Cod Almighty | Match Report
by Tony Butcher
24 August 2002
Bradford 0 Grimsby Town 0
An old fashioned English summer rainstorm drenched the dark satanic hills in the hours before the game, but lo, at three o'clock the sun was up, the sky was blue, it was beautiful and so was Manningham. Even the burnt bits. A temperate windless afternoon, just perfect for free flowing football. Stop laughing at the back.
The ground itself has two massive stands, which dwarf the pitch and would obviously be imposing when full. They weren't full, they were not even half full, barely a quarter full. Hello? Is there anybody out there? Great expanses of seats were bereft of humanity, a soulless echo could be heard whenever two or more Bradfordians spoke. They claimed a crowd in excess of 10,000. They must have played their joker before the game, Guido.
The Town players warmed up as usual, with two interesting additions and one omission which pleased half the travelling 300 muttering Mariners. Woo, that's Big Bob roaming the earth like dinasaurs did! And that bloke, that must be Kabba! He is physically so not a Town player, which made him exciting. He is not white, weedy and wan. Big shoulders, big thighs, compact and powerful. He looked like a 100m sprinter (and an archetypal Crystal Palace player). No Jevons, not even as a sub. Not to be seen, missing presumed deficient after his Derby performance.
As the Town players kicked about a young boy queued for some food. He called out to Gallimore, casually signing autographs by the barrier. "Galli?" and the icon looked quizically towards the pre-teen. "Do you want a pie?".
Town lined up in the usual 4-4-2 formation as follows: Coyne, McDermott, Groves, Chettle, Gallimore, Cooke, Coldicott, Campbell, Barnard, Taylor, Kabba. The substitutes were Hughes, Robinson, Rowan, Ford, Ward (Barney McGrew, Cuthbert, Dibble and Grubb) The starting XI started in the positions you'd expect, with the Campbell-Coldicott line trying to keep the confederates at bay in the middle.
In the dying embers of the pre-match warm up Bradley Hughes silenced the Town support. He let virtually every shot in, mostly through his hands. Let's hope the Ipswich game is called off, we'd like to keep the score in single figures. Some sought to divert attention from the impending doom by reading the programme, the profile of Neil Woods being a particular favourite. Especially the photographs. 80s bouffant, tight shorts and one where he looks like he's wearing make-up. Gallimore's left foot has been officially downgraded from "beautiful" to "sweet", which is one way of saying it is "attached", and Bradford have a player called Juanjo Carricondo.
Town kicked off towards the Town support and, for 20 minutes, all was well. Like the Trumpton clock, Town were passing the ball steadily, sensibly, never too quickly, never too slowly. Kabba had clearly only been introduced to the Town players within the previous 45 minutes, yet there seemed to be an instant chemistry between him and the unfit Taylor. Town fair dominated the first 20 minutes. Taylor and Kabba formed a partnership that frightened the Bradford defenders. Pace, power and some intelligent flicks - everything we haven't had this season. Taylor may move slowly, but he moves slowly in to the right places. Kabba was very eager, and had quite a bit of pace, even when dribbling with the ball. With Taylor acting as a strong wall, even Campbell was seen making runs into the box. It was all extremely heartening to see something that promised action. The biggest plus was movement. Kabba was always attempting to make runs behind defenders, zig-zagging his way through the boredom and pain of being catapulted into shot-shy Grimsby. Kabba was always running to the blind side of the centre backs and into the channels.
Oh, you want to hear about actual events? Well, that's different. The mood was upbeat, though the bare facts don't appear to support the positive tone. A couple of scuffed shots, a volley hooked into the Second tier of the stand, a free kick over the bar, a cross cleared for a corner. Doesn't sound exciting. Somehow it was. Kabba made things happen, even though his first touch was a really poor turn straight into the defender, as if the ghost of Donovan past had returned. But he got better, much better. Receiving the ball on the touchline with his back to goal around 10 yards from the half way line he spun and burst down the Town right, driving and bullying his way through three challenges. He drifted into the centre and from 20 yards scuffed a left footed shot a yard or so wide of Davison's left hand post. He did the same down the Town left, this time hitting a weak shot from the edge of the area which bumbled towards Davison like a maiden aunt on a Sunday jaunt to Budleigh Salterton, in Mid July. Taylor threw his arms out wide in frustration, for he was unmarked on the left edge of the area. On 15 minutes Barnard dinked a ball over the top down the Town left. Kabba ran across from the middle, outfought Uhlenbeek, the infamous Gus of Wind, and curled his shot onto the cross bar, the ball bouncing down on the line and out again. Ooooooh, but oh. The referee had already given Bradford a free kick for the trifling offence of fending off Uhlenbeek with a left forearm in the nose. Pfft, it's a man's game, isn't it? There weren't many Town fans who would have made that decision, and the referee was informed of such in very basic language. The Town fans used concise terms when commenting.
