Fifteen shades of grey

Cod Almighty | Match Report

by Tony Butcher

28 November 2016

Creepy Crawlies 3 Grimsby Mimsies 2

Hop on the Crawley Express, there's a jolly hostess selling crisps and tea, but it's hard to get by when the aisles are the size of a pea.

What a miserable place this nebulous new town is, a place with no future and no past. Grimsby may be dying, but at least it was alive once.

Half a league, half a league, half a league onward through the Crawley alleys marched the near 600 travelling Townites on a crisp and brown afternoon. No soggy dips en route, no soup en croute in the snack bar. Soap, hot water, and hot air in the dryers: I just don't think these arrivistes understand what lower-league lavatories are for.

Town lined up the alleged duck soup-coloured kit in a seemed-clever-at-the-time formation as follows: McKeown, Mills, Collins, Gowling, Andrew, Bolarinwa, Summerfield, Disley, Jackson, Vose, Bogle. The substitutes were Henderson, Jones, Pearson, Comley, Chambers, Browne and Vernon. Think of the formation as an oblong polo. Vose floated behind Omar, with Disley and Summerfield yo-yoing between too near and too far from everyone. Look at the space between the ears with fear.

There were those that remember the deeds. There were those that remember what they have been told about the man. A minute of total and utter silence.

First half: I don't want to go to Crawley

Town kicked off away from the finger of fans wrapped around McKeown's goal.

Oh dear. Call the emergency services! A sinkhole appeared in the middle of Town. Power down, no access to Omar on the other side of the street. He could be seen waving as Town drowned in the red sea washing over them.

From right to left, a dink and Andrew was nudged aside by a redster. Barely five yards out a redhead stooped to steer wide. More holes, more trolls on Twitter for the alarmingly absent. The Town players distracted during the fourth-minute applause and the Crawlers crept forward on the left. Gowling blocked, and a Crawleyite crackled into the side net. Just reimagine the same scene, as Town's pips were squeezed and a shot deflected off grey studs and skipped into McKeown's midriff.

And there was the cloud along with the darkness, yet it gave light on their right. Then Jackson stretched out his legs and the red seas parted. Mills big-balled from right-back and the temporary Tykester drivelled up the bye-line, cut in past hesitant hedgers and crinkled lowly. Some people call him Mor-reees, some people call him Morris, I speak of the pompitous of keeping diving low and right to scuffle aside.

Town flummoxed by flexible fiends in red. Payne donned his brown overalls and swept up the loose chippings as Town weakly winked towards Omar.

A-ha, stirrings in the pot. Tombola bombled along, Bogle dummied, turned to accept the richo-bound from red legs and passed over the bar from the edge of the area.

Crawley raced their Corsas around the inner ring road as Town fiddled with their Trabants and Jamie Mack double-fist-pumped a stick of rhubarb away. Collins and Mills did a fancy fandango in the penalty area and coiled up to the rotating Omar. Our hero held, hauled and eventually mauled.

"Foul throw!" Bullseye. If you don't ask, you don't get. I'll remember Crawley for that.

The ref allowed play to proceed until the finalist of fouls. Jackson was scrummaged to mother earth and Collins headed the free kick over from nearby. Collins headed a corner over, headed a corner wide and headed back home to protect the weak.

Crosses, misses, and a bunch of amateur drones near missing near Gatwick. Another deflected shot skipped into McKeown's midriff. Town stroking and Omar a-roaming around inside their penalty area. A whacking wellython down the left and off they za-zoomed, Town all a tither. Yussef swayed and swung a pass into the void on the right, where Zak! had attacked and not returned from war. Crawlies to right of them, Crawlies to left of them, Crawlies behind them.

Stormed at with shot and shell, while Mills ambled and Gowling fell, their Collins feinted to shoot with his left, cut back and watched an old grey man slide by. The shot winkled through Orange's legs and inside the nearest of posts.

I remember some passing, I remember Summerfield blazering over from a cut back from the right. When my life is through and the angels ask me to recall the thrill of it all I won't be remembering that.

"Foul throw!" Bullseye. If you don't ask, you don't get. I'll remember Crawley for that.

