Cod Almighty | Match Report
by Tony Butcher
21 September 2002
Grimsby Town 0 Nottingham Forest 3
A sunny, warm, still autumn afternoon with the Osmond Stand completely full of Forest fans. The tannoy announcer kept imploring the Forest fans to go to their seats, as they were seemingly milling around outside, awestruck by the post modern architecture that fuses flapping aluminium and crumbling brickwork. The Forest team warmed up with a game of fast, furious one-touch football, whilst Town did their usual arbitrary amblings, although a new variation is the standing still arm pumping, which looks a little like those dances you see on grainy footage of "Ready Steady Go" in 1965. But with Town it looked more like the dancing you see on "Ready Steady Cook".
Oh look, Galli's back. Nothing can go wrong now.
Town lined up in a sort of 4-4-2 formation as follows :- Coyne, McDermott, Chettle. Groves, Gallimore, Campbell, Coldicott, Pouton, Barnard, Kabba and Robinson. The substitutes were Allaway, Ford, Rowan, Mansaram and Cooke. Robinson tended to drift out to the right, with Campbell being a ghostly presence "somewhere" in the centre, other than that it was a straight 4-4-2. Forest also had a nominal 4-4-2 formation, with two very fast strikers, Harewood and Johnson, who looked like the male member of Boney M.
As the kick off approached, Livvo was wheeled out to present some charidee thing and received politely enthusiastic clapping from the Town fans.
Forest kicked off towards the Pontoon, chipping the ball down the Town right and out of play. Despite this seemingly being a mundane moment, it was a portent. They had appeared to set themselves to go down the other side, leaving just the left back to creep down the touchline. No Town player was within 20 yards of him when he glanced the ball into the Lower Smiths/Stones/Findus.
It was rapidly apparent that Forest were a much better passing team than Town. They not only passed, they moved! They kept on infiltrating the spaces between the Town defence and midfield with short passes, buzzing around the edge of the Town area. After about 2 minutes they nearly scored. Pass, pass, pass, flick - Jess received a clipped pass from their right and flicked the ball between Gallimore and Chettle with a little volleyed back heel. Harewood, well, hared after the ball and swerved into the area, slicing a terrible right foot drive yards wide of Coyne's right hand post. A couple of minutes later some more triangular football on Town's right ended with Jess scuffing a shot from 25 yards, which dribbled over the bye-line in embarrassment a few yards wide of Coyne's right hand post.
What about Town? Yeah, what about them?
A couple more Forest attacks were repelled by the linesman, who was proving to be Town's best defender. He was rarely out of position and made all the decisions the Pontoon would have made. The second one was slightly comical, as Gallimore marked Johnson at a corner, in the sense that Gallimore stood 5 yards away and looked at Daddy Cool. The ball drifted over both, Gallimore wafted his right boot at the ball, missed, Johnson got the ball back and dinked a reverse pass to Harewood who rounded Coyne and... #8230; was offside. There was a very curious moment when Coyne collected a through ball, looked up and threw the ball towards McDermott. It was far too soft and really just went straight to video, er, I mean Johnson, who thankfully flopped around and passed to Harewood, who was offside. Johnson was clearly put off by the medley of Boney M hits that was, fortuitously, being sung to him at that exact moment by the Pontoon male voice choir. Tra-la-la-la-la.
After 17 minutes Forest again counter attacked down the Town right, using Harewood's strength and pace to frighten Waldorf and Stadtler in the centre of Town's defence. Harewood burst across the face of the Town area, seemingly barging past dozens of little striped men. He crossed at chest height towards Bopp, who controlled with what may be best described as his upper body. The Town fans claimed handball, but the referee tapped his own chest three times, to ward off evil spirits. Bopp played the bal out wider to the right back, Louis-Jean, whose cross from the left edge of the Town box was deflected and ballooned up into the penalty area. Coyne came off his line, whilst Johnson ran in. The crowd were complacently contemplating Town's counter attacking options as JOHNSON outjumped Coyne about 6 yards out right in the centre, and the ball plopped up over Mr Coyne's head, rolling gently into the net with barely enough energy to reach the net itself. Silence in the studio, everyone turned to look at the linesman, then the referee, who both looked non-plussed. A goal. A very, very soft goal, and for which Coyne has no excuse. And everyone knew it, for no-one stood up and moaned. Embarrassed silence.
