Bodies in motion and at rest: Chester (h)

Cod Almighty | Match Report

by Tony Butcher

2 October 2007

Even builders drink fruity tea now.

Grimsby Town 1 Chester City 2

A still evening and we're still in Cleethorpes with 76 Chester trombones leading a big parade through the Osmond Stand and a hundred and ten cornets close at hand! Let's rain on their parade, we've run out of Mars bars.

Town lined up in the passive/aggressive 4-5-1 formation as follows: Barnes, Spikey Mulligan, Fenton, Bennett, Newey, Till, Bolland, Clarke, Boshell, Toner and up top just Rankin. The substitutes were Montgomery, The Lump, the old Ninja Whittle, Tip-toe-tiny-Taylor and the Humber getting even more Bored. There's nothing to say, is there, so I won't say it.

What do you want? Just the facts? Let's get on with it then.

First half
Town kicked off towards the Osmond with the usual Newey high punt from left to right, blah-di-blah-di-blah-throw-in. Hang on, what's this? It finally worked! The ball hung and Till wung down the wing, cut infield and dribbled a shot straight at Danby.

Town must've woken up this morning half asleep with all their blankets in a heap and the yellow roses gathered all around them. Chester were quicker to the ball, quicker to think, quicker to move, even quicker to bicker, whereas Town were just a bit dopey: strolling and bowling underarm donkey drops for our Deviant friends to whack around. Big John up front was an elegant flicker and his little mate Lowndes made their hearts beat quicker, Partridge scampered like an effervescent squirrel and Ellison, I understand, once lived on the Wirral.

Tic-tac-toe. Ellison crossed, Hughes ran straight down the middle and prodded wide. A-roo-gah, a-roo-gah, a-roo-gah. Warning - this ship will self-destruct in five minutes.

Chester dominated as Town continued to wandered blurry-eyed through the cornfields. Bennett cleared sensibly as Big John Murphy tiptoed through the tulips, and Fenton decided that as Whittle was not playing there was a giant Whittle-sized hole that he should fill. So Fenton entered the Ministry of Silly Walks tied to a bungee rope with banana slippers and an exploding hat. Ah, I see a chink of light: 'tis Till tormenting the full-back, pointing to his big ears and calling him Big Ears. It was obvious, but it was effective. Till za-zoomed and crackled a dipping cross beyond the far post. Toner waited and Marples grazed the ball out for a corner.

Chester continued to make right Charlies out of Town, manoeuvring the centre-backs away from the penalty area and little midfielders scuttling past Clarke and Bolland. Lowndes dribbled and Barnes wiped his cheeks, patted him on the head and gave him a dummy to suck. They were very good at persistently fouling in non-dangerous areas, but not fouling enough to get booked. The constant manhandling and trips stopped Town getting any sort of passing rhythm going.

After 10 minutes of befuddled bewailing Chester started to tickle Town's toes on their right. Toner and Newey stood back and admired the hickory-dickory mocking. Partridge, underneath the Police Box, spun like the Tasmanian Devil past Newey, who nudged, nurdled and was hurdled. Newey grabbed Partridge's shirt and the linesman flagged. Newey stopped, Fenton stopped, Bennett stopped, Mulligan stopped, Boshell stopped. Yes, Town stopped: Chester didn't. Partridge flipped a cross over, Lowndes flicked the ball on and Murphy, eight yards out at the far post, steered a stooping header into the top right corner. The whole of Town whined as the Cheshire cheesecakes dined. What do you learn at school? Play to the whistle.

And finally Town awoke. Town glimmered, Town glittered, Town shimmered, Town drove you wi-i-ild! Well, eventually. Slowly, slowly, Chester retreated and allowed Town to play football with feet and ball and everything. Clarke tidied up and set the ball rolling, rolling, rolling towards Rolling Rankin, who rolled. Upended and debagged, Clarke wellied the free kick rather tamely at the nearest standing Deviant. Shall we concentrate on Mr Till tonight? Chester's left-back did not exist, for he'd been vapourised in the slipstream of turbo-Till. Town tickled our fancy on the right with passing and movement, and Till. Till, Till, Till it's all about Till. He dribbled past two defenders near the corner flag, hovered along the bye-line and gently stroked a pass back to Bolland, unmarked ten yards out. A sea of yellow matter custard dripped towards him as Captain Shins leant back and flabbered a searing drive a few inches over the bar.

As Town swept forward Chester had little breakettes. Suddenly Partridge was behind the Town defence, Bennett and Fenton in pursuit; Mulligan drifted and Partridge souffl├ęd a shot from the edge of the area, nicely to Barnes. Ellison, unmarked inside the area, expressed a certain dismay at the turn of events, in contrast to the local inhabitants. And then Hughes kicked the ball over the Pontoon to complete the set: one booted over each stand. Can we have ball number four please?