Two minutes were added that no-one wanted. There's some hot air that needs blowing on to ungloved fingers and undersocked toes. C'mon ref, you know how to whistle, just put your lips together and blow. Vose emerged from his dreams and our nightmares with a twizzle and fizzling thread for Tombola. A clip, redhead graze and the ball collided beautifully with the big bonce of Bogle, who artfully steered the ball in a lovely arc over the keeper and into the right corner.

And then it ended. What a muddled mess of mishaps and mis-shapes. There's a hole that needs filling, or at least a quick bosh of plasterboard and a lick of paint.

They are too fast, we are too slow. Not a good combination. But Marcus had been making notes.

Second half: I want to go home

Neither team made any changes at half time.

Town pressed the flesh with flashes of football. Mills roamed, Omar big-dipped from way out right and the ball landed on the roof of the net. More roaming and homing in on Mor-rees's personal space. Tombola and Mills exchanging glances, taking it in turns to burn the red left. A flick and a flak from Jackson and a panicked wallop from inside the six-yard box as Omar lurked. Crosses and infiltrations, long chucks, short chucks, thisism and thatism, all we are saying is give us a shot.

Ah, another break, another flailing exposed. A turn in the middle, a big droop in the vacancy at left back and redlegs scuttled behind the trotting Andrew. Their Collins shuffled onwards to the bye-line, cut a cross to the penalty spot and Roberts hooked around Gowling to steer lowly across McKeown into the bottom rightish of the goal.

With about 25 minutes left Comley replaced Disley, who was running on empty, and Jackson was replaced by Browne. Take it easy, don't get excited, Crawley brought on some pink boots. As the substitutions were pending Vose waited and expected, then shirked and shrugged out of the next challenge. And carried on shrugging and standing as a red shirt appeared.

As the substitutions were pending Vose waited and expected, then shirked and shrugged out of the next challenge. And carried on shrugging and standing as a red shirt appeared

And the homesters upped the oomphness and crawled all over the beaten eggs. A free kick pulled back and scriffled through the thicket. McKeown parried. A scramble and scrape and some greying man kicked off the line. Space, pace, a terrible mix for the terrible construction that was Town's defence. Collins walked off with bloodied faceness and Vose passed out from a throw-in for a corner, with a wretchedly lazy stroke behind Andrew.

Collins was still off the field when Roberts in-swung a medium-paced drooper from their right which sailed over a couple of idle bystanders vaguely at the near post. McKeown plunged low with no-one near, scrabbling and clawing at the ball. Suddenly there was joy in the hearts of the citizens of Crawley. Certainly there was tutting despair elsewhere. Aggravation, humiliation, McKeown has obligation to our nation after this ball of confusion. Shall we be kind and say Roberts scored?

And oh, the beating goes on.

And would you believe it, Town moved to a 4-4-2 formation when Vernon replaced Summerfield. Vose was now the black and white hole around which our world swirled.

A wiggler wriggled through a trio of summer fruits and waywardly wallied way over with just an Orange blob between him and goal. Some other stuff, you know, like that but a bit different. Over and wide, here and there, waiting for the end, waiting for the end, I want to go home now, I'm not interested in watching a soufflé collapse.

Way out right and bothered by gnats, Omar harrumphed up the touchline, barundling and barging past local wideboys. Tombola back-flicked on and Bogle took further steps to reduce the embarrassment with a magnificent curling, dripping cracker which curled into the perfectest spot under the crossbar, inside the post, and into the memory of all that remained.

Five minutes were added, just to make us late for our trains, and draw out the pain of false hope further. Off they swaggered, lacerating Town's right with aceness and paceness. Payne stretched and slapped against the crossbar. Town big-dipped and big-dripped and the ball dropped beyond the stars. Tombola took a touch and Mor-rees high fived the welly from his near post.

Timeless timewasting wasted their time and Town walloped forward. Vernon arose to body-pop the ball onwards and Browne was freed inside the penalty area. The red swarm approaching. On exactly the same spot from which they scored their first goal, Browne brilliantly disguised his shot as the most chicken-livered buck-passing non-pass to where Vernon would have been if he was.

Can we go now? Yes we can.

It wasn't the best of Town, nor the worst of Town. It was simply being Town, playing whack-a-mole with the holes.