Whiplash: Chester (h)

Cod Almighty | Match Report

by Tony Butcher

25 February 2006

Grimsby Town 1 Chester City 0

It's cold outside, there's no kind of atmosphere: welcome to the Blundelldome. A bitter, beasterly breeze blew down Blundell Park into the faces of the Deviant Centurians posted to the end of the Empire. Another paltry crowd expecting paltry football. Are we at risk of avian flu?

Well, well, well. The scoreboard has a new graphic - a picture of a football shirt with a number in it. We are now entering the 1980s. Does that mean tight shorts and mullets as well?

Town lined up in a 4-4-2 formation as follows: Mildenhall, McDermott, Futcher, Jones (R), Newey, Parkinson, Bolland, Woodhouse, Toner, Cohen, Jones (G). The substitutes were shrinking in the heat, and they were Bleachboy Barwick, Goodfella, North by North-West, the junior of the Mendes clan and someone else, can't remember who. A man, with a man's courage? No, he's gone to Sligo. Shall we look in the kit sponsorship page to remind us? Hey! Jones the Lump(aldinho) is sponsored by a local anonymous businessman, not an anonymous local businessman. Ah, yes I remember now. The fifth man: it's... it's Glen Downey. The only professional not on the sponsors' page.

Do you want to know where Town players stood? On the pitch, to start with. Toner played as a wide left midfielder, with Parkinson on the right. The Gazguzzler played up front with the likeable lump from Liverpool. Happy now? Being a Town fan, is that ever possible?

Oh, I see, Chester are one of those family clubs where the chairman's offspring get a playing contract. It's a tax-efficient way of maximising family income. I don't suppose Tom Curle will last long though - do you?

Chester ran out in pale blue shirts and white shorts and socks. Very girls' hockey.

Dish of the Day: Duane's getting into low-fat puns now. It's pancake day: "having a crepe time?" Or is he being a cryptic commentator on the season so far? This week's victim of foodal injustice is lemon juice; do have a curry for Shrove Tuesday - it's good for you, and that's official.

The sooner it starts, the sooner it finishes. C'mon, some of us have some shopping to do later.

First half
Chester kicked off towards the Pontoon, chipping the ball down the Town left, over Newey's shoulder. Tambourine Tom let the ball bounce, dillied and dallied, and let a sprightly Deviant swish the ball away from his toes. One touch by Branch, a pass to the full-back and a cross was flickered through the area, grazing off Stickman's forehead and out towards the corner flag. McDermott followed this stray cat and allowed it to run off down a rubbish-strewn alley... for a corner. After much Mutley-like muttering from McDermott the corner was curled in towards the near post, where Drummond, on the six-yard line, flicked his quiff and lashed the ball into the side netting.

Town kicked the ball upwards. Blundell was offside. Sounds weird, doesn't it: Blundell at Blundell Park. Town kicked the ball upwards, Blundell was offside; repeat three times and make a wish.

No, sorry, your wish didn't come true: the Lumpster didn't win any headers, Bolland failed to control the ball, Woodhouse kept dissolving in salt water and Parkinson was, like all good children, seen but not heard. Drummond simply stood on the halfway line and waited for the ball, which unerringly fell into his lap. It's all rather tedious.

Where's that crossword book?

Ooh, ooh, Town going forward. Well, when I say forward, the wind blew the ball and they ran after it towards the Chester goal. Bolland was near the ball at one point, then he wasn't, and Town got a corner. Woodhouse - it's always Woodhouse these days - clumped the ball into the middle, and there was a bit of Greco-Roman wrestling with Futcher floored and a half block of a half shot with a half appeal for a penalty.

Chester were still scuttling about like rats between bags of rubbish, but the linesman dealt with them appropriately by scattering some poison pellets along the edge of the penalty area. Mildenhall dropped a cross and a foul was given after Branch hugged him in mid-air. So he's joined the Steve Mildenhall Appreciation Society too?

Ah, that's better. Cohen chested down a punt on the edge of the area, glided to his left and stylishly sliced the ball towards the bombing range at Donna Nook. A Town shot - that's generally a positive thing, isn't it?

Town's defence continued to look like it was held together with string and hot air, with Blundell and Branch roaming freely... into offside positions. Some bloke lofted a punt towards the right corner of the Town area. Futcher bestrode the Branch as the apple fell from the tree, but allowed the tiny tot to twist, turn and twizzle free to loft a hooking shot nicely wide, and beautifully high.

Duane's right, we're having a crepe time. Ooh, that's seven down, isn't it: gauzelike fabric with wrinkled surface, five letters.

