Cod Almighty | Match Report
by Tony Butcher
2 October 2010
Grimsby Town 2 Newport County 0
It's 1979 all over again! Swivel-eyed slashers in power and Town playing Newport in a league game. Is 'Bright Eyes' number one again? What is number one? Where's the mud? Mud? They hadn't had a hit since 1976, so what've they got to do with the price of fishy loan signings? Fishy price? Don't they make toys?
A beautiful autumn afternoon in the anachronistic anteroom of angst, where the past is always present and the future is never now. Fentydome? Fentydoomed! We'll have to renovate to accumulate now. Tart up the toilets, paint your wagon and Bob's your uncle. The Old Lady of Lincolnshire only needed a little love and affection. You can judge a big society by the way it treats its old.
Town lined up in a 4-4-2 formation as follows: O'Donnell, Wood, Garner, Kempson, Ridley, Bore Wright, Cummins, Eagle, Connell, Carlton. The substitutes were Croudson, Hudson, Peackock (sic), Atkinson and Samuels. That's Peackock again, according to the scoreboard, with sub-Saharan bootscrape hair. You don't play football with your hair young man. And while we're at it stand up straight, get your shoulders back and get your hair cut.
So which Town have we got today? Neil Woods doesn't understand it - he always says they're as good as gold in training.
Newport, without the cowards of the County, played in bright vivid orange. They looked keen.
Ah, we're playing an ex-League team. We win those games. Relax, no need for dark sarcasm in the changing rooms.
First half: The mystery machine
Newport kicked off towards the Pontoon with a hump and dump down the left with Town heading, heading, heading nowhere.
In the wilds of Borneo and the vineyards of Barrow, Newport's strikers move their body to and fro. Foley and Reid shingled and shangled between the gravestones: Town a dark, dark cemetery bedazzled by orange streetlights. A little man wibbled wobblingly straight at O'Donnell. Reid flicked and Foley licked a lollipop as he got on his unicycle and juggled three misshapen parsnips. Garner gasped and Foley clasped his head in his hands as he walloped ballooningly over and wide from the edge of the area.
One of them was booked for tackling. Oh how we chuckled for a micro-second. Oh, how we realised it's another set of comedy officials. In olden days a glimpse of stocking was looked on as something shocking, and a referee who knew what he was doing, was subject to some cooing.
Town launched long boats towards the horizon. They came back with nothing but dysentery, curiosity and a ball of green string.
Boom! Somehow Town got a corner. Eagle coiled up and under from the left; Kempson rose a few yards out and headed downwards, landed on the ball and thrashed and splashed like a toddler in a paddling pool. The orange duvet smothered, with a Welshieman wedging the ball under his chin and pretending to be a wheel barrow. This higgle-piggle ended with an arbitrary free kick for inappropriate mulching during the hours of daylight.
Well, at first we were afraid as Reid chased the ball and turned Garner. Then we were petrified as Garner was garnished. Reid swept into the area and smuggled a cunning cross from the bye-line as O'Donnell plunged his neckline. The ball swaggered off Ridley's left boot, rolled up his left arm and Kempson smuggled some whisky through the back door to leave Newport punch drunk with rage. But Town survived, oh yes they survived.
Another daft booking of an orangery, but flying elbows and boots ignored. It's a topsy-turvy cuckoo world in the land of the loopy. Reid dived rubbishly in front of the Pontoon. No booking, no nuffink. Bore was deposited into a toxic bank. Just play on.
And all the while, imperceptibly, the game started to drift away from the Pontoon towards the knot of nutty Newportians. The fizzy orange was slowly losing its pop, the glass half full, rather than effervescing over the top. Eagle flighted a free kick and, ooh, I dunno, things. Garner swished and mished and it all seemed so exciting when we were young, so much younger than today. Carlton slipped as Connell clipped him free. The linesman slipped his flag up when Eagle snipped Carlton free down the middle. So nearly, so almost, so tantalisingly close to Town's ship sailing into the sun.
Sky of blue and grass of green, Town were mellowing the tangerines.
Newport tickled Town's toes with hippy hippy shaking on their right, swinging their blue jeans to their left with the full-back free and waiting to be sprung. Wood slide-tackled superbly 20 yards out and diverted the ball towards the Lower Findus. Bore and a defender ran full pelt at each other and worlds were to collide. A nick, a knock and SPB hared off down the touchline, straight and true. On, on, on he ran as the crowd rose and blew him forward. Into the area and the fluorescent flan flingers converged on the phantom menace. He looked up. Yes, Peter Bore looked up. He calmly passed. Yes, Peter Bore calmly passed. Peter Bore passed the ball directly into the path of the lurking Connell, who nonchalantly steered the shot inside the near post from a dozen yards out. Oh, what a beauty.
Ah, Peter Bore, so you're back from outer space and you've taken that sad look from off your face. It's Peter Bore version 5.2.