Town were ticking, with Boshell starting to make incisive runs into the area, Rankin a firm wall and Till was a-steppin' out at will. Bennett swept a Chesterite aside, advancing up the right and scooping a pass over a tiny Chester head to Mulligan, halfway inside their half. Mulligan smuggled a sneaky pass around some yellow inflatable and Till jumped in his speedboat, adjusted his cravat and, with champagne glass in hand and a pretty girl on each arm, set off for an exclusive jet-set resort: Mablethorpe, maybe. Till cranked a superb cross deep into the heart of the penalty area where Boshell elegantly ambled forward, ducked his head and steered a header down into the centre of goal from ten or so yards out. A brilliantly created goal, executed with style. Magnifico.

Till continued to tease, roasting and coasting past the invisible defender with cross after cross grazed, grappled, and groaned away. Off Chester broke, with Ellison drifting infield and bumbling a mishit shot straight to Barnes. Mulligan wasn't even challenging Ellison, as Chester's tactics descended into route-one hit the big man on the wing. Pah, isolated moments, but dangerous nonetheless.

Oh such beauty! Is this the face of football which launched a thousand quips? Frazzled and frightened Wilson dissolved on the halfway line as Till dispossessed him and raced off down the right. Suckering three defenders, Till back-heeled to Bolland on the corner of the penalty area, who calmly rolled the ball across the area. Rankin, a dozen yards out, stroked a pass across the transfixed keeper. The ball crawled towards the bottom left corner as the whole ground (except the 76 trombonists) stood to acclaim the greatest goal ever scored by Rankin ever, anywhere, tonight. It kissed the outside of the post and we all sat down again.

A minute later Town were back again; Tilly being frilly, Mully being a bully and crossing slyly into the centre. Rankin, unmarked a dozen yards out at the far post, thighed the ball, shook his hips, limboed under Linwood and scraggled a shot goalwards. The ball hit a yellow boot and squirtled up in a strange and unusual way. Danby was down, his feet flapping and the ball arcing slowly towards the emptying net. The demons shall not let Isaiah score, for the ball hit an invisible forcefield, plumping back in to the prostrate keeper's hands. Has Rankin been cursed by irate Michael Reddy fans? He shall not score a league goal for 100 years.

Till crossing and crossing and Danby flapping and flipping. Corners and corners, free kicks and passes. Town were encamped outside the Chester area, smoothly switching the ball from flank to flank, but drawing a blank. Do we need to go to a bank or over the Humber Bank for a striker?

Shudder at Toner's miscontrol and attempted retrieval under the Police Box, which just dissected the Town defence, sending Lowndes free inside the penalty area. De-shudder, he'd miscontrolled it out of play. Phew and triple phew for that. Let's get ready to mumble: it's a Newey rampage, rumbling upfield and felled by Hughes. A booking, at last, for the irritating trippers. Anything else to say about Newey? Not really, though he did a lot of trademark swaggering upfield, which brought minor moments of mirth.

With a couple of minutes left Yeo replaced Lowndes. And then they all walked off for a tangerine and tambourine.

A curious half in which Town had started dreadfully, been imperious for half an hour, and should really have been leading. But deep, deep underneath the surface there was unease, for Chester were a different kettle of crisps from previous opponents. They just looked, well, professional (their left-back excepted). They had method, they had mobility, they had nous. They knew when and where to foul, they knew when and where to attack. Worrying.

Till had been just brilliant. It's a pity we had to stop.

Second half
Smoke billowed out from behind the Osmond: run and get the fire brigade! Chester replaced Grant with Sandwith, bringing on a proper full-back methinks.

They kicked off and everything was fine. Town cleared down the left and Rankin was liberated from his soul on the halfway line. Butler and Marples did some doggy paddling as Isaiah hypnotised and terrorised, getting closer and closer. Passes were exchanged and Rankin burst in the area, through one, through two half-tackles. A few yards out, a few yards wide of goal, with just Danby to beat Rankin stumbled over the ball and ran back upfield before wrenching himself at an angle of 273 degrees and smackering a curving shot towards the top left corner. Danby dived, Danby saved. Boshell clipped the corner and Danby fell over his own defender, but the referee gave a free kick.

Taken quickly, taken short, within a few seconds the ball was on the left edge of the Town area. Yeo nudged the ball on and, without blinking, hit a first time twisting, dripping half volley across Barnes. The ball hit the post and fell to Ellison, ten yards out, whose aim was true.

Now was Fenton's shirt pulled when jostling for a Bennett long throw? Of course it was, but that would have been a penalty: too risky!

In the 5Second minute Danby hooked a goal kick into the Town dug-out, causing Peter Bore to rock forward gently, like a an addled Pope. Thus the Waldorf and Stadler of the Pontoon were moved to public speaking: "You're a kicking muppet!" Was it Mr Purple or Mr Vole? And what about the mysterious third man, Mr Right-Hand-Man with the flopping fringe? It's a triumvirate of tantric angst from a swirling fog of ambiguous muttering seeps, though we can know that each bassoon will have its big, fat say.

And with this yell, the bell tolled for Jamie Clarke, who was replaced by Ye Olde Lumpy, and Town reverted to 4-4-2. Clarke had played well and there was mild consternation at his withdrawal rather than Captain Shins, who was at his most shinny today.

