Cod Almighty | Match Report
by Tony Butcher
10 September 2002
Grimsby Town 0 Chesterfield 1 (aet)
A warm, still evening in Cleethorpes. Where better to see some outdoor Shakespearean tragedy than Blundell Park. Around 150 Chesterfieldians huddled together in small groups and grooved with a pict down at the Osmond End, little knowing what joys the evening would bring for them. They hoped, we knew.
The pre-match entertainment was count the crowd, followed by the Mighty Mariner, the fantabulous foam fool, running up and down the touchline publicly practising for some club mascot challenge trophy. Curiously it ran quicker with it's giant rubber shoes than when it changed into football boots. Perhaps it thought the pitch would take a stud?
The pre-match routine was the usual hops, steps and lacklustre jumps and the forwards shooting towards goal. Kabba managed to miss every time and Robinson peppered the seats in the Pontoon. By the law of averages he managed to make the ball hit a supporter, eventually.
Town lined up in the old, comfortable, 4-4-2 formation as follows: Coyne, McDermott, Chettle, Groves, Gallimore, Cooke, Pouton, Coldicott, Campbell, Kabba and Robinson. The substitutes were Allaway, Raven, Rowan, Mansaram and Ward.
Chesterfield, clad in a stylishly simple all red kit, kicked off towards the Pontoon. For 10 minutes all was well in the world, as Town played simple ground based football, retaining possession and easily mopping up the Spireite whacks. No problem here then. Town created a couple of half chances which made the less somnolent break off from discussing the fluctuating price of hard cheese with their neighbour. A flowing passing movement down the right ended with a dangerous looping cross from Cooke, cleared urgently. A couple of minutes later a good move, a fine move, a first division move, again down the right. Pouton spun in midfield and stroked a lovely pass out to Cooke (or it may have been McDermott) on the wing, who cut inside and passed across the face of the penalty area to Coldicott, who carefully steered a right foot drive through a thicket of red shirts, but straight at the 'keeper. Well, at least it was a shot. We don't get many of them to the pound.
And that was it for great chunks of our lives. The game deteriorated pretty rapidly into mindless lumps upfield. For some inexplicable reason, Chettle and Coldicott had a self image not too far removed from Michel Platini in his prime. They both saw themselves as the playmaker, able to drop the ball within a few millimetres of an insurgent Town striker's boot. Once or twice the ball almost went near a professional footballer, maybe even to a Town player. Ennui quickly drifted across Blundell Park and settled atop the turf. Sighs, rather than groans, reverberated around the ground. A dull lower division hackfest ground on and on and on.
Chesterfield had done, frankly, nothing at all, appearing to be an average team; organised, with a method, but without any hint of threat. After about 25 minutes that impression was rudely heckled. Bored, watching the boats go by, the ball in midfield, the Town defence (and crowd) suddenly noticed that Chesterfield had dinked the ball down their left hand side, with Cooke sprinting after a bloke in red. The bloke in red, who turned out to be Burt, not Ernie, got towards the bye line just outside the penalty area and hit a firm cross to the far post. We turned, we saw two Chesterfield players unmarked. Reeves, big, old, lumbering Reeves, slid forward 8 yards out, level with the far post, and volleyed the ball high and backwards to the penalty spot, where McDermott waited and cleared. Eyebrows were raised in unison, an open goal missed. Whoops.
This spurred Town on a bit, in that several passes were strung together at one point. There were isolated moments of promise, that teased the casual observer. Kabba did some excellent work out on the wings, especially the left. He tricked, turned and tumbled his way past a couple of defender to put in two really excellent cross. One a low, flat volley through the middle of the 6 yards box, the other a deep outswinging cross which forced a defender to dive forward and head out for a corner. Campbell (Remember him? We don't.) cut in from the left and slightly scuffed a right footed drive from the edge of the area which the 'keeper plopped on. A corner from the right caused a bit of a scramble about 8 yards out, with Groves swinging, missing , swinging again and the ball careering off crazily for another corner. There was one Town move worthy of recall, description and fondness. After 30 minutes a fine flowing move down the centre right, ended with Cooke cutting inside his marker, drifting across the face of the penalty area and, from 20 yards out to the right of centre, zinging a tremendous left footed shot across the face of goal, forcing the suddenly nimble Muggleton to fly, like a bird in the sky, to his right and tip the ball around the post for a corner. Excellent move, excellent shot, excellent save.
