Knock, knock, who's there?

Cod Almighty | Match Report

by Tony Butcher

19 November 2017

Grimsby 0 Carlisle 1

Tuesday 26 September at 21:28.

Have you forgotten the last time Town knocked on the door and there was somebody home? One day this will be one of those dates that future Mariners will look upon and revere all who were there to witness it. Like Dobbin at Newcastle, Jevons at Liverpool and the grand-daddy of Grimsby greatness: Glen Downey at Wrexham. A Sam Jones last minute penalty against Colchester: such dreams we once had.

A crisp, clear day and the occasional mystery raindrops falling on the tallest heads with around 200 water biscuitmen melting into the luxurious padded seats in the Osmond. The gathering twitterstorms descended on the head of the wandering accounts manager. Is it bullying to boo?

Town lined up in a 4-4-2 formation as follows McKeown, Mills, Clarke, Collins, Davies, Dembele, Rose, Summerfield, DJ Jinky, Vernon and Hooper. The substitutes were Killip, J Osborne, K Osborne, Kelly, Jones, Matt and Cardwell. Ch-ch-ch-changes! Why change a non-winning team? Isn't everything tickity-boo and going to plan? Two wingers, it's a start for Russ's rehabilitation. C'est la vie: Kelly and Jones on the bench, the two extremes of devotion and emotion. Have a nice day watching the wheels on the Russ go round and round. What do L, M and N Osborne have to do to get a game? Are they off to Barrow too?

Carlisle turned up in a very normal blue kit with James Brown making it funky at full back and let's bang the drum for Bonham's retro goalie shirt, a shimmering fluorescence of migraine.

Knock-knock? Who's there? Let's open the door and find out shall we.

1st half – Knock on wood

Town kicked off towards the Cumbrian collective with a hoof. Vernon jumped and missed, the ball went out and Carlisle got a free kick for having their personal space invaded without prior consent. This and that doodles and noodles in blue. The ball bumbled outside the Town penalty area and Summerfield stepped forward to sweep up the dust. Cool hand Luke ran back towards McKeown, dribbled past Clarke, past the penalty spot, into the six-yard box, dropping his shoulder to jink to the bye-line. Carlisle had a corner. One minute and already Town had forced a corner with a sexy Summerfield surge. Sir, you quibble about mere details, a corner is a corner.

That and this noodles and doodles in blue. Clarke fancied Lambe cutlets for tea and the fleet-footed fumbler fell theatrically over Clarke's shoes near the right corner of the Town area. Dembele and Hooper formed a comical, conical wall and Grainger's low lamp kissed off Hooper's shins and spindled against the foot of the right post.

Wahey, Russ promised us positive intent. Summerfield's surge, Hooper hitting the post and all in the first couple of minutes.

Typically Town lost momentum in attacking the Pontoon end, and simply went into reverse. DJ jinked, Vernon was briefly sighted swishing his boot, Dembele delayed and passed against blue thighs. Vernon had taken a touch too long, Dembele a touch too much.

Cumbrian cantering, Mariner mamboing. Davies and Collins double McDermotted Hope after shindigs and shenanigans under the Frozen Horsebeer Stand. Top triangles from the bluesmen on Town's right as Lambe lithely licked Grainger free. The cross fizzed lowly through no-mans-land and Kennedy slid and missed beyond.

DJ Jinky twizzled and twirled between blue, skimpering along the bye-line getting ever closer to a migraine. A look, a pass and Vernon's shot was superbly finger-parried aside by Bonham at the near post. DJ Jinky pounced, weaved back into the blancmange and wafted against the underside of the crossbar. A flag was waving in the distance and the miss was not an official miss. And that's official.

Some Dembeleness and a shot from afar, straight at the keeper, straight into his waiting arms.

Half way through the half the wingers switched, as always. The momentum switched, as always. Town sank back, coagulating into the blob, standing away from the bluesmen, watching twangs and licks and some southern boogie-woogie. Crosses and corners, long shots deflected for more corners and repeat the dose. A shot boombled off Dembele and spun out towards the dug outs. Hooper retrieved, spun, swung and shuffled goalwards, unhindered by humanity. A step over and curl around the keeper curled around the keeper's fingers and the far post. Some lips uncurled.

Moments, moments. DJ twirled, Vernon bedraggled limply. Still Town watched the Cumbrians practice their motions. Diagonal dinks and Hope hoped for a penalty when diving hopelessly, eventually into the penalty area near Collins.

No mention of Mitch Rose yet. It's for the best.

Hooper shrunk mid-way inside the Carlisle half and a free kick followed. Summerfield watched a wall form, walk away, then lampooned lowly through the invisible blockade. Bonham spurtled the scrimble and scrambled his egg as Vernon arrived.

