League Two Table
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|We are Town!|
The View from Another Planet
By: Andrew Doherty
DECEMBER 17th, 1983. League 2, now called the Championship. Chelsea 2, Grimsby Town 3. Waters, Emson and Ford. We came back from 0 - 2 down. Coming back has been our speciality this season but getting anything out of tonight's encounter with Chelsea was going to need something special, even against what was expected to be their reserve side.
Town's side tonight was: McKeown - Hewitt, Pollock, Davis, Gibson, Hendrie - Hessenthaler, Whitehouse - Green, Hanson. Frank Lampard's Chelsea had a number of young starlets but also England internationals Ross Barkley and Callum Hudson-Odoi, Spain's Pedro and their £58m signing Christian Pulisic. 38,674 spectators, including 5000 noisy Town fans, were here to witness the game.
The jockeying lasted four minutes, then the serious stuff began. Guehi found space on the right and supplied Barkley in the box, Barkley stepped up a gear and waltzed around Town's static defence and slammed home. Chelsea 1, Town 0. First goal to the opposition as usual. Barkley immediately proceeded to carve up Town's defence and passed to Chelsea starlet Reece James. Hudson-Odoi and Batshuayi lurked. Batshuayi took the initiative and hammered home. 2 down, 7 minutes gone. "This has got 8 - 0 written all over it", commented the spectator next to me. On 9 minutes McKeown parried a Barkley shot but with Davis on hand to put off Chelsea's striker, Batshuayi was unable to get the final touch. Batshuayi won a free kick on 15 minutes after tight work by Barkley, but Alonso messed it up. Chelsea were giving an object lesson in ball control and passing. Still, we had come back from 0 - 2 before. On 18 minutes Hewitt and Green linked up and from a cross Hanson's header went just wide. Town were conceding too much space and weren't getting a look-in, but on 19 minutes a long ball sailed over Chelsea's defence. Green latched onto it and volleyed home spectacularly over Caballero. Chelsea 2, Town 1. Town now looked more confident. Hanson managed a decent shot but was off target. On 28 minutes Green was booked for fouling the electric Pulisic, as Chelsea reasserted their superior skills. Batshuayi's header went just wide from the free-kick. Guehi then fouled Hanson about 30 yards out. Town adopted a trick play but no-one told Whitehouse, who in spite of being caught out, managed to win another free-kick following a foul. The free-kick was played to the left but the referee got in the way and the move was broken up. Chelsea passed and passed. Town's defence now tightened up as attempts from Barkley and Hudson-Odoi were repelled. Town defended desperately as Chelsea pressed. On 43 minutes Pollock cut out a Hudson-Odoi cross and conceded a corner. The corner came in. Zouma raced in to meet it but Green pulled him back just inside the box. The referee awarded a penalty. Pedro made no mistake. Chelsea 3, Town 1. This was the score at half time. Town tried hard but were being given the runaround. Chelsea's third goal gave Town a mountain to climb.
Hewitt should have done better with a cross after two minutes of the second half but Chelsea were soon back into their rhythm and dominating possession and control. On 50 minutes, Hudson-Odoi supplied Pulisic. His snap shot went wide. 55 minutes was up. A passing move carved up Town's defence and James's pinpoint pass just meant that all Zouma had to do was tap in, which he did. Chelsea 4, Town 1. Wright came on for Clifton who had been overrun by Chelsea's powerhouses. Batshuayi had a good opportunity on 57 minutes, finding himself in oceans of space, but fortunately for Town was half asleep on this occasion. The gulf in quality between these teams was enormous, as Town were being overrun by the Chelsea passing machine. Town had McKeown to thank after saves first from Hudson-Odoi and then Barkley who showed electrifying pace to create a chance. Ogbu replaced Green on 61 minutes. Wright had a run for Town but attacks were rare. Town's passing was ok but the players were just not quick enough and were slower to react when Chelsea set up moves. Cook replaced Gibson on 68 minutes as Town sought to gain some control but all this did was to open up more gaps. Chelsea broke away on 71 minutes after breaking down a rare Town attack. Barkley supplied Pulisic but the Chelsea player's shot was wide. Chelsea could afford to make mistakes as tired Town laboured. Chelsea won a succession of corners, and on 75 minutes McKeown raced out to foil Batshuayi. A defensive mistake by Davis should have led to another Chelsea goal but McKeown stood his ground and pushed the shot wide. Wave upon wave of Chelsea attack came as Town proved inadequate and inferior in the skills and movement department. McKeown was forced to make another save on 80 minutes, this time from Hudson-Odoi. Town couldn't sustain their resistance however and James fired an unstoppable shot past McKeown to make it 5 - 1. On 83 minutes Town's defence was wide open again as Barkley found Hudson-Odoi, but McKeown was able to make yet another great stop. Batshuayi had another good chance before receiving a pass and firing home to make it 6 - 1 on 85 minutes. Hanson did have a shot for Town in the meantime, but it was Batshuayi who then turned provider as he fed the unmarked Hudson-Odoi who slotted home. Town had a final fruitless attack as a header from Hanson went wide but this served the sole purpose of increasing Town's inferior possession percentage. Mercifully the game ended. Chelsea 7, Town 1. This had been a Stamford Bridge massacre.
All animals are equal but some animals are more equal than others. So it is in football, where the likes of Chelsea have untold riches, while we carry on. We gave it a go but we weren't good enough. They can't take 1983 away from us though. If tonight was all about Chelsea, then this was because they had 72% of the possession and were razor-sharp on and off the ball. It was only James McKeown who saved Town from further embarrassment. The defence was immobile. We couldn't cope with the expansiveness and explosive changes of play. The gulf was massive compared to league 2. Town were outgunned in every department. Hopefully we can observe and learn from Chelsea's movement and passing. Tonight we were completely lamparded. This was a vision of another footballing planet.
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