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18/03 Bolton 2nd Half

By: Tony Butcher
Date: 25/06/2000

Grimsby Town 0 Bolton Wanderers 1
18 Mar 2000, Nationwide League Division 1

No changes were made at half time by either side. Town came out and for a minute something occurred. Pouton broke away down the right with a determined dribble. When he was near the edge of the penalty area he fell over with sufficient skill to get a free kick (something he had done in the first half too - a surging dribble followed by a fall, and a couple of fancy flicks followed by a fall when he lost control of the ball. Both got free kicks). Gallimore stepped up and, from 20 yards to the (Town) right of the goal managed to curl a truly awful shot onto the top of the Pontoon. That was Town's last shot of the game. Not even miss-kicks, nor blocks. None, nil, nul, zero, absolutely zilch.

Donovan was set free in the box after 20 or so minutes of the half. The crowd stood up (with no expectation, just blind hope). He was alone, near the bye-line, about 10 yards to the left of the goal. Donovan looked up and picked out the man to pass to - a Bolton defender on the edge of the 6 yards box. Donovan had a couple more crossing opportunities (with no-one near him) and on each occasion he managed to pick out the forehead of an unmarked Bolton defender. His normal wing play was dogged by his normal consistency in hitting the knee of the full back with his passes and crosses. Some rather rude words were sent in the direction of Donovan by many members of the Pontoon (and elsewhere, I expect). Apart from crosses by Pouton and Groves, which the 'keeper caught, and a couple of minor scrambles near the end, Town never even threatened to get into the Bolton penalty area.

Nicholls was taken off after exactly 60 minutes. He can't say he wasn't warned as some members of the Pontoon (ok, me) were counting down the minutes for him ("2 minutes and counting number 10"). He can also count himself extremely fortunate that he was given a small round of polite applause when he ambled off - diffidence had set in very early with most supporters. Black came on and went to left wing, D Smith to left back, Gallimore to centre back and Groves to centre forward. 15 minutes later, after this had no effect, Donovan went to centre forward with Pouton on the right wing and Groves at centre midfield. When this didn't work either, after 80 minutes, Groves and Donovan swapped positions. With a couple of minutes left Lever went up front too, leaving a sort of back three and front four or 5, depending on where people happened to be standing (or falling). Thus in the last few minutes we had the unusual spectacle of Lever trying to be Tony Rees (with first time lay-offs) and Gary Childs (when he tried to go down the right wing).

The only moments of danger (or excitement) were when Pouton surged forward with a Cunnington-esque dribble. Clare buzzed around and tried really hard, but had no support.

Bolton didn't really attack for 30 minutes, being content to sit on the edge of the penalty area and watch Town players run across the pitch in front of them. Their sporadic attacks usually resulted in Gudjohnsson drifting out to Town's right and trying to beat three players, before slicing the ball wide of the goal. He, and most of his team mates, seemed to be trying to score the perfect goal.

In the last 15 minutes only Coyne stopped them scoring 3 or 4 more, as they began to exploit the gaps left by Town's rather desperate tactical shufflings and attacking. Most of the Bolton attacks came down the Town right, with McDermott becoming increasingly isolated as Donovan and Pouton stayed up the other end of the pitch. Coyne was forced to save with his legs after a ball was dinked behind McDermott for a wide player rushing into a position 10 yards out to the right of the goal. McDermott had been forced to come inside to cover Lever and the ball had been played back to another player, with the striker 10 yards to the right of him. From almost the same position Coyne saved superbly with his right hand when one-on-one. Gudjohnsson cut in from the right and hit a powerful drive across Coyne, towards the top left corner of the goal. Coyne flung himself across and palmed the ball away for a corner. Coyne was also forced to come off his line a couple of times and dive at the feet of on-rushing forwards, near the edge of the box.

Almost 5 minutes of extra time were added, though most of the crowd just wanted it to end. The continuation of the game was a torture for us, not hope for an equaliser. There were some small incidents on the second half, such as when the referee booked a Bolton full back for time wasting at a throw in - the crowd can claim the credit for that as we'd been moaning about how long it was taking Bolton to do anything all game. Their goalkeeper was the worst culprit , taking over a minute for each goal-kick or offside. Rennie ordered Gudjohnsson to be taken off on a stretcher after he received treatment for a kick up the backside by Lever (it was, quite literally a kick up the backside), despite him having recovered. In addition to his arbitrary decisions, Rennie stood in the way far too often, being either hit by the ball or running into players as they challenged for a loose ball. He tackled Coldicott at least twice. Rennie also did a superb late run across the box when Donovan was about to take a corner. He lost his marker at the back and ran to the near post. Unfortunately Donovan failed to see this and still aimed for Lever's forehead (missing by a couple of feet as usual). I must say that Rennie looked fitter, and faster, than most of the players. Pouton also managed to land head first in the Pontoon after a run down the Town left. All we saw at the top of the Pontoon were his legs waving around in the air.

In summary the result was right, Bolton were far better than Town both individually and collectively. If Bolton played with passion and commitment they'd probably get promoted as, apart from Charlton, no collection of individuals has looked so much better than Town all season. As it is, they seemed to treat it as a training match. It wasn't as though Town weren't trying - apart from Nicholls they all ran around and got stuck in. Apart from Nicholls and Donovan no-one had a bad game, though only Pouton, Coyne, McDermott and Coldicott could be said to have a good game (and then only sporadically).

Everyone takes a beating some time. Of course with Charlton on Wednesday this may be true in spades and with knobs on.

Grimsby Town
D Smith



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