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26/12 Oldham 2nd Half

By: Tony Butcher
Date: 27/12/2003

NO changes were made by either team at half time, though it did start raining. The half started in a low key fashion, just a bit of hum-drummery in midfield, then whoosh. Barnard waddled Welshly down the left past a couple of opponents, dinking a pass down the touchline.

Home > 2003-2004 Season > Reports > Oldham (h)

Grimsby Town 3 Oldham Athletic 3
26 Dec 2003, Nationwide League Division 2

Campbell spun away and lobbed a high drooping cross to the back post, where a defender ducked down and back headed away from near the goal line as Jevons lurked. The clearance went straight back to Town and the ball was flipped over to Campbell, who drifted past a defender and hit a low shot from the edge of the penalty area. The ball thumped into the side-netting, though the Pogman was unconcerned, he had it covered.

There was five minutes of Town rather wasting possession and Oldham not doing much inside the Town penalty area. A flurry of inactivity in the middle is how best to describe it; the game seemingly drifting along to an inevitable Oldham victory. Town not creative, not passing, not shooting, simply not. Ooh, a bit of Town pressure, a cross, a clearance, another cross, another clearance, busy going nowhere. Barnard used his hips to bump an Oldham player off the ball, about 30 yards out on the centre right, and the ball rolled to Pouton. He looked up and flicked a pass through to Boulding, in the centre. BOULDING, with his back to goal, rolled to his right and turned, smacking a low drive across Poggy and into the bottom left hand corner of the goal. A goal, a goal, and a replica of his goal against QPR. Out of nothing, a total surprise to all.

This woke the Town fans up, and the players, for in the back of my mind I can see Campbell having a shot, which went over the bar. I think it was in this game though, of course, it could have been against any of the last three teams we’d played at home. The opponents were definitely wearing yellow in this memory. Anyway, whatever, if it did happen, it didn’t go in. Look, this game was what hacks would call "incident packed", loads of things happened, you can forgive someone for being as confused as Simon Ford, can’t you? Except Simon Ford, of course. Ah, poor young Mr Ford, for whom history is bunk. Are there no lessons he can learn? There he was just an ambling down the street singing Doo Wah Diddy Diddy Dum did he really fall asleep just then? In front of the Pontoon, Ford was having one of his space cadet afternoons, for he looked as startled as anyone at the pace and pizzazz on show from these blokes we’d never heard of. Johnson spun past Ford on the right of the Town area, leaving him to call the occupants of interplanetary most extraordinary craft. Johnson got to the bye-line and smacked a low cross into the middle of the six yard area. Calm down at the back, Edwards was there to volley away for a corner.

Another Oldham break, another Ford error saw them shimmer down the left, cross deeply and Eyre leant back and volleyed a yard over the bar from beyond the far post. We were almost blinded by the warning lights, and deafened by the klaxon. Eyre again, drifting past Campbell to the bye-line, dinked a cross into the centre. Zola, eight yards out, headed down firmly to Davison’s left. The ball bounced up, rolled across Davison’s right hand and into his left. Wait, there’s more. A long high ball sailed over Ford and Johnson was off into the area, in the centre. Davison came off his line, stopped, then lunged forward as Johnson wriggled to the left, the ball tumbling away from goal. He caught up with it at a narrow angle, clipped a low shot goalwards and.. our saviour! Ford sprinted towards the line and neatly backheeled the ball a foot wide of the near post. Or perhaps it went through his legs and he tripped over the ball. No, no, no, this isn’t the time for Ford-baiting; you have to be there to miss, as the saying goes.

Cranered card


Cas77 mins
Ford18 mins
Mansaram68 mins


Graham Salisbury


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Where are we now? To tell you the truth in all this excitement I kinda lost count. Oh yes, half way through the half Boulding was replaced by Mansaram and to everyone’s surprise and delight Oldham took off Zola and replaced him with a gangly lad called Vernon. Not that that made much difference, for Oldham continued to stream forward, with Murray making some interesting late runs from midfield. Unfortunately, Hamilton forgot to run with him; fortunately none of his team mates saw what Murray saw, the whites of Davison’s eyes. Oh, Des, you target for faraway laughter, come on, it’s about time you shined for Town. Here they come again, in the blink of an eye Johnson was free and powering down the middle, causing Ford to back pedal à la Gallimore. Vernon peeled away to the left edge of the penalty area and the ball was duly flicked out to him. With his back to goal, danger seemingly imminent, but not immediate, VERNON half turned and caressed a beautifully placed shot around Davison and into the bottom left hand corner, the ball merely licking the post as it rolled in.

