On the waterfront: Rochdale (h)

Cod Almighty | Match Report

by Tony Butcher

17 October 2009

Teenage Town 0 Rochdale Cornets 2

Welcome to another day in the way-out café, the queasy spoon of the Football League. We're not crying; life's just raining on our faces.

This week's Town lined up in a 4-4-2 formation as follows: Old Nick, Bore, Bennett, Linwood, Master Bradley Wood, Forbes, Mendy, Sweeney, Shahin, Ak-Ak, Magennis. The substitutes were Overton, Lairy-Leary, Normington, North, Clarke, Heywooden and Indefinable Jones. Confused? You soon will be. Wood the youth team right-back was at left-back; Shahin the former youth team right-winger was on the left; Bore the space cadet striker glowered at right-back; Mendy stood near Sweeney and Magennis flexed his biceps, triceps and abstract concepts near Ak of Ak. The average age of the first team was 13¾.

We expect nothing.

As the final warm-up routine of tiggy hospital began, Shahin was so overcome by the thrill of it all that he kept them waiting as he signed autographs. Or perhaps it was the crowd signing autographs for him.

Rochdale came to our party dressed as a Belgian second division team, circa 1996, all purple and white frills. Town came as the Tetney under 14b Scouts. It was nice to see they all wore the same colour shorts for once. Those fines are working.

With the whistle awaited, Magennis ran over to the dug-out and had a short puff on his asthma inhaler. Did anyone check the pollen count?

When will we start sneezing? And will we ever stop?

First half: Teenage wasteland

The game started, which is never a good portent for Town happiness, with the purple people waltzing towards the Pontoon. Mmm, a moment of nearlyness as Rundle bundled and chubby O'Grady cross-dressed behind Bore.

Town walloped towards musclebound Magennis and Ak-Ak the rubber man. Rochdale just caressed forward. Like taking candy from a baby, it's so easy.

Ooh-er missus. Bore rampaged down the right and dragged a soft cross to the unmarked Forbes, who sweetly swerved an even softer shot high into the Dale five hundred. It happened, you need to know.

Oh here they come, here they come on the right. Whoa whoa whoa oh yeah. Bore and Forbes just strangers passing in the street, by chance their glances met and Rundle ran away with the cow. Linwood stretched, Bore wretched and Dagnall coiled beyond the angle of post and bar. Or this might have happened later. I kind of lost count in the excitement - was that five or six shots that Town blocked after Forbes and Bore got in a pickle?

Mendy finally arrived in midfield via Ryan Air, undercarriage accidentally clipping a Daler's scalp as he descended from 1,000 feet.

Wood was wrongly convicted after Whalley wailed and some big bloke glanced a header wide from the free kick. Just a minute later Jones shimmered past Mendy and shot straight into the crowd. The ball never deviated or hesitated for a minute.

A Daler dinked, Dagnall ducked into Linwood and Rundle snuck past the frozen Bore. The purple piper played his tune, the Osmond Stand choir softly sung three lullabies in an ancient Lancastrian tongue as Rundle trundled in to the area, weaved left, right and left again to pass into the bottom right corner.

Yeah, yeah, we know...

Don't moan, they tried you know, eventually abandoning the hit and hope nonsense. Ak-Ak spun and dried a duvet at Arthur. Shahin shinkled a cross near Forbes. And then Wood roamed magnificently through three tackles after a sneaky interception and was felled near the penalty area. Sweeney drooped the kick to the far post where a defender passed back to the keeper/the ball hit a defender on the shins. Take your pick - the man in powder blue saw no ships.

There's a purple haze all around Town's penalty area. But we do know if we're climbin' up or down? Rundle chipped, Dagnall chested and O'Grady twisted a half volley inches wide of the right post. Mmm, that's good that is. Town attacked, Rochdale broke, Wood hurtled along the model railway with Whalley and Colgan plucked the ball off the feet of the raiding Daler.

Town attacked, Rochdale didn't break. Town attacked, Town still attacked, Town passed it! Magennis grazed wide, Linwood sailed the seven seas to head wider. Ak-Ak wove baskets, Shahin opened caskets, but all that glisters is not gold. The cross sailed over all to the unmarked Forbes. The rest is just his story with Town: he squirmed a terrible mishit against a redundant defender. He coulda been a contender, he coulda been somebody; instead he hit someone's bum.

Them, them, them, goal. Us, them, us, us, us, Forbes is useless. Where's the orange juice?

Second half: Teenage kicks
Neither team made any changes at half time.

You're not supposed to do that, young man. We don't do quick thinking here, not in this Town. Shahin sprinted across the area bellowing at Sweeney, forcing him to take a short corner. Rochdale were bamboozled even more than Sweeney, and Shahin curled a cross deeply. The ball ached above Mendy and dropped beyond the far post, in deep space, where, like Immingham, no-one can hear you scream. Linwood unfurled himself from the pipes and slowly slapped against the eventual defender. It was, as we say in these times of clutched straws, a moment.

Magennis bumbled and humbled at Arthur, Ak-Ak ate an apple while ball-juggling to the bye-line, flipping dangerously close to near where a Town player would have been if they were. Town crossed and crossed and crossed and the Pontoon became crosser with every defending clearance. Ak-Ak hit the bye-line and a purple ankle diverted from the foot of the near post. Corner followed corner followed corner, and Bennett glanced sweetly to the bottom right post. With just a jump to his left, and a step to the right, Rundle took his hands off his hips and calmly walked the ball off the line.

They broke, they had pressure, the ref daftly but deftly booked Wood for doing unto another what another had done to him. And the cow jumped over the moon from the resulting free kick.

Phwoar Peter Bore! What a scorcher! Suddenly he became twice the man he's recently been. Bennett tapped a free kick to the free range Bore, who scampered down the wing, dissolving the left-back and screaming a cross through the middle of the six-yard box at just above head height.

Bore again, and again. Am I boring you?

Colgan acted as Der Kaiser, driving upfield to strum his banjo on the halfway line. Wave upon wave of Town attacks floundered upon the twin peaks at the heart of their defence. And when the ball drifted out, Rundle and Whalley scuttled off on counterattacks. Colgan plunged low, plucked high, and pulled little coloured flags from his sleeve as Rochdale teased.

After another five minutes of blocks with socks and Clarke replaced Forbes, with Bore moving to right-wing. Bore pulverised his full-back into whimpering submission. Yes he did. This was the Bore that should have been, rather than the Bore that has.

Clarke brilliantly mugged Dagnall at the last and tickled a pass over the full-back. Bore roared to the bye-line, being hauled to the ground as he passed to the unmarked muscleman Magennis, who casually leaned his shot off the top of the crossbar. And off he went. North came on and then they scored.

With about five minutes left Linwood lost a header and the ball was suddenly behind Wood. Passed back into the centre, O'Grady leant back and his shot spun and skipped like a flipper, knocking off the top of the off-bail. Poor old Colgan was left helplessly scrabbling on the ground by the deflection as it spurckled into the bottom right corner off Linwood's extendable legs.

A couple of hundred cry-hard fans went home to their mums.

There were four added minutes and Colgan did a fine swervy save from a fine swervy shot before everyone swerved off.

The loanees looked lost, but the home-grown youngsters gave it a darn good go. Perspiration precedes inspiration and there was enough here not to give up hope. Look at it this way: the rate of failure is declining!

We're waiting for something or someone to show us the way. Perhaps da kids did today.