But these were infrequent moments of passing interest in a fog of trash. With a couple of minutes left in the half, Chesterfield should have scored, with only their second visit to the Town penalty area. Again nothing was happening to interest the paying public, thoughts meandering like an leaf in a gale, when we were aware of some red near us. A Chesterfield player was free on the Town left, behind the defence. He look up, clipped a cross to the far post to Reeves, unmarked about 10 yards out. He leant back and volleyed the ball against the face of the cross bar. The ball bounced down to Coyne's left and back towards the penalty spot, a scramble, a flash of boot and a shot scuffed across the grass through two defenders and straight to Coyne in the middle of his goal line.
Around the same time Gallimore lay down on the ground like a weary dromedary. He continued for a couple of minutes, but was replaced, in the added time, by Ward. The last event of the half was a Robinson surge down the left and toward the centre. He exchanged passes with Kabba and drove a firm, head high shot straight at the 'keeper.
It was dull, it was poor stuff, with sporadic bursts of decent football. But they were very sporadic. Town did not look like a team, with many passes being lobbed for runs that never came. Robinson and Kabba were far, far too far away from each other. Each one dribbling towards the corner flag, so that when a cross came in, there was only one Town player in the area. And, of course, all the crosses were intercepted at the near post. And there was still at least 45 more minutes of this stuff to come.
Stu's Half Time Toilet Talk
"I'm wearing my lucky trousers, we never lose heavily when I've these on". "Are we watching next year tonight?". "Too much sturm and not enough drang". "So where exactly is Campbell tonight?" "I'm sure I wanted to go when I came in here".
No changes were made by either side at half time.
Town started a bit brighter, a bit quicker, but with the same result. Robinson and Kabba ran around a lot, the midfield was disjointed and reactive. Nothing tangible was being created, though there were hints at something. Pouton, at last, started to drive forward and did create a moment of danger. He collected the ball just inside the Chesterfield half on the right and carried on and on towards the penalty area. As the defenders retreated, he stepped over and laid a lovely pass through to Kabba, who had his back to goal. The ball rolled gently over the penalty spot, with Kabba still retreating, ready to spin past his marker. The ball rolled through the 6 yard box, with Kabba still retreating, and Kabba still retreated, so that he had gone beyond the far post and was going away from goal. He eventually controlled the ball and waited for McDermott and Cooke to run past him. They did and he laid an exquisitely timed pass to the Chesterfield midfielder standing 5 yards outside the box, thus setting up a counter attack.
That rather sums up Town, and Kabba. Kabba and close control are not long standing personal friends. At times it was possible to believe he was still trying to control that pass he received in the 38th minute at Millwall (and he still hasn't, by the way). He really should buy some less angular shin pads. Robinson was less conspicuous, though he did enough to reinforce the view that he is like a less prolific Jack Lester, all hustle and bustle outside the penalty area, but as likely to score as a feather in a puddle. Robinson had a shot in the second half, a twist, a turn on the left (outside the penalty area of course) and a lofted shot which drifted several feet over the bar, slowly.
Robinson was replaced by Mansaram after about 65 minutes, satisfying the few vocal members of the Pontoon, who had started to call for the latest unseen saviour. He was all action; all arms, legs and other body parts in a whirl of activity. He seems to have pace but the overriding impression is that he is a less co-ordinated Paulo Wanchope. Nobody can predict what he is going to do, least of all him. The ball flies off in strange and unusual ways from his body, and he'll probably score several goals a season with miss-kicks and bad control. There is no way a goalkeeper can "read" what Mansaram's intentions are.
