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14/08 Forest 1st Half

By: Si Wilson
Date: 24/06/2000

Nottm Forest 2 Grimsby Town 1
14 Aug 1999, Nationwide League Division 1

Strange weather. Occasional spots of drizzle, some sunshine, and quite cool.

"...the support was restrained in the first half..."  
Town support numbered between 1,000 and 1,200 I would estimate. The support was restrained in the first half, and fervent in the second. The usual "Sing when we're Fishing" and "We p*ss on your Fish" sung with much defiant gusto after we went behind; and "Mariners" and "The Buckley's Aces" during the second half.

Town lined up 4-4-2. Forest played a 3-5-2 with two very attacking wing backs. The Forest 'keeper, Mr Mark Crossley, was dressed in what looked like a 70's replica kit from an East German team (probably in the Cup Winners Cup). He wore a deep sky blue top with small black shorts.

Grimsby Town
R Smith
D Smith



1st Half

"...Town could not cope with them..."  
For the first 15 minutes Forest were untouchable. They played with great pace, speed of thought, aggression, and obvious attacking organisation. Town could not cope with them individually or collectively. It was not so much a case of Town playing badly as Forest being too good.

Forest's forwards infiltrated the spaces between our full backs and centre backs, the midfielders were skilled enough to pass the ball into those channels, and the wing backs were organised enough to be "Bombing" down the wings to run on to the flick-ons.

Forest attacked principally down the Town right, with their most dangerous player being the left wing back (Alan Rogers).

Donovan was completely invisible in the first half - spending many an idle moment standing alone as Rogers ran past him awaiting a cross field pass. Butterfield seemed perplexed by the action around him and struggled in open play. He never got past the half way line once, though he saw more of the ball than any Town player. He must have seen some old videos of Dean Crombie as his distribution was based on a hit down the line, mostly for a goal kick.

"...Forest nearly/should have scored three times..."  
During the first quarter of an hour Forest nearly/should have scored three times. Some fast breaking and interplay between the (incredibly quick) Harewood, the right wing back and Dougie Freedman left Freedman alone, centrally positioned with just Coyne to beat. Fortunately Coyne spread himself "low" and blocked with his feet, the loose ball being whacked away by a defender.

Butterfield blocked a shot on the line, after a corner fell to a player 12 yards out at the far post.

Coyne made a super save from a free header near the edge of the 6 yard box. He clawed the ball, to his left about head high, from the line onto the post.

Forest had numerous other chances, and moments of danger. Town were defending desperately and could not slow the game down. The pace of the game was very high and it seemed to be passing some of our players by.

R Smith produced a couple of diving headers to clear crosses, Coldicott and Groves produced a couple of blocks and challenges when Forest players were shooting inside the box.

Forest obtained several corners, all of which produced some anxiety, as Forest always had players reading the play and placing themselves where the clearance/block would drop. It was very fraught.

Just as Town seemed to be achieving some kind of parity, in that they were stopping Forest reaching the Town area, Forest scored after 27 minutes.

" was his only mistake..."  
Harewood received the ball with his back to goal out on the touchline on Town's right, about 20 yards from goal. Livingstone allowed Harewood to turn around. The ball was passed between his legs to the on-rushing Rogers, who neither Donovan nor Butterfield had "tracked". Rogers swept a low cross, curling away from goal to FREEDMAN, about 8 yards out just to the right of centre. He placed the ball into the bottom right hand corner. R Smith was motionless, having neither attacked the ball as it came in, not marked Freedman. It was his only mistake of the game, but an important one.

The rest of the half pottered along with mainly Forest pressure, but few actual attempts on goal, Town had organised themselves sufficiently to stop Forest, but were not doing enough to worry them too much.

When Town did attack the move always broke down on the edge of the area. There were 2 or 3 occasions when Town nearly broke through, only a fine tackle on the edge of the box stopped Allen putting Donovan through, and Ashcroft got to the bye-line once.

Thirty seconds before the half time whistle went Town had their first shot. Allen drove 3 yards wide from just outside the box.

" was almost as if he was smuggled off..."  
After 37 minutes Pouton replaced D Smith, who had been ineffective. The substitution was missed by many, it was almost as if D Smith was smuggled off when everyone was looking elsewhere. Pouton's arrival meant Town re-arranging the deckchairs. Pouton and Groves appeared to take it in turns to be on the left, really just filling in rather than playing as attacking winger types.

At half time the Town support were relieved that we were only 1 down, it could and should have been 3.

Town had been totally outclassed in the first 15 minutes (when the gulf between the teams had been obvious and embarrassing) and scrambled to a sort of negative parity thereafter. We had not threatened Forest at all, though the Forest defence did not look impregnable.

