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Cattle Crossing A Bridge: Gainsborough Report
By: Tony Butcher
A warm, sticky evening in the no-mans-land between Bawtry and Market Rasen, the outermost point of Lincolnshire with no discernible point. It used to be a traffic jam on the way to Sheffield. Now? Now itâ€™s a stiff work out for the failing, fading giants of Lincolnshire football.
Town lined up in the now obligatory 3-4-3 formation as follows : Fraser, Jones, Ramsden, Wheeler, McDermott, Hildred, Coldicott, Young, Sestanovich, Holland, Soames. The substitutes were Croudson, Marcelle, Mumford, Heggarty, L Parker and Chamberlain. I think you can probably work out who played where from that, you read from right to left, you see. I can see that eyebrow: Young at left wing back. But you donâ€™t care about that, you want to know about Danny Boy, the Town, the Town will it be calling? Heâ€™s not especially big, not especially daft in the hair department, he runs and moves a bit like Bradley Allen.
Gainsborough played in yellow and the seats in the main stand have the smallest legroom in football. At six foot threen and eyes of green I was forced to eschew the delights of being sat behind Russell Slade and a big iron post to stand. To stand, the old fashion way of watching football, the way it should be. Russell says "hello", by the way, and you said "hello" back, but you didnâ€™t smile.
One of the teams kicked off in front of a crowd of 245, most of which were Town supporters. It wasnâ€™t very interesting really. Gainsborough were not bad at all, a cut above Brigg and having more pace, and more or less the same inability to shoot. They put themselves about, clogging and clanking about in midfield, causing Coldicott and Hildred to spin around like Battling Tops.
But you still donâ€™t care about that flummery, you want to know about this Holland chappie. Have patience. He had loads of shots, dragging wide, scuffing wide, swaying high and later on having a couple on target. After a couple of minutes he sprinted behind the defence on the left and beat the goalkeeper to a lobbed lob, drifting past the sprawling stopper to the bye-line. He looked up, saw three defenders in the six yards box and clobbered a low shot/pass through the ancient Trinity forest, the ball diverting off a shin and away. Later Hildred curled a lovely low pass through the inside right and Holland raced away, taking the ball in his stride and swishing past his marker. He hit the bye-line and crossed low, crossed hard, crossed accurately towards Soames. Ah, Soames. Oh, Soames. Aargh Soames! At the near post, goalkeeper already falling, the goal gaping, Soames steered the ball wide from inside the 6 yards box.
Weâ€™re afflicted by the thought that wherever Soames is, nothing ever runs quite straight. He was a hindrance: blocking, stopping and setting up Gainsborough for counter attacks. Time and time again he had the ball 25 yards out, ran into defenders and left Young, the persevering parrot down the left, hopelessly exposed and way too far up-field. Donâ€™t ever mistake conspicuous movement for competence. He tries, but fails. Like Mansaram, whatever the standard of the opposition he canâ€™t quite reach it. Clawing, clinging to his career like a man on an inflatable in a force 9 gale.
Now Sestanovich is the polar opposite for, whenever he could be bothered, he glided majestically, but powerfully, through the Trinity defence. Coo, what a pass to send Holland, then Soames free. Sigh, Holland shot wide and Soames dithered when one-on-one with the â€˜keeper. Swoon at the shot. A shake of the hips, disturbing acceleration, twist, turn and clipped chip, forcing the â€˜keeper to save rather excellently, tipping the ball over the bar for a corner. Finally faint as Sestan the Manâ€™s eminence was almost completed with a dribble and shot which curled towards the left hand corner. The goalkeeper made another good save as Sestanovich sank to the turf, holding his groinal area. The greyhound is such a delicate creature.
What were Gainsborough doing? Causing flutters around the Town area, with bursts and breaks, but no penetration. Jones kept heading the ball very high and a very long way. Young kept Levering about in semi-comic fashion, whilst Ramsden was cool man, reeeeeaaaaal coooool. Townâ€™s biggest problem was when Young ran up to join the attack and Soames kept giving the ball away. But I told you that already. I canâ€™t emphasise it enough though. The Trinity number 11 almost broke through, being sent free behind the defence, but Fraser came off his line and intimidated the striker into forgetting the ball. Near the end of the half Gainsborough had a free kick in a dangerous position, 25 yards out on their centre left, but they passed the ball into the centre, with a couple of diverse legs flipping the ball away for a goal kick.
Right on half time, Town did a passing movement down the centre. The ball was played to Soames who, for once, didnâ€™t fall over or run into the invisible yellow army. He passed to Sestanovich who toyed with the ball and caressed a perfect pass between centre back and full back for the rampaging McDermott to run onto. McDERMOTT duly completed his rampage with a shot driven across and over the â€˜keeper into the right side netting.
And then it was half time.
The report continues in the Second Half.
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