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PlayerMinutes
Nathan Clarke1,910
James McKeown1,890
Danny Collins1,858
Siriki Dembele1,725
Paul Dixon1,652
James Berrett1,620
Ben Davies1,541
Luke Summerfield1,432
Sam Jones1,412
Martyn Woolford1,164
Mitch Rose1,125

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Question of the Week

Should Russell Slade be sacked immediately?

Yes
No


 

Nobody There

By: Tony Butcher
Date: 14/12/2000

We stared at a muddy, cut up pitch at half time and observed that no one replacing divots. They seemed content to keep the pitch in a bad condition, hindering attempts to pass the ball. I wonder why?

Wimbledon 2 Grimsby Town 2

2nd half

We stared at a muddy, cut up pitch at half time and observed that no one replacing divots. They seemed content to keep the pitch in a bad condition, hindering attempts to pass the ball. I wonder why? The tannoy announced a special Christmas trip to their next away game - supporters could travel up in "5 specially hired limousines for a trip-hop limo trip to Tranmere". As a man to my left observed "Yeah, right".

Stu's Toilet talk " difficult to judge. The lavatory was most undignified. The ceiling was far too low so one either had to crane forward ridiculously or lean back impossibly. Talking and toileting was virtually impossible to achieve. The way-to-the-toilet talk was "shocking ref, Wimbledon are awful, Town look ok, we shouldn't be losing. No fault to players. Smith's playing great, midfield ok. Doesn't that Willems take a good corner"

Wimbledon came out first and spent a couple of minutes limbering up, whilst Town ambled back looking most miffed. No substitutions were made by either side at half time.

Town started badly and were a bit of a mess for 10 minutes. Wimbledon looked to get crosses in from deeper positions and the Town defenders were standing too far away to stop them. Butterfield, especially, was guilty of such mental laziness. The result was that Town were under a lot of pressure, through the sheer number of crosses and bodies in the box. Wimbledon had numerous shots in this period, mainly from Euell who, variously, sliced wide, overhead kicked high over the bar, and wellied wide. There is no point in describing the build up to these shots, as there weren't any " just have a mental picture of a deep cross, and loads of players bumping in to each other. Football as dodgems.

Wimbledon had two excellent chances " firstly Ardley volleyed a few inches wide of the right hand post from 15 yards, out to the left of Coyne's goal. They had, for once, passed the ball to the "spare man". The best miss was by one of their forwards. They attacked down the Town left and got to the bye line. A loopy cross to the near post was headed wide of Coyne's right hand post from a couple of yards out. Coyne did his flapping star jump to put off the striker and it obviously worked.

And within a minute Town had equalised. Gallimore tapped a pass up the wing to Nielsen, just inside the Wimbledon half. He in turn knocked the ball inside to Willems, about 35 yards out in an inside left position. Willems shaped to turn right, but spun left, creating a few yards of space. He looked up and played a perfectly weighted pass between the centre backs and the right back. Campbell sprinted down the outside of the full back and crossed the ball first time with his left foot (what's this, the right footed Campbell using his left foot!) low to the near post. NIELSEN sprinted forward and guided the ball to the "keeper's left from just inside the near post, about 6 or 7 yards out. Adoration was milked, but not for long as the referee told him off for gesticulating towards the crowd.

The remaining half hour was more of the same " Wimbledon long balls and the stout yeoman of the North keeping a thick red line of players in front of Coyne. Town had isolated attacks, which were invariably pleasing to the eye and involving three or more players in a passing move. The most promising one was when Nielsen played in Coldicott inside the area about 8 yards wide of the left hand post. Just as Coldicott was about to unleash a cross shot a Wimbledon play slid across to block. Had Coldicott been of Lesteresque or Ashcroftian tendencies we would have got a penalty. Oh, no we wouldn't. The referee would have let play continue, as he did constantly when Wimbledon barged our players over. Conversely Town "gave away" several free kicks for viciously smacking someone's hand with their back, heading their boots, and being nearby when they gave the ball away.