There was a feeling that they could be got at, as long as we kept the ball. Or should that be got the ball, we had not had it enough to lose it too often. Without a big change of plan Town were going to be really stuffed in the second half.

Sometimes you have to accept the opposition are better, and this looked like it would be one of those days

"...bold changes from a manager usually so conservative..."  
When the teams returned we were surprised by the identity of the players running out. Butterfield replaced by McDermott and Lester on for Allen. So all three substitutes used by the second half. Bold changes from a manager usually so conservative.

The Town tactics changed too, and right from the kick off it was Town who "got into them", playing with urgency and determination.

The midfield 4 was, in effect, Pouton, Groves and Coldicott relatively central with Donovan sticking to the right wing. If the ball went to the left Pouton, and sometimes Groves, stood out wide.

" last Town playing like Town..."  
Immediately Lester put himself straight into the action by challenging strongly. Town started to place the ball "down the right channel" for Lester to hold the ball up for Donovan and McDermott to run off him (like Rees used to do for Childs and McDermott). At last Town playing like Town.

After a couple of minutes interplay involving Pouton, Ashcroft, Coldicott and McDermott resulted in Donovan cutting inside from near the half way line and running directly towards the penalty box. He beat a couple of players, getting into the area about 15 yards out. A sliding tackle blocked his shot and the ball came out to Lester (I think) whose shot was blocked off the line, and then Ashcroft attempted to lift the resulting loose ball over the goalkeeper from a narrow angle.

" first it looked like he was giving Forest a goal kick..."  
From the corner Town players challenged strongly for the loose ball and the ball was played back to Lester, just to the right of the goal, about 5 yards out. Chettle slid in and Lester fell theatrically over the foot. The referree was about 2 yards away and pointed very slowly towards the spot. At first it looked like he was giving Forest a free kick for Lester diving. But he didn't.

GROVES smashed the penalty "straight down the middle". The Town support, who had got very excited by the assertive start to the second half got even more excited.

And now Town started to show Forest how to play football. "It's just like watching Juve" we sang. And it was.

"...Forest could not cope..."  
Forest could not cope with Town's aggressive attacking down the right.

The big change to Town was McDermott, who roamed freely and was Town's most effective attacker. Donovan perked up and played well in the second half. A most adequate, and committed performance in the second 45 minutes by Mr Jellyfish.

McDermott overlapped on virtually every attack in the first 20 minutes of the half whipping in some dangerous crosses, or playing in short balls for (principally) Donovan and Lester to turn the defence. Not many clearcut chances were created, though it was constant Town pressure.

" was very exciting and heartening..."  
Town were not stopping dead at the edge of the penalty area, but were infiltrating the spaces between their defenders and getting to within 4 or 5 yards of the goal. Town won many corners through Lester, Ashcroft and Donovan having crosses/shots blocked inside the Forest 6 yard box. Forest were resorting to flying, diving blocks to deny Town opportunities. It was very exciting and heartening.

The nearest Town came to scoring again was after about an hour when interplay down the right involving Donovan and McDermott resulted in a short pass/cross into Ashcroft who passed the ball to Crossley from about 10 yards out.

"...and providing options for the receiver, something they haven't done since January..."  
The most noticeable thing about Town's attacking was the passing AND MOVEMENT. The players were making runs into the box and providing options for the receiver, something they haven't done since January.

With about 15 minutes left the balance of the play shifted back to Forest slightly, and they brought Carlton Palmer on. His role was to run up and down the Town left, as Platt had finally realised that Town only had Gallimore on that side.

Forest started to switch play to their right and began to infiltrate the Town penalty area again. Forest nearly scored when a shot from the right wing back was deflected by his own player, the ball looping slightly over Coyne, but just wide of his right post.

A cross from the left (after Ashcroft failed to close down a player and allowed a cross to be played in) was headed 1 yard wide by a midfield player who was unmarked.

"...Town were by this stage defending 'stoutly'..."  
In the last 10 minutes Forest again started to attack down the flanks and get crosses in early. Town were by this stage defending "stoutly", particularly R Smith and Coldicott, who had performed one superb lunging tackle to stop a Forest player 5 yards from goal. Of course we believe the referee was right not to give a penalty for this challenge.

With a couple of minutes left, Forest won a throw in on their right about 10 yards from the half way line. The ball was knocked up to the penalty area and Livingstone challenged for the ball, the ball ran loose and Gallimore (I think) challenged Palmer. The ball again ricocheted forwards towards Livingstone and a Forest player. He continued his run and the ball ran loose to him to the left of Town 's goal and at a narrow angle.

There appeared to be a bit of hesitency in the Town defence and PALMER wellied the ball into the far corner. As this goal was at the other end I don't know how far out Palmer was, whether the ball passed on the inside or outside of Coyne, and whether he should have stopped it or not.