Mmm, passing and movement, passing movements. Town suddenly broke free from the their inner torment, flowing and glowing. The game was open, direct, and full of verve and nerve. Newport broke and choked, flinging themselves against a monochrome wall, flinging themselves to the ground and flinging freaky, frisky free kicks in to the heart of the nation.
Two oranges ducked and the ball passed by - a free header missed three yards out. Whistle a happy tune as you skip along, why don't you. It's half time already!
Phew, what a scorcher as Newport had nuked Town with freewheeling bobbing and dylaning. They had been excellent, mightily impressive for half an hour and by far the best Town'd played against this season. For half an hour. Then Town scored.
Wright had started very diffidently, underhitting, overhitting, tumbling and fumbling to little positive effect. But after quarter of a hour he worked them out, stood in the right places and sang something simple. Quietly effective, without anything flash or fancy, he brought some clarity and common sense to the centre. Town stopped whacking and start packing a punch.
What is it about Town? Maybe it's just an ego problem - the problem is we've been fooled before by fair-weathered friends and faint-hearted loafers. Let's take one half at a time.
Second half: Scooby snacks
Neither side made any changes at half time.
Littleman Henry broke away and fibbled wibbushly. It was a moment. There were five minutes of further moments and Connell sweetly swizzled and reverse swung into Bore's path. The cross gingered away for a corner, and the Pontoon roused itself into an expectant gargle. Nice.
Eagle bounced over to the right and coiled a pleasingly pleasing pip and dandy beyond the far post. As the keeper grappled with his grapes, Kempson rose and firmly nosed the ball down. The ball bounced up onto the underside of the crossbar and onto Connell's chest one centimetre out. He may play for Town but he didn't miss either the back of the net or the Mighty Mariner's stomach as he flew into the furry funster's foamy midriff in celebration.
When you lose control and you got no soul it's a tragedy for Newport.
At this they took off one of their pesky kids and brought on an immobile Scooby Doo monster, Big Robbie Matthews. And they abandoned the rich seam of cross-cross perpetual motion they had been mining, for some old fossil fuel and methane. Newport went for the aerial jugular, route one, direct whacking towards the big man. Subtlety was thrown out of the window and they just sucked their thumbs and wondered by the banks of the old lagoon.
That was nice of them - hadn't they noticed our centre-backs were headers not footers?
And off they went again, falling in the area and pleading for a favour. And again. Tiresome, isn't it. Their 'professionalism' clearly irked the ref too.
Bore shazzam shazeed, Connell dummied the cross and Kempson's shot pinged a pong of sixpence as Town started to enjoy life in the fast lane. Space appeared, Newport had stopped harrying and there was a softness and lightness we'd never seen before, that's the loving touch of our new midfield. Wright sat, Cummins' inner footballer was released and there was a flow and purpose to Town.
Ooh what's this? Garner headed off the line as their Big Man rose above Ridley to loop over O'Donnell. It would be much nicer if our guests would just sit down and play charades before they go home.
They lumped and dumped continuously, just playing into Town's hands as Town soaked up the humps and broke away. Ooh, nearly, ahh, almost. Eagle started to drift infield and pick locks as Connell began to twist and tease with flicks and tricks. Eagle's corners excited the Pontoon with sweeping, swerving dipping tangs into the very heart of the penalty box.
Yeah, Newport had shots. High and wide, wide and high. Yeah, Carlton was replaced by Peackock. Yeah, Cummins broke beyond the strikers to chase a Peackock flickette, carousing a low pass back to the edge of the area. Yeah, Connell flick-knifed at the keeper. Eagle waltzed across the face of the penalty area and scraped a few inches wide. All good stuff, all so very pleasing.
Ah, have some sympathy for the Exiles. It's cold outside and the paint's peeling off of their walls. There's a man outside, but Matthews headed high and wide from an open goal. They bundled and trundled and pushed O'Donnell into the goal. They tried and tried and tried and tried and tried, but Town were the happy jacks as orangies fell over again, appealed for handball again, moaned again and again and again.
Why are you worried? Young man, there's no need to feel down, you're watching a new Town. There's no need to be unhappy with Wright anchoring.
Subs again, why not give 'em a rest; Cummins was replaced by Hudson with five or six minutes left and the world did not end. Town carried on carrying on: Connell was sent free, but the linesman flagged. Connell sumptuously swept Peackock free inside the area and the shot was beaten away like an egg at the near post. Hudson picked up the rebound and danced around the mulberry bush before being scrubbed aside.
Bore was replaced by Samuels and still Newport bombarded Town during four minutes of added time. Peackock kept jumping into defenders giving them recurring opportunity to chump into the Town penalty area. And from a break Eagle was sent through on goal, unmarked, the coup de grâce imminent... the end: the whistle blew.
Make no mistake: Newport were very handy and difficult opposition and could easily have won. That's a testament to them and, ultimately, to Town, who had some fortune but also enough fortitude to get right through to the end of the road. No Townite played badly, and some played well, but it was a team performance, with a fine balance between attack and defence, left and right. Town swivelled on Wright, the pivoting pilot.
You know, it's a question of balance. If you don't have it you fall over. Town are still standing.