Punting by the Cam: Cambridge (a)

Cod Almighty | Match Report

by Tony Butcher

9 November 2010

Cambridge United 1 Grimsby Town 1

Through wind and rain three hundred came to Cambridge. It's a blast from our past. Do you remember chalk hearts melting on a playground wall, do you remember when both teams could walk tall, walk straight and look the world in the eye? Ooh, that's a big new stand.

Town lined up in a 4-4-2 formation as follows: Croudson, Garner, Atkinson, Kempson, Ridley, Coulson, Hudson, Wright, Eagle, Connell, Ademeno. The substitutes were Peet, Wood Corner, Cummins and Gobern. Pause... rewind. Garner at right-back. Pause... rewind... Garner at right-back. Pause... rewind... Garner at right-back. Pause... sigh... Garner at right-back. Pause... rewind... Charles is back!

Huuuuuuuuuuhh. Another team with a barman at centre-forward.

Ademeno convened a group therapy session, Ridley and Eagle perplexed and persuaded to join in. Shall we just get on with it?

First half: Huddle
Cambridge punted off towards the Townites. Nibbling, nobbling, hobbling, whatever happened to Kevin Jobling? Not-so-slim Charles tickled, Wright tockled, Hudson pickled and Eagle spockled at the keeper. One minute, one shot, Town are hot!

Biff, bang, nicky-nacky-nooo, it's a corner, oooooooh it's a corner. In, out, back, in, back out, Garner volleyed beyond the valley of the dulls.

They may have had a shot, they definitely had some crosses. Garner tried hard, bless him.

Ah, Town, Town, Town, so lovely, so lovely indeed. Passing, passing, moogling and a googling through Coulson, swishing and swaying through hipster Charles. Oo-la-la Coulson chested away and smiggled low. Connell stretched, the keeper kvetched at his chums as the ball sprinkled off his shins and an inch wide.

The local walloped high and jumped at the Kitten, who purred as free kicks arrived with monotonous regularity of U2.

Football, lovely football, football, lovely football with those two lovely pals of mine... oh bum, they scored, Dave. Garner was slush puppied on the touchline, Wright stamp-slid and missed, and the little winger boy went par-ump-pah-pum-pum to the bye-line. He swung low and the sweet chariot of ire swept in from three yards at the near post. Jaws Wright had scored. Kempson was feebly nowhere.

A blond woman came back from the shack with a bun. They scored.

Charles spun, Connell punned, Hudson hawked and Coulson gawked a steered volley across Naisbitt, whose toes averted a local flood of tears. Football, lovely football.

Cambridge had a couple of long shots, Croudson swept up a scruffler and Garner's cardigan slowly unravelled. Garner tried hard, bless him.

The grizzlers growled as Ridley punted a huge crossfield whack towards Eagle, who was promptly flattened by a pack of pachyderms. Town got a throw-in. Eagle droopy-drawed in circles, meandered infield and poked a pass to Connell, who twizzled and fizzled some reverse swing into Cambridge's leg stump. Eagle sauntered into the box, accepted the invitation to party, played a beautiful cover drive under the keeper, and the ball rolled across the boundary ropes.

The blond woman came back from the hole with a burger. Town scored.

And there was just enough time for Coulson dig his turnips deep inside their allotment, scraping millimetres wide of the far post. The half ended with them not taking a corner. Bye-bye Cambridge, Cambridge bye.

Town had lovely moments, while the Moosemen biffed it and it gradually dawned on them that a lumberjack in a flower shop is a fish waiting to be battered and fried.

Second half: Muddle
No changes were made by either team at half time. Oh, there was one: Cambridge attacked Garner incessantly, which is not illegal in the Fens, as we know.

Down the right, down the right, over and over and over again the crosses came. Bumping and barging, whittling Town's twigs to a point. And the point is? Why don't we have a right-back at right-back? Garner tried hard, bless him.

