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17/12 Oxford 2nd Half

By: Tony Butcher
Date: 19/12/2004

OXFORD replaced the unseen Brookes with Morgan, not that anyone seemed to care, or notice. They kicked off, they kept the ball, immediately switching it out to Morgan on their right wing. He hopped, skipped and jumped over an awful Bull lunge just inside the penalty area.

Home > 2004-2005 Season > Reports > Oxford (h)

Grimsby Town 2 Kidderminster Harriers 1
20 Nov 2004, Coca Cola League 2

Bull missed the ball, clipped Morgan and the crowd made a gurgling sound, expecting a fall, a foul and a penalty. Morgan, bizarrely, decided to remain upright as the ball rolled out of play. Jolly well played sir, spirit of the game and all that. Sepp Blatter would be proud of you, if he knew who you, or Oxford, were or cared about the paupers.

There then followed two minutes of football from Grimsby Town. Treasure the memory, for that as all we got for all our minced pies and baubles. Parkinson received the ball 20 yards out in the centre with his back to goal He swizzled around and hooked a volley straight at Clarke. Nice. Mansaram rampaging along the backline, down the right, twisting and swivelling, suddenly spinning and cracking a low cross through the penalty area. Defenders frozen, poor southern belles with their fancy frocks and superfluous parasols, as the ball trickled along. Gordon, unmarked, a yard or so out at the far post, stretched and calfed the ball straight to the surprised goalkeeper. Hey, Flash to Gordon! But Clarke didn’t have to save with a mighty hand. A bundle of seconds later Town again, Parkinson scurrying behind the walking talking thesaurus of the fourth, and from a narrow angle poking the ball into the side-netting. Roget’s adventures in Grimsby were uneventful from now on.

And Fleming the lemming had some kind of shot which safely curled away from goal.

Those of a delicate disposition should get up an make a cup of tea now, or maybe go for a stiff winter walk. FIFA regulation 321(4)(a)(iii) is about to be invoked. Yep, Dusty Bin is about to wallop us on the backside, when we thought we’d won a brown Vauxhall Viva with leather-effect trim and a digital clock. About 7 or 8 minutes into the half Oxford had possession somewhere out on their left, somewhere around the half way line. No danger, no worries, let’s keep in cruise mode. A trick, a flick, the ball tapped across to the centre and curled inside Bull at hip height. Bull, in a terrible position, balanced on one leg and tried to intercept the ball by ducking forward like a nodding donkey. Out came his back leg, over it went the ball, and Morgan was free. A cross to the far post, Hackett headed back towards Mooney, who squeezed the ball back to Bradbury, on the edge of the area, in the centre. Bang, twang, clang. The shot slammed onto the crossbar, bounced down onto the line and straight back to MOONEY, who controlled the ball on his chest and slapped it into the net from about 10 yards out. No Town players moved after Bradbury’s shot. You could hear the hiss in Wellowgate, which is probably why we don’t go there at night.

Ready, steady, gone: the weekend ended here.

A minute later Bull again transfixed by fear, alone again, naturally, with Gordon watching from afar and Morgan with all the time in the world to play his dad’s Louis Armstrong collection on his i-pod. Crossing, no chances. Repeat three times and hold your breath, the hiccoughs might go, or at least Slade might have the gumption to react to the Oxford changes and remove the failing fullback. Town crumpled in to a soggy rhubarb tart. Oxford simply decided to stand near to Pinault and tackle him if he got the ball. He rarely did for Town settled back into the crowd-infuriating wallop and welly approach; Fleming kept getting the ball and passing to their goalkeeper, Whittle lamped it long toward Parkinson’s head. Oxford encamped in the Town half, pressurising, weaving pretty patterns 20 yards out. Fortunately Williams decided to have a good day, coming out and catching, yes catching, five crosses. He didn’t even drop one. How unlucky can Oxford be, eh?

Anthony Williams
John McDermott
Justin Whittle
Terrell Forbes
Ronnie Bull
Jason Crowe
Terry Fleming
Thomas Pinault
Dean Gordon
Andy Parkinson
Colin Crambgoal


Ashley Sestanovich70 mins
Michael Reddy88 mins
Darren Mansaramyellow card36 mins
Stacy Coldicott
Rob Jones


Russell Booth


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59 minutes - Bull made a tackle.

