Echoes: Wrexham (h)

Cod Almighty | Match Report

by Tony Butcher

1 April 2006

Grimsby Town 2 Wrexham 0

A warm, cool, chilly, breezy, sunny and showery afternoon in Lo Stadio di Silenzio, though fortunately the council hasn't shut down the toilets. Around 162 Wrexhamites mused and amused themselves playing games for a while. Jenga, Mousetrap and Operation seemed to be the favourites, judging by the buzzing sounds.

Town lined up in a 4-4-2 formation as follows: Mildenhall, McDermott, Whittle, R Jones, Newey, Cohen, Bolland, Woodhouse, Goodfellow, Reddy, G Jones. The substitutes were Kalalabumdeeay, the compact and bijou Croft, the Junior Mendes soul circus, Futcher the wrong trouser and neutrino Parkinson. Oh where are you now, our blue-shirted son? Has Toner been expelled from the rabbit hutch? The casualties of war from the Sincil sickbag were the two ex-Lincolnites and that pre-Law full-back in need of renovation. Well, he was wet, the hard rain did fall as the subs splattered and spluttered: they heard six thousand whisperin' and nobody listenin'.

Wrexham? Good question: there may be no answer. The way they're warming up they're sending out good vibrations, giving us excitations. They don't look keen on this seaside special.

Do we miss Dave Boylen's rabble-rousing exercise in elementary mathematics? It was left to the Mighty Mariner to entertain us with a boxing bout against a seven-year-old. Rolling with the punches, the floppy fuzzy foamster floored the tot with a jab and hook combination. It's the modern version of the birch.

Dish of the Day: don't eat a shark if you're thinking of getting pregnant. It'll make you go mad. First bird flu, now mad shark's disease. It's a conspiracy of silence by the powers that be exposed by the Bob Woodward of official match-day magazines. We're through the looking glass here, people.

And finally have found the true price of support: a full fiver for a full human for a full Town fan turnout. Blundell Park ain't big enough for the both of us full-paying customers.

Are we going to get a Powerpoint presentation via the scoreboard at half time?

First half
White socks and white shorts. Oooh, lovely. Where are the hockey sticks?

Wrexham kicked off towards the Pontoon in traditional 'oop and under' fashion. How many times do we have to tell the geographically challenged - Grimsby is not in Yorkshire. Is it still in play? How quaint. I feel a little lost without a throw-in within three seconds. Standards are falling, aren't they.

Dawdle, dumble, rumble, and bumble: the Lump approaches. Sigh: a throw-in. A white balloon settled on the pitch underneath the Lower Stones/Smiths/Findus Stand, distracting many of the Mariners multitude.

After about four minutes Goodfellow twinkled his toes, scrunched his nose and bewitched past two defenders on the left before slurping a firm cross-shot straight into Ingham's midriff. Interesting. Very interesting! Just look at his pace, oh just look at his pace. Goodfellow starring and stirring memories with trickery and mickery. He's a winger who wings! Quick feet and a soft shoe shuffle or two causing minor peril on the Wrexham right.

Ooh, lucky Ingham. A big loopy-droopy Macca cross to the far post was dropped by Ingham onto Goodfellow's head. The ball bounced back straight into the arms of the ambitious stopper-dropper. Ambitious? Oh, don't you remember - he was Slade's first-choice signing last summer. He chose Wrexham (in administration) as they were more "ambitious". How very Kevin Donovan.

The game pootled along with Wrexham slapping and tapping sideways. Ferguson was the fulcrum, the portly passer at the centre of everything. They really should consider entering the next Cleethorpes dance festival performing their artistic tour de force The Crab. Is Denis Smith the Twyla Tharp of football? What hypnotic patterns they weaved, scuttling left, scurrying right, their pincers clapping but never tweaking the big boys' toes. They occasionally ran out from underneath a small pebble, but quickly went back again to hide.

After seven minutes they exposed Newey's post-modern interpretation of defending with a cross whip-cracked in from the bye-line to the far post. Walters waited; Macca rose and flickled the ball away for a corner. Macca: he just is, isn't he. The corner came to nought and that was it for the Red Soup Dragons. Unless you think it's worth mentioning a cross that steepled into the back of the Pontoon. You didn't: well, just ignore that last sentence then.

