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17/01 Port Vale 2nd Half
By: Tony Butcher
NEITHER side made any changes at half time. The first five minutes or so were not very interesting, at least from a Town point of view.
Port Vale 5 Grimsby Town 1
Town played for about three minutes with 10 men, as the ball just would not go out of play. During this period there was the sublime - a Jevons dribble past a coterie of flailing defenders which ended with his cross being blocked at the near post, and the ridiculous - Ford falling asleep and letting Brooker have a free header a dozen yards out at the far post. Luckily Vale donâ€™t do easy goals and the header went a yard or two wide. Eventually Town were allowed to bring Young on for Daws, with Crowe moving up to centre midfield. I am sure Crowe was delighted, for he had played like he didnâ€™t want to be a full back, like it was beneath him. Around this time Town had another chance when Anderson broke away inside the box after a pleasing series of one-twos down the right. He crossed low to the far post. Onuora didnâ€™t so much control the ball as attempt to smother it as it rebounded off his far too muscular chest back across goal. The ball was free and rolling into a huge inviting hole into which Groves strode, just six yards out. Brain remained on his line, Groves drew back his foot and Onoura threw himself across the penalty area, making a brave clearance, averting a certain goal. Well done that man, thatâ€™s the sort of commitment the fans demand!
With about quarter of an hour left, and the game just petering out, Vale had a second wind, pinning Town back a bit, but not actually creating any memorable chances. The ball was knocked forward and Ford, on the right edge of the penalty area headed back out. Crowe and a Vale midfielder challenged and the ball flew out sideways. BRIDGE-WILKINSON picked the ball up, took a couple of strides, and about 25 yards out leant back and with minimal back lift smacked a left footed drive towards the top right hand corner. Davison managed to palm the ball against the post, but it rolled in. Cue another outburst from a minority of the Town support, and some people left. Just like in the first half, they couldnâ€™t decide who to blame. The most vocal, about 20 or so, wanted the head of Groves (they had brought along a banner especially), about half a dozen berated the chairman, and a couple blamed the players for not trying.
And the Town players continued to "not try" by almost scoring a couple more times. Straight after the surprising fifth, Town burst down the right, with Anderson flicking a low cross to the near post. Crowe, with his back to goal and about five yards out, backheeled the ball goalwards, Brain saving superbly at the very foot of the near post. Another Town corner, another bit of pressure. A few minutes later Jevons drifted down the left and crossed into the centre, Mansaram managed to miss the ball in the centre of goal, a defender using his buttocks to lever Flash away from the ball. A minute after that Anderson crossed into the centre, Mansaram missed again.
With about five or so minutes left Rowan replaced the walking obstacle course, Mr Onuora, whilst Groves was replaced by Hamilton with a couple of minutes left. The Town players had a little joke amongst themselves as they played a game of one touch keep ball, always sending it back to Hamilton. It took four goes for him to fall over the ball. Heâ€™s getting better. And that was that. I have probably forgotten a few Vale attacks which resulted in shots blocked, or crosses wasted. There were certainly a few hairy moments when Town attacks were halted and that just left Ford and Edwards against McPhee and Brooker, but Davison didnâ€™t have much to do all game. Except pick the ball out of his net five times. My, werenâ€™t they four mighty spectacular goals from outside the penalty area. You just donâ€™t expect that quality in the second division, once in a while maybe, but not four times in one game! Who could have stopped them? Not our ageing goalkeeper, thatâ€™s for sure.
Did the players try? Yes. Did Town play some decent football. Yes, sometimes. Was the scoreline an accurate reflection of the game? No. But there arenâ€™t many people out there who care about those minor matters. Points make prizes, donâ€™t they. Town were much, much worse the last time we played here.
Perhaps Grovesâ€™ greatest crime is that he isnâ€™t a lucky manager. The game ended with the tannoy playing "Wish me luck as you wave me goodbye". Are they trying to tell us something?
Nickoâ€™s Man of the Match
Mr Twinkleboots shone again, for Phil Jevons was a beautiful butterfly, fluttering away on the wing. Defensively just about adequate, an attacking dream for all those lovers of flicks and tricks. And goals.
Markieâ€™s UnMan of the Match (Not)
Mansaram was appalling, totally incapable of doing anything right. But he tried so, so hard. He is, therefore, saved from ignominy because he was rubbish for all the right reasons.
A Kaye. Well, at least he spotted handballs, even if he didnâ€™t book them for it. Canâ€™t complain about the fourth goal, for that was the linesmanâ€™s call. Erm, no, canâ€™t think of any reason to moan about him, so he gets 6.892. It wasnâ€™t a game where the ref was a factor.
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