Walking a thin line

Cod Almighty | Match Report

by Tony Butcher

10 April 2016

Grimsby Town 0 Eastleigh 0

A sunny and springful afternoon with no time for worries and 36 happy Hampers hunkering down in the Osmond stand. Don't worry, you self-styled Spitfires – hurricanes hardly happen. How kind of you to come. Close your eyes and drift away, for our pre-play-off season is in full swing. Will we be third? Will we be fourth? We'll just have to wait and see. Oh yeah, and we're going to Wembley anyway, whatever, however reluctantly, naturally. Ooh look, a sailing dinghy.

Town lined up in a proper 4-4-2 formation as follows: McKeown, Tait, Gowling, Nsiala, Robertson, Stewart, Nolan, Disley, Arnold, Amond and Bogle. The substitutes were East, Pearson, Clay, Jennings and Hoban. How could we not start how we finished Aldershot off? Well, we couldn't and wouldn't and didn't.

Eastleigh turned up in all red with that diagonal white stripe sash slashing from right shoulder to left hip. They even cut their hair and they don't even care, for it's hip to be square.

It's April, so we're just waiting for what may be in May to avoid some gloom in June. Remember that the gloom in June falls mainly in the dunes.

On we plod against all odds.

First half: Broken bricks

The white stripers kicked off towards the Pontoon: sideways, slowly and straight out of play.

Listen, do you hear it, drifting and lilting on the gentle sea breeze? It's a samba band on the sand. Sway those square hips to the rhythm. Slinky dinky Stewart and a whole bunch of nearlyness. A deeply dippy cross, Stewart miskickery, Amond header and Flitney flicked out his fists to parry-punch from the foot of the far post. A delightful dink, Amond flicked over his shoulder and headed on. Bogle buggled into the ground and over the bar for the first of the many, many, many, many corners. Elevation, if not satisfaction, guaranteed.

Oh, hello. Some redness arriving near the Pontoon. A smuggled mess as a corner glugged and gurgled and fell to the feet of, ooh let's say Turley. Slackery and unmarkery as he turned and learned some local dialect words as his shot hit the fans high in the stands. A way-out wobbler whiffed in and out and back into McKeown's hands, and that'll do from them.

Ah, fun with Dick and Jane on the right. Amond flicked over and on to Omar. With time to think, he thought the right thing to do was to aim between the keeper's legs. Flitney flopped away.

Corners, more corners, more elevation. The Dizzer drifted through the centre and dipped a delightful volley towards the top left corner. Flitney flew and flipped the ball up, up and not away. Amond sneaked in and chested back across the face of the keeper, the face of the goal and faced off against the referee as the ball rolled an inch wide after he tumbled under the keeper's claws.

The day trippers were wrapped up tight, snug and bugging us with their tactical duvet. Twenty minutes of window shopping for a plastic windmill, but at least the toilets are free at Blundell Park

Corners, more corners, more elevation and Omar arose alone. Flitney's fingers flicked again. Another corner, another elevator on the stairlift to Devon. Well, we can but dream of Exeter. Arnold awaited on the edge of the area and coiled around and through the red mist. Flitney fist-punched away, dissecting Omar and Amond.

Oh how moreish this dish is. How long can this simmer before the tasty juices dry up?

Are we marinating or has someone forgotten to put some money in the meter? The ball started to bounce higher and higher, and red wrapped monochrome in a functional hooded overcoat. What it lacked in style it made up for in waterproof stitching. The day trippers were wrapped up tight, snug and bugging us with their tactical duvet. Twenty minutes of window shopping for a plastic windmill, but at least the toilets are free at Blundell Park.

I'd rather Flitney's fingers were burnt than our football frazzled. An aimless punt into the dullest regions of the Town area was chased by Tubbs. Gowling twisted and shouted as McKeown lurked behind, right on the bye-line. Whoops. Tubbs read the plot and nickled over Jamie Mack, but straight out of play.

Hey... yeah, you… you're back in the room. You've been talking in your sleep for 20 minutes. It's almost half time. Who won the Grand National? Was it Red Rum again?