Wooah, crossed low, crossed hard and the lumpy lard missed. Wooooah, one-two, Coulson buckled and Big Wright swallowed a low drive across Croudson, who pushed aside for a corner with great splendour. Crosses, punches, hacks and smacks. Oop and under, here we go, wahey! Town were being vigorously de-vested.

Finally, finally, finally, Wood came on, replacing Garner. Kempson remained on the pitch with his Toblerone head and Toblerone boots.

A break, a beautiful Town break, of dummies, shimmies, feints and extremely annoying refusal of anybody to shoot despite being eight yards out. After the twelvtieth three-yard pass inside the penalty areas Connell swept a flick wide. And he was offside. So forget everything.

Cambridge carried on vigorising and tenderising with a ruthlessly one-dimensional approach, but with added sugar. Ah, but we have a proper right-back now. Wood blocked, Wood stopped, Wood wooded with exceptional Woodyness. They shall not pass this boy. They did not pass this boy. Woods, do not drop this boy. Cambridge took off their left winger as things had changed.

The Mooses were loose aboot Town's hoose, but there were just moments of mild anxiety as the ball and the game biffed this way and that. They attacked, Town broke back: the Silver Dude got out his Velcro pad and pied pipered his way through the marshland, swinging a coiler into Naisbitt's arms. They attacked, Town climbed the mountain: Coulson surged and shot past the keeper, some defender type slipped on the edge of the six-yard box and scraped inches over the bar.

They attacked and Pubman hooked safely wide as the Kitten rolled over for comic effect. Go on, someone tickle his tummy. They attacked, they attacked, they attack-tack-tacked. Calm down dear, it's only an advert for Bradley Wood's insurance policy. Wood majestically strode across to dispossess Gray as the human barrel organ honked down the middle. The ball rolled in to the area and Kempson stopped. Who knows why? Big Wright poked and the Kitten toe-poked an inch past the post. Atkinson and Croudson officially informed Kempson of a grievance. It was heard immediately, and the less than celebrated Mr K was asked not to perform this feat on Saturday.

Oooh, our Wright had a shot! Ooh, they had a shot, a cross, a dink and a dive. Boo-hoo, the referee let us tackle, for once. Except when the linesman had an acid flashback and claimed Mark Lever had rugby-tackled John Taylor, 20 yards out, and 20 years ago.

Yoiks, what was that? Stavros surprisingly befwindled a wobbly swerver onto the crossbar and the rebound was rolled back to Gray, ten yards out. Croudson brilliantly parried Gray's sweep away. Hah, if it wasn't for our pesky Kitten they would have gotten away with a goal.

Eagle beagled, Connell clipped a twisty chip and Naisbitt flappy-fingertipped away. Now that was Alan Connell. And with that Charles went off. We like him. Corner came on. A few minutes later Coulson went off and Gobern the mauve-booted mystery man snuck on.

Ridley disappeared and a cross managed to trundle through legs of frog and eyes of newts, missing all and everyone as it apologised past the far post. Cambridge hit the high road with Big Wright, but they had just moments of almostness. And Town broke, with slick and dandy passing. Corner turned on the penalty spot and a yellow head ducked into the flight path, spinning the ball slowly, slowly, slowly towards and around the left post. Eagle curled the corner high and long, dipping, dipping and dropping by the far post and avoiding all humanity.

There were three minutes of added time. The blond women got up in a huff as Cambridge attacked, but she came back as the cross sailed into the acres of plastic behind the Kitten. She played a blinder there to save the game for Town.

And the game ended.

Another non-defeat that is neither here nor there. It could have been worse, could have been better. Not playing Wood was a mistake; retaining Kempson was a mistake. Town had a number of moments, but seemed obsessed with scoring the perfect goal, like Arsenal in their most obtusely scientific moods. Sometimes just whacking it is the best thing to do.

It was just another day, another game, another blank on the memory card.