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17/01 Port Vale 2nd Half

By: Tony Butcher
Date: 18/01/2004

NEITHER side made any changes at half time. The first five minutes or so were not very interesting, at least from a Town point of view.

Home > 2003-2004 Season > Reports > Port Vale (a)

Port Vale 5 Grimsby Town 1
17 Jan 2004, Nationwide League Division 2

Vale occasionally broke away, but didn’t look particularly threatening, though the inevitable fifth was expected after Mansaram turned wonderfully on the Town right and gave the ball straight to a Port Vale midfielder, who wellied it across the pitch. Edwards hared after McPhee, lunged, missed, and the pesky little blighter was free, down the touchline. Into the area, Ford dawdling in the middle, finally advancing towards this danger and McPhee decided to, well, I’m not sure really. A cross? A shot? The ball ended up way into the back of the stand. It was probably that bombly pitch.

There then followed a period of total domination by Town, when several goals could, maybe should, have been scored. Daws and Groves reasserted themselves in midfield and possession was retained, short passes were made, Town players moved, that sort of thing. Jevons drifted off his wing to hover between attack and midfield, Vale players started to worry, they began to fall over, to pass out of play, to control the ball out of play. Led by Daws, Town pressed them hard, not giving the home players any time on the ball. And suddenly Vale began to play like a second division team. Twice within a minute Vale players handled to stop a Town break through the middle. On the second occasion Town were given a free kick right in the centre, about 20 yards out. Jevons and Anderson stood over the ball and it was clear to all that Jevons was going to take it and try and curl it into the top left hand corner. The free kick deflected off the wall for a corner. Anderson curled the ball in from the right and Groves flung himself between two defenders and, from about 8 yards out in the centre, headed firmly down towards goal. Brain, glued to his line, suddenly became spring heeled, leaping to his left and excellently parrying the ball off the line for another corner. Another corner, and another, pressure tightening, the ball getting closer and closer. Is this it? No. Onoura at the far post, five of six yards out, headed powerfully towards the bottom right hand corner. Brain repeated his earlier save, brilliantly tipping the ball aside for another corner.

Still Town poured forward, with Jevons tricking his way through one, two, three tackles, leaving defenders on their backsides and getting supporters off theirs. He crossed to the far post, just too high, head tennis, cross, scrambles, the ball dropping six yard out on the left. Mansaram free, a goal begging, the stand groaning as the ball flashed several yards over the bar. More, yet more Town attacking, wave after wave, cross after cross, corner after corner. And free kick after free kick as Town players were repeatedly tripped and pushed 35 yards out. Jevons curled a lovely free kick into the box, Groves rose, Groves headed firmly, but straight at Brain. All this pressure, football, obvious commitment, was causing the Town fans to mix frantic support with the occasional boo when they remembered the scoreline.

The period of Town control ended, half way through the half, just after Daws was felled by Boyd. Daws chased the ball around the pitch, dispossessing Boyd with a manly lunge. The ball fell to Jevons on the touchline, who was immediately upended. Daws remained on the ground, clutching his head, and was taken off down the tunnel, never to re-emerge.



Young70 mins
Hamilton85 mins


Alan Kaye


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Town played for about three minutes with 10 men, as the ball just would not go out of play. During this period there was the sublime - a Jevons dribble past a coterie of flailing defenders which ended with his cross being blocked at the near post, and the ridiculous - Ford falling asleep and letting Brooker have a free header a dozen yards out at the far post. Luckily Vale don’t do easy goals and the header went a yard or two wide. Eventually Town were allowed to bring Young on for Daws, with Crowe moving up to centre midfield. I am sure Crowe was delighted, for he had played like he didn’t want to be a full back, like it was beneath him. Around this time Town had another chance when Anderson broke away inside the box after a pleasing series of one-twos down the right. He crossed low to the far post. Onuora didn’t so much control the ball as attempt to smother it as it rebounded off his far too muscular chest back across goal. The ball was free and rolling into a huge inviting hole into which Groves strode, just six yards out. Brain remained on his line, Groves drew back his foot and Onoura threw himself across the penalty area, making a brave clearance, averting a certain goal. Well done that man, that’s the sort of commitment the fans demand!

With about quarter of an hour left, and the game just petering out, Vale had a second wind, pinning Town back a bit, but not actually creating any memorable chances. The ball was knocked forward and Ford, on the right edge of the penalty area headed back out. Crowe and a Vale midfielder challenged and the ball flew out sideways. BRIDGE-WILKINSON picked the ball up, took a couple of strides, and about 25 yards out leant back and with minimal back lift smacked a left footed drive towards the top right hand corner. Davison managed to palm the ball against the post, but it rolled in. Cue another outburst from a minority of the Town support, and some people left. Just like in the first half, they couldn’t decide who to blame. The most vocal, about 20 or so, wanted the head of Groves (they had brought along a banner especially), about half a dozen berated the chairman, and a couple blamed the players for not trying.

And the Town players continued to "not try" by almost scoring a couple more times. Straight after the surprising fifth, Town burst down the right, with Anderson flicking a low cross to the near post. Crowe, with his back to goal and about five yards out, backheeled the ball goalwards, Brain saving superbly at the very foot of the near post. Another Town corner, another bit of pressure. A few minutes later Jevons drifted down the left and crossed into the centre, Mansaram managed to miss the ball in the centre of goal, a defender using his buttocks to lever Flash away from the ball. A minute after that Anderson crossed into the centre, Mansaram missed again.

With about five or so minutes left Rowan replaced the walking obstacle course, Mr Onuora, whilst Groves was replaced by Hamilton with a couple of minutes left. The Town players had a little joke amongst themselves as they played a game of one touch keep ball, always sending it back to Hamilton. It took four goes for him to fall over the ball. He’s getting better. And that was that. I have probably forgotten a few Vale attacks which resulted in shots blocked, or crosses wasted. There were certainly a few hairy moments when Town attacks were halted and that just left Ford and Edwards against McPhee and Brooker, but Davison didn’t have much to do all game. Except pick the ball out of his net five times. My, weren’t they four mighty spectacular goals from outside the penalty area. You just don’t expect that quality in the second division, once in a while maybe, but not four times in one game! Who could have stopped them? Not our ageing goalkeeper, that’s for sure.

Did the players try? Yes. Did Town play some decent football. Yes, sometimes. Was the scoreline an accurate reflection of the game? No. But there aren’t many people out there who care about those minor matters. Points make prizes, don’t they. Town were much, much worse the last time we played here.

Perhaps Groves’ greatest crime is that he isn’t a lucky manager. The game ended with the tannoy playing "Wish me luck as you wave me goodbye". Are they trying to tell us something?

Nicko’s Man of the Match

Mr Twinkleboots shone again, for Phil Jevons was a beautiful butterfly, fluttering away on the wing. Defensively just about adequate, an attacking dream for all those lovers of flicks and tricks. And goals.

Markie’s UnMan of the Match (Not)

Mansaram was appalling, totally incapable of doing anything right. But he tried so, so hard. He is, therefore, saved from ignominy because he was rubbish for all the right reasons.

Official Warning

A Kaye. Well, at least he spotted handballs, even if he didn’t book them for it. Can’t complain about the fourth goal, for that was the linesman’s call. Erm, no, can’t think of any reason to moan about him, so he gets 6.892. It wasn’t a game where the ref was a factor.

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