Rhubarb and custard

Cod Almighty | Match Report

by Tony Butcher

25 January 2015

Nuneaton Town 0 Grimsby Town 2

Ah, we're back to the bread and butter pudding after the amuse-bouche of the FA Trophy. Nearly five hundred intrepid Townites seeped into the insipid half-built bungalow stadium on a bright still afternoon of brightness and stillness. Out there beyond the trees there were locals sipping cocktails on the veranda, chomping canapés on the terraces.

Town lined up in a 4-4-2 formation as follows: McKeown, Percy Parslow, Pearson, Nsiala, Magnay, Mackreth, Clay, Disley, Arnold, Pittman and Palmer. The substitutes were Walker, McLaughlin, Bignot, Watson and Hannah. With Aswad still either AWOL or AWL, Magnay filled the void. Everyone else was where you'd expect them to be, if not where they should be.

Town played in red, the Nunnymen came dressed as Tesco bags.

The pitch looks muddy: not good. Let's get ready for rhubarb crumble.

First half: As boring as a mole in a hole

Town kicked off towards the wall of sound that was the home end. The sound? White noise.

There were throw-ins. There were goal kicks. There are places I remember all my life, though some, unlike the toilets at the back of the Pontoon, have changed. Some memories lose their meaning, but I will never ever ever gain affection for winter afternoons in Nuneaton. You and I will never get these hours back. Ever. It wasn't even park football, or a kickabout with your mates. Shapeless bargeball and wellying wallops, me hearties.

Arnie clipped, Palmer peeled a lemon and cushioned the ball towards the Feet of Clay. An advertising board yelped. A moment of almostness. Savour the rarity.

When the seagulls follow the supporters it's because they expect Town fans to drop their chips.

McK flapping, McK flopping, many a McK-pickle makes a McK-muckle. Knuckle brushing air-flaps raised the minorest of hope in the hearts of the Nunnies. Near the half-hour something almost happened. Ogleby sauntered free down the middle, way, way, way beyond all humanity. The linesman failed, Toto trailed and no-one inside the brickwork bungalow thought that Ogleby would score. He tottered, tittered, fretted and frittered as Jamie Mac waited and stuck out a boot to flick away this fly.

Toto and Percy piddled about. A stripey swung his pants on the bye-line, mis-hitting a spinning jenny behind and through and across the face of goal. Magnay waited, cleansed his palette and set up a swift counterattack. Perhaps I need to translate that into the language of this game. A swift counterattack: someone fell over on the halfway line and Theo Streete sliced the ball out for a throw-in.

I'm sure West Brom tried to sign Kickyer Bootov from Lokomotiv Plovdiv in about 1983 to replace Romeo Zondervan

How long has this been going on? Too long, but not long enough. When will this turgidity end? Well, some fans with their fancy persuasion, won't admit that it's part of a scheme. Keep it tight, keep us shape, bore them into submission, grind them into a catatonic state. Them includes us, Shorty.

Ooh, hang on! Town swarmed over a Tesco bag and Clay was released on the right. A single fluorescent boot gleamed in the mud. Toot-toot-toot went the whistle and a drop-ball was given, with the Nunnies instructed to give it back to Town. With a punt back downfield. There was oral displeasure, but here's a top tip for Toto next time he mucks up with a paradiddle in front of the Pontoon: kick yer boot off. It's scientifically proven by scientists to be more effective than chasing back. I'm sure West Brom tried to sign Kickyer Bootov from Lokomotiv Plovdiv in about 1983 to replace Romeo Zondervan. One of those statements may be true.

Hey, more moments! Arnold the pampered scamperer scuttled free. Officer Dibble plunged, the ball squinched across the face of goal and Palmer got in a tangle and tackled it gently back to the custardian. Dibble dropped a corner, Pittman gulped some air. Do we care? Why should we care? Why should we care?

As the miserably mundane mediocrity mumbled towards the toilet break, Pittman suddenly awoke. A Tesco bag was hassled, and the yankee doodler barundled along down the left, along the bye-line and whipped a dipper onto the face of the crossbar. Hmm, worth seeing, not worth waiting to see.

There was no more. It was an utterly terrible spectacle. It was normal.

Second half: Accidents will happen

No changes were made by either team at half time.

A corner, headed wide. Three wallops, Magnay missed a wicked divot boomer and Ogleby raced clear, whacking straight at McKeown. That's all at the start of the half, that's them in toto. There is no need to think of them again, probably ever.

And don't you know a funny thing happened on the way to the Italian restaurant. Slowly, slowly Town started to almost pass to each other, to hint at the possibility of probably thinking about having an attack, maybe. Palmer started to rumble-barge.

The Mansfield mauler manhandled his way down the left, crossing betwixt and between the on-trotting Townites. The Mansfield mauler manhandled his way down the right, crossing betwixt and between, air-kissing the crossbar.

Passing. I'll say it again. Passing. Palmer, unmarked in the centre, spun and whacked agin the left post. The ball floobled out into the centre, straight to Arnold, who calmly twizzled and fizzled lowly. Dibble diverted danger, but only straight to Pittman, who prodded into the emptied net space. Nunnies deflated; the critical mass of marauding Marinerdom elated.

Wouldn't you know it, Palmer and Hannah: a partnership from the off

A bit of this and that and Pittman hobbled off, replaced by Hannah the rudderless rover. And wouldn't you know it, Palmer and Hannah: a partnership from the off. The rover has a ruddy-faced rudder. A dink, Palmer cushioned perfectly and Hannah read the knock-on wonderfully. Stupid ref, a foul given. Palmer rampaged and slashed madly over the angle of post and bar as Hannah awaited, unmarked in the centre. Palmer rampaged on the left, tickling Hannah's fancy free. A ladle back and Clay woefully wobbled nowhere.

Pressure, pressure, pressure as Town's strikers gelled in the mould of old-fashioned little and large frontmen. They cannae handle Palmer. The little drummer boys want Oliver to be here to stay. Well, there is danger when he's around and it's a professional career.

Somewhere, sometime in a corner of a foreign field that is forever Nuneaton, McLaughlin replaced the mobile hairdresser. Paddy clipped a corner low, Pearson swiped and the mingling and jingling caused mild tinglings along the terrace. Paddy clipped a corner, Toto arose to be-thunkle down towards the danger zone. Hannah stood in front of the keeper and gently hook-steered over his shoulder and in from two yards.

Any more pie? The football passed, McLaughlin danced around a defender and carefully coiled across Dibble, who finger-plucked aside. Nice. And the sensibly haired Hamish McWatson came on for our raging bull.

Peep-peep, that's all folks. On the road by five o'clock. Result.

As the game bored on Town started to create chances, not just have them accidentally – and all inspired by the accidental substitution. Shorty was forced to make a change and the change jolted Town into acceptable activity. The Palmer/Hannah combo is worth giving a second gig to. That's all you can take from this generally dreadful dirge, it got less worse the longer it went on.

One day Town will impose themselves from the start, not begin from a position of fear. Make them scared of us, not simply respectful of our ability to not concede too many goals. Can this ever happen under the present regime? Or is fear still the key?