There were numerous moves where Town threatened, but nothing quite came of it. Usually through Kabba's desire to be an instant hero, which resulted in a shot rather than a pass. The over-riding memory of the first 20 minutes is movement, the boys in blue (for Town played in the sky blue away kit) were a constant blur.
And then the game ended. After 20 minutes Taylor challenged strongly in midfield, started to limp, then he sat down clutching his ankle. Then he was taken off, to be replaced by Rowan. Really that was it is far as Town attacking goes.
Observing Rowan and Kabba, two footballers of roughly the same age and experience, was most instructive. Rowan just looked disinterested, weak, dopey, clueless compared to our new loan star. Rowan trotted where Kabba sprinted, Rowan watched where Kabba challenged. Kabba always moved when the ball went forward, Rowan stood around waiting for the ball to go to him.
Without Taylor the ball was just not sticking up front, so Bradford gradually gained ascendancy. It took them about 35 minutes, but they took control. In the first 15 minutes they had a couple of crosses and one shot which skewed 5 yards wide of Coyne's right hand post. No worries, no danger, no concerns whatsoever. If they threatened, Chettle swept across and imperiously dealt with danger. But, as the ball started to ping back towards the Town defence, Bradford started to have fleeting moments of danger. Principally, Cadamarteri began to turn and run at the Town defence down the left, causing Gallimore to panic and retreat. After about 30 minutes they managed their first shot on target. Some nonsense defending down the Town left saw their midfielder surge into the box, the ball being laid back to some player (frankly I don't care who, he was small and a long way away, wearing that garish shirt). From about 15 yards, to the right of centre, this small man employed by Bradford City whacked a first time right foot shot through a crowd of players. The ball seemed to hit Coyne on the chest and balloon up, up and away for a corner.
A few more Bradford crosses followed, usually way overhit, nowhere near professional footballers. Not even the substitutes warming up down the side. From one cross on the Bradford left Ward nearly managed to rise above Chettle at the far post. But he didn't, Chettle headed out for a corner. Yes, that was a highlight of the half - a defender headed out for a corner. Ward headed the corner a foot or so wide of the right hand post. Don't panic reader. We, the viewer didn't, for McDermott was standing next to the post and simply let it pass. Another small Bradford clogging midfielder, probably Kearney, sliced a shot from the edge of the area a few yards wide of Coyne's left hand post. Anything else? Oh yes, one more moment that could have brought tears to the eyes of the travelling Townites. Cadamarteri went on a long winding road down the Town right and infield, that led to the edge of the area, beating three or four Town defenders on this procession. He appeared to lose control but still managed to shoot. Coyne dived low to his left, parrying the ball back towards the centre of the goal. Gallimore leapt forward and wellied the ball away for a throw in.
There you are, that's it. I've wrung as much as I can from the thrice used tea bag that was the first half. Goodish for 20 minutes, rotten for the rest. Bradford fans would have the opposite view, but then they are the opposition. Two ladies diddilly-diddilly-dee. Two relegation ladies diddilly-diddilly-dee. The only matters not yet described are the fouls on Kabba. Molenaar was booked for his first whack from behind, the second had the referee running towards him, reach for his back pocket then realise that he'd already been booked. So a finger wag was the punishment. The third whack got another free kick, but still no card. After this the Bradford defence and midfield took it in turns to try and kick Kabba into Elland Road. The more effete Bradford players merely tried to kick him into the town centre.
So promise dashed by Taylor's creaking body. But what would the second half bring? Frankly, a draw would have been willingly taken at half time.
Stu's Half Time Toilet Talk
"When does Rowan take his GCSE's?" "Juanjo Carricondo? Wasn't that a hit for Engelbert Humperdink in 1968?". "We were looking ok until Taylor went off". "Don't panic. The Maggot race is coming up shortly". "That Kabba's tasty"
Neither side made any change at half time.
The second half was rubbish, really rubbish. Great expanses were devoid of anything resembling association football. Bradford are in the image of their manager, what can euphemistically be described as "uncomplicated". Kick, harry, hassle, tackle, foul, fight, destroy. Yuk. And Town weren't capable of creating anything, or rising above this basic football. The ball was sent upfield and Rowan lost it. Balls in the air to little Johnny were a compete waste of time. Sooner or later every move, pass or long ball would end up with Rowan. Sorry boy, you were out of your depth today.