The gut feeling of the Town support was that the ball fell fortunately for Palmer and that Coyne wasn't at fault.

"...even in the remaining time Town pressed forward..."  
Even in the remaining time Town pressed forward and had a couple of moments of pressure.

Firstly Donovan was played into the area, to the left of the Forest goal, by Lester. He was forced wide and his "cross" was blocked. Lester was unable to turn the loose ball back from the bye line.

In the last minute of injury time Lester got free in a similar position, but he was forced wide and was unable to get a cross/shot in.

The first half had been a chastening experience for both players and supporters. The first 15 minutes did feel like we were unworthy oppponents.

Town were very fortunate to be only 1 down at half time, but showed all those qualities the supporters have yearned for in the second half.

"...Donovan looked like a footballer again..."  
It was like watching proper Town in the second half, there was passing and movement, McDermott playing like the McDermott of old and that galvanised Donovan who looked like a footballer again - he looked interested and dangerous.

Groves and Coldicott were very solid in the centre, with Groves playing well. He didn't look off the pace this week.

R Smith only made one mistake and Livingstone gradually got to grips with a very, very fast striker (who was eventually substituted as he became ineffective).

"...Pouton is a player we must buy..."  
Pouton is a player we must buy. He showed great committment and strength in tackling, allied to some vision in passing.

The reaction of the supporters is one gauge of the worth of the performance - for virtually the whole of the second half we were all stood up roaring them on, as we respondend to their playing. Despite the late Forest winner the players were all applauded and sung off the pitch.

The second half threw up a lot of positives. We will not go down playing like that. In some respects the second half performance was better than anything last season. It was a pity about 3 o'clock to 3.45.
Tony Butcher

What started as warm, sunny day descended into a sunny, drizzly day,followed by plain grey and rain for the walk back to the car.

"...a bubbling cauldron of football..."  
The City Ground was about two thirds full, probably due to the opinions of several fans that "we shouldn't have to play teams like Grimsby" and "we're a big club". On the amazing billing that doesn't have Manchester United and Arsenal amongst it's offerings (plus no derbies against Derby and Leicester) Grimsby must rank amongst the least attractive of games to such arrogant supporters. Which is a shame after what we witnessed - a bubbling cauldron of football.

In stark contrast the game was scribbled in by many Town fans as as game to go to. Some in the hope that Town would eradicate the 5-3 nightmare when Conboy-lookalike Paul Futcher tried his luck on our own net, others to sample a stadium that has been radically developed in the past six years, and to others it was a battle of teams stooped in the tradition of on-the-floor football. About 1,100 made the trip, a sizeable following, and a following whose audible support rang round the City Ground thanks to the low roof over the away end.

Town lined up 4-4-2 with Tony Gallimore returning for his first match of the season, Kingsley made way on his old stomping ground: Coyne; Butterfield, Livvo, R Smith, Gallimore; Donovan, Groves, Coldicott, D Smith; Peggy, Allen. Subs: Lester, Pouton, Black, Croudson, McDermott.

Forest were more buoyant than Town having beat local rivals Mansfield 3-0 in midweek in an apparently impressive display with the all the goals coming from midfield (sound familiar?) and providing manager David Platt and his bouncy mop with great encouragement.

Forest started off with a 4-4-2 formation: Mark Crossley; Salvatore Matrecano, Mareno Mannini, Steve Chettle, Alan Rogers; Guianluca Petrachi, Riccardo Scimeca, Chris Bart-Williams, Nigel Quashie; Marlon Harewood, Dougie Donnelly Freedman. Subs: Dave Beasant (you might remember him), Carlton Palmer (electing to take up his bench warming duties today), Bernard Allou, Steve Guinan (a man Brian Laws keeps trying to buy for Scunny) and Mathieu Louis-Jean.

"...that feared goal poacher Dougie Donnelly..."  
Yes. That's right. That feared goal poacher Dougie Donnelly, the man who has made it his high life ambition to score a record number of goals against Town, the man who is occasionally portrayed as some sublime goal sniffer when he runs at a back line dressed out in black and white stripes.

The match kicked off with the boys in red attacking the "away end" and Forest took the initiative going straight at Town.

Some fluid organisation when sweeping forward and some great running from Freedman and Harewood were evident from the off. This showed the first time the ball came into the Town box after a lovely 30 yard ball between Gallimore and Livvo which was just a yard too much in front of Harewood as Coyne caught the ball.

Rogers started to advance down the left on several occasions whipping in crosses one find Harewood a few yards put but his header was weak.

