One thinks of it all as a dream

Cod Almighty | Match Report

by Tony Butcher

7 November 2016

Horwich Wanderers 1 Grimsby Wonderers 0

Ah, like a plastic bag drifting in the wind, we're waiting to start again now the Hurst has fled. The Dave Moore Death Stare has one more outing before a Bignot strikes again.

Town lined up in a 4-4-Omar-weirdly-way-out-wide-and-1 as follows: McKeown, Mills, Collins, Gowling, Andrew, Berrett, Summerfield, Disley, Comley, Bogle, Vernon. The substitutes were Warrington, Pearson, Boyce, Browne, Bolawinra, Chambers and Jackson. The middle four were a holey diamond and Omar sneaked around on the far, far left, pretending to be a winger type. Or maybe he wanted some hairy tips from Ameobi, the lanky loanee with stars in his eyes. Tonight Matthew, Sammi shall come as a giraffe dressed as Kajagoogoo.

So, it's come to this, has it? The FA Cup is no longer a meaty, beaty big and bouncy feast, but has become the reduced FAT for even third division fans. It's simply a chore for Chorleyites, a bore for Boltonians, a meddling mess for the Middlebrookers. Hear the 1,900 east coast roamers roar! Even that twittering twitcher who got off the train at Bolton. Have a cold pizza out of the old kit bag and smile, smile, smile.

We're roaring in the raw, with a wicked wind flapping many a coiffure in one of the M61 corridor's leading conference facilities. Just look at their space, just look at their space! You have to say that's a magnificent multi-functional blank canvas, not forgetting the mezzanine floor.

It still looks like a slowly deflating bouncy castle. There's always a mezzanine flaw in every plan, you know.

Live from Horwich, it's the quiz of the week: who's next?

First half: Diamond lights

Town kicked off towards the west, where some people were spotted by some of the more hawk-eyed hoodies from Not Humberside.

There's a hole in our bucket, dear physio, dear physio. There's a hole. The diamond with soulless feet, a holey absence, a big splodge of red emptiness. The Town midfield so paper-thin, like a house of cards just one blow from caving in. Perry, a fizzling firework, Trotter a tootler, Zac! Clough sneaking through the cracks in the pavement. Bolton are bigger, Townites simply bounced off their flora, fauna and aura.

A minute in and a moment here, another minute in and a moment there. A fliggle through the miggle and Gowling's slip-slide half stopped the white tide. A tickle to their left and Proctor did a cheesy wiggle near Zak! and wellied lowly across McKeown. The ball skipped off Gowling's retreating toes to glide against the right post, back into the centre and Andrew can-canned into their crowd, gathered and grooving with some toothpicks over to our right.

Town couldn't stop the white flight through the holes in our shoes. Zac! Clough, a constant menace, roistering through from deep, beyond the two pillars of wisdom. Moments of almostness for the trotting Trotters with Trotter the most almosting of them all. Red legs stretching, red heads nodding, red flight spells danger. Can't hold out much longer.

They call them the Wanderers, yeah the wanderers, as they roamed around, around, around, around the Town at will.

Trotter's momentum carried him to the heart of Townness and the barely remembered borrowedboy barely celebrated. Outta respect. Weird. We'll be carrying his mum's shopping home next

Diamonds and pearls, triangles and trombones, a majestic sweep of their broadest brush and Clough bounded through the centre like a puppy chomping on a poppadum. On he bounded, pursued by bears as McKeown stood forlornly, barely flapping feet or fingers, then casually rolled the ball past the far, right post.

Oh, oh, oh what a lovely miss.

There they come again. And again. And again. Poking, stroking, nodding and Town plodding. Andrew cushion-volleyed a deeply dippy cross away and Clough clipped the corner to the near post. Trotter arose alone six yards out to power-flick high across Jamie Mack into the toppish rightish cornish. Trotter's momentum carried him to the heart of Townness and the barely remembered borrowedboy barely celebrated. Outta respect. Weird. We'll be carrying his mum's shopping home next.

So Andrew clobbered a bloke and got booked. What a pickler.

With Town looking rocky now they were feeling cocky. The homesters only occasionally bothered to break their stride as these Wanderers started to wonder why they needed to roam at home. The waves stared to recede. Omar plunged and Summerfield caressed the free kick into the waiting wall, as the wall of Townites wailed in the east. A stray Town corner, a straying keeper with much floppiness and Berrett flip-flapped way, way over. Some giant tobleroning on the left and Summerfield bedraggled from the right. The redsters started to pass to each other, frequently. They almost got inside the Bolton penalty area too. Almost. Ah yes, there once was an ugly duckling, whose wingers were neither Tombola nor Browne.

Here they go again, Clough running late for the bus and stubby-stabbing wide, or was it pokey-prodding high? For the home crowd there's stimulation through infiltration. Ameobi, their Leggy Mountbatten of the wing, ball juggled and jug-bottled a wallop straight at McKeown's face from afar. White shorts skewering left, scouring right. Did anyone bring the kazoo? And what exactly is a joke?

Who could possibly have predicted the corner that Gowling headed wide at the near post?