A bit of an atmosphere was created by the youngsters in the Pontoon, who had become thoroughly bored and decided to make their own entertainment. As they had no piano to sing-a-long with, they decided to use the opportunity created by Muggleton's wobbling body when he took goal kicks/free kicks to build up a wall of sound. Instead of issuing mild insults at the end, they continued to make a "waaring, baaring" noise that sounded, at first, like a chicken coop at feeding time, but finally resembled a field of new born lambs in March. Bizarrely it seemed to invigorate the Town players for a while. Now what does that tell us?
Town did have some efforts on goal in the second half, to break up the monotony, and boy was it monotonous. A Cooke free kick from the right was launched to the far post and Groves, about 8 yards out, headed firmly across the goalkeeper and a foot wide of the left hand post. "Ooh" we exclaimed, just for old times sake. Another free kick from the right. curled to the far post towards Kabba was half cleared to Pouton, about 20 yards out. He seemed to have the ball wedged underneath his feet, but adjusted and dinked a chip over the goalkeeper and onto the face of the bar. The crowd "oohed" - in surprise more than anything. Chesterfield cleared upfield, knocked the ball over and behind Ward and nearly scored. Ward was too far infield and the winger collected the ball near the corner flag, turned inside, brushed Ward aside and thwacked a superb right footed shot towards the top right hand corner. Coyne leapt sideways and parried for a corner. Ward was caught out two or three times, being too far infield, something Chesterfield had clearly earmarked as a weakness, In the first half all their attacking was down the Town right (like they could beat McDermott!), in the second they switched to Ward, with quite a bit of joy.
Conversely, Ward was perhaps Town's best attacker in the second half, making several super surges to the bye line. His most pleasing moment came when he made a late run in support of Campbell, who clipped a perfect pass between two defenders so that Ward was free inside the penalty area, about 10 yards wide and 5 or 6 from the bye-line. Ward looked up and tried to curl a right foot shot over the 'keeper into the top left hand corner. The goalkeeper "stood tall" and parried the ball vertically, collecting the rebound himself. Ward also set up a couple of moments of danger by doing exactly the same surge, but crossing low and behind the defence. Unfortunately, he plays for Town, so no-one was capable of completing matters.
Just as Town seemed to be building a little bit of attacking momentum (by their own standards of course) Chesterfield surprised us, yet again. The broke, they won a corner on their left. It was clipped in towards the penalty spot, where one of their big defenders rose unmarked to head firmly against the top of the bar, just to the right of centre. More head shaking in the Pontoon, with a couple of nervous laughs thrown in for good measure. Perhaps this was going to be Town's lucky night?
No, not really. With less than 10 minutes left Cooke and McDermott made a double crunching tackle on a Chesterfield player. Cooke remained on the ground. The referee allowed play to continue. After about a 90 seconds he suddenly stopped play. Cooke was still on the ground. Cooke limped off and was replaced by Rowan, with no immediate change in the formation, Rowan playing as a right winger. I cannot recall much happening in the last 10 minutes, except that the Scoreboard flickered into life after 88 minutes, it spelled out Grimsby T 0, but was seemingly incapable of displaying any part of Chesterfield's name. But whoever we were playing they'd got 0 too. A minute later it packed up again. Then came back on for another minute. Why bother. If it's broke, don't fix it.
In added time Town pressed and nearly scored what newspapers and the Evening Telegraph would describe as "a dramatic winner", but what we would have called relief at ending this footballing hell. It had got to the point where we just wanted someone to score, anyone, even Chesterfield! But Town did put together a thoroughly decent passing movement down the left, with Ward a-surging and a-crossing to Mansaram, in the middle with his back to goal about 10 yards out. He laid the ball back to Pouton, just inside the area and right in the middle. Pouton carefully steered a right footed shot to the 'keeper's right, about shoulder high. Plucked comfortably, it was, plucked comfortably.
But no-one seemed capable of ending the torture and the referee gave in and finally blew his whistle. Extra time! What joy, what value for money, 30 extra minutes at no extra cost (except to our mental well being. Can brains shrink through terminal ennui?).
