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10/01 Plymouth Part 2

By: Tony Butcher
Date: 11/01/2004

THE Town fans roared, this was what we expect, this was what we were getting. Deep inside the main stand there was a Buckley-shaped shadow hanging over Groves, so he put his belief in Town's yesterday: Pouton and Groves; passing and movement; tackling and commitment. The comfort of the past.

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

Grimsby Town 0 Plymouth Argyle 0
10 Jan 2004, Nationwide League Division 2

Back again, the ball flying furiously towards the Pontoon, immoveable, impenetrable Town rocks, swallowing up the little ripples of Argyle attempts at attacks. A corner on the right, swung high to the far post, eluded all, dropping to Mansaram on the edge of the six yards box. Here he goes again, spinning like a record, round and round, and up and down he goes again, let’s twist again. How can anybody defend against a Mansaram, he doesn’t know what he’s doing, so how can a defender predict. Once, twice, thrice a spin with an attempt at a right footed cross thrown in casually. But Mansaram succeeded in missing the ball and kicking the defender on the shins, getting the ball back and turning again, before knocking a short pass to Boulding who, about 8 yards out and wide of goal, slapped a shot a yard or so wide of the right hand post. Four minutes gone. That was a warning to Plymouth.

Onwards, ever onwards Town surged, Plymouth barely able to keep the ball, outfought and outthought, the game was firm and fruity, but one side dominated. Crosses in, just over, back again, pressure building, expectations rising by the second. Town, all Town, Groves and Pouton imperious, Boulding and Mansaram pestering the life out of their defence, even McDermott and Barnard were free raiding roamers on the fringe. The fouls accumulated and it was already clear that the referee had decided not to let anything go, with no advantage played. He also seemed to be a little Argyle-phobic, infuriating their supporters with constant whistling for little shoves and tickles by their front players. Good! The Argyle style was apparent in the fleeting moments of attacking. Fling it forward, fight for it, get the scraps. Vigorous football, with set pieces clearly a strategic aim of the military campaign. Another team with a long throw merchant. Yawnsville Arizona, Reggie. Lowndes and Evans were mobile, strong and well supported by midfielders, but there was always a Town foot, head and every other body part in the right place at the right time. Usually Groves, who cut out most of the crosses at the near post. And then there was the Town pack of hounds, for whenever danger lurked inside and around the penalty area three, four, five Town players smothered the ball with monochrome machismo. Thou Shalt Not Pass. Thou didn’t. Oh, and Friio tried a spectacular Izzet-esque overhead kick which gently dropped into Davison’s arms.

Around the quarter hour Boulding caused minor peril inside the hearts of every perspiring Plymouth fan. Wouldn’t that make them Argyle sweaters? Boom, Boom, Mr Roy. Fouled after finagling his way past Aljofree, the first of many yellow cards was flourished at the overwhelmed oranginas. From the free kick Pouton had some kind of shot, which was quite dull by his standards of missing. But Town flowed like a mountain stream, pure and sweet. Passing intricately down the right, they speeded it up, then they slowed it down, before Macca made his mind up, clipping the ball to Boulding on the edge of the area. Twisting, spinning, cracking a low drive towards the bottom left hand corner, the ball went straight to McCormick, the surprisingly small ‘keeper with a nascent mop atop his head. Wellied up field, Town came back again, with Boulding receiving the ball with has back to goal, 30 yards out. With two hairy kneed defenders man-marking his derriere, Boulding twizzled around and ran between their legs. Grappled, gripped, wrestled to the ground. "Penalty!" cried the hopeful Pontoon, nothing given by the referee. Mmm, well, maybe he isn’t totally Anti-Argyle then, for Boulding had been fouled when through on goal, even if the original fouling of his pathway to heaven was outside the penalty area.



