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Question of the Week

Should Russell Slade be sacked?

Yes immediately
Give him one more game

Square peg in
Square peg in "hole"

Oxford Report - Part2

By: Tony Butcher
Date: 07/08/2005

IT started; Oxford decided to attack more. Town dozing, Crane out of position flapping on the right, men free; Macca covering the centre backs, Macca exposed.

Home > 2005-2006 Season > Reports > Oxford (h)

Hackett swirled in a cross to the far post and Crane shivered underneath the ball, allowing it to sail unmolested to Basham on the corner of the six yards box. He leant back and carefully steered the ball between the crossbar and the roof of the Pontoon. No strip lights were harmed in the making of that chance.

Hackett free again, swishing a cross through the 6 yards box. Wake up Town.

Wahey, that's better. Bolland and McDermott ignored the call of the wild and played some football, tapping to each other and sipping the ball along the right touchline to Parkinson, like a martini. At last, seen and heard, emerging from his pit of despair in to the bright gleaming outlands, he skipped past his marker and clapped a cross to the far post. Gritton zimmerframed up and, from about seven or eight yards out, nodded a loopy header a couple of inches wide. Oxford stirred, not shaken. Reddy pouncing on the right, twisting, twirling, hurling himself around the edge of the box, past one, two, three O'Reddy, and stubbing a left-footed drive safely over the bar. Something stirs and something tries and starts to climb towards the light: a moth.

The general play remained the same as the first half, bish-bash a hash of a game; the Town fans silently watching this low grade Calamity Jane musical. Whip crack away, whip crack away on the deadwood stage that is Blundell Park. Once we had a secret love, it was called passing and movement. O Crofty, Crofty what have we done? Spiralling down to the hole in the ground where we're hiding. Is Crane the third man, the fifth Beatle or the tenth planet of the solar system? We do need the Hubble telescope to find him sometimes, so I'd plump for the tenth planet, a lump of ice bigger than Uranus floating on the periphery of Blundell Park.

And they're back, down their right again, flick and trick - Town wobbling. The ball looped into the centre of the penalty area with Ramsden waiting to clear. Bradbury tugged Ramsden's shirt and clambered over the tumbling Townite to firmly plonk a header down and across Mildenhall towards the bottom left hand corner. The Big M flung himself down and flicked the ball aside for a corner. An alert piece of keeping to be contrasted with last year's custard tart. And again, Oxford flew down their right, winkled a cross through the penalty area and Gray steered the ball across Mildenhall, who held on without any of the amateur dramatics we became almost immune to just a few months ago.

Near the hour another bit of near Town-like play. Two in one match! Bolland, Croft and McDermott ignored instructions, passing to each other down the right. A corner. Newey cracked it low to the near post and the ball kept on going. CRANE, beyond the far post (if not the Pale), swung his pants and steered the ball goalwards....and in, as Turley ran around in circles with a pocket full of posies, or something similar. You could say we were happy, you should say we were surprised; an undeserved lead after an hour of turgid trash. Still, better than being one down, eh?

At some point Bradbury was booked for persistent fouling. It didn't stop him continuing his one man petty crime spree. An ASBO ref, that's what you needed. I'm sure he stole a pair of shears from next door's shed whilst challenging Ramsden for a high ball. It was obvious.

Just after he scored, Crane clattered a striker. Incredible, he wasn't booked. The lime crunch had gone soft. Crane's raison d'etre is to be booked. Has the whole world gone mad?

I'm wasting time, wasting space, just to give you a flavour of the afternoon. I remember football, do you? What's happened to Martin Gritton's hair? Has Reddy used all the gel in Grimsby? He looks like a surrey with a fringe on top. We've had the jigsaw, so what's the next managerial metaphor? Are we into the gel stage? Does gel only set through liberal application of the work ethic? And does it come with metallic paint and alloy wheels? What do you mean this is nonsense - it's a metaphor. Smile at the silly similes.