Town kicked towards the Osmond Stand and the crowd wandered back from the toilet, the pie stand and some from McDonalds. When we looked up Chesterfield had knocked the ball over the top down the Town right and Groves was being outpaced by their substitute, Allott. Chettle raced across to block, half delaying Allott. Chettle did a Galli back shuffle as Allott approached. The ball was laid across the face of the area, and over to their right back, Davies, who was utterly unmarked about 5 yards outside the area. He stopped the ball, looked up, wrote a letter to his long lost aunt in Colwyn Bay, booked an appointment with his personal hairstylist, then clipped a cross back into the area. Allott was unmarked, about 8 yards out and level with the far post, and he carefully placed a header low past Coyne and into the bottom left hand corner of the goal.
That was that then. We all knew, the players knew, everyone in the ground knew the game had finished, yet there was 30 more minutes of turgid gruel to endure. At that moment the crowd collectively decried the abolition of the golden goal. We just wanted to go home, yet were strangely stuck to our seats. The minutes ticked away even more slowly, with Town playing a 4-3-3 formation that was awful. There was no width, which meant the attacks were cramped and Town were vulnerable on the counter attack. This resulted in Town simply lumping balls forward. None of our forwards had a clue how to play route 1.5 football. It was ugly, it was a waste of everyone's time. Mansaram did manage to turn on the right edge of the Chesterfield penalty area and welly a strong drive about 5 foot over the bar, and Rowan was booked for having a shot, or so it seemed. Perhaps it really is against current FA regulations for Town to shoot.
The second period of extra time had more alleged incident, in that Town had pressure, Town had shots, but frankly no-one was kidding themselves. Kabba turned on the edge of the 6 yard box and his shot deflected wide. Pouton hit a searing, screeching, slicing shot a foot wide of the angle of post and crossbar. A corner from the Town right was hit to the far post, Groves rose above all and headed down towards the right hand corner of the goal. A Chesterfield player cleared off the line, and lastly, in the final minute, Kabba screamed down the right, turned drove towards the bye-line and clipped a cross to the near post. Mansaram, about 6 yards out and level with the post, leant back and headed a few inches wide of the 'keeper's left hand post. You'd be forgiven for thinking it sounds vaguely exciting. It wasn't.
Game over, everyone went home. A few teenagers booed, everyone else stood silently for a moment then trudged off. We have seen the future, and it isn't bright.
There are problems running right through the team. Groves OR Chettle, not both together, as neither can cope with any pace. No revelation there then, is there. Pouton and Coldicott (especially Coldicot) were very timid, playing deeply and failing to crunch. I would like someone to prove Campbell was on the pitch, I won't accept a video of the game as these can be digitally enhanced. Kabba and Robinson look like "nuisance" players outside the box, both having netophobia, a fear of goalposts. As usual there were a series of crosses that were cut out at the near post. Now if someone could be bothered to actually "attack" the near post these crosses would be dangerous. But that's like saying "Kabba hit this one shot that if it had gone in it would have been a goal".
Chesterfield weren't a bad team, all things considered, a decent mid-table Second division team. They knew what their abilities were and adjusted accordingly. And that was enough to easily repel Town.
So we'll obviously beat Coventry now.
NickO's Man of the Match
Difficult, as no-one really performed adequately. I am tempted to give it to the man sat to my right who left work in central London at 4 o'clock to see the game. Groves was ok, but made the mistake that led to the goal. Ward was fine going forward but a legless chicken in defence. Erm, er, lets see. The sponsors went for Pouton (but then they always do) for his occasional forays and flurries, but he was very inconsistent. McDermott, as he didn't make any noticeable mistakes. So that's it.
Didn't play advantage much (there were two or three instances of him giving Town a free kick when a player was free wide of the penalty area), but that would have no effect on the game. It merely means that Town give the ball away in a different position. He can be blamed for not ending the game quicker than he did, perhaps abandoning it through boredom. He gets 6.88.