A chuntering chip into the deep left corner of their penalty area. Amond chesty-rolled and riffled a sneaky hook into the side netting. And finally Amond flicked over his shoulder onto Bogle's big toe. Much boggling by the Boglemeister and a be-dribbler bibbled into Flitney's gloves as Nolan sulked somewhere near Spurn Point.

If you had to trust your gut you'd say it's a racing certainty Town won't score. It's one of those days.

Second half: Black and white maths

Neither team made any changes at half time.

And we're off. A dink and Amond chased to almost flick over Flitney from the bye-est of lines. But didn't. A bit of this, a bit of that. A Town corner was elevated; Flitney elected to punch and was elated at the distance his flapping carried. Off raced a redman into the vast void in the shadow of the dentists and blanket dwellers as Tait traversed the globe to save the Earth.

Like two rhinos rutting, Payne and Tait clashed in international waters, equidistant from the two managers. Tait remained floorbound, clutching his legs as humanity, in the form of men paid to pay football occasionally, mingled and mumbled. Out came a red card for Payne as their manager stamped his feet and scweamed and scweamed and scweamed so hard his pigtails fell off.

From the restart Town tore into the bedazzled nouveau-riche arrivistes. Nolan coiled a cross from under the Frozen Horsemeat Stand. The ball flicked off a red head, avoided the lurking Bogle and sailed into the flightpath of a monochromer. Amond stretched his stretchy head and noodled firmly. Flitney flicked up his finger to flip over from under the crossbar. Disley dodged through the dreary and diverted the corner on at the near post. Flitney was frozen and the ball arced towards the empty net. One last obstacle remained. One last red head turned to face it and inadvertently graze the ball to crawl over the crossbar.

Then Town stopped tearing.

Eastleigh sat further back in two time-wasting banks of four, happy to let locals have the football. Town totally seized up, getting slower and slower, eventually becoming entirely static, reduced to aimless chips from the halfway line. Momentary moments of movement between the musical statues. Nolan curled longily towards the Police Box and Amond twisty-lobbed over the fluttering Flitney and over the bar. An elevated corner was punched way away and Tait shimmered through the desert to skim a fizzler from 30 yards through thick and thin and a foot wide of the right post.

Hoban did a decent turn and pass. He got stuck and moved around. We could rent a hovercraft, but at least he's trying

It's getting to the Point formerly known as Parslow. Hoban and Jennings replaced Bogle and Stewart to heavily muted sighing. Well, there we are: Hoban did a decent turn and pass. He got stuck and moved around. We could rent a hovercraft, but at least he's trying.

And here we are again. A long crisp chip was dinked; Hoban chased himself into a cul-de-sac and passed back to Arnold, who passed a cross into a void. Nolan swept into the centre of the penalty area and swept a sweet shot through a plunging redster… but straight at flippin' Flitney who protected his face and repelled the latest assault in his nose.

Eastleigh hadn't even got in Town‘s half since the sending-off, so they're bound to be gifted a goal. It's the iron made up law of unmagical thinking.

Oh yeah, see, I told you so, typical Town, typical Toto. Behold the Tottering Towers of Toto as the Eastleigh substitute for another man chased an empty shirt into the corner of the penalty area. Odubade nudged the N'ploding Nsiala to nick the ball and turn to fearfully face his crowd. Smiling. Merciless McKeown turned round to pluck off the timorous toes. Obudabe looked down to hear the sound of the faces in the crowd.

Dink, duck, clunk-click every trip. A succession of weary wafts and failed loft conversions to our bungalows. Is this it? Hobbling and bobbling, Hoban snickled Jennings free, six or seven yards out. He neither crossed nor shot as Amond awaited at the far post. Jennings simply shinned sleepily into the hands of Flitney.

Four minutes were added.

You can go now. That's it. Four minutes passed and Town didn't. A succession of humps and lumps and some were down in the dumps for the chumps were guilty of serving soggy chips. And we all know we don't like soggy chips.

It should have been a lot better, it could have been annoyingly worse. Does it really matter? Our season starts in May, we know that.