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Rushden: Second Half
By: Tony Butcher
NEITHER team made any changes at half time. Mmm, nice start. Rushden gave the ball away and Town zoomed forward, with Cas turning 45 yards out and using his magneto powered engine to glide silently across the lush green grass of Nene.
About 25 yards out he had a shot, which deflected off a defenderâ€™s ankles and skimmed a foot or so wide of the goalkeeperâ€™s left hand post. The corner was played short and then curled in towards the near post. Young flung himself at the ball, glancing a header goalwards. The ball hit a defender in the face and went out for .... a goal kick. A rubbish decision by the linesman.
Rushden...no, offside again.
The Town machine continued to purr when they remembered to pass rather than aimlessly dinking up in the air for Boulding. On the Town left, a few yards outside the Rushden penalty area, Boulding and Campbell linked up, with Boulding attempting to turn infield. The ball ricocheted off a defender and Boulding was free, near the bye-line about 8 yards wide of goal. Boulding looked up and crossed towards the unmarked Onuora at the far post. An open goal, the Town fans on their feet, mouths open, ready to roar. The cross was behind Iffy, who slipped as he twisted to hook the ball in from only about 5 or 6 yards out. He just missed the ball. Rushden were offside again, and this time Jack was booked for throwing his arms up in the air and punching the ball. Ooer, get out the paper doilies. And a minute or two later Cas was felled by Underwoodâ€™s lank, dank follicle extremities. Underwood should have been booked for crimes against barbery - he could have someoneâ€™s eye out with that hair.
Around the 53rd minute, Rushden finally awoke from their slumbers and got inside the Town penalty area. A deep cross from their right floated beyond Young and Jack, at the far post about 10 yards out, fell backwards and sliced an attempted bicycle kick high towards the penalty spot. Town scrumbled the ball away via two heads and a foot. From this point, Rushden began to assert some control, pushing Town further and further back. It was that old trick of running quickly and kicking the ball forwards; darn these high falutinâ€™ continental ideas. Anderson began to infuriate with his impression of Hamilton - trying to trick his way past defenders by dancing around the ball, but never touching it. After a while Bignot (stop sniggering behind your hands) realised that, for all the dancing and prancing feet, the ball wasnâ€™t moving. Bignot just strolled off with the ball tucked under his metaphorical arm, being his literal foot. Hamilton lost the control he never had: shinning, shanking and shocking his way through the middle of the pitch. It was all getting very annoying, for the players were showboating with only a 1-0 lead.
Warning number two. Jack sprinted away down the left, past one, past two but, fortunately for Town, Croweâ€™s dilithiam crystals could take it, as our little Argonaut managed to whisk the ball away when Jack penetrated the outer reaches of Davisonâ€™s atmosphere. Or the edge of the penalty area, if you want to be exact. The game began to stretch out a bit, with spaces opening up in the middle of the pitch, all of which meant players could dribble forward and miss-hit shots from long range. Mills bombled a rubbish shot well, well wide for them, and Anderson wobbled a shot from about 30 yards which went several feet over the bar. The Town fans were less vocal now, beginning to get a bit frustrated at the way the game was ebbing away. The silence began to morph into growls after Rushden brought on Kitson. Yet another of our historical difficulties. At this, Rushden went to a 4-3-3 formation and upped the pace a bit more. They were certainly more direct and Townâ€™s defence became more and more exposed to these crashing waves. Where was our sea wall? Oh, we let him go back to Rotherham, didnâ€™t we.