The most comical, and infuriating, moment came in the last quarter of an hour. A deep cross from the Wimbledon right went to a position about 10 yards out from the near post. Coyne caught the ball and was knocked over, in mid air, by one of the Wimbledon Forwards who simply shoulder barged Coyne. The ball ran loose and slowly, slowly towards the line. Smith lunged in and tried to clear the ball as far as possible. It hit Butterfield and crawled over the bar for a corner. The Town players remonstrated with the referee and Wimbledon took the corner quickly, from their right. The ball fizzed in to the centre of the 6-yard box. A dozen bodies converged on Coyne and the ball zipped through to the far post, hit somebody and appeared to get stuck near the right hand post, possibly on the line. The same dozen bodies all slid towards the ball and somehow it squirmed sideways for a goal kick. Gallimore received some treatment for an injury and was led off the pitch for a couple! Of minutes. He returned for another 3 or 4 minutes and was then substituted, Chapman scampering on like an enthusiastic child One day he'll grow into his shorts. Chapman's first contributions were two vital headers (and he was by far the smallest person in the ground) and a sliding block as a Wimbledon midfielder tried to cross from the bye-line inside the penalty area.

Wimbledon made three substitutions - taking off Andy Roberts (presumably for being useless and before he got himself sent off " he "mixed it" with Willems and came off third) and two others. On came Michael Thomas and he won the "Most Amusing Cameo Performance in an Empty Stadium" award for being comically inept. Everything he did was to Town's advantage. At one point he managed to control the ball so that it went out of play. Coldicott's aura frightened him into miss-control. He shot 15 yards wide when unmarked inside the area and passed to the ball to Town every other time he got the ball.

Grovesy In the last 5 minutes Town nearly sneaked another goal. Nielsen turned on the left, got to the bye-line and whipped in a cross to the near post which Donovan got near, a couple of minutes later he repeated his trick and from the same position crossed hard to the far post. Unfortunately it was just a bit too high for Burnett, and a little behind Campbell. Nielsen also dragged a shot wide from the left edge of the penalty area when well placed, and nearly set up Groves when he controlled a cross that was going behind him and dragged it past his marker in one turn and move. When he could be bothered he was a real handful for their defence, but there were long period of Donovan-like trottings. The Wimbledon 'keeper was very unsteady when the ball was at his feet and, bizarrely kept trying to dribble with the ball. If Nielsen had attacked him a bit more Town would probably have had some joy. And the same goes for Donovan who, apart from one outrageous piece of skill to c! control a high pass on the touchline " he trapped it on his right toe, swivelled, adjusted his feet and turned past a player, just call him Zinadine Zonovan " he spent a lot of time trotting towards the ball and just missing it when it came near him.

We nearly had the own-goal of the season as well. WImbledon played the ball across the back 4 to a defender stood just to the right of centre, on the edge of the area. He decided to knock the ball firmly to his 'keeper. Only the keeper was standing way to the left of the goal and he passed it towards the right of the goal. The keeper had to sprint over and control the ball at the foot of the post as Donovan ambled in. The ball was squirmed away for a Town throw in by the corner flag.

And Wimbledon lobbed the ball forward, packing the area, winning corners, jumping at Coyne and Town had quite a few hairy moments as a result. Coyne didn't have any save to make " the best work was done by the central defenders with blocks and perfectly timed headers. Burnett and Willems were an unpassable barrier in midfield and also made a number of important headed clearance when covering the near post.

3 minutes of added time " and we seemed to play nearer 5. More Wimbledon desperate flingings and flailings but the Town defence was organised and determined. Smith was superb, with Groves not far behind. They refused to be bullied by Hartson, Euell, Francis and all the other Wimbledon players who spent most of the night trying, literally, to knock them over. Eventually the referee did remember to end the game and pleased we were. Overall it was probably a fair result, Town didn't deserve to lose. So a fair result obtained unfairly. Wimbledon didn't have any players capable of controlling the ball or pass (apart from Hartson who is still a fine first division striker). Whenever they did attempt to pass it Town got a throw in.

Willems looked an extremely useful and intelligent footballer. He did a lot of unseen work " little blocks to stop the opposition getting to a Town player who had the ball, important tackles in midfield, and I can't remember him giving the ball away. Burnett, when he had time, passed purringly, and he also got "stuck in". Campbell got better as they game went on, like a human dynamo he never stops running, and he even used his left foot. Nielsen may be moody, but he was a threat and provided all the moments of danger. And he scored the goal by doing what Town forwards never do " attacking the near post.

Overall Town just looked comfortable, individually and collectively. There were no raging gaps for Wimbledon to exploit and there isn't too much to complain about. The big boost was Smith's imperious return. Town coped quite well with an opposition "style" that has traditionally produced pusillanimous performances. We're on our way, we were Lennie's 91. This time, more than any other time, he got it right.

Nicko's man of the match: Richard Smith. He's back and better than before.

Tony Butcher

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