League Two Form Guide
Question of the Week
Do you support Cleethorpes Town?
Bingo!! - Second Half
By: Tony Butcher
For a change both sides made a change at half time. Young replaced Edwards, with much wailing and gnashing of teeth at the thought of the Sheffield Wednesday youth team centre backs from 2001 being the only thing between Town and humiliation.
Blackpool replaced Clarke, their version of Crane, with Murphy. Means nothing to you? Well, put it this way, they took off a centre back and threw on another tall attacker. They seemed to then move to a 3-4-3 formation, though it was difficult to tell as most of the second half was a blur of orange to our right.
Within a couple of minutes it was obvious that the second half was going to be a right nail nibbler. Blackpool stepped up the pace of their play and quickly found a groove, whilst Town retreated into the old tactic of banking two sets of four just outside the penalty area. And standing still. Wave upon wave of attacks crashed against the rearguard. A surge down their left saw McDermott only just manage to intercept a cross. The resulting corner was curled in, at pace, to the near post, where some bloke leapt up, flicked his head from left to right and the ball flew past Davison. Barnard scraped the ball off the line, with it hitting Davison on the back and being scramble away in a most undignified fashion. That's just the starter for the antipasto for the hors d'oeuvre.
But not before Town had had a little peck at the breadbasket, cheekily asking for extra butter. Crowe lofted the ball forward and over the Blackpool defence. Boulding was free, about 30 yards out and bearing down on goal. The Town fans cleared their throats, straightened collars, brushed some crumbs from their trouser legs, stood up and prepared to ovate, sorry, that's just his female fans. Boulding tripped over the ball, knocked it forward wonkily, got in the area, dallied, dillied, and about 8 yards out stumbled as Davis lunged. The ball skewed off Boulding's shins and flopped several yards wide and high. We sat down in stunned embarrassment.
Hello Iffy, where are you? Nope, not there. Iffy, if only, eh?
More tangerine peeling away Town's defensive layers, down their left, incessantly, irrepressibly onwards and onwards, through the no-Crowe zone. Pace and power, Town defending stoically with bodies flung, legs stretched, blocks, stares, stocks, skips, everything they could lay their hands on used to stop the flowing orange juices. A Taylor shot from the edge of the box ghosted through the area and Davison made a brilliant block as the lurking Sheron diverted the ball goalwards. Danns clipped the rebound in to the goal, but the offside flag had already been raised against Sheron. This was just the morning snifter for a full Blackpool bender.
Taylor again, dribbling like a demented terrier down the Town left drifted past one, two, three four, then he came across Nick Daws. A spectacular tumble resulted in a free kick about 20 yards out on the centre left. The wall existed in theory, if not in practice, barely covering Davison's left hand post. Wellens took one step and curled the ball towards the top right hand corner of the goal. Rest easy, for the ball started wide and curled wider, missing the angle of post and bar by a foot or two. A couple of seconds later the Blackpuddlians "oohed". We were already eating our sandwiches. Still more attacks from the humming buzzing homesters, relief temporary, and often from the boot of Crane, who managed to launch one clearance out there, beyond the sea, over the top of the new stand and towards the South Pier. Again a fast incursion down the Town right saw Coid sweep infield and lash a drive towards the top left hand corner. Davison hovered in midair before tipping the ball over the bar. A minute later another shot from the edge of the box, Wellens, smashing, Davison smothering. Then another tipped over at full stretch from who knows who, who cares who. It was one of them, the imperious Seasiders.
How long to go? How long to go before they finally score? How long before Town get into their half? Oh, here we are with a bit of possession for once, passing, movement, in the sense of feet definitely moved. Campbell in the area. Why didn't he shoot? Back to Barnard and to Daws, who strode forward like Cockerill, all puffed out chest and wardrobe sized shoulders. On and on, into the area and from a narrow angle he pinged a left foot shot towards the top corner. The goalkeeper flipped the ball over for a corner. Interesting. Barnard wasted a few seconds making indeterminate hand signals in the vague direction of the penalty area and hit a flat outcurler towards Onuora, near the penalty spot. Onuora rose majestically above his marker and thundered a header against a defender's chest. The ball rebounded to the side towards CRANE who, about 8 yards out, wellied or smashed, depending on your viewpoint, the ball inside the left hand post. Perhaps he smellied the ball as a couple of defenders seemed to turn their noses up at getting close as it sailed by, and in. How long left? Too long, 18 minutes. 18 seconds is too long. Oh yes, we celebrated. By laughing, of course. Crane celebrated by trying to get his imaginary Ford Cortina in gear.