Crosses were beginning to bazooka into the Town area, fast and furious, with Young and Edwards making some desperate blocks and clearances. The most spectacular being when a cross from their right was flicked on and seemed to be arrowing towards an unmarked player a few yards out at the back post. Young spun around, dived backwards and volleyed the ball away for a corner. Edwardsâ€™ head, Croweâ€™s shins, McDermottâ€™s personality, all flicked danger away. Townâ€™s defence needed protection, someone bang a gong and get the teeth of the Hydra. For all their pressure, Rushden hadnâ€™t forced Davison to do anything, so the events of the 67th minute were all the more galling. Down the Town left those white shirted midges flew. Bignot took on Crowe, checked back and crossed towards the near post. A header blocked, and Kitson swept the rebound goalwards. Theball bounced off Edwards, back on to Kitson and ran through to the edge of the 6 yards box. LOWE plopped forward, got his huge body between Cas and the ball and poked it underneath Davison from very close in. A really, really sloppy, stupid goal to concede, and scored by the hitherto poor Lowe, who had spent most of his time trying to control the ball with one hand, or being offside. I suppose that explains his forename.
The next few minutes were forgettable. Rushden had a few crosses, Town players headed them away. There were a few minor moments of promise as Town drove forward, only to mess up with underhit passes or, even worse, high balls up to Boulding. Onuora , at the far post, headed a left wing cross softly wide and kept setting himself up for Reesian flicks on the edge of the area. Except he isnâ€™t Reesian, is he. As Town players swept by, Iffy turned slowly and crossed the ball against defendersâ€™ shins. Five minutes after the Rushden goal, Town had a bit of concerted pressure, with a couple of corners. Anderson, on the Town right, played a short one, received the return pass and cut across the advancing defender He drifted into the penalty area near the corner and was setting himself for a thwacker. But he kicked it far too hard and Underwood stepped forward and booted the ball clear, down their left hand touchline. Oh dear. Kitson set off down the wing and it was two against two. Kitson surged on, cut infield and, near the edge of the penalty area, slipped the ball over to Lowe as Young bounced off him and Crowe came across to cover. LOWE tapped the ball across Young, who fell over, and from just inside the area in the middle, dragged the ball to Davisonâ€™s left. The Rushden supporters taunted the now irate knot of Town fans with "You only sing when youâ€™re winning", which, for once, wasnâ€™t right, as the Town fans tried to get behind the team. Straight from the kick off Rushden surged on again, with yet another right wing cross dipping into the penalty area. Kitson, leaning back slightly and somewhere near the penalty spot, glanced a loopy header towards the top left hand corner. Davison tip-toed across his line and just managed to stretch up and grasp the ball underneath the crossbar.
And finally, the screaming Jevonophiles got their wish for, with about 15 minutes left, pheromone Phil replaced Anderson. Town initially played with Jevons in the Black Hole behind the front two, but after a couple of minutes this ended up as a straight 4-3-3, and the attacking was done mostly by Town. On they came, a higgledy-piggledy Heath Robinson construct held together with thrice used sticky tape and pins. Width was arbitrarily given by whoever happened to be stood nearest the touchline. Campbell emerged from a 30 minute snooze to trick and treat his way down the left, Cas crossed into the crowd, Crowe swept a right footed curler a foot or two over the bar from the left centre edge of the penalty area. Campbell had a shot charged down, Boulding swept into the box, Onoura turned and crossed into the near post, with a defender hacking clear as Boulding sauntered. Onuora, at the far post and 6 yards out headed into the â€˜keeperâ€™s hands whilst indulging in some Cumberland Wrestling with one of the spindly centre backs. Handball! As Boulding swept forward with Campbell, Rushden blocked on the centre right of the their penalty area, the ball reared up and hit Hunter on the knuckles, proving an effective one-two with their Edwards, who cleared.