"...they were wasting four players at the back..."  
It didn't take long for Forest to realise they were wasting four players at the back and they switch to 3-5-2 - Rogers switched to patrolling the left flank, Petrachi ran the right flank and Scimeca held the midfield with Quashie and Bart-Williams sat just off him.

Quashie played a long ball into the box for Freedman and after taking the ball, Dougie's final touch was too strong running the ball behind.

"...few teams would have had much impression on them..."  
Forest were playing some neat interchanges down the flanks especially down the left where Petrachi was having a field day against Dave Smith and Galli. To be fair though Forest were buzzing and few teams would have had much impression on them as they camped out in Town's half. Town were just holding on, harrying the best they could.

Another neat interplay saw the ball reach Freedman on the edge of the Town box. A deft touch released Harewood who was clean through and it required a wonderful save from Coyne's foot the stop Forest registering their first goal after only twelve minutes.

A brief respite and after a mad arm-waving session from Buckley, Town had a sortie upfield with Dave Smith and Peggy move down the left and after a small scramble Forest cleared the ball for a corner which came to nothing.

Forest's clearance saw a swift counter-attack and after Freedman crossed Petrachi shot wildly over. For all their forward prowess Forest did look unsure at the back though.

"...Coyne pulled off a stunning relex save..."  
A Coldicott block lead to a corner, taken short by Forest and the ball was whipped in. It was met at pace by a head and Coyne pulled off a stunning reflex to beat the ball from zipping inside his right hand post.

Town got forward a little more, once resulting in a weak cross from Smith with no-one in the area and another saw a fine goal kick from Coyne find Allen who ran at the defence but had the ball snatched away by Mannini as he bore towards the edge of the box.

Forest charged forward again - Freedman whipped in a cross after beating Butterfield and a brave off balance header by Richard Smith gave Forest a corner. The corner came in to the penalty spot as did a Forest header. Coyne stood in the right place as the ball hit his thigh and was hit out by Town. The second corner was crossed in to edge of the box where Coldicott cleared it to Petrachi who shot over.

A loose ball was picked out by Petrachi on the right side of midfield 35 yards from goal, and after a few strides forward he unleashed a left footed curler that safely went 5 foot wide.

Town had another one of their forages upfield. Isolated up-front Peggy and Allen played some neat stuff but couldn't get past the back line on the edge of the area. The ball was picked up on the left flank by Galli and he played a triangle with D Smith and whipped in the cross. Forest's spare man headed the ball clear.

The only support Town were offering for the front players was in the form of crosses - the midfield was penned back watching the Forest midfield and our front two had three men covering them. However Forest seemed to be taking their foot off the pedal a little, with their game not as intense as the first 25 minutes.

"...that man, Dougie Donnelly Freedman..."  
Livvo managed to let Harewood turn him and the ball was played through the big man to the left flank were Rogers was in acres of space (Butterfield and Donovan seemed to be watching the grass dry). Hurrying back Livvo and Richard Smith were about 15 yards apart and Rogers curled in a low cross between the back line and the goalkeeper. That man, Dougie Donnelly FREEDMAN, just walked between the two centre backs and had the whole goal to aim his shot at. From ten yards.

1-0 and cue lots of excited and relieved Forest fans. They were surprised they hadn't scored earlier and to be honest, so were we.

"...Forest's play was less intense now..."  
Forest's play was less intense now they had scored - it would have been asking a lot for them to maintain that level of activity for the whole 45 minutes of the first half, let alone the whole match. It didn't stop them attacking but it did allow Town a little more control of the game.

The Town players were obviously getting frustrated though - Forest were dragging our players out of position and creating buckets of room all over the shop. Rogers had a clear run against Butterfield every time and things didn't change as he looped in a 35 yard ball that had to be cleared by Richard Smith while under immense pressure from two Forest players.

After 32 minutes Richard Smith was booked after he brought down Freedman from behind in the middle of the Town half.

"...the team clearly needed organising..."  
On 37 minutes David Smith left the pitch shaking his head to be replaced by Alan Pouton. Pouton and Groves seemed to take it in turns to sit on the left flank but the team clearly needed organising.

Forest continued to attack exploiting Town's weak right flank. A mis-hit Rogers cross went behind and Quashie and Rogers combined to get another cross in which was headed away and shepherded out by Butterfield under pressure from Quashie.

Gallimore conceded a free kick on the left of the Town box and was booked for his worries as well. Quashie screwed the kick wide.

"...amazingly Town played the ball from the back in two passes..."  
The last actions of the first half were Bradley Allen's. He was booked after a late challenge and amazingly Town played the ball from the back to Allen in two passes, and from the centre of the D Allen shot low and a foot wide of the Forest goal.

Half time: Nottm Forest 1 Grimsby Town 0

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