24 passes from Scunthorpe: Scunthorpe (a)

Cod Almighty | Match Report

by Tony Butcher

2 August 2008

Scunthorpe United 4 Grimsby Town 0

Around 400 grim-faced grumblers sat in a shed with anchor tenants near the Ancholme in a pre-season warm-up for moans to come. "It's only Scunny" - a team two divisions above Town three months ago.

Town warmed up in the warming sun with The Bosh and a hairless Danny North espied trundling; so things can only get better. Things also go better with butter and a sprig of parsley (serving suggestion).

Town lined up in a 4-4-1-1 formation as follows: Barnes, Sticky Ribdale, Heywood, Hope, Newey, Till, Clarke, Hunt, Hegggarty, Lulullewellyn and Butler. The substitutes were Monty, still-tiny-Taylor, Fenton, Bennett and the Humber Bore. The H bombs were responsible for a partial eclipse of the sun as long shadows were cast towards Barnes. Till's tan is fading and Peter Bore wore heterosexual shorts.

First half
Scunthorpe kicked off and their big centre-forward rubbed his elbows over Hope's shiny head, injuring himself, and within five minutes he was history. May didn't, May has gone and is just a memory as the purple Hayes replaced him.

Scunny pressed, pushed and pulled but Town remained staunch. Corner followed corner, cross followed cross and Barnes hopped on his line as Sticky, Newey, Hopey and Heywoody stooped to bonker clear. Scunny tippled and tappled, but the centre did not fold.

A pass, a flick, Town got on Scunny's wick down the left and down the right; Hegggarty, Newey Till and Butler, all levering and lumbering. A flick of an eyebrow and Clarke crossed to Lulu, who leant and leapt and loved a header over the bar. Nice move Town.

Hooper snapped at ankles, pestering like a pooch, but Town legs appeared to divert. A ball dinkled over the top boomped into the area. Heywood shielded as Barnes didn't come off his line. Heywood stared at Barnes, Barnes shuffled forward and Hooper poked his toe through Heywood's legs. The ball rolled on, and the big welcoming Matt glowered as it rolled a yard wide.

More corners: Barnes played hide and seek on his line.

Till had Williams in his pocket, twisting again, like he did last summer, and floogling a shot straight at Lillis. Town sporadically twinkled, but were generally comfortable. Scunthorpe had breaks, but shots from afar, bounding off thighs with sighs and going high. Morris poked a scroopy shot a foot over post and bar, Williams bedraggled straight at Barnes after Sticky Ribdale was felled by a beamer. Stockdale was immediately replaced by Bennett.

Mmm, Hope was befuddled by a drizzling cross-field pass from Williams. Hooper took the ball on his thigh, stepped inside and volleyed over from a dozen yards. Scunny got close, Barnes stayed on his line, Iriekpen headed wide form a corner. Town passed, Lulu winked and Bennett plucked Butler clear. Lillis came out, Butler plunged to the ground and play carried on without recourse to super-slo-mo replays from eighteen angles.

The Ironing people were chunkier, faster and just a little bit better. They flicked and tricked outside the area and Hooper was clear. Barnes advanced and Hooper swerved past and wrenched the ball goalwards from a narrow angle. Bennett saved the day. Hurst coiled the corner to the far post where Iriekpen rose and looby-looed a drippling header back across goal. Barnes watched it drop in to the top right corner. Now that was a surprise.

Those were the events of the first half: what of the performance? Town were not terrible; they were just not as good collectively or individually. It was already clear that the Scunny forwards could run quicker than the Town defenders. Hope's fearlessness and Heywood's impeccable positioning had avoided embarrassments down the centre, while Newey and Stickdale/Bennett had managed to stop infiltrations down the flank. Going forward Town were reduced to cameos of interest but, for those who chose to see, there were some links and jinks that suggest all is not dire. Lulu and Butler linked well together and there was a solidity to the midfield. Scunthorpe had not been allowed to flow.

Barnes was a conspicuous omission from the roster of adequacy. He was garrulous in Gainsborough but silent in Scunthorpe, and there lie the seeds of an invasive weed in Town's back garden.

Second half
Taylor replaced Hegggarty at half time with Lulullewellyn moving to the left wing. It all went horribly wrong in a horrible way. The ball bounded back off Taylor, Lulu was pinned to the touchline and Scunthorpe altered their tactics.

They played at pace and stuck their wide players as wide as wide could be. With spaces opened up between the forlorn stripeys, the Ironists kicked the ball into those very spaces. As they could run faster than us they got the ball.

They had shots, they're multiplying; Town were losing control.

Wide, wide, high, wide, deflected, reflected, inflected, genuflected: Town were being humbled as they stumbled, and the 'faithful' mumbled. Ten minutes in Heywood wobbled on the halfway line and passed to a marauding marooner rather than a Mariner. The ball was immediately flipped over the top and Hooper raced on unmolested. Barnes raced nowhere, then waddled a few yards into no-man's land. Hooper lobbed lazily.

A Town move! Butler twizzled and caressed a pass to the onrushing Till. He swished past his marker, kept his head down and sliced a yard wide.

Wide, wide, high, deflected, deflected, saved: Town crumbled as they were humbled, and the 'faithful' grumbled. A mess, a shocking imploding gloop of dreadfulness with Scunthorpe superior, Town's posterior being whacked until it was redder than Danny North's boots. Hunt and Clarke started to be wrestled aside and Scunthorpe broke at will. Purple Hayes missed once, missed twice, missed thricely hitting Barnes' shins, the post and Barnes' fingertips. Another corner curled into the centre. Where's Barnes? Bouncing, bouncing, bouncing in, Hooper nudged from near. Where's Barnes?

Till was replaced by Bore, who missed a free header and shot straight at Lillis near the end. That's it: the rest is all them.

Forte shot wide, someone headed wide, someone lobbed near, someone else sliced wide and high. A Town mistake, Forte raced down the centre and drumbled a low shot in to the centre-left of goal from outside of the area. Barnes was slow to fall.

It could have been 8-0 in the end, as the Town players just wanted to get to the Costa in Tesco's as soon as possible. Of course the Town support was magnificent throughout, having the patience and maturity to wait until the second half before launching sarcastic, personalised invective which really motivates the jobbing pro footballer in a pre-season match.

Whereas in the first half there was a competitive slight superiority for the Ironers, the second showed up, embarrassingly, that Town will not challenge for the League One title. Scunny's expensive new striker is better than anything we have, and their new centre-back is like a mobile Heywood. They were far better than us, and had sufficient tactical nous to adjust themselves to maximise their strengths and exploit our weaknesses.

They were faster and stronger, mentally and physically. They were just better: get over it. At least we won't be playing a team of their standard in the league. And next week is important, not this. Let's keep calm, everyone and have some perspective: we lost heavily away to a team in a higher division.