Crystal Palace 5 Grimsby Town 0

Cod Almighty | Match Report

by Tony Butcher

31 August 2023

Town starting eleven: Coyne, McDermott, Groves, Broomes, Smith, Pouton, Butterfield, Willems, Campbell, Jeffrey, Rowan. Subs: Burnett, Allen, Ermes, Beharall, Boulding

A cold, wet day, with rain in the second half. Within two minutes Freedman had a one-on-one with Coyne, five minutes later another break and shot down the Town left. D Smith played like he'd just been exhumed (which, in football terms, he had). Broomes played like he'd taken a master class in "Lever moments".

Town dominated the game for several seconds at a time, occasionally getting over the half-way line. Palace were truly awful in defence, with some of the worst players seen in the division for years. And they were better than Town.

A free header at the far post from a corner. Over the bar. Broomes passed the ball across the Town area, shot wide. Shot just over bar from the right corner of the Town area. Coyne punched a cross into the air and caught the rebound. Palace broke down the Town left, Broomes skidded across to divert the ball for corner.

25 minutes. Campbell, 25 yards out in the centre, curled a free kick over the wall and onto the face of the crossbar.

32 minutes. Town gave the ball away in midfield, Palace tapped the ball into a big space where Campbell should have been. The right wing-back advanced into the area, crossed low to the centre and Groves (I think) slid across to block but the ball got stuck behind him (about five yards out in the centre). The Palace striker hacked away at the ball, it rebounded out sideways, and Kirovski tapped it into the bottom right-hand corner.

Town fell apart, even bigger spaces. Campbell again lacking any energy, leaving D Smith exposed. Some more scrambles and desperate, desperate defending. Groves a rock, single-handedly keeping the score down.

39 minutes. Big whack in the air, Broomes barged through the back of an attacker about 25 yards out to the left of the Town goal. The free kick floated to beyond far post to three big Palace players with only Groves challenging. A header was powered towards top right-hand corner. Coyne tipped the ball onto the bar, it  rebounded out and Popovic (absolutely useless defender) strode forward to nod the ball into the empty net. No Town players moved. Town players visibly wilted. Game over. Time dragged.

Town had one more attack. Campbell broke free into the area on the Town right, crossed to the unmarked Jeffrey, eight yards out, who scooped the ball a foot wide of the keeper's right-hand post. Bad miss, didn't matter as Jeffrey was offside.

Half time: Silent toilet, complaints of no chocolate at the snack bar. Complaints about the selection: why Beharall on bench? Madness. Fury over the pathetic defending of D Smith and especially Broomes, who ball watches and gives the ball away. Rowan had the touch of an incontinent mule, Butterfield was dreadful. Willems a big clod. Jeffrey tried but is, well, Jeffrey.

2nd half
Rowan and Pouton off, Burnett and Allen on. Easy bit out of the way. Town had two shots, a Willems free kick that went through the wall straight at Clarke, and a Burnett pile driver which smashed into the seats 15 yards wide of the goal. The Town attack was puny. It didn't help that the ball kept being chipped in the air to them. Jeffrey seemed to spend the half hooking the ball into the goalkeeper's hands from wide on the right.

50 minutes. Palace attacked at speed down the Town left (again after a bad pass from Town). Morrison crossed, Broomes slid across and diverted the ball against Coyne's left-hand post. The ball rebounded out behind Coyne and Freedman's shot was blocked by Groves for a corner on the Palace right. The corner swung into the near post, near the edge of the six-yard box. Seven Town defenders watched motionless as Freedman (or maybe Popovic, frankly I don't care) nodded the ball across Coyne and into the bottom right-hand corner. Three Palace players in the box, seven Town defenders (plus Coyne). Pathetic.

The rest of the game was wave upon wave of Palace attacks. They were energised by the goals, having being rubbish at 0-0. Here's the rest of the goals.

After 65ish minutes Broomes played a terrible pass towards Burnett near the half-way line, a Palace player knocked the ball forward down the inside left channel behind Broomes and McDermott. The ball was played across the area and Freedman dinked the ball over and wide of Coyne.

In the second minute of added time Town ponced about in midfield, Palace bundled a player off the ball and then it went forward to Morrison, 25 yards out, who was offside. The linesman had been very, very poor and continued this fine run of form by keeping his flag down. Morrison fluffed the first chance but the ball rebounded back to him and he placed it wide of Coyne into the bottom right-hand side of the goal.

Palace had far too many chances to recount or describe. But I will expose Broomes to more opprobrium. He again passed the ball across the area straight to a Palace player to set them up, fortunately the shot went straight to Coyne.

After each goal the Tannoy announcer, or should that by Annoy announcer, called out the goalscorer's name, then repeated the first name allowing the fans to call out the surname. That bloke is in serious need of a slapping, it went beyond irritating and I am sure less sophisticated supporters than Town would react more aggressively than a muttered "Well, I don't like that."

0-5, could have been 10. Town utterly pathetic and little sign of the much-vaunted "team-spirit". They were stuffed by a Palace team that was worse than last year's! Lightweight everywhere, anonymous in most positions, day dreaming, uninterested, totally appalling and a disgrace to the shirt. McDermott was inconsistent, but was at least trying until the end.

Groves was the only one who could hold his head high. He was running until the very last, sprinting back from attacks in added time, making excellent covering tackles and generally being, well, Groves. There are at least three players who did not deserve their wages, and should have been left behind in London (preferably with a week's supply of the Big Issue). Poor old D Smith looked way, way out of his depth. Allen too. Burnett was everywhere in the second half, but made little impact. He needed someone to pass to, and there was no-one. I forgot Campbell was on the pitch in the second half, and Butterfield barely broke into a walk.

Promenading Danny B?

Man of the Match
Easy, Groves - earnt everyone else's wages too. Kept the score down to a humiliation.

Official Warning
Phil Prosser. My only complaint was that he was a little too indulgent. Could have booked a couple of Palace players for late, heavy challenges. Kept the game flowing and gets a 7.1.