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A Cold Day at the Causeway
By: Andrew Doherty
â€˜Wycombe. Thatâ€™s the place with the car parkâ€™ recalled my son Merlin, as I invited him to join me for a feast of football, or something like that. Not what the Wycombe Tourist Officer would have wanted to hear, I suspect.
I know what Merlin meant - the route to the Wycombeâ€™s ground, which I have taken three times previously to see our Mighty Mariners, has one way in and one way out. From where I live in Basingstoke, thatâ€™s meant 45 minutes to get there, the standard 90 minutes of atrocious suffering, followed by 2 hours and 45 minutes to escape the cold and cheerless Causeway Stadium. Attractive, isnâ€™t it? Not apparently to Merlin, who opted to avoid an afternoon of endless torment, but I donâ€™t think it was the car parking. Last time we came here, it ended in an ignominious 1 - 4 defeat (2003/4). Stormtrooper Revis, my 10 year old daughter, was up for sitting in a car park and hopefully seeing some football.
The Causeway Stadium is a strange affair. Through the industrial estates and surrounded by Buckinghamshire greenery with sheep grazing on the slopes, Wycombe Wanderers FC is home of the â€˜Bacon and Egg Frenchâ€™, as vendors compete with each other to sell the greasiest breakfast cuisine. Cool. â€˜No-one has fish hereâ€™, observed Revis, alluding to the loftier cultural experiences of her short life. This is not Cheltenham, nor is it Doncaster. The Causeway Stadium is a hybrid of the industrial and the genteel. The ground is nice, compact and modern, quaint and smart yet clinical with the corporate light and dark blue logoed signs and even a real ale bar outside. As we entered, Revis observed that â€˜everythingâ€™s little - the pitch and the stands, but itâ€™s not little for meâ€™. It was cold and bleak. Revis was impressed: â€˜It wasnâ€™t this cold the last time we went to Grimsbyâ€™. Real football conditions, then. But what of the football side of things?
The teams warmed up. Mildy looked happy and shared a joke with the crowd. A misdirected ball came past our head. â€˜At least with us being so close, thereâ€™ll be a bit of suspenseâ€™, exclaimed Revis. We moved, not because of the imminent danger of stray footballs, but we spotted my mate Swanny and joined him for the 90 minute Moanfest.
The game started with a series of impressive Wycombe attacks and crosses. The defence was determined but looked shaky in the absence of the injured Rob Jones. Griffin and Mooney, Townâ€™s nemesis in previous seasons, were both involved in the action. On 15 minutes, Newey impressively tackled a ball boy, leading to speculation that this might be his day, as he had chosen to demonstrate his propensity for mistimed tackles off the pitch today. A minute later, Macca put a long cross in which was headed onto Wycombeâ€™s crossbar. This was more promising.
Three minutes later, Reddy almost slipped the ball past the Wycombe keeper but the game remained goalless. No sooner had this happened than Wycombe were back up the pitch and crossed, only for Whittle and three other defenders to get in a tangle. The ball came loose to the unmarked Griffin who turned and scored from just outside the 6 yard line. Grimsby 0, Wycombe 1. Town almost got back a couple of minutes later when Parky flicked the ball over from the right, and Reddy shook off the defenders to place the ball past the Wycombe goalkeeper. The ball rolled towards the goal but a determined Wycombe defender reached it in time and hooked it away. On 26 minutes Parky got clear and threw a cross in for Gary Jones to put a powerful header in but straight at the keeper. Townâ€™s movement and passing had now picked up and things were looking good for an equaliser - until the 34th minute when the impressive Betsy ran down the right, slipped skilfully past Newey and put in a pinpoint low cross to Bloomfield. Grimsby 0, Wycombe 2. Although there was skill in this goal, Town were punished for giving Wycombeâ€™s central attackers too much space. It was a shame because we were playing with some style. The defence was showing plenty of determination with some good work and tackling by Newey in particular. On 36, Town were back on the attack. The ball bounced out to Reddy, who as if he was taking a penalty slammed it to the keeperâ€™s right. Grimsby 1, Wycombe 2. Another chance fell to Reddy on 40, but the goalkeeper closed the angle well. So far the game had been open and clean, but on 41, Gary Jones piled in with a heavy tackle just in Townâ€™s half which led to a melee and scuffle amongst the players. Jones was booked and for a moment the Town contingent held its breath as our resident hothead continued to argue, spurred on by Wycombeâ€™s pantomime hate figure Mooney, who himself remonstrated with the referee. Order was restored when it looked like Town might be losing their concentration and the first period ended after another half chance for the ever dangerous Reddy.
Half time verdict: the general view was that it wasnâ€™t hopeless. This was an open game and Town had had their moments as had Wycombe. Revisâ€™s face had gone blue - â€˜if my face is blue, then my feet must be purpleâ€™ she responded. Hot drinks all round were the order of the day.
The report continues in Part Two.
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