Blackpool continued to pummel Town, and Town sank further and further back. Daws sat right in front of the back four, with the other three midfielders scrunching infield. The ball was inexorably sucked towards Davison. Balls pumped in, crosses flipped in, but always, always a Town body part emerged to save the day. And now the great McDermott moment number two. Inexplicably the Town defence zoomed up to the half way line and the ball was tipped over the top, down the middle. Taylor, supersonic Scott Taylor, was bounding away. McDermott stretched every sinew, finding every last molecule of oxygen to chase down the lone raider. Onwards, onwards, Taylor still in front of McDermott, into the area. McDermott nudged, McDermott leant, McDermott rolled and Taylor was wobbled to his left and disturbed into poking the ball well wide from half a dozen yards out.
A brief moment of light relief as Boulding scampered free, in the box alone, alone, too slow as Grayson made a superb tackle to dispossess as a shot was about to be made, Back up the other end as Blackpool, for the umpteenth time, dribbled at pace down the touchline, to the bye line and pulled the ball back to an unmarked midfielder . For the umpteenth time a Town body popped up and blocked. It's called defending, isn't it. We used to do that. We do again. And again, and again. Finally a shot got through, but Taylor stabbed his right boot forward and the ball arced like a plummeting petal into Davison's midriff. Another Coid cross shot from the edge of the area, drifting wide but Davison caught it low down beyond his left hand post, followed by more pressure, heads, tails anything to stop this orange horde.
As the minutes ticked away Town started, sorry, continued, to time waste, with Onuora managing to use up a couple of seconds in giving away throw ins near the corner flags. You can't say he hasn't made a difference, that's twice as long as usual, so he's twice as good, right? Crane mesmerised the multitudes with a display of miss-hit clearances that showed off his full range of talent. Hooked, sliced, skewed with both feet, and all three sides of his head. He finest comedy moment was when he missed a header, climbed over Taylor to miss-head the ball again, kneed the bouncing ball towards McDermott, then shinned the ball out for a corner. Marvellous, that's pure talent, you just cannot coach that sort of thing. There was almost a Town have effort on goal shock when Crowe flicked the ball over Grayson and sprinted down the touchline before flipping an excellent cross over the goalkeeper toâ€¦ well, me probably. Around the 90th minute the fourth official (Mr Swarbrick, didn't he used to play the fiddle in Fairport Convention) emerged and made a secret signal to his contacts in the Norwegian resistance movement. A brief flash of a "3" at ankle level and he skulked back to his dugout. No paratroopers descended from the sky but three minutes later we day-trippers were happy. Alright, it was 3 Â½ minutes as Mansaram replaced Boulding. He never even touched the ball. There was one final scare to tell you about when a cross from their left reached one of two unmarked players at the far post, but Barnard and Young swooped and the resulting shot dribbled safely into Davison's arms. It was probably going wide anyway.
Phew, that was lucky, eh? Yes it was. Blackpool were not a bad side at all and deserved to win. But they didn't and for Town that probably makes up for the Port Vale debacle. Crane had a very solid 10 minute spell after he got kicked in the head. He scored, he headed straight, he passed to Town players. Perhaps Rodger should belt him before every game to literally knock some sense into him? Young made some excellent tackles and although looking a little rickety at times he didn't appear to be a lost boy all at sea. Hamilton and Campbell wilted as the game progressed, looking very tired, which placed a great strain on the defence, who coped admirably in the circumstances. And all this, with only half a team. What a difference a week makes.
Oh, we do like to be beside the seaside. Sometimes.
Nicko's Man of the Match
If Edwards had stayed on it would definitely have been him. McDermott made at least two game saving appearances and was his usual solid self. However, on reflection, the plaudits and laurels go to Aidan Davison, for an all round presence, together with some fine shot stopping. I'm sure he kept a couple of goal bound efforts out simply by staring intently at the ball. It wouldn't dare go in.
Drop a league and suddenly they like us, these robotic demons from our past. First Ryan now "Clattering Clatts", what is going on? The only quibble would be his continuing disdain for fallen Mariners. Crane, Crowe and especially Boulding were ignored for varying lengths of time as they lay motionless upon the turf. But apart from that he was extremely fair, honest and true. Excuse me whilst I leave this planet for a few seconds.
Yes, praise, and a high mark. Am I mad, is he? Are you? It's 6.72!
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