Young67 mins
Cas75 mins
Onuora81 mins


Eddie Evans


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And still Town drove forward. Corner after corner, all curled into the middle of the area, with Plymouth heads only just managing to flick clear. The closest to a goal came when Coughlin steamed in just before Groves and headed a few inches wide of the left hand post. So nearly a clanking great own goal. Scrambles, pressure, flapping of wings inside the pasty boys’ shirts. And finally, Cyril, Plymouth managed to have an effort on goal. I have the vaguest of vague recollections that one of their full backs had some kind of shot from the edge of the area, that may have even caused Davison to wake up and smell the coffee-centred chocolates he’d been bought for Christmas. In the 22nd minute, they broke away down their right, after a Town attack floundered for once, with Barnard stranded upfield. The ball was smuggled out to Phillips who cut infield and clipped a cross into the penalty area. Evans, somewhere close to the penalty spot, flicked a header across goal. The ball looped lazily, with Davison concerned, the Pontoon worried, and finally the Argyle fans saddened, as it drifted just wide of the right hand post. Whoops, so that’s why they are doing so well. From nothing, they suddenly looked a little tasty. A couple of minutes later another cross, Lowndes glanced very wide as Edwards challenged. . A huge Devonian burr of "Penalty" rose from the Osmond Stand as Evans backed into Groves and tumbled a little too easily. Pah, Mr Evans, all sideburns and girth, to the mirth of the Town fans. Yes, he’s the man who ate all their complimentary Ginsters pasties.

A period of relative flatness followed in that Plymouth had the ball more, and the game was more even. It was competitive, of a relatively decent standard, but not much was happening in front of goal. A lot of almost and nearly moments from both teams, invariably foundering on some determined mass defending. It certainly wasn’t dull, the nervous tension was palpable. Back again, Groves flipped the ball over the top, Boulding harried off down the inside left and cut back inside the area, smacking a low drive across the goalkeeper from a wide angle, perhaps 15 yards out. McCormick half stopped the ball, with it squirming away into a vast unpopulated area. As Town players eventually arrived to fill the void, the ‘keeper, still grounded, managed to fly-hack the ball to a team mate, just outside the area. As tight as a tourniquet, as dry as a funeral drum, the pressure returned. Another series of Town corners pummelled Plymouth, with the final one being hurled from the left to way beyond the far post. Mansaram turned and retrieved the ball out on the touchline, right underneath the Police Box. Brilliant, marvellous, wonderful, teasing and taunting the defender with the mastery of his control, Mansaram revolved twice, sending his marker into a nether world between the conscious and unconscious mind, colours blurred, sounds amplified yet slowed down too. Mansaram left him in cloud cuckoo land and pinged in a superb cross, right in to the heart of the area. Groves, about 10 yards out, towards the far post, leant back and powered a header across the face of goal. The ball zoomed towards the left hand corner as the ‘keeper prayed. Was this the bittersweet moment for the Groves baiters? Ah, no, the ball crawled across the face of the post, missing by inches.

Wait, there’s more. Mansaram, again, a whirligig of whizzing worry for the Argylites, a carousel of delights for the Pontoonites, laid the ball back from the bye-line on the left of the Plymouth area. Groves steamed in and hit a first time shot from the edge of the area which rose into the Pontoon, a couple of feet wide of the post. In added time Town should probably have scored the goal they certainly deserved. Pinned back inside their area, Argyle couldn’t clear the ball. To the left, to the right, crosses, movement, passes, blocks. Finally Pouton advanced, a shimmy and shout, a shot scuffed straight to Boulding, level with the post on the right side of the area, a dozen yards out. Boulding took one touch, turned and miss-hit a shot into the ground. The ball took a slight deflection off a despairing diving defender and the ball slowly, slowly arced towards the top right hand corner of the goal, dipping, drifting and disappointing as it just managed to avoid going in by a couple of inches.

Half time: Grimsby Town 0 Plymouth Argyle 0

Off they trouped to an ovation richly deserved, pride restored, Plymouth pounded, a return to old ways. Plymouth were not poor, they were very strong physically and organisationally. They knew what they were doing, but Town stopped them playing how they wanted to, with Groves particularly doing a very important job by simply standing in the right place at the right time. He marked Friio almost out of the game, especially with that first minute challenge.

But it was still 0-0, the squid of despair usually lurks around the corner. They probably serve it in the local McDonalds, with "fries".

Stu's Half Time Toilet Talk

"A kick from that horse would break a swan’s arm."
"Are we good, or are they bad?"
"It was supposed to be a man with a dog, but it was really a tree."
"It’s comforting to see Town play like Town."
"My hat was on the front of the Telegraph".

The report continues in the Second Half.

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