Tied up in Notts

Cod Almighty | Match Report

by Tony Butcher

5 September 2016

Notts County 2 Grimsby Town 2

Ah, this is what we want, a return to the splendour of the grass in Meadow Lane with the ghost of David Elleray, the memories of Paul Reece and now, and in colour, Paul Hurst's all-in-red army.

At a roughly estimated guess precisely around and about 2,376 travelling Townites descended upon the old village of the Snots as torrents of rain brought back memories of the greatest, the saddest, own goal ever in the world. And the curious case of Antoine-Curier.

Town lined up in the necessary and sensible 4-4-2 formation as follows: McKeown, Davies, Gowling, Pearson, Andrew, Chambers, Comley, Summerfield, Vose, Tuton and Bogle. The substitutes were Warrington, Boyce, Mills, Disley, Berrett, Bolarinwa and Vernon. C'mon, have some patience. No tutting about Tuton until we've seen him play, eh? Comley and Dotty Tuton both have heft, being solid of leg and body.

Them? A bunch of blokes and a collection of yellowbelly cast offs. I spy, with my little eye, two old Scunnyites, one former Impite and a Rodman in a pair of white boots. And Duffy, brother of Duffy, that shared Lincolnshire failure. What a motley crew and plenty of ingredients to bake into your cake of confected hate.

First half: The life of pie

And as the game kicked off the hard rain stopped falling, but Tuton had only just started his hard running. And you know he's gonna fall sometime.

I hear the sound of a thunder that roars out a warnin'. I hear the roar of a wave that could drown the whole world. We're the black and white army, you're simply a black and white cub's camp.

Rodman roamed, Comley wrenched. We'll all come to have a liking for the Comley wrench.

Tuton terrorising with tumbles and rumbles, linking and jinking, knocking and de-frocking. The home guard tossing and turning, flossing and gurning. A humpy lump and Tuton tinkle, Chambers bounded free, cutting in and out and in and out like a squeezebox into the penalty area. The goal a-gaped but a home boot slip-slided away for a corner. A corner wasted.

Hard running, hard cheese. Tuton flicked, Chambers scruffled infield and carefully bedrumbled into the keeper's waiting arms. Bogle boggled and Summerfield swiffled wiffily wide. Bogle dunked a big dipper into Tuton's flightpath for a moment of neverness that could have been a contender.

Have ten minutes passed? No, and neither have Notts County yet.

More, more and more Town. How do we like it? We would have liked it more if Tuton hadn't rolled wide of the left post as the keeper ached right after slithering through a phantom defender. On Earth we call that missing.

Oh hello. An accidental corner was hob-nobbed around and dinkled back over and beyond Pearson and Andrew, to the unmarked Duffy, brother of Duffy. From beyond the far post, ten yards out he volleyed back across the face of goal. McKeown plunged low to parry back into the centre where Stead waited and wallied way over.

Any more pie? Stanley topknot fluttered a flute and McKeown pushed aside, back into the centre. Pearson donned his brown overalls and whitewashed the walls.

Pearson's inswinging yorker of a header which slowly dribbled into the stumps off the inside edge of a defender's shin pads. You know, it looked like it was going down the leg side

Andrew wimped a free kick into the lower shinwall as Omar, Davies and Vose, the trio of curry kings, waited to spice the dish. What a waste.

Omar rumbled and roamed, turning Fritz Laing into a pumpkin pie. A corner. A corner elevated. Pearson arose on the penalty spot and be-thunked an inswinging yorker of a header which slowly dribbled into the stumps off the inside edge of a defender's shin pads. You know, it looked like it was going down the leg side.

And still the red masses marauded over the colourless Countyites. Nicky-nacky Comley calmness and Vosian va-vooming and grooming. The crimson tide washed up against the banks of the Trent and Chambers was slipped free to slap a slice of pie against the post holding the net up. Omar muffled a free kick lowly for a corner that Andrew fancy-flicked highly high at the near post.

Ooh, they're still here? Sleepy shores and a wall pass. Tiny Armstrong stretched to welly over from the edge of the penalty area. Vose trotted, a Tootle tuttled and, why am I bothering to tell you something that wouldn't have happened anyway. Jamie Mack smothered the offside Forte as the red sea parted. That's how good it got for them: they didn't score when they were offside once.

Two minutes were added. Two minutes happened. Town should have been two up, you know. Almost perfect. Almost.

Second half: Oliver's army

No changes were made by either team at half time, but the half-time kids' game was excellent, with the little blonde girl out-Bogling Omar with Cruyffian drag-backs and twirls. Sisters are doing it for themselves when it comes to football.

