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23Forest Green27-2223

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Question of the Week

Should Russell Slade be sacked?

Yes immediately
Give him one more game


10/01 Plymouth 2nd Half

By: Tony Butcher
Date: 11/01/2004

NO changes were made by either team at half time. Plymouth kicked off in traditional style, immediately lumping the ball down behind Barnard for a throw in to Town, not far from the corner flag.

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

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

Pressure immediately put on Town, and for the next three or four minutes the ball was pinging about inside the Town penalty area. The throw in only succeeded in getting the ball up to the half way line whereupon Plymouth lumped it forward. The Town defence squeezed together and Argyle managed to flick the ball out to Phillips skipping gaily down the left, unmarked and with cruel intent in his eye. He whipped in a cross behind the attackers to Friio, 12 yards out at the back post. He leant back and steered a drive well wide of Davison’s left hand post. A little Gallic shrug and off he went back up the pitch. From the gaol kick, Plymouth won it back and whacked it high in towards Lowndes, inside the area. Bundling and trundling he got the ball back to the full back, who slashed in a dangerous low cross through the six yards box. Barnard had to stoop and nod the ball out for a corner as a orange-socked boot lingered longingly behind his right ear. The corner curled in from their right, with Davison blocked by Lowndes. O-oh, it’s going in. No it isn’t. Pouton, at the near post, rose majestically, almost scornfully, to head the ball off the line for another corner.

The storm weathered, Town regained some composure and control by kicking Friio. The Argyle players lost their temper a bit at the never ending roll call of free kicks given against them by the, at least in Town terms, unusually benevolent referee,. Over the next five minutes Town got loads of free kicks. The Plymouth players moaned and kept getting booked, including a wild sliding, stamping tackle on McDermott on the touchline by the end of the Stones/Findus/Smiths stand. Ouch! That tackle is to be contrasted with Pouton’s controlled wild sliding tackles, of course, which in no way whatsoever infringed the rules of Association Football. A gentler soul you’ll never meet, as he dumped Capaldi in the Imp’s car park. Where are we now? Still at the end of the Smiths/Stones/Findus stand with a free kick to Town. Barnard waddled up and curled the ball into the centre of the penalty area. Jevons, near the penalty spot, drifted in front of his marker and gently steered a glancing header towards goal. The ‘keeper watched, the crowd rose silently, hopefully, the ball dropped against the foot of the post and away from goal, being panicked away for a corner as Mansaram approached. The ‘keeper caught the corner. Sit down again at the back there.

Stand up again, Barnard, on the left, 25 yards out, did a tremendously obvious foul throw, almost rolling the ball up to Jevons, who turned his marker, let the ball bounce a couple of times and from the very corner of the penalty area looped a right footed shot towards goal. McCormick plunged slowly to his right and caught the ball near the post. Good try, nice thought, never going in though. Stay standing - a Town break with the ball tipped over a stray Argylite to Groves, just inside the Town half. He turned, surged forward, played in Boulding, received the pass back and a little scramblette ensued with the ‘keeper having to make a diving block near his left hand post. Boulding was flagged for offside when he tried to clip in the rebound. Excitement over. There wasn’t much going on in terms of shots and goalmouth action, but a lot of good work around the edge of the box. Mansaram and Boulding were constant prickly thorns in the tender loins of the huge defenders. Twisting them this way and that, running them ragged down the flanks and only a mixture of good defending and hesitation averted danger. The main interest in this period was how long it would be before Groves was booked, he was playing his "I’m old and slow card" a little too often in clattering sprightly Plymouth midfielders.



Young67 mins
Cas75 mins
Onuora81 mins


Eddie Evans


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Play was stopped for an injury to Coughlin after a Plymouth corner. He just stayed down, so Davison rolled the ball out for a throw in. Coughlin continued to stay down, despite the referee telling him to get off the pitch. On and on it went: the Town fans howling, Coughlin winking and egging on the Pontoonites, successfully winding us up and the clock down. He was ordered off the pitch, so Capaldi threw the ball back, but straight out of play for a Town goalkick. Now that showed why they are doing so well, for they succeeded in breaking up Town momentum, and getting their defender back on the pitch before play restarted. And if we are noting their professional, organised approach they blocked off the route to Anderson and impeded Davison at every corner. They also have a neat trick at their own corners of throwing men at the ball with one of them invariably falling over. This causes chaos with defenders falling over him. Didn’t work today though, did it.