Reddy.... did his thing, on his own, past another four defenders, it took five to stop him on the edge of the penalty area. Could have passed, didn't. Minor excitement. The end of Town, twenty minutes left.

They had the ball. Town lapsed into their crime ridden past - crimes against association football. Pressure building, a free kick to them on their right was floated to the far post. The Town defence stood off, a free header looped over Mildenhall. Crane and Bradbury waited under the crossbar; Crane headed clear, Bradbury headed Crane. Fill in the gaps yourself: the ball was in the air and when it came down Oxford got possession. Gritton was replaced by G Jones with just over 10 minutes left. Nothing to report other than a couple of good flicks going nowhere, a bit like Hal Hartley.

Ticking down, waiting for the end; Town sitting back, hoping Oxford continued their wastrel ways. Closer, closer the play sank closer to Mildenhall. The referee remembered his lines and kept giving free kicks to them. Pressure slowly building; the imperceptible tourniquet tightening. Newey controlled the ball on his chest near the half way line. Whoops, tiredness told, he chested it far too far away, setting up an Oxfordian. Newey pursued the hofmeister bear and tripped him up 35 yards out ... a yellow card followed. Hackett swung the ball into the centre of the area, perhaps 15 yards out. Crane missed the ball, HARGREAVES stooped and thunderclapped a header into the top left hand corner, with Mildenhall standing with the Pontoon in disadmiration. The crowd reaction? Resigned shrugs; we've been programmed to expect and accept.

Form the kick off Crane nearly caused more internal bleeding with a terrible back pass that Bradbury nearly charged down. The scoreboard showed 84 minutes gone. The tannoy announced two added minutes. The game ended. We went home, expectation already reduced like a cook-in sauce left on 20 minutes too long.

Is Russ the new Lennie Lawrence? Wedded to an unworkable system, determined to make a certain player the indispensable hub of the team? Newey and Croft were clearly spent forces physically with quarter of an hour left, but no change. Where are Town going - round in circles. This was like watching any Town game from 1 March onwards. Shapeless, grinding drudgery; a joyless, artless and hopeless mess. What entertainment? What little something special to excite? Where are the goals? You need to shoot to score, you need to cross to create. Where's the beef?

Bolland battled, improving as the game went on; Jones headed well; Reddy was a flickering flame, not yet extinguished by a cold draught down the Humber; the rest were degrees of adequate. Apart from poor Parky the pitiful, poor lad. A square peg in a triangular hole. Oh, and if you've got the best full backs in the division, play them at full back. It's a simple theory, I know, but one that seems to have a semblance of logic to it. Run a google seach "Croft and McDermott" and see what it says Russ.

Town didn't deserve victory, Oxford earned a draw more than us. What's changed over the summer? The faces are different, the spaces are the same. But let's be positive, it wasn't Town's first choice team was it. Kamudimba to the rescue?

Nicko's Man of the Match

Andrew Flintoff of course. But the best Town player was Chris Hargreaves with his best performance at Blundell Park since 1989: omnipotent. No Town player was much better than alright, so no-one.

Markie's Unman of the Match

Crane managed to avoid that by scoring, so the imaginary 11th Town player, Andy Parkinson, rises to the plinth of poorness. He may as well have sat in a deckchair and eaten some chips from that chippie that serves fish and chips...on plates! Do you think he's the pink rabbit of Town: Russ's Harvey.

Rob's Rant of the Day

The Greek chorus at the back of the Pontoon trilling "PARKINSON!" every couple of minutes; some with a tut, some with a cluck, some with a...look.

Official Warning

Mr A Bates. Nobody likes lime crunches. He was extremely lenient to Oxford for about an hour, then he tired of their moans groans, gurns and lack of perms. All in all he's another brick in the wall of dead-eyed suburban housewifery. He wasn't going to give a "big" decision and he was ropey on the bog-standard ones too. 5.555 - I don't know why, 'scuse me whilst I squash this fly.

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