More Goodfellow lady-chasing awoke the dormant passions within the beating bosom of every Townite. Twisting inside, twirling outside, two defenders placed upon a large shovel and hurled into the compost heap, and Goodfellow hit the bye-line inside the penalty area. He looked up and clipped a superb cross through the centre. Lump and Reddy wafted legs (their own legs, of course) and the ball zoomed to the far post. Cohen, about 10 yards out, controlled it and bumped a shot goalwards. A defender turned his back and was struck somewhere on his arm. No penalty, ball cleared; excitement over.

Town were arbitrarily threatening, with Cohen in one of his spasmodic action days, where his legs moved a second after his brain thought about something. The strikers travelled the globe in their own time, with Reddy chasing vainly and Lumpy eschewing all movement except breathing. Perhaps the defenders would forget about him. Is this a different Goodfellow? Did we take the first one back to the shop claiming a replacement under the 1994 Sale and Supply of Goods Act? It's always safer to buy with a credit card.

After 25 minutes Cohen set out on an adventure, crossing continents on his hand-made tricycle with his trusty fedora atop his head. Past one defender, then a second, the third suckered into a lunge and Town had a free kick about ten yards inside the Wrexham half, on the centre right. "Let Newey take it." He did. Carefully walloped towards the far side of the earth, there was a bout of head tennis on the right corner of the penalty area. In, out, and back again; Whittle nudged and Reddy fudged the ball down to Goodfellow, who stroked a sumptuous first-time chip into the centre-left of the penalty area. Deep beneath the rolling waves of apathy, something stirred and tried to climb towards the light: the Lumpaviathan was awoken. The carnivore glided towards his prey, chesting the ball down and slurping a left-footed volley high into the net. Jones the Lump had scored.

The Lump may move slow; that's because the Lump doesn't have to move for anybody. How could he possibly be offside? His brain was onside.

Wrexham's response was… irrelevant. They passed the ball nicely but they seemed to treat this as an exhibition match, where prettiness was all.

The crowd soon returned to default murmuring as the action consisted of Reddy running towards the corners and the referee flipping a coin to decide whether he was pushed over or just couldn't control the ball. Town had a few corners which were of no great interest. Jones the Stick levered a header very wide once, but even the queues in Sues (sic) chip shop could see that the Grantham Choral Society's concert of Bach's mass in B minor posed more of a threat to humanity. Well, it would, wouldn't it. Bach had no musical sympathy for the human voice: amateurs just sound like Rolf Harris. It's all to do with breathing, apparently.

There you are - I managed to gloss paint over that 15-minute door of imperfection. A steam train glided by, pushed by a big brutish diesel locomotive, which does rather take away the magic of the motion, doesn't it. Or is that an allegory for Russell Slade's Grimsby Town?

Shower, another shower. You've got to look your best and be clean everywhere.

Town were not troubled at all by the pesky little Welsh flies. Without breaking out of a brisk walk, the game was like a pensioners' keep-fit class for professional athletes. And it wasn't even Sunday morning. Shall we have another shot? Why not. Reddy flicked; Lump chested and volleyed immediately from the right corner of their area. Ingham saved at the foot of his near post.

There were other Town moments, lost in music. Newey just wanted to join a band and play in front of crazy fans, but he signed for Town. A marvellous mazy dribble through three defenders on the left saw Newey fiddle himself free into the area, near the corner. With Woodhouse waving, and Cohen claiming, Newey decided to curl a right-footed shot around Ingham into the top corner. Which he did, in his own mind. In everyone else's mind this was a throw-in to Wrexham waiting to happen. And it happened, all right. Cohen volleyed a defender a couple of yards wide following a hanging Goodfellow cross. The referee decided to wag his finger at Cohen.

Goodfellow repeated his goal-creating pass for Cohen, but the man with the beaded hair was hounded out of his village by men with floppy hats and the moment passed. C'mon Wrexies, it's the 2First century, let hair be hair. I can't wait for the World Cup, can you? All that new hair, going boldly where no hair has gone before. See, I didn't split my infinitive ends there.

