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Question of the Week
How long before new manager arrives?
07/08 Darlington 2nd Half
By: Tony Butcher
NO changes were made by either team at half time. Town came out and blasted Darlington. Wave upon wave of Town attacking, Sestanovich frightening the locals with his bigness and cleverness. They simply seemed in awe of him, and so were we (but weâ€™d like a goal please).
Darlington 1 Grimsby Town 0
Fleming steadied himself, opened up his body and tried to place the ball into the left hand side of the goal. The ball hit a defender and scrumbled a yard or so wide of the post. Perhaps it was from this corner that Whittle headed safely over the bar? Crowe, repeating his barnstorming run in the first half, latched on to a through ball, cut in and softly lobbed the ball to Russell from about a dozen yards out.
Darlington immediately replaced our favourite Darlington player, the monstrously immobile Matt Clarke, with Wainwright. This was the turning point of the game. Wainwright gave Bull and Jones a rather torrid time with his pacey twisting turns and direct running. Town could cope with long balls to a plank of wood, but small men running onto passes made them quiver. Five minutes passed, with most of the players catching some rays, man. Then Darlington made another substitution, bringing on Ian Clark for the bloke who missed the sitter in the first half. Now Clark had young footballerâ€™s hair - all straggly mini haystack with highlights. Around this time Williams did a rather strange, but probably superb, stop. A free kick from the Darlington right was wellied over to the far post. The Town players were still snoozing under their sombreros, allowing an unmarked striker to control the ball and volley across goal. The ball seemed to career off a defender and fly low towards the bottom right hand corner. Williams was falling to his left, but lifted his right boot and managed to hook the ball across the face of goal, with Crowe walloping clear from inside the 6 yards box. It all looked pretty weird from 120 yards away. Williams also made another fine save when he parried away a cross-shot from the left. He seems to be a pretty decent shot-stopper.
I canâ€™t really remember much happening for the next 10 minutes, apart from Sestanovich limping a bit after a tackle and stretch. With about 8 minutes left Marcelle replaced Sestanovich, much to the amusement of the Darlington supporters. Or at least it sounded like amusement; there were so few of them buried inside the cavernous wasted land that it was hard to tell. The substitution was made when Town were about to take a goal kick. Williams kicked it upfield, Darlington won the header, knocking it out to their right. Wainwright turned up the touchline and then infield as Jones hung out his right leg behind him. Onwards went the winger towards goal, as Town defenders lumbered back, wilting in the heat. Clark stood alone on the left edge of the Town area, awaiting developments. Wainwright drew a final Town defender to him and laid a simple pass out to CLARK, who took one touch and wellied the ball high over Williams from about a dozen yards out.
Town suddenly ratcheted up the pressure, sending players forward, leaving gaps which Darlington nearly, but didnâ€™t, exploit, in a furious, frenetic finale. Pinault delicately iced a cake, dippling the ball over the top down the right for Marcelle and Reddy to run onto. Reddy barged Marcelle away and advanced on goal. The ball dropped, Russell waited and Reddy thwacked a drive straight at Russellâ€™s head from about 10 yards out and wide of goal. Parkinson screamed in frustration as he was unmarked in the centre. Jones allowed the ball to flick off his head from the resulting corner, no danger. Still Town pressed, with Jones a permanent fixture upfront. Town had resorted to an almost 4-2-4 formation. The ball was flicked out towards Marcelle, who was a-hugging the right touchline. A giant defender crawled over and did a massive sliding, whacking challenge which took out Marcelle and the linesman. Defender and useless linesman were left in a heap, Marcelle was away. He reached the ball, looked up and from near the corner flag curled a perfect cross into the centre of the penalty area. Jones, near the penalty spot dived forward and steered a powerful header towards goal. Russell, who had been shuffling back across to his right suddenly changed direction and launched himself horizontally, flipping the ball aside with his finger tips at the fullest of full stretches down by the bottom of his left hand post. A rather magnificent save.
Still Town poured forward. A corner, a scramble as the goalkeeper went in search of El Dorado. The ball falling to Marcelle, eight yards out. He leant back and placed the ball two yards over the bar. Still Town pressed, the ball was played up to Reddy, who held off two defenders and tapped the ball to Parkinson, who had run around the back. Parkinson tried to slap a first time shot goalwards, it went 8 yards wide. Parkinson twisting, turning, bodies blocking, Reddy stumbling, rampaging, retrieving lost causes. Crosses, clearances, roared on: Town could do it! Town could do it? Reddy, bursting through, the goalkeeper raced out and ...Reddy did a pathetic dive several seconds before he reached the ball, or anyone else got near him.
One more chance, one more effort, launch it Whittle. Ah, the time has gone, the game is over, thought Iâ€™d something more to say? Ah yes, home, home again on Tuesday. Letâ€™s hope Town like to be there this season.
How did Town manage to lose? A bit of slackness at the back, a lot of slackness up front. Town should have scored loads, could have conceded a few. The standard of football was, at best, patchy. Occasional moments of magic amidst a sometimes turgid pinball game, where possession was gained through the inconsistent competence of others. Townâ€™s tactics seem to be to launch it upfield as quickly as possible, for the ball might just end up with a Town player. From there we can do some business. Yes, Town looked fine in the last third of the pitch, like an old style Town team, but getting it there was not pretty, and not that effective.
Individually no-one was dreadful. Mansaram gave one of the better Mansaramium performances, Bull was a bit weak really, flying into no-hope tackles and letting opponents roam down the flanks. He tries though. Fleming? Mmm, he was on the pitch, and now and again popped up to make contact with ball or ankle. The three amigos at the back looked capable of fending off the dinosaurs, but like the elephants who used to be in Cleethorpes Zoo, were a bit confused by little mice twittering around their feet. We have to remember our reduced circumstances, our expectation of players must match the surroundings, mustnâ€™t they? There were some very good things amongst the imperfections
But in the end itâ€™s typical Town: different team, different kit, different manager, different formation, same outcome. Smack an opponentâ€™s bottom and lose.
Nickoâ€™s Man of the Match
Pinault passed well, except for a couple of French flourishes too far when he was caught in possession in dangerous places. Parkinson never stopped trying, and Jones was the best of the defenders. However it has to be between Williams and Sestanovich. Sestan the Man has many number one fans for his shimmy-shammy muscular daintiness, but Nicko amazes himself by being deliberately contrary and selecting Anthony Williams for some fine saves.
R Olivier. Oh the linesmen were rotten, never making a decision spontaneously. They needed prompting from Tinyman Ray, and even from the players (We all chuckled when Whittle demanded an offside decision from 55 yards away and got it. The fact the man was at least 2 yards onside is an historical irrelevance). Olivier is a Jonah, but he is a competent Jonah. It isnâ€™t his fault Town keep losing when he officiates. Sensible, non-controversial, and worthy of a high score of 7.763. If thereâ€™s nothing to complain about, why complain?
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