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Question of the WeekWho will win the EPL?
|Glimmer of Hope|
The New Grimsby
By: Andrew Doherty
AFTER last week's game, where striking was taken to a new level, we now take on a team in form. Bolton Wanderers is a team steeped in tradition and history, which fell on hard times and now looks like it will climb the league again. My recollection of Bolton was playing them in 1972, when their centre half was Sam Allerdyce, and we beat them 2 - 0.
Town's line-up today read: McKeown - Hendrie, Hewitt, Menayese, Habergham - Clifton, Matete, Coke, Khouri - John-Lewis, Hanson. What mattered was that the XI that were out there do their best and fight, but not literally, for the team.
The game started. Town attacked the Osmond end and took possession. After winning the ball in midfield on the left, the ball was passed to John-Lewis who had a bit of space on the right. John-Lewis turned and placed the ball into space to Matete who slid a low shot past a shocked Gilks. 37 seconds gone: Town were 1 - 0 up. It was a busy start. Bolton were forced to clear after Khouri was tripped and Clifton crossed. Then great work by John-Lewis on the right found Clifton, who set up Hanson. The result was a wasteful attempt over the bar from the edge of the box. Bolton looked to be a good passing side and were quick in their movement. Outstanding play led to a cross, but McKeown pulled off a point-blank save from Williams's shot. Town attacked and after a Khouri-Hanson link-up, Clifton did well to keep the ball in play but the move broke down when Menayese gave the ball away. Bolton went straight up the pitch and shot over. On 12 minutes Town won a corner after more good work between Khouri, Hanson and John-Lewis. Habergham's cross was cleared, and Matete's accurate shot was saved by Gilks's feet. Town were playing boldly. Bolton were put under pressure again when Santos skied a clearance after a Habergham cross which Menayese headed on. Town had another opportunity when a poor Gilks clearance was chased down by Hanson, but John-Lewis couldn't get his feet round Hanson's cross. Gilks was forced into another save from Matete on 24 minutes after a clearance from Menayese found Hanson's head. Unsurprisingly, Bolton responded. Habergham was forced to clear for a corner after a swift Bolton attack. Bolton continued to pass. Coke cut out a threat with a well-timed tackle, then a mistake from the same player led to another attack, resulting in McKeown making a good save from Doyle. For the second time Doyle then had the ball in the net but the goal attempts were disallowed for offside. From the long free-kick John-Lewis volleyed over the bar at the other end. This is the sort of game it was. Town found themselves cramped after the earlier bright play. Khouri was booked for a mistimed tackle as Bolton pressed. Coke then tripped Afolayan on the edge of the box, as Town were almost caught off guard. Fortunately, the curled free-kick went over the bar. Town were starting to concede the ball too much but continued to compete. A nice passing move was started by John-Lewis, and as Coke, Menayese and Khouri worked together, Habergham had the chance to cross but Clifton fired over onto the top of the Osmond stand. Bolton then attacked. Town struggled to clear, but McKeown gathered from Isgrove. Bolton continued to switch sides and mount attacks, but in response as half time approached a John-Lewis flick led to Hanson being fouled 35 yards out. Habergham played the ball in but Menayese was off side. So the half ended: Town 1, Bolton 0. The message to Town's players had to be to keep possession and be positive. We've not been so good at this lately.
The second half started with excitement as Town launched an attack. Hanson shook off the defender on the right. Gilks blocked Hanson's shot. The ball fell to John-Lewis whose shot was blocked. Khouri then had a go and finally Clifton had a chance but his shot was blocked also. Clifton then had another chance but shot well over as Bolton defended desperately. Town started well, but a worry was an injury to Habergham. Habergham then conceded a corner, following which McKeown was forced into a close range save from Isgrove. Good work by Hendrie on 55 minutes to win the ball in midfield led to a Town attack. Khouri crossed to Hanson who supplied John-Lewis, but John-Lewis was unable to mop up. Seconds later Clifton had a great shot which Gilks parried. Hanson advanced and just needed to slot the ball home but his shot came off the underside of the cross bar - a criminal miss, and hopefully not a costly one. A great block by Meyanese stopped a Bolton attack before McKeown pulled off another fantastic save from Doyle three yards out. Clifton was booked for pulling Gilks back before another good Town move. Hanson crossed, John-Lewis tried to turn it in but the shot was blocked. As was the way of this game, Bolton raced down to the other end and McKeown was forced into another save, conceding a corner. On 62 minutes the ubiquitous Clifton intercepted the ball following a mistake and ran up the right. John-Lewis volleyed the cross, forcing a good save from Gilks. Khouri's follow-up was wide. John then went close for Bolton, shooting from the left. The ball trickled past the post. Bolton launched another attack after a foul by Menayese. The ball was cleared and John-Lewis burst through, only to fall over in the box. Good control by John-Lewis found Clifton on the right but the result was a mishit shot. Town were passing the ball well, controlling the ball and finding each other for a prolonged period. Menayese sent Hanson away but the defender got there first. Bolton used all their substitutes, starting by replacing their wingers who had looked so dangerous. Good control again from John-Lewis again found Clifton who was boxed in. Town continued to battle and play their part, so cutting down Bolton's opportunity to dominate play. Good work between Coke and Habergham on the left led to a cross and a header from Hanson to Clifton whose shot was accurate but weak. Bolton attacked, and Hendrie saved the day by getting his foot in, injuring himself in the process as Bolton looked likely to score. Realising that Habergham also was struggling with injury, Bolton attacked on the right with their substitutes on fresh. On 77 minutes Matete was booked for time-wasting after committing a foul. Bolton pressed. A Clifton block led to a corner. Hanson's head came in handy again with a cleared header this time, and Matete broke out. The move ended with a foul. On 80 minutes Spokes replaced Khouri. Town needed to keep possession. On 83 minutes the game was stopped as Hendrie went down injured. Jackson came on, with Clifton dropping back to replace Hendrie. As Bolton continued to press, Town responded with counter attacks. On 85 minutes great fighting work by Clifton on the right side resulted in a cross. John-Lewis shook off the defender in the box and the ball ran through to Jackson who had come on seconds earlier. Jackson too resisted the defender's challenge and struck home from 6 yards. Town 2, Bolton 0. On 87 minutes Hanson was fouled. The referee played advantage and Spokes hit a volleyed shot. It went just over. Six minutes were added for the time that Hendrie had received attention and the substitutions. Town continued to defend resiliently, with Hewitt and Menayese once again magnificent as Bolton sought to get back into the game. Clifton and then Menayese cut out threats to concede corners. On 94 minutes from the second of these corners, McKeown pushed the ball clear, finding Miller on the left edge of the box. Miller slammed his volley straight back into the top right corner. 2 - 1 to Town. Nervous times. 15 seconds were left. Clifton hooked clear. The clock ticked into the 7th added minute. Then finally the referee blew his whistle. Game over: Town 2 Bolton 1.
What happened? This was five-star performance from Town against a good team. There's no doubt that if we'd played like this before, then we wouldn't be in this position. Town were bold, good in their passing and movement, and showed resolve in all areas of the pitch. It's perhaps unfair to single out one player in this great team effort, but Clifton epitomised the spirit of the team. He was everywhere, switching positions and contributing for the whole game in midfield, defence and attack. But this was a team triumph. It was a revelation. If this is the New Grimsby, then let's have some more.
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