After about 20 minutes or so, Plymouth suddenly broke exceedingly quickly and the Town area was smothered in orange. With Town defenders all of a pickle, the ball was crossed low towards Evans, but McDermott emerged with it and surrounded by a protective phalanx of striped friends. Danger was averted, but at a price. Barnard, who managed to nick the ball away from a striker during the build up, appeared to hobble and was immediately replaced by Young. A few minutes later Plymouth made a double substitution, bringing on the wonderfully named Marino Keith. This meant they’d used all their subs by the 70th minute. At about the same time the Plymouth fans got a bit bold, displaying their old fashioned sense of song’n’dance by singing about fish. Still in Yawnsville Arizona are we? The Town fans responded with "Top of the league, you’re having a laugh". On this display yes, for they’d posed less threat than even Notts County. Now was that because the Town defence was any good today? Shock-horror headline in the GET, "Ford in flawless performance, police investigate". Well, almost flawless, there has to be one Ford moment in everyone’s life. Late on, a cross from the Plymouth left fizzed low through the centre of the area. Ford completely missed the ball and Young had to clear. Let’s just say he dummied it shall we, for it would be churlish in the extreme to have a go at our favourite daydream believer today.

Just as the chickens were being counted Plymouth had a shot, to the surprise of all, perhaps even the bloke who did it. Within humdrum nothingness the greatest danger lies. Town cleared a Plymouth punt back to Mansaram, 10 yards inside the Town half. He slightly miss controlled the ball with his chest and Hodges flew in, studs up to challenge. The ball flew forward as they tackled, up to Lowndes, who headed sideways into space. Hodges’ momentum from the tackles sent him into an unoccupied space a couple of yards outside the Town box, on the centre left. The ball fell perfectly for him and he hit a first time shot that sliced a couple of yards wide of Davison’s left hand post. From around this time Plymouth came more and more into the game, though they didn’t actually have many attempts on goal. Hodges managed to scoop a 9 iron over the bar and into the Pontoon, leaving him a difficult putt over undulating, ululating Town fans. Apart from that there were a few corners, a few scrambles and some breakaways that flattered to deceive the away support cocooned in their own little world in the darkest recess of Cleethorpes.

Cas replaced Anderson with a quarter of an hour left and, tonight Matthew, he was Kevin Donovan three times running straight into defenders in that old jellyfish way. And his only other touch was to waste a great opportunity for Town. Pouton won the ball by staring at an opponent, surged forward and played it to Cas, 35 yards out on the centre right. Cas advanced and dragged a scuffily poor shot well wide of the right hand post, whilst several Town players were unmarked further afield. With about 10 minutes left Mansaram was replaced by Onuora who, bless his big old heart and creaking legs, tried hard. His first touch was a sliding block, where he ended up in the fence, but at least he stopped the ball, I suppose.

With a couple of minutes left Argyle won a free kick when one of their players fell over an almost nonexistent challenge by Groves, 20 yards out on the right. Don’t worry, they just kicked it into the wall, the ball sliding away for a corner. The minutes ticked by and the point was almost earned, and made. Three minutes of time were added and in the last of them Young rampaged down the left, skipping past a couple of tackles, winning a corner as his cross was diverted by a flailing, desperate Devon boot. Hung high, headed clear, out to Pouton, 30 yards out and, it had to happen, Pouton shot over, over, and over the bar. The ball just about stayed under the roof of the Osmond. And that was it.

You may have noticed that Town’s defence has hardly been mentioned. They were almost perfect, with Edwards brushing any stray bits of fluff up into his wheelybin. Ford was alert and won virtually every header. Overall the defence looked solid. But the plaudits all go to the midfield, for a return to past glories, a past way of playing. Gone was the hopeless shambles of higgledy-piggledy strolling and watching. Two lines of four up and down, up and down, never giving the opposition time, and it appeared time is what they needed to play their game. Town imposed themselves upon Plymouth, which is what has been expected, though rarely achieved this season. There was not one "Sort it Grovesie" all afternoon. A first.

So there we have it, the fear of a thrashing dispelled by a thoughtful, passionate performance by all the team. For a 0-0 with few efforts on goal, it was never dull, something was always likely to happen. Let’s hope this isn’t a new false dawn.

Nicko’s Man of the Match

Everyone played really well. Excellent. Pouton used his energy wisely, making some massive tackles, chasing, harrying, mugging when required. Typically carnivorous. Boulding and Mansaram, especially Mansaram, were everywhere. Flash finally showed throughout a game what has always been promised (let’s leave aside the goalscoring bit for the moment. A start is a start). But overall, despite five wayward passes that went out of play, the wise old seer of visions hands a laurel garland to Paul Groves. It was almost like having Nick Daws back to block and start. A fine old professional performance that built the platform for others to shine.

Official Warning

Mr E Evans. Can we have him again? Apart from the foul on Boulding and a curious handball given against Pouton at the very end of the first half (Pouton had clearly headed the ball) he was perfectly reasonable towards Town and suspicious of the opposition’s intent when they did similar things. He gets a huge 9.32, simply because it’s a long time since we had someone who you didn’t feel was going to send a Town player off for breathing. He was in control. It was a hard match, but not a dirty one.

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