Woodhouse had a rubbish shot. Let's just get on with life and skip over this, shall we. Town are big and bland, full of tension and fear. A Chester player remained on the ground after Cohen won a header in front of the managers' dugouts. The ball rolled through towards goal with Lightning Lump ready to pounce and the referee whistled to halt play.

Chester's initial sugar rush faded, with their keeper continually drop-kicking straight out of play inside their own half. Town had a series of exciting throw-ins, resulting in some exciting crosses which excitingly went near people sometimes, normally the ball boys. The Pontoon kept itself amused watching the two ball boys behind Mildenhall fighting for the one seat, like a game of musical chairs, but without the music. Perhaps they were miming?

Town had a free kick lofted, lamped, lumped, belted, bartered, carted; take your pick of the terms. The ball bibbled across the face of the area and Parkinson set off in pursuit, following the pied piper to his lair. We never saw him again. This has been reported to the local constabulary, who may get around to looking for a small bald male in man-made fabrics. There can't be that many in the locality.

Does anyone know what a piebald crow is called? I'm having difficulty with the top right-hand corner section.

Around this time, which is some time in the middle of what historians refer to as "the first half of the 2First century", Chester had their only effort on target: the only save Mildenhall had to make, unless you count that mis-hit cross in the second half. A quick free kick on their left was dinkled into the centre of the Town penalty area. Drummond rose unmarked and looped a gentle header goalwards. Mildenhall took one step back and caught the ball above the crossbar, stepping back across the line and holding the ball out as he rolled the ball along the face of the crossbar. If you try really, really hard you might get a bit concerned and think "ooh, that was close". Go on, try it.

Town put together four passes, all along the ground, moving from penalty area to penalty area in a swishing, flowing move, which roused the crowd into opening both eyes. With Cohen free inside the area the linesman put on a top hat and some furry sideburns and decided to be all Victorian, ending all this frippery by putting a very large tablecloth over proceedings.

With Town attacking, a Chester player stayed on the ground not holding his head. The referee stopped play and ordered a drop-ball near the right corner of their area. A Deviant was allowed to return possession to Town. How very kind. He walloped the ball downfield for a Town throw-in under the Police Box, ushering his team-mates forward to do a full court press on Town. The crowd began to tire of the referee. Had he forgotten to bring his cards?

Town started to exert some pressure. The usual thing, hurling the ball towards the opponents' goal, barging in, getting free kicks and corners. Toner headed softly goalwards; Parky looped another at the keeper. A Woodhouse clip from the right was looped softly by the unmarked Lumpman to the keeper from about a dozen yards out at the far post. All moments of almostness, but the percentages were adding up: players in the position of maximum opportunity. If we have enough, one may go in.

Blundell was offside again, don't worry. I did tell you they didn't have another shot on goal. Calm down, dear. And just for a change Branch was offside too. He looks like he's had a lot of sugar on his pancakes. Even Futcher outpaced him.

With about 10 minutes left Cohen suddenly spurtled free down the left, turning the duvet defender inside out and hitting a superb cross into the middle of the penalty area from the bye-line. Woodhouse emerged in a puff of smoke to hit a hooking bicycle kick goalwards from near the penalty spot. The ball was cleared by Lumpy's shins and scootled away by a snoozing defender. Now that was football.

Parkinson had a shot. No-one got up in expectation. The ball curled limply to the goalkeeper from about 15 yards out. Eight across: "Name of my aunt who lived in Staines". Five letters, second letter 'r', fourth letter 'd'. Any idea?

With about five minutes to half time Town suddenly decided to keep possession. From right to left, the ball never quite under control, Toner kept it in play with a subtle bit of suppleness on the touchline. Newey was involved somewhere rolling the ball infield, Woodhouse managing to catch up with this runaway train as it bumbled across and releasing Sir Macca. One cross was cleared back and Macca passed infield to Woodhouse, about 30 yards out on the centre-right. He dragged the ball back, took one look and cuddled a flat, diagonal cross to the far side. Jones the Lump sneaked away from his legal guardian and, about a dozen yards out, stretched and looped a header back across goal and into the top left corner. Ah, we pass, we score: simple really.

Chester revved up and roared away from the restart, Lowe sent behind Futcher on the left. Nice try baby, but you only suckered yourself with that stepover. Goal kick to Town.

In the one minute of added time Town obtained a free kick way out on the right. Woodhouse flipped the ball into the centre of the area and Futcher, unmolested and free from any hindrance, fish or fowl, stooped about eight yards out and headed firmly down to the keeper's right. The ball disappeared from view behind falling timber, but emerged again after the goalkeeper flipped it off the line and back into the middle of the six-yard box. A defender, deciding to sort out his own finances after a visit to the local Citizens' Advice Bureau, swiped clear as Futcher lay upon the ground.

