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The Village Fête
By: Andrew Doherty
HAPPY New Year! It certainly was when I saw Richard Lord's excellent footage of Town's 7th (seventh, to clarify it alphabetically in the style of the old Grandstand teleprinter) goal against Mansfield. Yes, 7th (seventh) - I don't get that to write that very often. The goal in question was football's answer to Shakespeare - that's William, not Craig. More please.
The winter break has been managed well where Town are concerned. Now came the chance to build on that victory in an away fixture at Histon. On paper we had to be clear favourites but while we were scoring 7 (seven) Histon held out grittily for a 0 - 0 draw at arch rivals Cambridge. I'm sure the Histon faithful were pleased as the predatory Cambridge poached their best players in the summer, leaving them in the lurch. Could Histon have run out of steam, or were they going to put up another battling display? This promised to be an intriguing prospect.
My mate Swanny informed me that Histon are the most successful village team in England. Even combined with the adjoining Impington, in which the homely Glassworld stadium is situated, the combined population comes to about 8,000. The village cricket pitch is alongside it. There wasn't a policeman in sight, just unimaginably friendly stewards and the announcer welcoming us and more charmingly, our disabled supporters, to the village fête. All that was missing was the tombola.
As the "Histon Mariners" paraded round the pitch in a spirit of bubbly unity, the game began. In the tradition of games in Cambridgeshire this season, it was freezing cold. Town lined up as on Saturday: Arthur - Wood, Kempson, Atkinson, Ridley - Bore, Sinclair, Cummins, Coulson - Connell, Ademeno.
The first fifteen minutes were awful. Both sides flailed at the bouncing ball, trying to push it upfield. It bounced some more. The village fête seemingly had a "hold the hand grenade" competition. No one wanted it, no-one had any control. Realising that this isn't the way to win football matches, Town settled down. Histon didn't. Good things were emerging. Peter Bore was running in with rejuvenated energy. Ademeno was battling over on the left. Kempson was a rock in defence. Ridley was getting forward and causing problems, except that no-one told him that he wasn't supposed to be giving the goalkeeper catching practice. What was most impressive was that Town closed in every time a Histon player got near the ball and were winning the ball to set up another shy at the proverbial coconut. The only disappointment was Connell, who realised he was on for a hatful today against poor opposition but with his flicks and turns he seemed more intent on scoring the goal of the century. It looked like he was minded to recreate Town's spectacular seventh (7th) goal against Mansfield. It didn't happen. Yet it was Connell who on 21 minutes after a good passing build up put in a good shot for Ademeno to pounce on the rebound and work the ball into the top of the net: Histon 0, Grimsby 1. Town pressed on and with a long throw from goal Arthur sent Coulson on a run. The shot went wide. Histon picked up a little towards the end of the half but Town were the more dominant and skilful side, and thoroughly deserved to be leading.
The second half began ominously as Arthur in Town's goal had to block out a clear chance at his right hand post, but Town were soon back on the march again and won a corner. With bodies aplenty in the box, Ademeno found space and slotted home to make it Histon 0, Grimsby 2. Town continued to dominate with little to show from Histon and after a corner on 65 minutes, the ball came loose to the unmarked and unchallenged Sinclair who sweetly volleyed the ball home from 25 yards. Histon 0, Grimsby 3.
Complacency set in briefly at the Town end, with the industrious if hitherto generally ineffective Histon having two good chances. Both were squandered. Sinclair had earlier been replaced by Hudson, Eagle replaced Coulson and Connell now came off for Peacock. Town were still passing the ball around but seemed to be struggling to get back into a pattern. On 80 minutes, Eagle, Peacock and Ridley worked the ball up the left side. The impressive Ridley hit the edge of the box, saw a gap and moved up to the byline, drawing the goalkeeper. An inch perfect pass from Ridley met Hudson who just had to slot home. Histon 0, Grimsby 4. This goal exemplified Town's teamwork. The next minute exemplified Town's lack of concentration as Histon got the ball upfield quickly and Riza drove home from short range with Town's midfield and defence woefully out of position. Histon 1, Grimsby 4.
Histon saw a chance to recover but it was now display time at the village fête, except that here there were no police dogs. Peacock caught everyone by surprise and caused great delight amongst the Town faithful when he backheeled Bore's cross into the net. Histon 1, Grimsby 5. The Town fan dressed as a chilli led the conga behind the goal - well, Town were hot, hot, hot today. The fête had turned into carnival. Histon to their credit pressed on and allowed Grimsby to play but it seemed the game was going no further. That was until the 93rd minute when Eagle picked up the ball 45 yards out, spotted the goalkeeper off his line and chipped it over his head into the net for another goal. Thus the game ended: Histon 1, Grimsby Town 6. Incredible. We'd just entered dreamland. It was like being at Boston all those years ago.
At the risk of being accused of misanthropy (ok, you may and with reason), this game wasn't entirely one of positives. Histon were hard-working but by far the worst team I have seen in this league this season. In spite of their lack of penetration, through a lack of concentration we still allowed them three good chances, from which they scored one. Strange as it may sound, we also lacked professionalism. Connell redeemed himself for trying to be too clever, and in any case he had endless credit points already, but Bradley Wood, who had an otherwise excellent game, was lucky not to be booked for kicking the ball away and wasting time twice before half-time. On other occasions he won't get away with it. It would have been a waste. I also couldn't understand why the Town players surrounded the referee en masse when Coulson was booked. From where I was, the Histon player was fouled, the referee played advantage and the player was tripped again. What was there to argue about? I'd hate to think we were turning into prima donnas - at least no-one wore snoods (Arsenal fans reading this, please note).
Let's face it though, this was an outstanding effort. A couple of glitches apart, we defended very well. I was particularly impressed that we have at last got the hang of this league and before we started to play, we stopped the opposition and relentlessly chased after the ball when they were in possession and won it back. Honourable mention goes to Bore, Wood, Ridley, Peacock and Coulson for their contributions, and Eagle put in a great performance too as well as providing a contender for Goal of the Season, but my Man of the Match was the human tank Charles Ademeno. Most pleasing of all was the team effort. It was crystal clear that Town players had been practising their passing moves in training, and had been trained to get into the penalty box where the opportunity arises and to lay the ball off for colleagues who are in a better position to score. In other words, be aware of what others are doing and support them. All credit is due to Neil Woods and the team. Moreover that's thirteen goals in two games - roll up, roll up, the Town are on the march.
I very much enjoyed the Histon village fête. What an excellent way of spending a cold afternoon.
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