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17/04 Rushden 2nd Half
By: Tony Butcher
NEITHER team made any change at half time. Rushden emerged several minutes after Town. Perhaps they couldnâ€™t be bothered. Town started at the same pace as they had done in the first half and immediately had the Midlanders pinned back with their ears against the Osmond Stand.
Grimsby Town 1 Rushden and Diamonds 0
Around this time the strange creatures from an unknown town got inside the Town half. A break-away when a corner was cleared saw little Jack racing down their right. He headed the ball over Coldicott, his momentum taking him on the track next to the pitch. Stacy ignored the ball, always his strong point, and ran parallel with Jack, simply blocking off the quick little tic. Both had a little game of rollerball off the pitch, with the ball trickling slowly goalwards. Eventually a Rushdenite appeared, so Stacy, the human JCB, gobbled him up with a huge sliding excavation. No Roman ruins were unearthed, but we did find a shallow grave in which Antoine-Curierâ€™s contract had been placed, alongside a picture of Des Hamilton.
They also got a corner too, midway through the second half. Burgess prepared to take it and fell over the raised edge. We laughed, he went crimson and curled the ball to Fettis. They wonâ€™t be back for ages, so relax a little.
What happened next? Oh yes, Town pouring forward, as they camped inside their own penalty area. Every man Jack of them. Except Jack, so every man except Jack of â€˜em, I suppose. Town spent a few minutes doing daft things like lumping high balls in, but eventually they realised that there were vast acres of savannah into which the Town lions could roam to kill off these wildebeest. Edwards, then Campbell strode on and on, with the now visible man drifting through a couple of nebulous tackles to dapple a shot a yard over the bar from maybe 25 yards out. Then the old Town one-two, in-out, flicking, tricking, by Jevons, then Mansaram and a shot by Anderson blocked. If the boot was on the other foot one might be eulogising the Rushdenians for their backs-against-the-wall bravery. Well, playing against the statistically worst defence in the whole wide world of football, they were just plain daft. Even Town might score against them, all it would take would be a bit of (mis)fortune.
With 17 minutes left Soames replaced Mansaram and did what he always does - buzz around the ankles like a carpet mite. Within a minute heâ€™d caused them to scratch at the itch. Crowe zoomed, Soames found room and crossed to the near post, where Rankin jumped at the ball. The ref gave a goal kick, but it looked like a yellow thigh that flipped the ball away. Town were getting closer, closer to the goal. After 78 minutes Campbell, tired of this passing stuff, ran towards the penalty area from just inside their half. Past one statue, past another and, near the left hand corner of their penalty area, little Stu saw an immobile object and ran into it, rebounding like a ball bearing from a rubber band. Third time lucky for Town; a penalty was given. Rushden went bananas, as did some of their supporters, a couple of whom were ejected. Come, come, this is the football league, not the conference. A little more decorum please. After an age Jevons strode forward, then was made to wait further as the ball was not on its spot and the opponents wandered across his view. JEVONS languidly glided across the mud and caressed the ball to the left as Turley flew to his right. The Town fans made some noise and generally appeared pleased, as were the players.
From the kick off Town regained possession, with Campbell curling a superb ball down the left touchline with the outside of his right boot. Rankin powered on to the ball, cut infield and drivelled a shot into the side netting. Rushden must have tried to attack, as gaps started to appear all through their defence and midfield. I canâ€™t be certain mind, as they didnâ€™t actually do any concerted attacking. At some stage between the goal and the end Rankin took a machete to the right hand side of their team, hacking his way past the deadwood and Underwood and bearing down upon Turley, who blocked with his chest. Should have been two.
With six minutes left Barnard halted the tiny Rushden substitute by standing in his way, just inside the Town half. The ref gave a free kick to them, as Barnard lay prostrate having been felled by a forearm. Ford immediately replaced Barnard and played at left back. There was a bit of confusion at the back as Crowe and Ford exchanged empty looks, but Ford stayed on the left. A couple of minutes later Anderson was booked for lunging through the back of a defender, underneath the Stones/Findus/Smiths stand. The free kick was lobbed high and mighty, falling at the far post to Hunter, who miss hit an attempted curler. The ball slowly looped to Fettis. No danger.
Right, so what else happened? Duffy got sent off for jumping at Crane with elbow high. Crane crumpled, Duffy mumbled and off he went in a flounce, exchanging telephone numbers with Law as he truckled off down the tunnel. That was the second time Crane had been face-felled by Duffy. At the start of the three minutes of added time Rushden pumped a long ball down the middle and someone fell to the ground. The ref gave a free kick against Ford about 25 yards out on the centre left. Hanlon waddled forward and kicked the ball into the wall, it bounced behind Hanlon and three Town players ran off. Soames collected the ball 10 yards inside the Town half and just went off in a straight line down the inside right with no opponents anywhere to be seen. He carried on in to their penalty area, cut in past one challenge and had just Turley to beat, but hit the shot against Turleyâ€™s left boot. A minute later Rankin raced off and should have scored, but didnâ€™t. And then it ended.
Oh joy of joys: Town win and by playing recognisable association football. This really should have been a right tonking, with Town winning at least five-nil. But Town didnâ€™t shoot very well and Rushden did place umpteen thousand bodies inside the penalty area. They were not subtle at all in their defensive tactics. On this showing Rushden should go down, as they are worse than Town, but probably wonâ€™t if they play some lardy-attitude team who are bumbling around in mid-table.
But so what about them. Town eh? Passing, even some movement. The right players in the right places doing just about the right thing. The result is important, but the way they did it matters. At the back of all minds was that thought that it was the last dying kick, the death rattle. Weâ€™ll find out next week, wonâ€™t we. Men or mice?
Nickoâ€™s Man of the Match
Now, this is a little tricky. Rankin was awesomely awesome for the first half, and the last few minutes, and Anderson was a willing worker and cuddling creator throughout. So who is it? Iâ€™ll get a coin out. Isaiah Rankin, by three heads to two.
Mr D Pugh. Town canâ€™t complain about him (but the linesman with the yellow flag was pathetically inept), as he eventually succumbed to the penalty pressure. He was unwilling to book, which isnâ€™t a bad thing, and did deal with a flying elbow. So, from a Town perspective, he was reet good value, and gets a very commendable 7.211
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