With Town more 'positive', rammed full of orange juice and nuts, the game crumpled into a bit of British bulldogs. Town did not flow. They did not control the game so easily and the football was less easy on the eye. Jones and Boshell beautifully flicked wall passes, releasing Mulligan, who fell over the ball when about to burst free from the shackles of history. Rankin bullied his way through two challenges on the right and released Till; he twinkled, he toed and glowed a sensual caressed cross to the far post. Danby dunked his biscuits as he skipped across his goal and the Lump leant back, six yards out, and glanced a header a yard wide.

And with just less than half an hour left the usual change was made: Taylor replaced the irrepressible Rankin. He'll never score, will he. Now which one am I referring to?

Let's brush over Chester's counterattack where Fenton did some kind of last-minute noodly clearance after Partridge had tunnelled through the fault lines in the Toner-Newey tectonic plates. It's mostly Town, with isolated moments of connectivity: Boshell bubbled wide, Mulligan flushed himself wider, slower. Town's power lines were down, where's the engineer? Chester were quite content to sit in their tent, wrapped up nice and warm in their puffa jackets and thermal vests.

With 20 minutes left Town flicked three passes and Taylor was freed by Boshell, down the centre. He raced on, old men in pursuit. On he went, on and on he went. On and on and on into their area, to a spot a dozen yards out, to the right of centre, with just the keeper to beat. Danby stuttered and fell to his left and Taylor passed the ball low to the keeper's right; the ball hit shins and was hoiked away for a throw-in. Bennett wanted to hurl it long, but Mulligan scweamed and scweamed and scweamed and scweamed, so it was chucked to him. He failed, simply launching a Chester counter-attack. He tackled Partridge, he failed. Buckley took him off. Goodbye. You're a tubby Kevin Jobling who can't defend.

And hello Justin Whittle. Bennett moved to right-back and a calmer place the defence was.

No-one really believed Town would score again; the efforts were generally shrugsome, with Newey's 30-yard free kick the epitome of the pervading aroma of dismay. He kicked it straight into the wall. Boshell delicately flighted the resulting corner in from the right and the Lump, six yards out at the near post, gently turned his head and guided a glancing header across the face of goal. An open goal, the back post being uninhabited. The whole ground still and silent, simply waited for the ball to roll into the corner. It carried on and started to drift and drift on the ephemeral breeze, bouncing against the post, onto a defender's gentleman's particulars and a foot past the post for another corner.

The last ten minutes were just ten minutes waiting for the game to end. The Deviants had the ball a lot, running at Town, then into corners, taking up time. Apart from a scruffled Partridge shot which Barnes held easily. Oh, and some kind of rubber dribbler from left to right which caused no trouble to anyone, my dear.

Town? Inconsequential shots were blocked, and I have a vague memory of Toner's boot making contact with the ball. And at the last, to sum up the game perfectly, Chester cleared the final, desperate long throw from Newey. We had a Bolly volley that hit our folly, Toner, and blooped out for a goal kick. The end.

Town didn't deserve to lose, but at important moments players lost concentration and Chester were cute enough to take advantage. Let's not forget that Town hit the post twice and they hit it once. They got the rebound, we didn't. Is that fortune, or is that players being aware? It's both, isn't it. Town were millimetres from victory; it looks like that sort of division this year – the smallest fraction between top and bottom.
The song remains the same, doesn't it. A striker required.

Nicko's Unsponsored Man of the Match
For 45 minutes Till was totally brilliant, fleecing his full-back at will, providing cross after tantalising cross. And then they brought on a defender and we didn't see him much after that. Clarke was, again, faultlessly competent at stopping and starting and was surprisingly sacrificed on the altar of 4-4-2. But for all-round consistent effort and efficiency, for being the one midfielder to keep running beyond the strikers, even in the last few seconds, it's the midfield maestro, Danny Boshell. He's just so very calm and sensible.

Markie's Un-Man of the Match
Poor Toner, it's been building for weeks and the dam has burst. He's a one-legged trapdoor of calamitous inconsequential meanderings at the moment. He can do no right, and didn't.

Official Warning
My, hasn't Herman Munster shrunk. The dapper dabbler was just a little too liberal in letting Chester's tackles flow, but apart from that Mr Fred Gwynne didn't do anything that we can complain about, if we are being honest. Shall we be honest? The first goal was an excellent piece of refereeing, the second a minor error by him on their goal-line. The mistakes were ours, not his. He gets an astonishing 7.947, and he'd have got more too if he'd given us a penalty for no reason I can think of. What is this league coming to - even the referees are adequate. It's a disgrace, it's destroying football. We've no-one to else to blame!

The Others
The most professional team seen yet this season. They had a plan, changed tactics and formation in response to the evolving world, and always looked able to 'do something' if required. Had Town equalised you just got the feeling they'd score another, because they needed to. Murphy was what a mixture of the best bits of Lump and Rankin would be, but with goal threat. Partridge was extremely tricky and Yeo was the lurking devil in their dark corners. Their defence was breachable on the flanks and a little slow down the centre, but they were a cut above Hereford and Stockport in footballing terms. They aren't blessed with too many hulking giants though, so brute force may overcome them.

If they carry on like this then they should be fiddling with the play-offs. Who knows what tomorrow brings?