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10/01 Plymouth 2nd Half
By: Tony Butcher
NO changes were made by either team at half time. Plymouth kicked off in traditional style, immediately lumping the ball down behind Barnard for a throw in to Town, not far from the corner flag.
Grimsby Town 0 Plymouth Argyle 0
Play was stopped for an injury to Coughlin after a Plymouth corner. He just stayed down, so Davison rolled the ball out for a throw in. Coughlin continued to stay down, despite the referee telling him to get off the pitch. On and on it went: the Town fans howling, Coughlin winking and egging on the Pontoonites, successfully winding us up and the clock down. He was ordered off the pitch, so Capaldi threw the ball back, but straight out of play for a Town goalkick. Now that showed why they are doing so well, for they succeeded in breaking up Town momentum, and getting their defender back on the pitch before play restarted. And if we are noting their professional, organised approach they blocked off the route to Anderson and impeded Davison at every corner. They also have a neat trick at their own corners of throwing men at the ball with one of them invariably falling over. This causes chaos with defenders falling over him. Didnâ€™t work today though, did it.
After about 20 minutes or so, Plymouth suddenly broke exceedingly quickly and the Town area was smothered in orange. With Town defenders all of a pickle, the ball was crossed low towards Evans, but McDermott emerged with it and surrounded by a protective phalanx of striped friends. Danger was averted, but at a price. Barnard, who managed to nick the ball away from a striker during the build up, appeared to hobble and was immediately replaced by Young. A few minutes later Plymouth made a double substitution, bringing on the wonderfully named Marino Keith. This meant theyâ€™d used all their subs by the 70th minute. At about the same time the Plymouth fans got a bit bold, displaying their old fashioned sense of songâ€™nâ€™dance by singing about fish. Still in Yawnsville Arizona are we? The Town fans responded with "Top of the league, youâ€™re having a laugh". On this display yes, for theyâ€™d posed less threat than even Notts County. Now was that because the Town defence was any good today? Shock-horror headline in the GET, "Ford in flawless performance, police investigate". Well, almost flawless, there has to be one Ford moment in everyoneâ€™s life. Late on, a cross from the Plymouth left fizzed low through the centre of the area. Ford completely missed the ball and Young had to clear. Letâ€™s just say he dummied it shall we, for it would be churlish in the extreme to have a go at our favourite daydream believer today.
Just as the chickens were being counted Plymouth had a shot, to the surprise of all, perhaps even the bloke who did it. Within humdrum nothingness the greatest danger lies. Town cleared a Plymouth punt back to Mansaram, 10 yards inside the Town half. He slightly miss controlled the ball with his chest and Hodges flew in, studs up to challenge. The ball flew forward as they tackled, up to Lowndes, who headed sideways into space. Hodgesâ€™ momentum from the tackles sent him into an unoccupied space a couple of yards outside the Town box, on the centre left. The ball fell perfectly for him and he hit a first time shot that sliced a couple of yards wide of Davisonâ€™s left hand post. From around this time Plymouth came more and more into the game, though they didnâ€™t actually have many attempts on goal. Hodges managed to scoop a 9 iron over the bar and into the Pontoon, leaving him a difficult putt over undulating, ululating Town fans. Apart from that there were a few corners, a few scrambles and some breakaways that flattered to deceive the away support cocooned in their own little world in the darkest recess of Cleethorpes.
Cas replaced Anderson with a quarter of an hour left and, tonight Matthew, he was Kevin Donovan three times running straight into defenders in that old jellyfish way. And his only other touch was to waste a great opportunity for Town. Pouton won the ball by staring at an opponent, surged forward and played it to Cas, 35 yards out on the centre right. Cas advanced and dragged a scuffily poor shot well wide of the right hand post, whilst several Town players were unmarked further afield. With about 10 minutes left Mansaram was replaced by Onuora who, bless his big old heart and creaking legs, tried hard. His first touch was a sliding block, where he ended up in the fence, but at least he stopped the ball, I suppose.
With a couple of minutes left Argyle won a free kick when one of their players fell over an almost nonexistent challenge by Groves, 20 yards out on the right. Donâ€™t worry, they just kicked it into the wall, the ball sliding away for a corner. The minutes ticked by and the point was almost earned, and made. Three minutes of time were added and in the last of them Young rampaged down the left, skipping past a couple of tackles, winning a corner as his cross was diverted by a flailing, desperate Devon boot. Hung high, headed clear, out to Pouton, 30 yards out and, it had to happen, Pouton shot over, over, and over the bar. The ball just about stayed under the roof of the Osmond. And that was it.
You may have noticed that Townâ€™s defence has hardly been mentioned. They were almost perfect, with Edwards brushing any stray bits of fluff up into his wheelybin. Ford was alert and won virtually every header. Overall the defence looked solid. But the plaudits all go to the midfield, for a return to past glories, a past way of playing. Gone was the hopeless shambles of higgledy-piggledy strolling and watching. Two lines of four up and down, up and down, never giving the opposition time, and it appeared time is what they needed to play their game. Town imposed themselves upon Plymouth, which is what has been expected, though rarely achieved this season. There was not one "Sort it Grovesie" all afternoon. A first.
So there we have it, the fear of a thrashing dispelled by a thoughtful, passionate performance by all the team. For a 0-0 with few efforts on goal, it was never dull, something was always likely to happen. Letâ€™s hope this isnâ€™t a new false dawn.
Nickoâ€™s Man of the Match
Everyone played really well. Excellent. Pouton used his energy wisely, making some massive tackles, chasing, harrying, mugging when required. Typically carnivorous. Boulding and Mansaram, especially Mansaram, were everywhere. Flash finally showed throughout a game what has always been promised (letâ€™s leave aside the goalscoring bit for the moment. A start is a start). But overall, despite five wayward passes that went out of play, the wise old seer of visions hands a laurel garland to Paul Groves. It was almost like having Nick Daws back to block and start. A fine old professional performance that built the platform for others to shine.
Mr E Evans. Can we have him again? Apart from the foul on Boulding and a curious handball given against Pouton at the very end of the first half (Pouton had clearly headed the ball) he was perfectly reasonable towards Town and suspicious of the oppositionâ€™s intent when they did similar things. He gets a huge 9.32, simply because itâ€™s a long time since we had someone who you didnâ€™t feel was going to send a Town player off for breathing. He was in control. It was a hard match, but not a dirty one.
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