Handle with care: Bournemouth (h)

Cod Almighty | Match Report

by Tony Butcher

20 March 2010

Grimsby Town 3 The Bournemouth Identity Crisis 2

Forty-nine days and counting…

A fine mist turned into drenching sheets drifting mirthlessly into the faces of hardly150 hardy cheerful Cherrypeople huddling together around braziers in the Osmond stand. Was the ground half full or half empty? It's a question of perspective.

Town swung like a pendulum-do in a 4-4-2 formation as follows: Colgan, Bore, Stirling, Atkinson, Widdowson, Devitt, Sinclair, Sweeney, Coulson, Peacock, Ak-Ak. The substitutes were Overton, Wood, Stockdale, Leary, Hudson, Wright and Chambers. Another day, another wandering loanster. Who is this mild-mannered jangler at centre-back? We've signed the biggest man available: Jude Stirling is hewn from the finest granite, or possibly made from girders.

And it rained harder, so everyone ran inside before their tans washed off and we got an orange pitch. Grimsby is the sort of town where men don't use umbrellas.

Commencing countdown, engines on; check ignition and may God's love be with you.

First half: Hey Jude, you'll do
The Cherryboys got in a group hug and the clock ticked past three. Seconds drifted into minutes into days. Spring sprung, summer came and went and they carried on hugging. Get on with it!

Town were eventually allowed to kick off towards the Pontoon with a chip near the galloping gourmet, Ak-Ak, but beyond his noodles and ketchup. And woah, baby, Town did slap and tickle the haughty strollers. Ak-Ak surged and swayed, Peacock danced away his heartache and someone crossed near someone else and something almost happened somewhere. Bournemouth sliced, Town diced these carrots as Bore swept sweetly and Sweeney boiled his beef with a deflected shot.

A corner? A clearance. A cross! A clearance. Town, Town, Town Towning Townily. Ak-Ak flicked, Peacock shovelled a spoon and Devitt slid to miss the dripper at the far post. Bore whittled a twig and Captain Peacock swipey-swept a volley against Bartley's midriff and the ball rolled to Jalal.

Jalal was so excited by all this activity that he had a little lie down.

And Town's momentum momentarily stalled.

And back we came. A bit route one, sometimes route two, and occasionally via the A46 stopping off in Market Rasen for a cuppa; it was a dolly mixture of fruit-flavoured sweetness. Perfwang! Stirling hurled a sub-Delapian missile into the heart of the Cherrynation. They quivered and quaked as the ball ballooned over Atkinson, drifted beyond Ak-Ak and splattered in to the sodden turf, bouncing up into Jalal's hands of gloom underneath the crossbar. Why did we get Jude Stirling? Perhaps he's just been waiting for someone to perform with.

For a brief moment Bournemouth accidentally had an attack, but not of the killer Bs. Big Old Fletcher glanced a header well-well-well wide from way-way-way out. In 20 minutes that was them in their entirety. A cross not headed near goal. No-one died.

Atkinson was scythed but Ak-Ak was allowed to barundle brilliantly upfield as the crowd rose up behind in a Mariners Wave. Shot blocked, man booked. Devitt devilled, Coulson crimped and Sinclair cheekily fell under the gaze of Bradbury as Town wrapped Bournemouth in bubble wrap, then started to pop the pockets.

Devitt wafted the free kick way over and beyond humanity and the first grizzles groaned out from the stands while the keeper wallied the goal kick upfield. Sweeney headed it back into their half, Ak-Ak wiggled and wriggled and waggled his pipe cleaners to sit atop Le Bulldozer as he drove through their defence on the centre-right. Defenders lunged and Ak-Ak dragged a shot across the keeper, who fingertipped the ball aside. It rolled slowly, slowly and slower still across the void. Devitt was seen through the misty rain as the ball stopped and Jalal hailed a cab. Jalal dived, Devitt slid and the ball, Devitt and the whole Town team ended up in the back of the net.

And the crowd went wild.

We'd woken the monster! Corners, corners, free kicks and corners drifting and drooping into the Town box. Colgan caught, Colgan punched, Peacock sliced, Ak-Ak grimaced and finally a header straight into Colgan's arms lightened the mood.

Stirling prepared for a long throw, then flopped it short to Bore before crossing low to the near post. Atkinson did a little jettė, spinning and flicking the ball on. Jalal flung out a hand and diverted spectacularly from his near post. Ooh I say vicar! Any more cucumber sandwiches?

And back they humped. Corner - corner - corner - goal. Hit high from their left to the far post. Bradbury rose unmarked to plonk a firm header high past the static caravans from five or so yards out, five or so minutes from half time. Now that's not what we wanted is it.

And Ak-Ak bustled Ak-Akingly past several hundred wallowing red shirts to do his usual slice into the Pontoon with his left foot. Time for tiffin.

Town had been exceedingly fervent and frothy for half an hour, steamrolling the tarmac in preparation for the new by-pass. But one slip is all it takes. One person once didn't do something and then they scored. Town were dogged and deserving, playing with fire and brimstone, but also some cuteness. The wingers were worrying Bournemouth and they trembled when Ak-Ak unfurled his flag.

Town looked a good team, Bournemouth didn't. Listen lads, we can still do this.

Second half: Escape to Victory
And the rain came down and down and down. Puddles on the pitch, mud gleaming in the floodlights and jumpers for goalposts.

Under cover of the night Bournemouth sneaked a sub on: McQuoid for invisible Connell, while Town came out early to get wetter.

