
GROVES replaced Ten Heuvel at half time and Town moved to a 4-4-1 formation. Groves and Hamilton anchored the midfield with Crowe and Campbell whizzing up and down the wings in support of Boulding.
Grimsby Town 1 Port Vale 2
Yeah, you know, I know, thrown away, no way back. That was it. Town did press, they did try, they did occasionally pass. But there was never, ever the feeling that Town would score again. Boulding was replaced by Mansaram just after their second goal. This was greeted without joy. How Hamilton remained on is a mystery that only Arthur C Clarke could answer. Mansaram ran around in the way only he can. Arms out, legs wide, the Len Ganley stance in motion. The events blur into a slow motion hell on earth. What came first the chicken or the dog? Sometime before 5 oâ€™clock Port Vale had a couple of shots which, given that they were leading and had a man more, was the least they could have done. One was a clear shot at goal from outside the area, straight to Davison, with the other being of so little consequence I only remember the Cliff Richard like sneer from my neighbour as it failed to frighten. Vale started to time waste. Started? The goalie was time wasting when they were one-nil down! So annoyed did Campbell become that when one Valiant claimed injury after a minor collision he picked up the physioâ€™s bag and chucked it off the pitch. Near the end the Pontoon counted to 11 as Delaney delayed his punt upfield. The result was a change of balls, vicar, as the ball had deflated. How fitting, it matched the mood of the massed ranks of Marinerdom.
With 10 minutes left Town got a free kick when the Evil Emperor Mingâ€™s Death Ray penetrated the earthâ€™s atmosphere and hit Barnard in the lower back, just in front of the Lower Smiths/Stones/Findus. Barnard recovered from this unearthly transmission and curled the free kick in. Crowe ran from the right and, about 8 yards out right in the centre, collided with a defender, who headed the ball back across goal. Mansaram, yes it must be, here it is...Mansaram, 6 yards out, 8 yards wide of goal, closed his eyes, thought of Doncaster and leathered the ball wide of the near post. It didnâ€™t even touch the side netting. Crowe stayed down, some Town fans pleaded for a penalty, presumably on the basis we needed one and a Town player was on the floor. When Crowe got up he was substituted for Rowan, with Town changing to a 4-3-2 formation. The Christmas tree without a fairy formation. Again the continuing presence of bungling Des puzzled, perplexed and, well, you choose the next alliteration.
Casâ€™s long throws promised much, but delivered little. Crane kept flicking the ball on to no one. The most interesting one was when a low, flat, fast throw skimmed off Craneâ€™s head and zipped straight into the surprised goalkeeperâ€™s hands on the line. The worst was when Cas threw directly out of play. Crane, a bit dimly, caught the ball and threw it over the goalkeeper and into the empty net, thus wasting our time. And still Town pressed, a Barnard curling free kick from the left went beyond the last Vale defender, Crane and Groves ran back, leant back, arms out and stumbled. Penalty cried the Pontoon. Free kick to Vale. Ah well, the referee wonâ€™t be charmed, will he. Another Barnard curling cross, Groves, 8 yards out at the far post, headed goalwards. It hit a Vale defender, but the referee awarded a goal kick. With just a couple of minutes left Mansaram, 25 yards out on the centre right, collected a clearance, used Rowan as a decoy and thrashed a thumper of a shot a yard wide of the â€˜keeperâ€™s left hand post. And finally another scramble, bodies bumping into each other, the ball falling to Cas, at the far post, just 6 yards out. Was this the deserved equaliser? Of course not, a Vale defender appeared from behind an imaginary bush to block as Casâ€™s boot swung. That tackle, more than any other tackle, that tackle won the game.
In the four minutes of added time there was just one moment to report. Town attacked, a Vale defender made a hash of a clearance near the left hand corner flag but the ball rolled directly to Littlejohn, unmarked and about 30 yards from his own goal. He ran forward and pinged a long pass out to their right. The remaining Town defenders walked up claiming offside (hey, it looked MILES offside from the Pontoon) and the player ran on. And on. And on. Must score, surely. No, he decided to pass rather than shoot, rolling the ball sideways to his mate, who was flagged for offside.
And then it was officially over, 20 minutes after we knew it was. The rafters resounded with the sound of booing. Again the referee was providing a convenient fig leaf. Individuals made terrible errors, not just for the goals, but all the way through. When Town click they look sweet, but that sound your hear is tutting. The problem is down the middle, two somnambulists in defence and two non-entities in midfield. Even with 10 men, no, especially with 10 men, Town were a bit better. With 11 men Town would have won easily, with 10 they still should have won comfortably.
Are we playing all the right notes, and are they in the right order?
Nickoâ€™s Man of the Match
Only two candidates, Cas, for his ample defending and rampaging runs, or Mr Aidan Davison, for a string of top class blocks and saves. Not forgetting his control of the penalty area. So itâ€™s him then, Walesâ€™ number 1, Wales number 1, I mean Northern Ireland former number 4 goalkeeper. He did what the Leicester bench sitter never did, command the penalty area.
Mr P Prosser. Dressed in yellow, was he a lemon or a melon? Superficially much for the average Mariner to seethe about, but, really, he didnâ€™t get much wrong. The two footed lunge at Campbell could probably have brought forth a red card for a Port Vale defender, and if heâ€™d been extra-extra indulgent towards Town perhaps he could have awarded a penalty towards the end.
Look deep into your hearts fellow monochromers, can you honestly say that if a Port Vale player had leapt at, say Barnard, with an arm raised you wouldnâ€™t have bayed for blood? A surprisingly high figure of 6.0104 flies off towards rhyming man, tall and tanned.
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