61 minutes - first "Sort it Sladey" of the night

The crowd started to grizzle and growl, Town got worse and worse, clearances began to go up, then backwards, like a kick-about after a night out, incapable of basic foot and ball co-ordination. Forbes casual and flimsy, barged away, rolled away, perturbed by Bradbury, dishevelled by Davies. Danger lurked, danger averted when Town’s twelfth man arrived. Don’t look Ethel. It was too late. Here he comes, boogie-dy, boogie-dy. Out of the Main Stand, over the picket fence, the fastest thing on two feet. Davies about to enter the penalty area, confronted by a naked man. Davies went bananas, naked man hopped around and, eventually, two stewards walked after him. You know, if a man likes to show off his physique, invitin' public critique on an extremely cold December night in Cleethorpes is unlikely to realise your full potential. The thought crossed many a mind that it was a confused Cramb, out of the showers, back on the pitch in the hour of need. This was no way for Slade to sort it.

Football? Town? Actually there were one or two moments. Fleeting false hope on a frozen night of passionless football. Town strung 3 passes together with Fleming bursting forward a couple of yards outside the Oxford area. He collided with two defenders, they sneezed, they all fell down and the ball rolled to Mansaram, free inside the area. The referee gave a free kick to Town, who went for the subtle approach, Gordon annihilating the ball against the crossbar. The ball bounced eight miles high, players waiting, some laughing, some just shapeless forms. Warning for Oxford children: this scene contains minor peril. They panicked, everyone jumped up and down for a while like a tiny tot disco, and Oxford cleared it.

This Town, known for its sound of moanin’ and groanin’, finally had its fill of nonsense. Slade duly "sorted it" by taking off Bull and bringing on Sestanovich with about 20 minutes left. Of course, Town went to a 3-4-3 formation and looked far better defensively for several minutes. But the jitters jangled and Whittle took ages to clear a rolling ball by the foot of the left hand post. He ended up slicing the ball against Mooney’s head, a dozen yards out. Up in the air went the ball, over came Whittle who used his Mighty Boots to swish a clearance.... up in the air, the ball bouncing a dozen yards out. This was merely the most elegant of the seven ages of man Whittle went through.

Town made infrequent visits to the Osmond End, barely enough time to have a cup of coffee and a chat . And everything fell to Fleming. Poked wide, shinned wide, hooked over. Great moves all, wasted when the ball ended up at Fleming’s feet. His efforts got further and further away from goal. Practice makes even less perfect with Tezza.

Sestanovich touched the ball three times. Nothing to report.

Oxford pressure. Nothing to report. Ah, yes there is. When Town hauled off Bull Oxford also made a substitution. So confident were they that they gave their coach driver 20 minutes in professional football. A Christmas present we’d all love. He bore the name Wanless and I’m sure he’ll have great memories to tell his grandchildren. Boy, was he "thickset".

A few dribbles from either side, not even memorable as they were happening, was the sum total of the last 15 minutes of play. Sometime during the second half Crowe knocked the ball away from near the Town line, but it was a rolling ball going well wide, not a goal-saver. That was just about their best effort on goal, Mooney’s legal requirement excepted. No efforts by them but they looked the better side and far more likely to score than Town. We just wanted it to end.

With a couple of minutes left Reddy replaced Parkinson. Parky had been his usual self in the second half, running around without achieving. Reddy’s first touch was a pass out wide to the marauding Macca, his second to finish of the flowing move he’d started, volleying straight at the ‘keeper from the edge of the area. If it’d had gone in it would have been a goal. But it didn’t, so it wasn’t. There were three minutes of added time during which Town held on, with much desperate hacking.

Urgh, first half adequacy dissolved into a second half shocker. No-one emerged from the second half with an enhanced reputation. Pinault was nullified by numbers and a subtle tactical switch. Town couldn’t and didn’t respond. The players were incapable and the (eventual) management changes to personnel and tactics did not inspire any perceptible change in the pattern of the game. Oxford and Town are two sides of the same coin, individuals capable of playing beautiful football, but collectively incapable of doing it very often. Both sides are better than most, but their problem is they believe that too. Belief isn’t the same as being. Mr Slade should beware, too much hacking = sacking.

We’re condemning ourselves to another season in this boulevard of broken teams. Say it isn't so Ethel. Ethel?

Nicko’s Man of the Match

A simple task in a simple land, for the first half puppetry it has to be Professor Pinault. All other beers were off tonight, only one pump worked for a while.

Official Warning

Mr R Booth. Booked Mansaram for a slightly late tackle, which was plain daft really. He also gave Town a couple of goal-kicks when the ball had clearly clipped monochrome boots. There was an air of fusspottiness about him which wasn’t too tested by the teams, for it wasn’t a particularly physical game. He did make it clear early on that he wasn’t going to fall for falling, so bonus points there. If numbers have to be plucked from thin air, here are some: 6.673.

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