Two minutes of added time? Where did that come from? They had a couple of daft free kicks; nothing happened and they went in for a cup of tea. No Pictionary this week.

Town were doing sufficient, that's all. There were moments of madness and moments of magic, principally from the increasingly impressive Goodfellow. Bolland was running around a lot, while the defence was largely untroubled. Wrexham were plain dim, for they exposed the weakness on the left but didn't bother to probe further. They were also easily flustered by the simple tactic of running a bit towards them when they had the ball. These blackbirds were easily scared off the potato field. Weren't they hungry?

Stu's half-time toilet talk
"My ears prick up when I hear Gainsborough."
"Last week never happened."
"It's not bad for £2.50 - it's even better for free."
"Ice skating went out the window this morning."
"It's all so much calmer without Futcher."

Second half
Neither team made any changes at half time.

Jones the Stick hurt his head and Town played with ten men for a couple of minutes, which was just an attempt to even things out a bit - well, to try and make it some kind of contest. We'd have to withdraw a couple more players to even things out, to give them a chance of walking the ball in.

"Oh when the Town (oh when the Town) run out of steam (run out of steam)…". A small boy snoozed. What a lovely afternoon: the sun belting down, the Pontoon sulking and shivering in the shade. Perhaps the alleged new ground could have one of those retractable awnings that John Stalker advertises. We could get it in stripes too!

Ah, the irony: as Town ran out of puff, the steam-train-that-wasn't left Cleethorpes, billowing black smoke as the passengers waved to the Pontoon. The Pigeon of Hope flew across from the Findus/Smiths/Stones stand, ducking under the roof of the Pontoon, and circling the ground. Was it leaving us? No, it's back again, perched atop the Main Stand waiting to desecrate the dentists. One can but hope. You'd have thought the Kestrel of Doom would have eaten the Pigeon of Hope by now. Predators ain't what they used to be: too busy doing a risk assessment.

After ten minutes of transcendental medication Cohen decided to liven up the world with a little dribble down the right. He overhit the ball and jumped into a tackle, arriving just after the Wrexham player had booted it away. Cohen was booked and limped away from the referee, then off the pitch, being replaced by Parkinson.

With this the game suddenly livened up. Within a minute Parky had perked his little pickled peppers straight down the middle after a corner was cleared. Twenty, thirty, then forty yards eaten up with Reddy changing lanes on the information superhighway to Hull. Parky's pass picked out Pejic and the Pontoon peeved a little peeve. Wrexham burst downfield and got a free kick about 25 yards out, just left of centre. Three Town players stood in a boat just offshore, claiming to be a wall, and the ball was rolled aside to Crowell, who bazookered a swerving dipping spinning shot straight at Mildenhall's throat. Mammy! The Big M did an impression of Al Jolson and parry-punched the ball away for a bacon and pea omelette inside the area.

Town broke away and Parkinson, again, dribbled in a straight line down the centre. Defenders converged, passes were exchanged and the ball was lifted by the Lumpaldinho over the top. Goodfellow was offside, but stopped, allowing Reddy to run on. The linesman flagged for offside against Goodfellow. Grrr, drat, drat and triple drat, Muttley.

On Town pressed, Newey and Goodfellow mesmerising underneath the Stones/Findus/Smiths Stand. Newey burst brilliantly through one tackle, shimmered past another, pirouetted past a third and poked the ball through a gap between the last two defenders. Goodfellow raced through and from about a dozen yards out squared the ball to the unmarked Lump, who tapped the ball into the net, but the linesman had convinced himself that Goodfellow was offside. Well done, Mr Linesman; I look forward to your next published work of fiction.

Reddy's presence started to unhinge the Wrexham defence with stumbles and crumbles aplenty. Fortunately for them, he was in one of those daydreamy moods, where he never looks for the ball, especially if it's at his feet. Still, it didn't stop them Keystone Copping, with Ingham having to play some head tennis on his goal line.