DJ trembling, Dembele dissembling and Summerfield swiped carefully a foot or so over the crossbar, from afar. More Town attacking, I say more Town attacking. A free kick from the covered corner was coiled longly. Bonham flim-flapped flimsily and Sumemfield flat-batted the corner beyond the far post. Collins arose alone and thwonked goalwards. Bonham spectacularly scoopy-swiped into the centre and Clarke over-scooped a back flip.

Blue triangles up their left and holes became caverns. Townites seeped to the right and a Lambe pokey-prod scruffled off Collins into the path of the unmarked Kennedy, beyond the far post. McKeown spread his wings and flew to smother. Phew, that's that then. No, it ain't over til it's over. A diagonal dink and Kennedy arose over Davies. Collins and McKeown dithered, Lambe glided between them and carefully passed into the side netting when the goal was open before him.

One minute was added for all their hilarious timewasting antics. Have they got a 1970 coaching manual? Whenever Town threatened they plunged to earth, especially at corners. I'm sure I saw Johnny Giles slyly kick the back of Vernon's shins and feign innocence.

Really not bad at all. There was a positive intent to actually create opportunities in open play, some things almost happened and there were shots. Sure, Carlisle dissected the rabbit, but that's a given.

It wasn't boring, so there was no booing.

2nd half – Knock three times

No changes made by either team at half time.

Town started with some precision and passing, some purpose and positivity. Mills crossed lowly, Hooper flicked well wide at the near post. Town tapped at the window, disrobing dilatory dozers and Hooper was freed to run at the Carlisle defence, but let us sigh as blue people arrived. Hooper doesn't do people.

Tap, tap, tap. DJ Jinky won the ball, lost the ball, won the ball, lost the ball and hang on, where are we? Has he got it or not? Ah yes, up it popped off blue shins and DJ Jinky persisted his way through the blue wall to volley over.

DJ won the ball, lost the ball, won the ball, fell over, lost the ball he'd won, won back the ball already won and headed towards the Pontoon. As he hit the bye-line he hit the turf, felled by a sly Cumbrian hand. Alas no foul.

Summerfield. Another shot. Another shot over. Just like the last one.

On the hour Devitt eventually came on after much dithering in the mither. 

And the wingers switched again, so Town retreated into a central gloop of stodginess. Carlisle were invited to pump, they pumped. Town left no-one upfield when defending set-pieces. So clearances were returned. And no-one went out to cover the wings, so crosses rained in at will. Repeat after me: corner, clearance, cross, corner. Corner, clearance, cross, corner. Mirror, signal, manoeuvre. It's all there in black and white. Within the never ending spin cycle Lambe crossed and Hope headed. Jamie Mack finger-flipped over for a corner. Repeat the dance move and add your own twirls.

Jones replaced Hooper.

Corner, clearance, cross, corner. Corner, clearance, cross, corner.

Ah, the spell is broken, Town had an attack. Well, I say attack. I may really mean the ball was with a Town player. And then it wasn't. DJ passed to blue and off they roamed with a raking coil to the far post. Clarke superbly cleared with a diving graze as Hope lurked. Well, there's always hope, for someone. The corner was cleared and Carlisle carefully buttered their parsnips down Town's vacant left. Liddle was left alone to calculate his co-ordinates and lob a gentle mortar across the face of goal. Hill stooped and glanced down and across McKeown from, ooh shall we say six yards out.

There’s a long black cloud comin' on down. The singing ringing tree corner roused themselves for a little ditty about Russell Slade's employment status.

What's the point now? They've scored and that's that, isn't it. Yes, that was indeed that.

So what have we left? Two surprisingly sumptuous Summerfield passes: a high-stepping sideways volley to DJ's toes and a beautiful diagonal dink behind the defence which Mills volleyed back across and beyond the goal. Matt replaced Vernon. He chased one long ball into the burger bar corner. There is nothing more to report on the shrinking bean pole of Blundell Park.

Jamey Osborne replaced DJ Jinky, the one player to have consistently, persistently worried the Cumbrianers. Osborne was totally ineffective and visibly uncomfortable playing as a left winger.

McKeown swiped away a swinging free kick with his feet as many men fluttered around. It happened, you may as well know. Townites dithered and dithered and passed back to Jamie Mack when a blue shirt was far, far too near. McKeown dived on the ball with his chest, bounced up, drooped his shoulder, shuffled past the attacker and wellied away.

Mills bedraggled lowly, Bonham easily plopped on a shot that was going wide anyway. That was the end of everything that didn't even happen, even though four minutes were added.

A lot better than against Cambridge and Crawley, and Carlisle were a lot better than Cambridge or Crawley, but Town never, ever looked like scoring. At least they are beginning to miss now, and not just rely on penalties, set pieces and accidents to score. The dispiritingly rigid application of failed tactical changes remains though. The same game is being seen every week, the same changes at the same time and the same outcome. Nothing.

The crowd is dwindling, will there anybody left by Christmas?