Still waiting for a Town attack? Well, there was a brief moment, just after their goal, when hope transcended the grim reality. A corner was cleared to Gallimore who, at least 40 yards out in the centre, leant back and volleyed a spectacular shot that curled away from the goal in the last 25 yards. To clarify the position for historians - the "Ooos" from the Town fans were ironic. A minute later Groves fell over when he was the last Town player, about 10 yards inside the Town half near the Stones/Smiths/Findus. His attempts to rugby tackle Johnson were unsuccessful, as Johnson had long since run off. The opportunity was, thankfully, wasted as Johnson had run miles offside and they still passed to him.
A-haaaaaaa, a Town shot, and from "crowd favourite", pacy Stacy too. A bit of fast passing around the left edge of the Forest box saw Kabba flick the ball back to Coldicott, who wellied a firm, rising, shot straight at Ward as defenders threw themselves towards him like desperate suitors. There wasn't much more Town attacking to describe, just a brief flurry of activity when Kabba fell with a twist and a spin on the Town right. Free kick whacked in, cleared for corner, corner cleared out to Campbell, 20 yards out on the centre left. His attempted volley seemed to career off the referee's backside and out for a goal kick. And in the very last minute Robinson twisted, turned, fended off three tackles and passed through to Kabba, unmarked in the centre. For once he eschewed a shot and passed out to the even more unmarked Barnard, who waited for a defender, cut inside and hit what would be kindly described as a speculative right foot drive which drifted wide. Accurately, it is described as a rubbish, soft shot which was sliced yards, yards wide.
Forest attacked sporadically, but were incisive. Brennan tricked McDermott (almost a footballing first that will have FIFA statisticians calling for the video of the game for proof) inside the Town area, feigning to go outside, but knocking the ball between McD's legs and thus being free on the bye-line, about 10 yards wide of goal. Luckily for Town, he chipped his cross way too high. About 5 minutes before half time Town were really, really lucky. Campbell made a rare visitation to planet earth, passing directly to a Forest player when Town were trying to counter attack. Johnson outpaced Groves down the Town right as the ball was knocked down the touchline. He sprinted clear, making a bee-line for the bye-line. He looked up, saw Harewood alone, 7 yards out at the far post and rolled the ball behind the Town defenders to the marauding Marlon. His right leg was raised, then swung like a pendulum do, and the ball rolled between his legs. Yes sirs, he can boogie, right in front of the Pontoon too. A perfect air shot which was so outrageously bad the Pontoon took a few seconds to react.
That was the first half. A scrappy game, with Forest the superior team. Town barely sniffed the Forest 'keeper's socks, with Kabba and Robinson working furiously outside the penalty area, particularly Robinson, who was having a stormer. His hold up play was most encouraging, as was his ability to spin and dribble through several challenges. Pouton and Campbell were together in electric dreams, for they certainly weren't on the green, green grass of our home, Blundell Park. Town's right hand side was, essentially McDermott and Robinson, who spent most of his time tracking back to cover Campbell. Groves and Chettle were simply too old and slow to deal with the pesky Johnson and the downright annoying Harewood. Pouton was fortunate to avoid a booking when he tangled with Harewood when chasing back. He seemed to trip the gangly nuisance, "exchange words", then push him to the ground. Harewood hit the ground far too easily for such a soft push in the chest, but still, hands were raised, which always gives the referee a chance to send someone off. Chettle was substituted after 43 minutes after spending a couple of minutes grimacing and holding his back. On trotted Ford to a major ovation.
It wasn't good. Town were a redundant attacking force and very vulnerable at the back. Half the team appeared to be either out of its depth or in another timezone. Perhaps they were affected by the suspicious breakdown in all electronic time pieces in North East Lincolnshire. No scoreboard, the GET building clock was turned off, as was Ramsdens'. We didn't even know the temperature. Perhaps everyone was confused by a home game at 3 o'clock on a Saturday. How quaint, one for the romantics.
Whatever, Town were lacklustre, a bit of fire and brimstone wouldn't go amiss in the second half.
Stu's Half Time Toilet Talk
"Elephants aren't molluscs, they are marsupials". "Pouton's so bad he's bound to be the sponsors' Man of the Match". "There's a stall in Louth that sells very large cushions, but only on Wednesdays". "It takes two to lie. One to lie, and one to listen". "Can you hear sawing?"
No changes were made by either team at half time, though the sun went in, a slight haze appeared on the horizon and a hint of a chill began to seep through the old warhorse that is Blundell Park. Both physical and metaphorical.
