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Question of the Week
Do you support Cleethorpes Town?
23/10 Chester 2nd Half
By: Tony Butcher
NO changes were made at half time by either team. Town kicked off and completely and utterly dominated the whole of the second half, making a mockery of their travails in the first. It gradually dawned on the players that they had nothing to fear but fear itself, for Chester were dire.
Chester City 2 Grimsby Town 1
Chester had isolated moments of almostness, which translates as they booted the ball a long way and sometimes caught up with it. When they did, they generally fouled. Parkinson was flattened by several elbows and knees whilst clearing inside Town the penalty area; Williams clattered and pushed over by Belle. I think the only person Belle didnâ€™t foul was the little girl stood three steps below me. Perhaps he has some juicy and embarrassing pictures of the referee stored in his back pocket.
Repeat the first sentence of the last paragraph ad infinitum, or at least until the end of this game. More circular sawing of the dense copse saw Pinault zig-zag his way through the boredom and pain, occasionally glancing up through the rain he was free on the left. He looked up and cushioned a volleyed cross through the area, just in front of Daly and Cramb, the ball going a couple of yards wide. Another minute another town cross, deep from about 30 yards out on the right, Daly drifting in front of his marker and, from about a dozen yards out, glancing the ball a foot or two wide of the keeperâ€™s right hand post.
Repeat the ..... you know the drill, this time down the right, Parkinson free, crossing low into the centre, only blue socks there. Ah thatâ€™s beautiful, Macca to Daly, to Sestanovich, one touch, one vision, one theoretically possible pass later and Parkinson was behind the defence, inside the area. The six yards box covered in lemon, Parky managed to dissect the phalanx of Townites and hit yet another blue sock, the ball came back to him, he repeated the trick.
Itâ€™s like literary indigestion isnâ€™t it.
With just over ten minutes left Reddy replaced Cramb, but not before the fourth official had held up the wrong number. "Grimsby Town substitute Michael Reddy replacing......Dean Gordon". Uproar on the Town bench and the pitch. Gordon did a passable impression of Arnold from Diffâ€™rent Strokes "whatyoutalkingbout Mr Russell?" even adding a little hop and double take. A minute later Coldicott replaced the clattered and clobbered Fleming, who hobbled off without the aid of existential crutches. Town retained the 4-4-2 formation.
Onwards Town rolled, Sestanovich flashing a cross from the bye-line into the near post, where MacKenzie caught it as boots arrived near his neck. Gordon, infiltrating their right, had two crosses blocked for corners, a third hovered above Daly, who leant back and glanced the ball in a looping arc across the face of goal. Someone had a shot, another, another, blocked, battered away, humped upfield, desperate clumping from the minnows. Reddy rolling and flicking the ball over the last defender, MacKenzie sprinted out of his cunningly disguised, but flooded, subterranean lair to scoop the ball off Reddyâ€™s toes. As time went by Whittle stayed up field to act as a third centre back for Chester, thus leaving oodles of space into which the newly arrived Daryl Clare could run. He didnâ€™t. McDermott clipped him around the ear and reminded him whoâ€™s the boss. And told him to clean his boots next time. Chester did have what their fans call " a shot" - some little chap lobbed the ball towards Williams from the half way line. The ball dropped several yard high and wide. Yeah, that close. Ooooooooooooooooooooooh.
Two minutes of added time? Youâ€™ve missed the nought off the end.
More Town, more nearlyness. A cross from the left, McDermott hit a side-footed volley from a about 15 yards which MacKenzie caught by his near post. Crosses, crosses, more crosses, more crosses, more pressure, no shots, a clearance into the stratosphere, Williams raced out and headed into touch. Irritating time wasting by the corner flag saw time dribble down, but lo, the ball was retrieved, wellied up field and one final attack. A free kick lobbed in, the ball dropped, Parkinson near the penalty spot in space, two touches, a block, the ball back to him, another terrible touch instead of a shot. Then the whistle blew.
What had we seen? Is Ian Rush so stuck in the 80s that he thinks fourth division football is all about mud wrestling? You could say heâ€™s playing to their strengths.
It finally dawned on the seething Town throng what weâ€™d just witnessed. There was only one rational explanation. Town had been the suckers in an episode of "Faking It", one where the usual rules were subverted. It wasnâ€™t a case of spot the ringer, but spot the real pro. We hadnâ€™t seen 11 professional footballers, but 10 regulars at the Firkin and Fleapit accidentally dressed in football kit. And Michael Branch. The joke is on us; Town managed to avoid victory against a bunch of plumbersâ€™ mates.
There is no excuse for such laxity, the bad habits of August are returning. Youâ€™d donâ€™t get points for style. The tactics and attitude in the first half were appalling, the second half was what we are used to - scoreless dominance. And thatâ€™s it isnâ€™t it; theyâ€™ve finally gelled into Town players. Russ always said itâ€™d take a dozen or so games for the team to gel. Itâ€™s a pity he got the old mould out from the bottom of his managerâ€™s draw.
Nickoâ€™s Man of the Match
No-one was outstanding, the best were adequate. Ronnie Bull gave a superb performance in the half time knockabout, but the vote goes, purely for being old and therefore a deserving cause, to Sir John McDermott, who was unofficially knighted by a bored Mariner during one of his many thrusting forays.
Mr M Ryan. The return of the gooseberry fool. A particularly below average performance for this division - free-kicks awarded on the basis of a lucky dip in his pocket, bookings for firmness and foul language, but not cynical hacks. When the music stops the finger points to...3.023. He gets bonus marks for being incredibly lenient towards Belle. Ryan must have been scared of him to let him get away with a one man crime wave.
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