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07/01 Wycombe 2nd Half

By: Tony Butcher
Date: 07/01/2001

Town didn't make any changes at half time. Wycombe replaced a midfielder. You could almost cut and paste the second half of the Sheffield Wednesday game into this report. There was very little action, especially from Town. The flow of the game was similar to the Hillsborough match.

Wycombe Wanderers 1 Grimsby Town 1
07 Jan 2001, FA Cup 3rd Round

Town were visibly superior but structurally unsound and looked likely to concede a stupid goal.

After a couple of minutes a serious thing happened. Willems (who had rather gingerly, if you excuse the phrase, come back on the pitch at half time) was clattered by a Wycombe player from behind (play on said the referee). A minute or two later Wycombe flung in a free kick to the far post where Coyne came out and punched the ball away, flattening Willems in the process. Willems went down in three stages. Trunk, then legs, then both legs went in the air together and came down together with a thud, in slow motion. Very cartoonish, but the result wasn't funny. He hobbled off, came back for a few seconds and was then replaced by Burnett (or Burrrrrrnnnnnit as the tannoy announcer said to annoy us). Town didn't lose any style or steel through the replacement, but it was very worrying. We all wanted Butterfield off and Burnett on.

Grimsby Town
R Smith
D Smith



Wycombe continued to fire in deep crosses from the full backs, about 30 yards out, with the occasional threat with balls down the touch-line when they broke away. They had a couple of crosses which were adequately dealt with by R Smith (diving header) and Gallimore. They didn't get that near Coyne, their major threat being from free kicks. The referee decided to award a lot near the edge of the penalty area, out wide. He was suckered a couple of times with very poor dives (Burnett being particularly unfortunate when Brown won his Grade 3 swimming badge). Wycombe also had a couple of shots from central positions 20 or so yards out. Neither went near the goal, Brown managing to clear the stand with his half volley. At about this time our concentration began to slip and many supporters turned to each other and remarked how lovely the rural scene was on the hill to our right. A few sheep grazing below a tree-lined hillock with the winter sun speckling the hill in a bright sepia light. Like the scene from a birthday card for your granny.

Talking of hillocks, there wasn't much Town attacking, with Nielsen being an ephemeral presence. Add Donovan's weakness and it isn't difficult to picture the scene. Town kept the ball well until it passed to the forwards, then lost it. What was Livingstone doing? Ambling in old Livvo style. After about 10 minutes of the 2nd half Livingstone drifted out to a very wide left position and found a lot of space, causing a bit of danger. He was let down by Gallimore's slowness to pass (meaning Livvo crept offside by the time the ball was released) and by the fact that he was crossing. HE should have been the person in the middle. Campbell caused Wycombe a lot of problems with his surges with the ball. The lack of movement by the front players hindered him, and it was noticeable that the curse of non-movement afflicted everyone by the end.

Donovan did do one mazy Fulham-like run. On the left he dribbled past a couple of players, cutting across to the middle of the pitch, about 20 yards out. He was sandwiched and bundled to the ground by two defenders. Oh how we wished Willems was still on the pitch. Who would take the free kick? Gallimore, the mild mannered janitor? No. Rosemary the telephone operator? No. Campbell. Who curled it low and gently into the 'keeper's arms. No threat whatsoever. Talking of which Butterfield tried a shot from 25 yards after a bit of a passing move down the right. Again no power, no direction and not interesting.

Paul McCarthy The game was odd. There didn't seem to be much creative tension in the game. Town just looked better. Full stop. Wycombe didn't look good enough to create a goal. They didn't. It just happened without anyone paying much attention. With about 15 or 16 minutes left Wycombe pumped in a long diagonal ball towards the centre of the goal. R Smith and their centre forward jumped together. The ball fell just past the penalty spot. A Wycombe midfielder ran in, swung his left foot and missed the ball. Another Wycombe player ran in behind him and passed it out wide of the goal, to Coyne's right, 10 yards out. One of the lumbering centre backs, McCARTHY (pictured), was alone. He controlled it and slashed a high shot inside Coyne's near side post, about head high. Coyne got a hand to it but only diverted it a few degrees. It was a bit of a surprise to all. Even as the scramble was going on most of the Town support had mentally switched off and were not expecting to concede a goal.

The Wycombe fans noted that we weren't singing anymore, and we noted that they only sang when they were drawing. Town were slightly ruffled by conceding the goal. Wycombe became a little more confident in their attacks, even trying to pass to each other. Don't worry, they failed. Town got loads of throw ins and Wycombe seemed intent on spreading the ball out to Gallimore. Town had one decent attack, when Campbell controlled a clearance inside the left corner of the Town penalty area, turned and ran up the pitch past three Wycombe players. He turned inside the final defender on the edge of the Wycombe area, the ball was played wide to McDermott via Burnett. His cross into the heart of the penalty area was headed 10 yards wide by Livingstone.

5 minutes after they scored, Wycombe should have scored another with their only other chance in the game. Yet another deep diagonal pass from their left to just beyond the penalty spot was headed back across goal by one centre forward. The other one rose above Groves and headed firmly towards Coyne's top right hand corner, from about 7 yards out. Coyne produced his ritual, and expected, heroic save by springing high and clawing the ball out from under the bar. A really superb save which got him a headache as his head clipped the post as he fell.

At about this time Butterfield was finally replaced by Coldicott, who again played very wide on the right. He added a certain steel to that side of the pitch and even found time to indulge in a couple of fancy flicks, winning throw ins near the half way line. Vital throw ins, of course. I can't recall Town doing anything else positive in the 2nd half. The crowd were increasingly frustrated by the front two (Handyside replaced Livingstone with 5 minutes left and Town went to a 5-3-2 formation). Nielsen and Donovan were especially shocking in the last few minutes. Barely challenging for anything. So the ball simply kept coming back towards the defence. Usually in the air, but not always. Wycombe were very cunning. In the last 15 minutes they sometimes ran with the ball through midfield. They weren't good enough to cause too much trouble. In the last minute Bullman had a shot from 20 yards out, centrally placed, which Coyne saved less easily than he should have down to his right. He let the ball squirm away, but no-one was following up.

Nothing else to report about the football. The second half was very poor. I am getting fed up with saying that phrase. It's as if the manager's half time team talk has a depressant effect on the players. It was also noticeable that Lawrence only reacted to Wycombe tactical changes - after something happened. It was blindingly obvious that Butterfield was struggling to cope in midfield, and that Donovan was isolated and ineffective in his hole. Of course, people often hide in holes and things get lost in them.

Burnett was fine when he came on, R Smith played solidly, calmly and with no obvious difficulties. McDermott looked a little short of fitness, but was still his usual reliable self. Campbell was irrepressible. Here, there and everywhere. The front three were poor, never really troubling an average 2nd division defence. Livvo didn't look fit, Nielsen wasn't interested and Donovan was having a Jellyfish day. Again.

It was a very curious game which can be described as being "not won by mistake". Although Town never, ever looked like scoring from open play they were far superior and it never "felt" like they wouldn't win. Still we can claim a place in history now. Wycombe scored their first ever goal in the third round of the FA Cup. And it was against us. Something we can really feel proud of, eh?

Nick0's Man of the Match - well it's either the Town supporter who hit the beach ball over the stand or Campbell. Got to be Campbell. Completely outclassed everyone and tried from first to last.

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