The first 15 minutes of the second half were quite exhilarating stuff. The Pontoon, that sullen child, was roused and roared on the Town team. Wave upon wave of attacks rolled forward. The Forest players began to get a bit rattled, with some desperate late challenges. They also started to argue amongst themselves. Kabba strong armed his way past his marker on the Town centre left, cut inside and miss-hit a shot straight at Ward from 20 yards. A few crosses were flung in, a lot a free kicks were won, especially by the theatrical Kabba, who falls in three acts. A particularly daft free kick by Town summed up the uncoordinated meanderings they served up as entertainment. Robinson was fouled near the left edge of the Forest penalty area. McDermott sauntered out wide unmarked, a Forest player saw that cunning ruse and drifted out towards him. McDermott ran infield and Campbell wandered out to the right. Barnard tapped the free kick towards Campbell, who had his back to play about 10 yards out on the edge of the penalty area. The free kick was way, way too weak and a Forest player ran off with the ball as Campbell still faced the outer limits of the Pontoon.
The most sustained period of pressure was after about 55 minutes. Town pressed and pressed down the right, with McDermott racing up in support as Kabba did a barn dance around the defenders near the corner flag. McDermott burst through three tackles and, from about 20 yards out near the corner of the penalty area, whacked a right foot shot, which was charged down. The bal rebounded to Kabba, whose low drive rebounded off a defender towards the managers' dug-outs. Groves lunged in at Harewood, who stepped over the ball and raced off dow and a little bit wide of Coyne's right hand post. As for Town, Robinson had one last effort, breaking down the left, cutting inside and curling a right footed shot into Ward's midriff as Kabba and Mansaram waved their arms around out on the right.
With 5 minutes left, and the game long since dead as a contest, the ball was knocked through the Town defence, on the centre right. Suddenly, Johnson was beyond Groves, on the edge of the area. Groves fell, Johnson fell, the referee gave a penalty, the referee waved Groves away and didn't even book him. JOHNSON hit the penalty at hip height powerfully to Coyne's left. Coyne dived left, but just couldn't reach the ball as it rolled along the left side netting. Cue a flood of Town fans pouring out of the ground, for they are "Grimsby till they cry". Many of those remaining started to grizzle, with the odd "sack the board" chant. A couple of minutes later it was almost 3, when Coyne raced off his line to punch clear a dink over the top, as Harewood challenged. The ball went straight to Prutton, about 30 yards out on their left. He immediately volleyed the ball back, over the defence, over the retreating Coyne, and just over the bar.
As more individuals who had sat in the seats set aside for Grimsby supporters left the ground, the tannoy world wearily, and apologetically, announced an additional 4 minutes of play. That's four more minutes for them to score another, which they did. The ball was knocked down the Forest right, JOHNSON ran after it, collected, turned inside, cut across the penalty area, stopped, turned again Dick Whittington, ignored the two unmarked players to his left, and dragged a low shot from about 10 yards across Coyne and into the bottom left hand corner. Just enough to time to kick off again and the referee ended the farcical farrago of fumbling failure.
I have missed out a lot of moments in the last 20 minutes where Forest oozed through the Town defence, but failed to shoot on target. Why bother telling you the minor gory details. Town started poorly, rallied briefly, subsided gradually and ended up a messy shambles. The turning point was almost certainly the moment Gallimore was sent off, for Town had built up a head of steam, managing to get the home crowd back to those March levels of intensity and passion. Gallimore simply "lost it", and ensured that Town had too. There weren't many players who performed adequately, with Pouton the most disruptively poor. He neither tackled nor surged (except in that 15 minute period after half time when he even did a couple of step-overs), and was neither a goose nor a gander. Campbell? That should be on his shirt, the question mark mandatory. Kabba played in bursts and was most effective when barnstorming down the flanks. Poor old Groves again - old and poor, again. Yet again Town folded when they changed to three strikers, and they imploded when Coldicott was taken off.
It wasn't totally a disgrace, the scoreline was a little skewed in the final few minutes. It could have been a brave, narrow defeat following the sending off. But that's as much use as a goldfish in a sieve.
I can't lie to you about our chances, but you have my sympathy. It's almost at the point where Town prepare for next season. And it isn't even October.
Nick0's Man of the Match
Coldicott did his best in trying circumstances but clearly, and without any doubt, PAUL ROBINSON earned his wages, and those of several others too. Not only was he tireless, but he was effective and skilful.
Mark's UnMan of the Match
Several candidates. Campbell always gets away with it because he doesn't do anything terrible, his just doesn't do anything. Today, Town's worst performer was Paul Groves. He just couldn't cope.
Unusually he was very kind to Town, as he should have sent off at least three, with Pouton lucky when he shoved Harewood. The referee annoyed both sets of supporters for his leniency when ankles were thwacked, knees scythed and backs shoved. So, a relatively Townphyllic referee gets a terribly low score , 3.7.