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13/10 Leicester 2nd Half

By: Tony Butcher
Date: 25/06/2000

Leicester City 2 Grimsby Town 0
13 Oct 1999, League Cup

No changes were made by either side at half time. Town started the more brightly and had two decent efforts in the first 5 minutes. Town intercepted play in the middle of the pitch (Coldicott I think) and immediately played the ball up to Lester, who turned his marker and laid the ball out to Donovan. Donovan, on the right edge of the area took on Impey and, from about 5 yards from the bye-line and 12 yards out, hit a low drive to the foot of the near post, where Flowers blocked for a corner. Donovan's corner, of course, gently floated into the arms of the unchallenged goalkeeper. A couple of minutes later, after Town had retained possession near the edge of the area, on the right, Donovan tried a snap shot which flew a foot past the right hand post. Flowers did not even move, as his view was obscured.

A couple of minutes after that Burnett advanced in the middle of the pitch and "drew" their defenders to him. He flipped a pass over the defender's head to Donovan, who had drifted into an unmarked position on the edge of the area, in the middle of the goal. The ball was a little too high for Donovan, who back headed to Pouton who steamed in and hit a left foot volley against the defender, the ball going out for a corner.

Leicester's first attack of the second half produced the second goal. Izzett turned R Smith near the bye line on the Town left, about 2 yards outside the area (I'd hate to describe Smith as being kippered, but he was). The cross went centrally, about 8 yards out, where HESKEY rose above Butterfield and placed it high into the left hand side of the goal.

Town's response was a fine move down the left resulting in Pouton clipping a low pacy cross into the centre, about 12 yards out, right onto Lester's forehead. Lester flicked his header to Flowers' right, but only about 1 foot to his right, another foot and Flowers would not have saved it

And then the game went completely flat. The pace dropped, the crowd went totally silent, and the managers started to make substitutions which signaled that they thought the game was over. The last half an hour had incident, but no excitement - certainly no cup spirit. Firstly Guppy was taken off (he only got in two crosses all evening - such was the "job" done on him by Butterfield), then Buckley took off Burnett, replacing him with D Smith. This resulted in Pouton going into the centre of midfield. D Smith did nothing of note whilst on the pitch (and conversely did nothing bad either- he was merely on the pitch occupying a space). With Burnett going off Town lost a little solidity and presence. The attacking was certainly less flowing and the play more "bitty", we also missed Pouton's trickery and crossing from the left. With about 15 minutes left Lever came on for the ineffective Ashcroft. This necessitated an even more drastic change in positions with Groves going into centre midfield, Coldicott to right wing (where he is completely wasted) and Donovan went "up front" with Lester. There were many mutterings about this change "Why not Allen?". Lever's first contribution was to head the ball sideways. Welcome back Mr Bananaman.

In the last 30 minutes the Leicester efforts on goals were :-
a) An Oakes free kick, from the left edge of the penalty box which curled a foot wide of the near post;
b) A long ball into the area with Cottee bearing down on the goal, Croudson half came out, Groves ushered Cottee away from goal, whereupon he laid the ball back. A Leicester player whacked a curling 20 yard shot towards the right hand corner of the goal and Croudson flung himself to his right, pushing aside, where Butterfield cleared for a corner; and
c) An inswinging corner went through everybody and Butterfield cleared at the right hand post as Heskey slid in.

Town's remaining efforts were :-
a) Ashcroft took the ball forward on a break and hit a right foot drive a couple of yards wide, from about 25 yards;
b) Groves prodded a looping shot just wide of the angle of post and bar, from the edge of the area;
c) A ball was flipped over the defence (by Pouton, I think) leaving Lester with a free header, which he missed; and
d) In the last couple of minutes Gallimore intercepted a pass inside the Town half and ran forward where, about 25 yards out, he drove a shot a couple of feet wide of the left hand post.

With about a minute left the Town supporters (after a half hour sleep) woke up and began chanting in support again. Then the referee blew his whistle with the Town players as one applauding the supporters.

And so it came to pass that Town are out of the prestigious Worthington Cup. Could Town have won? Maybe - they certainly didn't go "hell for leather" in the last half hour - both teams were content to play almost exhibition football. However this was Town's best performance at Leicester in the 90's (that I can remember). The defence and midfield proved they could compete with a Premiership team (though Leicester didn't appear to play at their usual 110%, only 100% - which was still competitive and a lot better than anyone we've seen so far in the 1st Division). Town were never overrun, not even for a minute. Leicester only managed to get into the Town box 5 times, and they scored from 2 of those. But then we know that is the major difference between (the bulk of) the Premiership and the 1st Division - strikers. It isn't just about scoring -it's also movement, perception, heart, skill, strength. Too many times the ball simply came back from our front two and the midfield had few passing options when advancing.

The individual plus points were undoubtedly Butterfield, who again looked a more than adequate replacement for McDermott; Burnett, who found and made use of space beautifully; and the Groves/Smith partnership which was very strong. They play well together, with an obvious understanding. Apart from his awful penalty Groves was superb - a couple of last ditch clearances were outstanding. Despite the barracking one bloke dished out, Donovan looked sharp and motivated. The penalty and the two best shot were from Donovan and he provided cover for Butterfield. Gallimore had a very solid game, only marred by him standing on the ball twice in the last 15 minutes to allow a Leicester player to run off towards goal. Even when he's good he has the capacity for slapstick moments.

Overall a decent performance, only lacking in the "cutting edge". But let's put this in perspective - we played one of the better Premiership teams at their own ground, a place where we have been poor in recent years. Sometimes there is no disgrace in a loss.

Grimsby Town
R Smith


D Smith

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