Into the last minute and Town were turning the screw, but not delivering anything but the usual false hope. And then, pandemonium. Flicking, tricking, flying then crying. Jevons drifted away from his marker 25 yards out on the right. He turned and dinked a pass over the defence. Cas and McDermott raced forward and bodies collided, the ball ricocheted this way, that way, Rushden defenders falling like dominoes. The ball continued forward and was crossed towards Onoura It hit his chest and he shielded the ball, in the centre of goal, about 10 yards out. McDermott sprinted across and past Onuora, taking the ball with him. Everyone lay down in the box, like lambs waiting transmogrification into cutlets and steaks. Evans was confronted with McDermott, just 6 or 7 yards out, the ball bouncing, no defenders standing. Evans decided to hit the ground early and thus McDermott was left with a wide, gaping, huge, massive and, not to put too fine a point on it, big open goal. The Town fans were up on their feet, Macca couldnâ€™t miss. He couldnâ€™t. He surely couldnâ€™t. He did, thwacking a left footed volley against the underside of the crossbar. The ball bounced up and Evans punched the ball away as McDermott challenged. Seats were slapped, imaginary cats kicked and heads were held in anguish. In Irthlingorough they called that missing.
But, but, again, again, Town were coming again. The â€˜keeperâ€™s punch was scuttled away from the area, but straight to Crowe, about 30 yards out on the left. Crowe hit fifth gear and cruised down the strip, window open, shades on, Beach Boys on the stereo. He made the Indie 500 look like a Roman chariot race as he ran straight towards goal. One defender, two defenders, three defenders, four, all drifted past, jinked around and left on their backsides. Into the area, past everyone, alone, with just Evans to beat , the goal of the decade was before us. Evans came off his line and, again, decided to roll to his left, very early, before Crowe had shot. Another open goal, all he had to do was have some fun but, gut wrenchingly, infuriatingly, Crowe rolled a shot four inches wide of the right hand post. Grown men were reduced to tears, as were the Town players, almost; slumped on their knees, heads in hands, beating the ground in frustration.
Crowe and McDermott had to work really hard to avoid scoring, and the coup de grace followed immediately. As Town pressed again the ball was cleared upfield and it was three Rushden strikers against two Town defenders. Jack and Kitson swapped passes, Young fell over and the ball ricocheted back to Hanlon, about 20 yards out, just to the right of centre. HANLON hit a firm drive at chest height only slightly to the left of Davison. Davison rolled to his side and parried the ball into the net. Icing on the cake, a Davison error. What should have been a slightly irritating draw ended up as a statistical thumping. There was just enough time left for Cas and Kitson to square up to each other, and for the Rushden â€˜keeper to make sly gestures to the Town supporters as he wasted time. The game ended and, to top off the afternoon, the tannoy announced it was "hard luck on Grimsby for a valiant effort". They havenâ€™t grasped professional football have they. He may have meant well, but that was condescending nonsense from Legoland. Now if heâ€™d said "phew we got away with that", then he would have scored marks for accuracy as well as honesty.
Anger, frustration, the sound and fury of the Mariners denied. Howling and wailing and raging at three more points presented on a silver platter to very average opponents. Outside of Kitson, Lowe and Jack (all of whom were difficult, but not frightening strikers) Rushden had no players that troubled Town. So why did Town lose? Attitude sickness? The arrogance of the striped ones defeated them. They beat themselves, for they knew they were better than Rushden, and wanted to show off. It wasnâ€™t the defence (despite three goals being conceded, it was generally pretty solid) but the rest of the team, with a midfield intent on strolling, strutting and preening their way through the afternoon. The only remedy is a clip round the ear and forced viewing of the match video.
Town are like the clever child who thinks he doesnâ€™t need to do any revision for his exams.
Nickoâ€™s Man of the Match
No-one was outstanding, and a couple of the usual saints were major sinners with some elementary mistakes and faffing about. After a couple of minutes shoulder shrugging, chin stroking and face pulling the fools panel have come to the following verdict : Jason Crowe, he not only ran quickly, but stood in the right places. Some great interceptions and dangerous attacking. But oh, for that shot at the end, he could have had his name in lights above the title.
R Olivier. A regular referee for Town and one who hasnâ€™t even approached the hall of horror. Again he was just average, with his usual penchant for ignoring handballs unless someone actually catches the ball. Apart from Loweâ€™s stumbling, crumbling falls which he seemed to decide were undecipherable (so he took it in turns to award free kicks), he was ok. He gets 6.25, and, remember, that includes the handball in the penalty area late on.
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