I can't be bothered leaving you in suspense about the Town moves of note in the second half. Here they are. Kabba had a run down the left, beating three players and was crowded out as he shot. Barnard curled a free kick from about 25 yards towards the top right hand corner, but Davison skipped across and easily held the ball under the crossbar. There were two or free breakaways which almost promised to produce a cross, usually involving Kabba and Cooke, but they were isolated moments in the cultural desert. In terms of attacking, that sums up Town. One short paragraph, 62 words, for 45 minutes.
Bradford weren't much better, though they did have more efforts on goal - even, eventually, forcing Coyne to make a save (though he probably didn't even have to do that, as the ball may have been going wide anyway). The second half was a shocker. Only 15 minutes had gone before the crowd were pleading for the game to end. The minutes dragged like years, the sighs, the huffs, even the raised eyebrows were audible throughout the sparsely populated ground.
Bradford efforts? Well, if you insist. I can't remember when exactly some of these happened, I think I may have drifted off into another state of consciousness during the second half. A bit like a flotation tank, you could allow yourself to wallow in emptiness. Proctor (a substitute who came on at some time for a midfielder I think. Those with a long memory may remember he played for York last year and ran rings round us) received a fast low cross in the area, but passed it to Coyne when trying to control it. Erm, anything else? Well, perhaps the Gray run down the Bradford right, where he jinked past about 6 Town players before shooting wide ? Or the moment Bradford nearly had a player free in the Town area on the right, but Cooke made a glorious tackle? Incidentally, Gray had lovely hair, and looked happy that the rain hadn't washed his curly waves away. Perhaps you are interested in Ward's run across the face of the penalty area and shot which rumbled pathetically wide of Coyne's left hand post? Thought not. How about these two, right near the end. The umpteenth daft free kick given to them, about 30 yards out, just to the right of centre, was tapped back to Evans who hit a huge right foot shot which drifted a few feet wide of Coyne's left hand post. And in the last minute Standing hit a right foot drive from 25 yards out, just to the left of centre, which Coyne tipped around his right hand post. Enough to excite the locals. Sitting behind the flight of the ball it was almost certainly going wide anyway. But Coyne just made sure, to impress the laydeez.
Bradford put Town under a bit of pressure towards the end. A few crosses. No, make that a lot of balls lumped towards the edge of the penalty area. It wasn't much more than old fashioned percentage football. Ashley Ward managed to win a few free kicks and lose a lot of challenges. I emphasise the word win there, but nothing to justify the entrance fee.
The story of the second half was the referee, who managed to get both sets of supporters riled. Purely from a Town-centric viewpoint he performed as he usually does - making eccentric decisions which were often felt to be based on who shouted loudest. He booked Kabba for kicking the ball away (ie a little tap) because the Bradford supporters wailed (they had, like their players, decided to target Kabba). Strangely enough he failed to book a Bradford player for doing the same heinous crime 10 minutes later. Gallimore was booked for time wasting at a throw in, where the referee had kept insisting it was taken from different position. Galli just looked confused by it all. He awarded a free kick against Coldicott for heading an opponent's arm. And then there was the moment when Kabba, on the touch line in front of the Bradford bench, received a kick from behind. Kabba leapt up in pure Mr Grimsdale mode, landing on his backside as if he'd slipped on that slapstick comedic staple, the banana skin. The referee gave a free kick, but that was all. Either Kabba dived or he was whacked from behind. Either way it's supposed to be a booking. Oh well, that's the ref's for you.
Despite there being several stoppages, including three long ones for treatment to injured players, there were only two minutes of added time. No-one complained, everyone just wanted the torturous drivel to end. And so I'll stop this torturous drivel too.
Overall, parity was just about fair. Like Bert with his lumbago, we mustn't grumble. But you'll like Kabba. We did. And if Taylor had managed to last longer Town would probably have won.
A game to forget, a point to pocket. At least Town didn't let their relegation rivals sneak off with 3 points. Roll on Pompey!
NickO's Man of the Match
Chettle played purringly competently, quietly efficient but effective. Coyne made the saves he needed to without too much trouble and Kabba was a one man whirling dervish up front. He'd have been MoM if he'd passed the ball a few times. Overall, Nick0 surprises even himself by selecting Terry Cooke, for a fantastic defensive display. There, that shocked you.
Really, dreadfully inconsistent. Never had control and quite clearly he was going to send Molenaar off for a second hack from behind on Kabba, but chickened out. Or perhaps that should be bantamed out. Compounding this timidity was a bout of over officious nonsense in the second half. He gains 5 points for ending the game as soon as possible though. 4.001 out of 10.