With about 20 minutes left Wrexham had a second shot, which was nice. A long, flat throw was barely cleared to some bloke on the edge of the area, just to the left of centre. He fair stripped the ball of its dignity, murdering a shot goalwards. Jones the Stick stood in front of Mildenhall and eyebrowed the ball over the bar for a corner. And from that one of their little midfielders shinned a shot against the 'r' in Travis Perkins. The second 'r', if you must know. That's the Travis Perkins sign above and beyond the scoreboard, by the way. It was that Poutonianly close. They even had a little spell of pressure, exploring the dead defending zone on the Town left, with Macca forced to stoop in front of Mildenhall and steer a header over the bar as two attackers lurked beyond.

The game sank back in to an ambling torpor, with only little vignettes to keep us warm. Little vignettes? Aren't they found in fish and chip shops? They're really difficult to open, aren't they. You always end up spilling it on your jumper.

At some point Walters chased the ball down the Town left, inside the area and fell over near Newey's feet. The referee gave a goal kick, which was, of course, a perfectly good decision in the circumstances. No-one outside of Wales even considered it may have been a penalty. Oh no, no way, absolutely not. Right behind you referee, boyo.

For the last ten minutes or so Wrexham sent their large defender, Lawrence, up front. This Dennis was not a menace. His magnificent bulk and brawn were a blunted hacksaw, for Jones was just as tall, winning everything he needed to win. He let Lawrence have a couple of goldfish and a teddy bear though, just so his trip wasn't entirely wasted. With about five minutes left Ferguson, on the edge of the area, sliced a whipping, dipping shot which crawled over the crossbar as Mildenhall feigned interest.

This just served as a cattle prod in Town's thigh. Goodfellow received a pass on the halfway line, near the touchline. He tiptoed through two tackles, saw two defenders screeching towards him and sailed magnificently over their feet, being felled by boots that would have been there if they had been. Twenty-five yards out, to the left of centre, Newey stepped up and some of the less experienced Pontoonites stood up. Ingham took out his theodolite and spirit level, painstakingly constructing a defensive wall. Left, left, up, down, fire! It isn't the golden shot, laddie. Newey took four long strides and, as the GET would say, story continued on page 42.

Town pressed, Wrexham humped clear, and Reddy was almost through a couple of times. With a couple of minutes left a bout of lift and lob launched the ball through Town's midfield to Lumpo, inside the centre circle. He twisted and curved a through-header powerfully over the top, just beyond Pejic. Reddy raced behind to come up behind him again. The ball bounced and Reddy nodded as Pejic flounced and floundered. The ball bounced on and Reddy nodded again, knocking it further forward. From just inside the area, left of centre, Reddy befuddled a low left-footed shot bombling across Ingham and just inside the far post. The Mighty Mariner sprinted behind the goal and caught up with Reddy by the corner flag between Pontoon and Stones/Smiths/Findus, accepting the Kilkenny Cat in his open foam-filled arms. Then dropping him flat on his back.

Well, that's that won, just the formalities to complete. Nice of them to waste their own time, with Pejic nutmegging Ingham when returning the ball for a goal kick. Three minutes of added time. Who cares, for the points have been collected and cashed; the only thing left to do is pull down the security shutters and lock the front door.

You'll see the hacks use words like 'routine' and 'comfortable' and 'easy'. And for once the hackers are right. Wrexham never looked likely to do anything; they didn't look like a side gunning for promotion and succumbed to a typical Town performance - just enough, no frills or cake stalls. This game had nothing to offer the world but two goals. And they were ours. Thanks Wrexham, you've been a wonderful audience. Goodnight.

So there we have the story of Bert's blanket: Town were back to the comforting comfort of a stroll in the Park, where the ducks wait for their bread and the brass band plays, tiddly-om-pom-pom. Remember: no ball games and everyone is happy.

Town have pumped some air back into the whoopee cushion.

Nicko's man of the match
Goodfellow was excellent in the first half and non-existent in the second. Macca was quietly and unfussily Macca-esque in his efficiency but, for being back to the Human Dynamo, it's P-P-P-P-Paul Bolland. Here, there and everywhere.

Official warning
Mr T Kettle was on the pitch; he made some odd decisions, perhaps through boredom, and didn't give them a penalty. He was neither fish nor fowl, so gets an above-average mark of 5.896.