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29/11 Tranmere Part 2

By: Tony Butcher
Date: 30/11/2003

THE referee blew his whistle as the Pontoon raged, and gave Tranmere a free kick, presumably because Boulding had left British waters without notifying the relevant marine authorities.

Home > 2003-2004 Season > Reports > Tranmere (h)

Grimsby Town 0 Tranmere Rovers 1
29 Nov 2003, Nationwide League Division 2

A few hours later Achterberg had finally retrieved the ball, placed it on the exact spot the referee deemed correct (being 5 yards upfield), adjusted his shorts, wiped his brow, checked the week’s television schedules in case Countdown had been moved to make way for some racing from Chepstow, and finally kicked the ball into the wind for an inevitable throw in near the managers’ dug outs. Four minutes gone, it seemed like hours after all this prevarication. Some more throw ins later Town got the ball back, almost passing to each other by accident in the process. Hamilton was spotted roving the grass like a lost sheep, running away as the ball went near him. Another punt over the top, a hussle, a harry and Campbell had a long shot that isn’t worth thinking about. Dragged, scuffed, sighsomely mundane. A Town free kick? Barnard, 30 yards out on the right, the wind behind, the scene set for a piledriver. Sigh again sweet Townite, for in trying to curl it into the centre he scruffed it low towards the near post, several miles from any Town boot. The ball drifted along the side netting, but it wasn’t ever going in.

This was tedious, Town had the ball, but were incapable of doing anything other than tip it over the top for Boulding, who kept running into some big moveable breeze blocks. Tranmere hadn’t even got in the Town half. Nothing, zilchorama, nilsville, whatever way you want to put it, they hadn’t bothered to do anything about attacking, being quite content to sit, almost literally, around watching Town players frantically fail. Ah, spoke too soon. Tranmere were given a daft free kick near the half way line. The ball was dinked upfield and wobbled around, hanging on thermals. Crane watched, turned, trotted away from the ball and looked aghast that Dadi was unmarked just inside the Town area on the centre right. Eugene Dadi, what a name, what a guy. He gave the ball 40 lashes with his cat-o’-nine-tails hair, looping it up and up and away. Davison had half come out, but back-pedalled, stumbling, tumbling, reaching, clutching the ball one handed as he fell back onto the goal-line. Mop that brow now.

The ground was silent, the crowd was filled with inertia, a flat pancake of a day with a stodgy porridge game. Tranmere were a big wedge of lumpy concrete that Town didn’t have the strength, nor nous, to break up. Tranmere tried to frighten Town with some long throws, which in the context of this game meant some actually reached the edge of the Town penalty area. After about quarter of an hour the Anderson heckler began to find his voice, booming through the Pontoon, unmissable, purely because no-one else made a sound, too busy thinking of a different kind of turkey, probably. Hang on a bit laddie, Anderson hit a superb ball over the left back’s head to Campbell, but nothing came of it to rouse the torpid Townites. A thousand chins on two thousand hands peered out at the players from behind Achterberg. Come on Town do something! At last they did. Tranmere fell asleep, or perhaps were stunned by the referee actually giving a foul against them. Barnard curled the free kick over from the left hand side. Hamilton, having a noticeably effective 90 seconds, surged into the box behind the left back. About 8 yards out, beyond the far post, he cushioned a volley over the flapping ‘keeper and just over the bar. Onuora stood alone, head in hands at the other post. Forget about desiccated Derrick Hamilton, he contributed nothing to the rest of the game, except amusement, despair and one good tackle half way through the second half.

Haworth walked off just before the half hour, which was nice for Town. Little replaced large with little Navarro. And a couple of minutes later Crane snoozed again. A long ball from the Tranmere right, simply hoofed in to the box, was allowed to go on, and on, an on.

Barnardyellow card


Groves79 mins
Cas77 mins
Mansaram84 mins


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Crane watched hoping that Davison would come out and get it. He didn’t, for Dadi had sneaked around the back, stretched out and poked the ball across the goalmouth and just wide of the left hand post. Barnard was booked for sliding through a curdling lemon and still Tranmere wasted time. But Tranmere began to look a bit dangerous, with midfielders beginning to run forward to support their strikers, the Town defenders starting to be turned around and forced to, well, defend. Edwards excelled with a series of timely interceptions, covering up for others, sweeping danger aside with an imperious wave of his hand. He even started a couple of Town attacks by dispossessing inside the Town area and dribbling upfield.

At last, at long, long last, a Town move worthy of that description. Campbell dribbled up the right, but was stopped by two defenders, he passed back to McDermott who immediately flipped the ball inside to Crowe. Campbell sprinted past the full back and Crowe caressed a first time pass through the defence. Campbell dribbled on, up to the bye-line, flicked the ball between the full back’s legs and wriggled clear. In the penalty area, on the bye line, he looked up and crossed low and hard towards the near post. Linwood, a rather rickety looking centre back type (but, then again, most of them looked like centre backs) got himself all of a tither, all of a tangle, flicking the ball off his right heel and between his legs. Achterberg frozen, the Pontoon hopeful, the ball rolled along the side netting and out for a corner.

The rest of the half was Town pressure, Town corners, but no real feeling that they’d score. The ball never seemed to fall for a Town player. The ricochets, the sliced clearances, the tumbles, the missed punches all went to Tranmere. Luck, or organisation? Choose your own weapon. Crowe dragged a shot well wide from the edge of the area, Onoura almost turned near goal, Boulding kept running into the third defender and finally, when all else failed there was Barnard. Up he waddled after Town had flipped the ball from side to side along the edge of the penalty area and got a free kick. He’s an international, you know. Leave it to the German Boyo. Thwack!. Wibble, wobble, well wide. Crane cleared for Tranmere from a corner (yes, you read that right) and, erm, that’s it. One minute of added time was flashed on that handheld scoreboard, and we played about 20 seconds of that.

Half time: Grimsby Town 0 Tranmere Rovers 0

A really dreadful first half, with Town completely incapable of creating anything. No passing, no movement. They huffed and they puffed, but they couldn’t blow down the house of straw. Tranmere were utterly professional in their method, nothing subtle, just people standing in the right places, and closing down Campbell and Anderson. They let Hamilton and Crowe have the ball, safe in the knowledge that neither would do anything startling. Well, to them anyway.

We’d seen this game a thousand time before. We knew what was coming. There was a certain inevitability about the proceedings.

Stu's Half Time Toilet Talk

"Would you like a satsuma?".
"We need them to score for us".
"My dictionary says a derrick is a mobile crane. Not for Town he isn’t".
"Give us a nudge when the real game starts".
"Are Achterberg’s shorts shrink wrapped?".

The report continues in the Second Half.

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