Ak-Ak went on a motoring holiday through the quaint Dorset villages of thatched centre-backs and stony-faced full-backs, stopping off for a cream tea now and then. Vroom-vroom, beep-beep and beep-beep yeah!

Pump it up Town! Through the shower curtains we could see Town thrashing forward. Sinclair and Peacock were on tenterhooks as the ball bounced against a red hand, but it ended up in dirty looks as the ref was listening to muzak on his iPod. He saw no evil and they broke, we panicked, and they shot against our Big Rock Candy Mountain Man. Stirling may never change his socks, for he just has to stand still. He certainly doesn't run, more waddles like a penguin.

And the man at the back said everyone attack and it turned into a Blundell Park blitz. Coulson hoddled a swishing, fizzing pass from one touchline to the other, right onto Devitt's toes. He trapped it, unwrapped the full back and sent a golden pass across the desperately lunging Jalal. Peacock slid and Ak-Ak tobogganed beyond the far post and swiped into the side netting from a millimetre out. Bradbury was finally booked for failing to get out of the way of a hopping Coulson and Ak-Ak glanced the free kick wide after a droopy drawers delivery from Devitt.

Devitt again! Town twizzled passes one-two-three from left to right and Devitt drifted past his notional marker to smersh goalwards. The ball flicked off a red head and dropped inches over the bar as the man at the back was ready to crack as he raised his hands to the sky. No corner given, no jacket required. Phwoar and roar!

They got into the Town half again. That's nice.

And back to normal. Sweeney coiled a corner from the right into the middle of the area. Bodies twisted and turned and the ball looped goalwards. Coulson leant forward in front of a defender and…wahey! Coulson had scored from a yard or so out. The Cherrymen went slightly barmy but we cared not, oh no. They seemed to believe it was a handball or something. Frankly, my dear scarlet shirts, I don't give a damn when we're in our usual March mess.

And the crowd started to count its poultry.

They kicked off, they pumped it forward, Fletcher buzzed away a fly and swatted Bore's challenge. Feeney raced on, cut inside and, from the edge of the area, mis-hit an embarrassing shot straight at Colgan. Not so nasty Nick laughed in the face of such mediocrity, flipping pancakes and quaffing ale as the ball apologised towards him. It rolled through the swamp, through his hands, through his legs and a very large carriage drove through the short-lived rehabilitation of Nick Colgan. A goal, so shockingly terrible that it can't be credited to anyone.

An epic stunned silence, then the bile started to rise and fly toward the crestfallen Colgan - for about two seconds. Then the crowd rose to support the team, the players and drown out the minority invective. Sinclair ran back to gee up the keeper, the others too. The fightback starts here.

Goulding came on, then Goulding walked off without touching the ball. Chasing an aimless punt under the Findus, he did some cockney walking, knees out thumbs under his braces. Stirling took exception and the red card came out. Oh happy days.

Let's lay siege.

Shot, shot, shot, block, block, block. Town camped, Bournemouth were digging tunnels. Corners and corner and corners to Town. Atkinson hoped over, Peacock noodled wide, Ak-Ak glanced wide. In and out crosses bumped and Town patiently tapped at the window pane, Ak-Ak brilliantly controlled a high ball on the touchline and back-heeled into Devitt's path. He shot, the ball wobbled, Jalal stood still and watched as it slithered over the crossbar.

With ten minutes left Feeney was allowed to run and run and run. He crossed, Fletcher baulked near goal and there was a major league panic session of half clearances, stumbles and bungles. The ball fell to a Cherry a dozen yards out who walloped; Colgan stood still, held his arms out and blocked. The moment passed. Just.

Chambers replaced Coulson with Ak-Ak moving to the left wing and the great siege of the Osmond end continued into its fourth decade. Sweeney crinkled a free kick through the middle of the penalty area and inches from feet and post. Chambers dunked a header wide, Widdowson dinked a header wider. Atkinson stooped to plonk high. Bournemouth were slowly pulled apart as Town played etch-a-sketch.

Ak-Ak moonwalked, Chambers snaffled and the ball rolled into Sweeney's path ten yards wide of goal. He looked up and delicately snipped a chip goalwards from a narrow angle. The ball spun and glided over the keeper but at the last Jalal loomed into the gloom and fingertipped the ball over. Ak-Ak bicycle-kicked the corner over.

And still Town attacked.

On and on and on Town's custard poured over these raspberry crumbles. With a minute to go Widdowson steered goalwards from another corner and Jalal scootled across his goal line to kick the ball away from his left post. Town retrieved, Town crossed, Town crossed again and again. Devitt crossed from the left to Chambers, half a dozen yard out. The ball squirtled off his thigh behind his marker and Chambers turned to slapper calmly above Jalal into the right side of the goal.

Do you remember those days? Those great escapes? This was one of those moments as the rafters bounced to the primal screams of joy.

Hudson replaced Devitt and the seconds ground out in a daze. Sinclair lost possession but the referee managed to see a foul. Bournemouth broke down and crossed… into the crowd. The cry of joy at getting a goal kick surpassed that of the Chambers goal.

It was wet, it was wonderful. It was a win.

Grimsby Town: reputation changeable, situation intolerable, when was the last time Town were adorable? This was all about Town, who thoroughly deserved the victory, outplaying Bournemouth throughout. The great escape act starts later every year, and it really started here. The atmosphere in the ground was tangible and the players and crowd fed off each other to pulverise. Once the mean machine gets in gear it is irrepressible, unsurpassable, insurmountable. Don't give up: we're not beaten yet. It is still possible. It is.