A-ha, we're back in the land of plod. Town dozily drifting, Countyites haring around. The initiative seized with local intensity. Wingers winging and space aplenty as Town narrowed and frows burrowed. No, brows furrowed, that's it. Something nearly happened after space and all that. Gowling blocked. More holes in the desert and Andrew sliced dicily into the crowd after Gowling hoped for a hop, skip and jump.

Andrew dithered and dillied with nonsense, Rodman robbed and rifled lowly, scruffling between goal and the unmarked Forte at the far post. More ups than downs, County reverted to their old, old ways of route-one barging. Shot on, chance on! Deflection, corner and the corner flicked on and flicked on again. Summerfield and McKeown diverted danger at the near post. Beware the corner boys.

You've got to strike when the moment is right without thinking. A homely throw-in deep down in the hole under the masses of Marinerdom. Hassled by Comley (designer scent for the modern man about town) topknot Stan, with a gentle touch, stroked back towards his keeper, without pace, power or awareness of the predatory panther. Omar toe-poked between the keeper's legs and… oh dear, we've reached the Parslow Point – two-nil up away from home. What to do, what to do?

Of course there was a triple substitution – from them. Off strolled tidily tepid topknot Stan, the aging Stead and, err, someone else we hadn't noticed existed, and on bounced lean and hungry-looking ones and a boy with silly hair. If we think too much such men are dangerous.

Town's collective mind went sleepwalking as Oliver began putting their world to right. An idle dink and Gowling hoped again, but the ball disappointed him. Oliver shimmered, McKeown raced way out to slide-tackle once and slide-tackle twice to block. They're giving it some welly and rubbing against Town's soft underbelly. Gowling pulled apart, full-backs exposed, and Oliver headed over when surrounded by red on the edge of the six-yard box.

Berrett replaced Chambers, then Tuton sat down holding his feet. After a small tour of medium-sized music venues in the east of England, Tuton eventually hobbled off. On came Vernon.

A gathering rumble on their right, rolling into the Town penalty area. Comley interjected and flickered away, but straight on to a monochrome chest. A flick and a cross into the vacant plot on the penalty spot. Oliver steered low and McKeown marvellously pushed aside, but straight to Forte four feet out, who poked into the emptied net at the near post.

Another minute, another cross into the twilight zone. Oliver flew low and headed over as Andrew admired the quality of his tailoring. With no great publicity a great public event was announced. A penalty. O'Connor, you are such a fool. Shanked low and right, Jamie Mack dived low and right, and, lo, the right thing happened. The post was kissed and Town had a goal kick.

A roundabout of broken dreams, as the ball came in and out in monotonous monochrome regularity

Omar counter-rumbaed and plunged to Earth inside the penalty area. Vose fancy-danned, awaiting the resurrection of the Bogle, which just never came as the turf-sniffing Omar waited for someone to come along with his cape. C'mon Omar, get up offa that thing, it's a man's man's man's world.

And with about five nominal minutes left Disley replaced the now-static Vose, with Town shrinking into a 4-1-4-1 formation. Omar was sent out to the left with Vernon all alone, using his pace to chase lost causes.

Holes. Everywhere. Piemen punted, Townites swiped airily and fairily waiting for the next hump. A roundabout of broken dreams, as the ball came in and out in monotonous monochrome regularity. Attack versus vague defence, the ball constantly ending up in the vacant plot twixt retreating defence and creaking midfield. Into that space created for Disley to patrol, space that was not there before. Town were losing their vacant plot.

Another round of rumbles. Lumped long, the defence retreated to half clear and immediately bumped back. Oliver chested down and silly-haired Collins, unmarked on the edge of the area, scrumbled a scruffle lowly through Gowling and into the centre-left of the goal. And no-one was surprised. We'd been waiting for a goal or two.

How long to hang on for the draw? Seven minutes were added. I think they were brought forward from next year's accounts as an accrual.

And Town moved back to 4-4-2.

The hungry wolf could taste the blood of the injured little dears. Higher and longer, bigger and dipper. Head tennis flicking and Gowling shrinking further. Forte noodled on and up into an incongruous space on their left, ten or so yards out. Oliver arose alone and stonked a header over Jamie Mack, who grew and finger-flipped up, up and onto the roof of the net.

Bogle-boogieing and a cross deflected up onto the top of the bar for a flurry of corners. Pearson headed over, Gowling crankled against some home ankles and we end with the unmistakable sound of the Hawaiian Goose.

Town should have won. Town should have lost. A point gained, but two thrown away. Confused? Aren't we all by this season so far. The borrowed boys were a hit but the defence is still… in need of some structural underpinning. Vernon is no lone wolf, and experimenting with that was the needle that broke the camel's haystack.

The days of the dull grind are over.