Oh, is that it? It surely is. Town had embarked on an embarrassment avoidance scheme. It felt like Derby déjà vu all over again. Just give it a go, that's all we ask.

Second half: Head over heels

Neither team made any changes at half time. Ah, but Omar was now centrally placed, not marooned in Theydon Bois without an Ostercard. Or Oystercard.

Town ticking away, but the clocks went back last week. Town went back to basics: 4-4-2, passing and movement. Roaming, raiding full backs, Vernon finally having some effect as an occasional table. A tip, a tap and here's Zak! A cross and Berrett arrived to tickle-flickle crawlingly over the grasping fingers of Howard and the crossbar.

A minor irritation as little Bolton broke away. Proctor turned the T-shirt inside out and snapped straight into McKeown's chest. Or possibly feet. Who can tell from our tin can, far above the world, and when the advertising boarding were flashing.

Let us cast aside tales of drunkenness and cruelty. Mike Newell is the past, the future is bright, what about the orange? Ah, but oranges aren't the only fruit. We have a cherry on top of our strawberry cheesecake. Big triangles of tipping and tapping, Town spreading play across the pitch like wildebeest roaming the savannah. Omar, Omar, Omar, Omar, Omar, Omar, Omar Bogle stepped into the centre, stepped out from the shadow of giants and wiffled inchingly over the bar from 20 yards out.

Now and again the flash Boltons approached McKeown on the counterattack, against the flow of football, against the run of the mill. If anything happened I'll let you know.

The momentum was building, the ratchet was ratcheting and Howard was catching Summerfield's corners. Sumptuous sweeps from hither to thither. Way out on the right Vernon passed along the edge of the penalty area and Berrett spun past a white shirt into a wonderfully large hole ten yards out and to the left of their goal. Berrett smacked high and hard; Howard stood tall and arced gently to magnificently parry away for a corner. Howard caught Summerfield's corner. Again, as he would 20 minutes later, and again five minutes from the end. Metronomic in the metropolitan borough of Bolton.

Pressure, pressure, pressure, oozing Townness as Bolton snoozed. White heads, black shorts, white socks stopped the clocks as Berrett's bedoozle was blocked after Vernon's walling.

Omar attracted moths and was felled by the butterfly effect of the groundsman's blade, for the grass had been cut shorter than expected. Ah, let's coo. Lovely, schmovely first-time this and first-time that, as Town plotted a circuitous route across the globe avoiding local trouble spots. And Yorkshire. We're still cooing. Bogle beautifully brought the ball down and half-volleyed skimperingly over the bar. I bet that looks good on the dancefloor.

Vernon arrived and arose above taller men to glance, perchance to dream of a plum. The ball kissed his forehead and gently swayed away from the net and drifted inches wide

I suppose they had one of their attacks about now – some kind of fortuitous thing obviously. Down the right with twistyness and McKeown scrabbled low to claw aside. A bit later, something similar and another low save pushed aside and away with punchy sparkle.

And, we're back in the room. Squeezeboxing and shadow boxing, with slick flicks and tricks. Andrew sneaked and creaked a cross that arced gently toward the far post. Vernon arrived and arose above taller men to glance, perchance to dream of a plum. The ball kissed his forehead and gently swayed away from the net and drifted inches wide. Oh, what a plumber. Vernon's signing is going down like a lead balloon.

Oh, hang on, it was about now that they broke away and nearly scored. But didn't because McKeown clawed aside their substitute's drivel. Jamie Mack was forced to sweeper-keep as a stray balloon billowed across the pitch. I think the locals counted that as a moment in their boredom and pain.

Let us clear up some of the boring administration of this game. Tombola replaced Comley and about five minutes later Browne replaced Berrett. Oh, and Gowling was booked after the regulation Summerfield catastrophic error eight yards outside the Town penalty area. Look, he's taking longer to make his mistake. That's improvement, isn't it? By Christmas he'll only give the ball away during the post-match warm-down.

Omar collapsed, holding his leg, and limped on and on and on and was booked for giving Wheater a piggy-back. Oh come on, he was only being helpful to the old man. At this, Jackson finally replaced the hobbling hero of the bouncing boys.

It's all about Town hot dogging along with a splash of the Browne sauce. The Caribbean king teased and pleased down the left with swishing and swaying, tickling sideways inside the area. Vernon swept low, around a thicket of white socks. Howard sailed low and right with a flying flick from the very bottom of the post. That sort of thing shouldn't be allowed in this day and age.

On we surge, a rolling roar from the mass of Marinerdom splattered across the lower east side of Manhattan. A shot blocked by the bonce, Trottermen plunging to earth at the slightest slight. I do believe Mr Joshua Gowling from the division of Lindsey in the shire of Lincoln questioned the efficiency of the local streetcleaners. Heaven forfend, Mr Referee. Shocked, they're shocked.

Tombola bowling along with gusto but insufficient precision. Hey, things happened, almost. And finally Disley wafted over, dizzerpointingly.

The first half was damp driftings but, in the end, there was nothing to squibble about. The ending was better than the beginning, with many a snippet of future fancy to munch on the way home.

The dream is over, or is it about to begin?