That was it, wasn’t it. No way back, and some of the less stoic Pontoonites went to the toilet. A resigned sigh was let out by 6,000 Grimbarians, as another defeat loomed in the gloom. Town did make efforts to attack, but all looked lost, hope gone, the end was nigh, with 18 minutes of Oldham fans chirrupping away in the distance. A final burst from Town, here it was, Barnard started, Mansaram was vaguely near, Campbell was flicked free behind the defence. Poggy came off his line and Campbell tried to flick the ball under the ‘keeper. The ball ricocheted across goal and was half cleared to McDermott, 30 yards or so out, on the centre right. Macca advanced and flicked the ball over the top to an inside right position. JEVONS glided free, drifted wide and slid the ball under the Pogster and into the net. And the crowd went wild, roaring, roaring, roaring delight. A quarter of an hour left and even thoughts of victory started to flicker, flicker, flicker through the collective Grimsby mind. And what an odd mind that’d be.

Cas immediately replaced Hamilton, with Town having a notional formation of defence-Pouton-everyone else. Within a minute of coming on Cas terrified the onlooking Oldhamites as he outsprinted one, two three defenders down the right, stripping their defensive walls of paint. Into the area, Jevons at the far post, a cross, agonisingly inches behind the white booted angel of the north, whose second coming had delighted those devoid of faith in the Groves. Actually, this was Cas’s only meaningful contribution during his 15 minutes of fame; he was conspicuously trotting when carrying out defensive duties. Still, it was an exciting run and he had contributed at least as much as Hamilton, who has worn out his welcome with the random precision of his passing. There were a couple more nearly moments for Town, with crosses dipping through and across the area as Mansaram slithered towards goal, but Town weren’t attacking during the last ten minutes.

Oh boy, those last ten minutes were wildly weird, wonderful in their own way, but so, so strange. Oldham pummelled Town, murdered Town, tore Town apart. Every attack brought something to write home about. Johnson turned and let fly from 25 yards, the ball deflected off a Town player and looped over Davison. He stood and watched, we sat and feared, the ball smacked off the crossbar and out for a corner. And another corner, and another corner. The ball dropped, Johnson turned, a free shot, six yards out, bodies arrived, danger averted. Another corner, the ball pinged around, ding-ding-ding. Tilt! Johnson whacked the ball against the post from about eight yards out. Town cleared, Oldham came back, the ball crossed from left to right, Eyre unmarked, about six yards out at a narrow angle. A volley steered low, Davison flying, saving, clutching the ball at the foot of the post. Back they came, 25 yards out, a midfielder strode forward and smackerooned a dipping, swerving shot through a thicket of players. Davison saw the ball late, it dipped and swerved away from him, going towards the right hand corner. At the last second Davison plunged to his right and clawed the ball off the line and around the post for another corner. Aw, a superb save, bringing the crowd to its feet. Every tackle roared, every misplaced pass by Oldham cheered, every second the ball was in the Oldham half cherished for its rarity value. The latent supporters eventually found voice, they could feel the beat of the Town tambourines, led by the singing corner, the Town players were swept on by the emotion.

Pouton, the rock, the very heart of the team, his presence enough to galvanise and inspire, felled by cramp with three minutes left. Oh what a man, his trademark merciless swoops were back on show, the sheer fist clenching (controlled) aggression saw Town through. Campbell scampering, Barnard, injured, back on his feet, Edwards’ head nearly knocked off by a piledriving thumper of a shot. One shake of his nut was enough, back to head away the corner. Could Town hold out? Three minutes of added time, the line holding, Oldham frantically scurrying around, crosses, turns, numbers piling forward into the Town box. Then it was over, the players hailed as heroes for the sheer will to survive. Determination, teamwork, camaraderie, guts, whatever plaudit you wish to throw at them, they deserved it. It wasn’t anything to do with the quality of the football, for Oldham were superior in that respect, even in the first 15 minutes, but the fates were agin ‘em. And Town refused to lie down and die, which is a bit different from some of the performances earlier in the season.

It would be nice to end a game with eleven players now and again and not to witness great goals scored against Town. But this was, in the circumstances, a point gained. Will this be the catalyst that finally sparks the Town engine? Is Pouton the missing link? Is Pouton’s presence enough to turn the ugly caterpillar into a vibrant butterfly?

This game was all about emotion. Fingers crossed, on with the show.

Nicko’s Man of the Match

It has to be said that Jevons took his goals really well and was seen to run around and help out in defence. It also has to be stated that Pouton’s presence was enough to make up for the half man, half biscuit that accompanied him in the centre of midfield, though Pouton is clearly way off proper fitness and his movements were economical, shall we say. Campbell was all over the place, and Edwards defended well at important times, though his distribution was a bit off today. So where is this leading Nick? Up the garden path and to a Welsh Lovely, that’s where. Darren Barnard had a very assured game, doing a lot of little things exceedingly well, for without him things could have been much, much worse.

Official Warning

G Salisbury. Now here’s a thing. Is he rubbish for sending off Crane, or was he a relatively sensible referee who let the game flow and acted upon the advice of his linesman? Probably the best referee we have had so far this season (That is the faintest praise ever, I know) and fully deserving of a score in excess of 6.54. So he gets 6.55. He would have got higher if he’d been really, really nice to Town and only booked Crane.

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