That was the first half.

Town scored from the only period of passing possession football. It wasn't even very good passing possession football, for the ball was rarely within territorial waters. The rest of the half was standard fare, the crowd only riled by perceived refereeing injustice. Bolland had an absolute stinker of a half, incapable of passing, controlling or even making tackles: it was like having two Parkys on the pitch. Woodhouse kept being on the wrong side of his opponent, causing the centre of defence to flap like a distressed sparrow. But Chester did nothing noteworthy after the first 30 seconds, so should we be worried about the general direness? Up to the goal the most entertaining part of the game was when Mildenhall couldn't find the ball and the crowd sang "behind you". Well, it made the good linesman chuckle.

Town are crepitating towards promotion.

Stu's half-time toilet talk
"The manual says my car has ESP, but it can't defy the laws of physics."
"The wind is ruining a bad game."
"He's from Misanthrope. That's two miles west of Mablethrope."
"Their keeper's called Gillet: is he the best they could get?"
"I'm sure I saw Nana Mouskouri in the men's toilet."

Second half
Neither team made any changes at half time.

Town kicked off and the opposition nearly scored. After the usual Town lump down the flank, Chester tiptoed away down the centre and right, releasing Branch inside the area at a narrow angle as Jones the Stick was used as a maypole. Branch whacked it into the side netting with Mildenhall already preparing the guest list for his dinner party next Tuesday. Pity poor Branch, doesn't know where he's going or why he came, he's the last of the good old-fashioned steam-powered trains.

Let's get back to the crossword shall we. Eight letters: object of intellectual intuition devoid of all phenomenal attributes. 'Mariners' has eight letters - ah, but it starts with an 'n'.

Did you miss that? Town pressure: a Cohen shot blocked and Newey defenestrated under the Smiths/Stones/Findus Stand. While Deviants moaned Woodhouse took the free quick kickly, or even the free kick quickly, lopping the ball to the unmarked Baron Lumphausen, near the penalty spot, whose header arced nicely to the goalie. The discreet charm of the Luxembourgeoisie keeper was lost on the Pontoon. Like his country, he's very small and easy to overlook until you want to invade France, which is something elements of the Pontoon contemplate in a regular basis. It must be all that Nordic DNA.

Gillet still kept kicking the ball out of play, intimidated by The Lord of all Lump's presence.

Do you remember the first half, where they had their only shot, unless you count a mis-hit cross in the second half. That mis-hit cross happened NOW! The details are sketchy, but sources close to the pitch confirmed that a Chester player, without hair, mis-hit a cross. Back to you in the studio in London. We'll broadcast the first pictures of the breaking news story when they arrive via satellite telephone. Later on in this bulletin: people in Hull are unhappy about something and are merning.

About 10 minutes into the half, as Cohen leapt to head the ball, Ellender stared at the Gazzster and jumped across to obstruct. Their heads bonked together, leaving both splayed across the turf. Play eventually stopped and they were both dunked in aspic, dragged off the pitch and down the tunnel. The Town fans bayed for a red card as the referee continued to keep his cards very close to his chest. As Ellender had simply jumped at Cohen, a booking for reckless obstruction or dangerous play would have been justified.

With both teams down to 10 men nothing happened, except Mendes eventually took off his thermal vest and put on a football shirt. After about six minutes Cohen ran back, immediately followed by Ellender.

Cohen positively va-voomed with vim, causing the game to raise in tempo. Within a minute he'd won a throw-in below the Findus/Stones/Smiths Stand. Regan shouted aggressively and pushed both of his hands into Cohen's stitched and Vaselined face, almost beheading the beaded wonder. We all know that people are the same wherever you go, and also that "if you raise your hands you have to go" (© po-faced pundits). The referee, stood half a dozen yards away with a clear view, told both players to calm down and play continued to a howling, raging wail from the massed Mariners. Town players converged on the referee looking incredulous, with Lumpy, literally, going head to head with the wee man, asking searching questions in the process, at high volume.

With the crowd up at the ref, there's no need for crossword distractions. Let's howl together, c'mon c'mon let's howl together, as boot after boot connected with Town head and Town shin: these high-stepping mammas hobnailing their way across the pitch without fear of sanction from the man in black.

