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Big Wednesday - Second Half
By: Tony Butcher
No changes were made by either team at half time, and why should Town change, everything was going swimmingly. Within a couple of minutes Hamilton tried a surprising snapshot from about 25 yards out, on the centre left.
The ball skidded through and thudded against the advertising boards a foot or two wide of the 'keeper's right hand post.
Ooh, nice Des, that's any good. Wednesday huffed a bit, then Town came back again, with Daws and Hamilton closing down their midfielders. The ball was tapped back and across the Wednesday defence and eventually Hockless nipped in and stole the ball away, flipping it over the top for the unmarked Onuora on the left, inside the penalty area. Iffy Livvo'd his way forward and dragged a low shot across goal, between Nixon and the onrushing Boulding. The ball bombled through the six yards box and several yards wide. If only Iffy was 10 years younger he would have missed quicker. Any more? Why yes. Boulding almost through, then wasn't, the ball being sent back to Daws, about 25 yards out, who hit a loopy dip per that bounced at Nixon's feet. For a brief moment it looked like it might nutmeg Nixon, but it didn't, so go back to your petunias, I won't disturb you again.
Hoof, tackle, lump, block. Minutes upon minutes of such "action", as Wednesday tried the subtle approach. They whacked it sometimes, rather than hoofing. Town simply stood firm, heading the ball back up field, or standing in the way of ridiculously under hit passes. It was all very comfortable. I may have missed out some tremendously worrying Wednesday attacks, for I distinctly recall on at least one occasion Davison came off his line and picked the ball up. There was even a blue and white shirt within hoofing distance of him.
After about 10 or so minutes of the second half Boulding should have scored. Crane (credit where it's due, eh?) hit a sand iron down the right. The ball pitched within a couple of feet of Boulding's pins and he was off, inside the area, wrenching his way forward as a big lumpy man chased after him. Nixon came off his line, started to dive and Boulding tried to lift the ball over the falling orange peel. Nixon parried the ball sideways and a defender scrumpled the ball away as Onuora watched at the far post. As good a save as Davison's from Proudlock, and as bad a miss too. You know, Boulding's new tousled look gives him the air of the rhythm guitarist with The Byrds, All he ever wants to do-oo-oo, is baby scores goals for you. Except then, of course. Oooh, a Wednesday attack! No, sit down again, it was just an illusion. The ball was certainly in the Town half, so, I suppose, in the context of this game, that was heavy Wednesda y pressure, domination and a goal bound effort. It's always pleasing to see an opposition team pass the ball out of play. When they do it regularly it becomes a joy, and when it's Wednesday the moment is to be cherished, nurtured and handed down in folklore to the generations of little Mariners to come. You don't need to exaggerate, let the facts speak for themselves.
Half way through the half Hockless won a free kick with a cheeky little fall as Mustoe pinched him in the stomach, 30 yards out to the left of goal. Barnard and Hamilton stood over the ball, Onoura, melted into the wall, Nixon stood behind the wall, unsighted and flapping like bunting. Hamilton curled a right footed shot over the wall and the ball sniffed the side netting as it passed the post. It would be nice if Town actually bothered to score. You can sleep for another 5 minutes, as nothing happened. Edwards then made a mistake, when he chested the ball forward about 10 yards. The ball was nicked off him, whipped out to Cooke, whose cross was easily cleared. The resulting corner from their right was curled out towards the penalty spot and Lee thumped a header off the top of the crossbar. Davison was right underneath it. It cheered the home fans though.
The referee collapsed and received a big cold wet sponge rub around, like mothers do when clearing the chocolate spread from around the baby's lips. And around this time there was a small stoppage during which Nixon and the referee had a conversation - it's the blue and white pills at 4:30, Eric. Minds drifted as time passed, amusement was found in strange and unusual ways. It took 17 policeman to eject one irate Wednesdayite, and when his mate complained, he went too. Ah, that was just an excuse to leave early and beat the traffic. Cooke was having a fine game, linking up well with McDermott, pinging inch perfect passes out to Macca, starting off some Town counterattacks. Marvellous, that's why Groves signed him. With about 10 minutes left Owusu came on and Wednesday moved to a 4-3-3 formation, or 4-3-4 including Crane.
Crane almost scored when he tussled for a knock at a throw in, heading directly at Nixon from seven yards out. A little later Campbell, to the left of goal, miss-hit an attempted left foot curling piledriver. The ball sailed nicely into Nixon's arms; it may have gone in if Eric had taken his afternoon nap like nurse told him to. Hey, another Wednesday attack. Owusu heading from centre to left wing as McDermott oozed him away from danger. Suddenly play stopped, Proudlock was face down in the dirt, like his friends from 'Nam. Some home fans stirred and tried to get a Town player sent off. They weren't sure who, they weren't sure why, but there's no harm in trying, is there. Eventually the referee booked Crane. And why not, it's as good a guess as any. Crane's next entry in 100 great comedy sporting moments was to challenge Davison as the untroubled 'keeper came out to catch an aimless cross. No danger, Wednesday players already turning arou nd to run back up field. Except Crane decided to barge into Davison, nearly causing an oil spillage. Barnard kept his cool this time, even if several Town supporters didn't.
As the game sauntered into three minutes of added time Proudlock saw glory, dribbling across the face of the Town penalty area from left to right, before cutting back and dragging a pathetic shot nine yards wide of the left hand post. Davison put his hands on his hips and raised a disdainful eyebrow. Not to be outdone, Hockless jinked his way through one, two three, four and, back again, five tackles, before running into two defenders about 25 yards out. Good practice I suppose for those half time cone dribbling competitions to win a night out in Nunsthorpe.
That was all the news that's fit to print, and make up too. Interested in Campbell getting to the bye-line and chipping a cross just over the far post? Thought not. How about a Cooke shot from outside the area which went straight to Davison? No? N-N kicking Crane in the chest? Sorry, but that's it.
In the circumstances, two points dropped through very slap-dash shooting. Cas should have scored two, Boulding perhaps two, Onoura certainly one. For vast swathes of time Wednesday weren't able to get within 30 yards of Davison, they barely had any shots and certainly had no ideas. Knock it long and get Cooke to put in a few indeterminate crosses. Hardly the recipe for success is it. To state it was easy for Town would be to overlook the tremendous organisation and effort, particularly of the midfield. It was easy because Town made it easy.
And what of our "massive" friends from South Yorkshire? Probably better than Wycombe. Not much of an epitaph, is it, but something that is already being chiselled into their tombstone. The Owls are what they seem.
Nicko's Man of the Match
Who is the starman? Could be anyone of 10 players. None were totally outstanding, with Daws as effective as last week, Hamilton close to the man he's supposed to be, with some flashy, showy surges and flicks, and Onuora a pain to them, but a useful brick wall to us. Edwards was again quietly effective, whilst the full backs didn't have difficulties with their wingers. So who, yes, who gets the vote from the woolly jumpered one? Will it be Barnard, will it be Cas, you'll have to wait and see. Que Sera, Sera, it got be Daws, you see. Now, let all the children boogie.
Historically this man should be shot (perhaps it was the ghost of Robert Taylor who hit him in the second half) but, overall, he was very kind to Town. He should have sent off Crane, perhaps should have given Town a free kick, and was ultra lenient towards the Wednesday handball machines in midfield. He's clearly not a raving homer, as he doesn't seem to favour the providers of his half time tea and biscuits. Partially redeemed himself for the sins of the past (for which one should always deduct 10 points from any score given) on today's performance he gets a Townphyllic 6.412
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