Town were in the ascendant, if not total control, and nothing was getting near Mildenhall. Town pressure but no Town efforts: just crosses, corners and throw-ins. Haven't we been here before? Oh, all right, if you insist. Woodhouse had a shot. It was awfully screwed awfully high and wide. Bolland had righted his wrongs and was having a much better second half: the ball was more often than not under his control and he didn't let those sky blue thinkers out of his box. Cohen, slayed again 25 yards out in the centre, but still no card. Free kick. Newey prepared to shoot as the referee paced out eight very tiny, receding steps. Tambourine Tom curled the ball carefully over the wall towards the top left corner. Gillet, the hairy, hairy gent who ran amok in Ghent, waltzed to his left and palmed the ball out gently, catching the ball as it dropped.

Can you name six legendary Luxembeefburgers?

A Deviant fell in the middle of the pitch, clutching his head, but the referee let play continue, then gave them a foul when Futcher looked at Blundell with a quizzical eye. The referee took eight huge, increasing steps, hauling the Town wall back thirty-two yards or so, and Lowe, twenty yards out on the centre right, cracked a curling curve a foot or so over the middle of the goal. Mildenhall carried on counting his beans.

What is it about Cohen that induces opponents to whack him in full view of the referee, yet no action is taken? Hessey the hussy, underneath the Police Box, kicked Cohen after the ball went out for a throw-in. The referee told them both to calm down. At about the same time Chester took off puffing billy Branch and replaced him with Ciaran Toner's close personal friend from Lincoln, Marcus Richardson. I understand they saw fist to eye about most things.

Oh look, another head clutch by a Chesterite; played stopped, ball returned to them, Town disadvantaged. Is this a tactic?

As the time ticked away slowly a burly bruiser advanced from deep within his own half; ploughing up the field a full furlong, he big-berthaed a tremendous drive from nearly 40 yards out, The ball sailed towards the top right corner. Mildenhall leapt and the ball rose enough to go a foot or so high and a little wide. Artell or Hessey the hussy: who knows and who cares which one didn't score. Some big bloke with not much hair from Chester kicked the ball hard and it didn't go in. Not much of a story for the back pages that, is it.

The Deviant right-back dawdled and Toner roamed and rampaged down the left, bursting into the area, past the last defender. He cut infield and, instead of shooting a dozen yards out, he rolled the ball towards Cohen, but directly at the right back. Chance gone, disappointment abounded.

A minute later Chester were cheesy on the left again, with Woodhouse nickling the ball away and releasing Toner. On Toner bounded, into the area, towards the bye-line and rolled the ball back to the unmarked Driffield Destroyer. Curtis was a bit tired, poor lad, and fancied a little rest, so he knelt down to do a bit of soil sampling. The referee immediately pointed to the penalty spot; he really doesn't like us, does he. Toner and Woodhouse had a long discussion, which was not about the availability of mangos in Asda. Woodhouse snatched the ball away and placed it on the thing we call the missed penalty spot. Gillet buckled to his right; Woodhouse leant back and creped the ball over the bar on the left. Too much milk in the mix, not enough flour, me laddo.

Slade was seen remonstrating with someone in the Main Stand, causing a bit of fluffling about by men in heavy-duty fluorescent coats, and the game continued its way towards the inevitable end. Inevitably Town sank back and Chester pummelled the area, if not Mildenhall. I think they had some kind of shot which hit the side netting on the right. Mildenhall didn't appear to be too bothered by events; he'd nearly finished his library book by then anyway.

There were four minutes of added time during which Mildenhall punched away a cross, Futcher stretched away a couple, Macca half cleared, Toner did a diving header to clear as corner after cross after cross after corner rained down into the area. At the last Futcher and Jones dangled the ball away and Chester's plans came to naught but half a page of scribbled lines. As they prepared for a final corner, the time was gone, the game was over. They didn't have anything more to say.

Home, a home win again. Beautiful? No. Impressive? Not really. But Town's square pegs keep grinding out results. Like toothache, it's just some pain to endure before extraction. That's all there is to say.

Nicko's man of the match
Only two candidates today. Cohen was a complete pest to them with his strength and powerful running allied to his perpetual motion. However, today, ladies and gentleman, it's Ciaran Toner for somehow holding the centre of the team together from the Siberian Steppes of the left wing. He passed, he moved, he cleared up for us. Like Coke, he is it.

Official warning
It's a Mister Lee, it's a Mister R Lee, he's still searching for a clue. Is it a mystery to you how he avoided waving his cards like a Detroit Spinner? He generally let the game flow well, but was erratic in his decision making. He just cannot get away with ignoring the attack by Regan on the head of a man who'd just had stitches for a head wound. That's verging towards Jarnal Singh-type anarchy in the UK; perhaps he was dreaming of a shopping scheme. Oh, you need a score fix: 3.011, then. After all, he did give us a daft penalty.