Finders keepers; losers weepers

Cod Almighty | Match Report

by Tony Butcher

15 April 2018

Grimsby 2 Barnet 2

It was 20 years ago today (in five days time) that Alan Buckley told his team to play with style. The past is a different country and always guaranteed to raise a smile. Don't look back with anger, look forward to this sunny day of destiny in front of 123 Barneteers. Well, this is it. Again. I've been thinking and you've been drinking but we both know that it's just not right at the moment.

After the floods and the fire, here comes the dire – an unimaginative playlist of pap belting out from Magic Mike's Mobile Disco. The psychological warfare is rather wasted on a small bees nest hidden beneath the Osmond roof.

Town lined up in a rigidly shape-shifting 4-1-4-1-ish formation as follows: McKeown, Hall-Johnson, Clarke, Collins, Fox, Rose, Dembele, Summerfield, Woolford, Hooper and Cardwell. The substitutes were Killip, Davies, Osborne, Clifton, McSheffrey and DJ Jinky. Woolford was centrally roaming with Hooper wedded to the wing. If it ain't fixed, don't break it.

Barnet turned up. Which is nice. In electric blue. Which was lovely. But with Akinde. We'd rather they hadn't. It's a bit rude to bring along someone who always causes trouble for the party hosts. He always seems to spill the nibbles, we always find broken Twiglets ground into the carpet when he's been to Town.

Ah, nothing can go wrong now. He's just a clown who picks us up each time we're down. We have our Mariners Megastar back, not some fake foamfoollery, but the real thing. Hey John, where you going with that invoice in your hand? This Town ain't big enough for the both of you, and it ain't the Mighty Mariner who's gonna leave.

Wahey, Spireite deflation is inspiration for the nation! Good old Mansfield. You can always rely on the kindness of strangers.

Heartbeat, increasing heartbeat. He's a raspberry-coloured bombardier and it's kick-off that we're nearing.

1st half – The first punt is the deepest

Barnet kicked off towards the Pontoon. A fact.

Town hassled and hurried powder blue powderpuffs, with a seasonal thorny Rose push and Summerfieldian slap into the seven tiers of southern sighs. Hall-Johnson plucked a sitting duck and plinked an underhit cross from an overlapping surge of electric prunary.

A big blue punt, Collins dithered, McKeown tithered and the Coulthirst lobbed into the Pontoon. Not so cool there were you, thirsty boy.

Woolford's alive! The echo of the old Scunybunneyman sandwich spread to Hooperman who shimmied and shammied his leather against blue socks. A covered-corner corner. Summerfield gently lollipopped to the near post, Hooper arose to glance back to the edge of the six-yard line, dead centre, and Collins swiped in off the underside of the crossbar as the blue ice melted around him.

I'm happy, hope you're happy too.

The whimpering bluemen stood around and monochromers did passing impressions of foootballers who pass. And move. Don't forget the Hooper hotshot straight at Ross. Don't worry, I haven't. Hooper, the man with number nine on the back of his Grimsby Town shirt, hit a hot shot straight at their goalkeeper, whose surname is Ross.

Stripey sweeping, swiping, swooning and marooning these relatably relegatable Barnetmen. Woolford biffled and baffled with battling persistence, winging and wooing with delicious swinging cross to the penalty spot. Summerfield arose alone to perfectly dissect goal and waiting Cardwell who retrieved and… and... and… you need ands to brush away the tears and fears.

Are Barnet here, Stanley? They most certainly are, Ollie. Akinde's big chest puffed out and blew our little piggies house down. Clarke slipped, slapped, slopped and corners kept a-plopping. Barnet chipped and jumped at Jamie Mack, pinging and pinning, causing minor mayhem, and major traffic disruption. Nearpost Nelson flicked and McKeown spectacular guessed a slappy-starry flapp-a-way flip-over from under the crossbar.

Blimey Charlie, ain't this going slowly.

Big balls and a bag o' bills to pay one day as Town lived off credit. A punt grunted, McKeown nearly slipped as he scrumbled back to head away from near Big Bad John.

Town towning with Woolford the fulcrum of football as we now know it, Hall-Johnson sweeping up behind the old men and shivering upfield in the shadow of the Frozen Horsebeer Stand. Another Summerfield covered-corner corner, and Clarke, not Rose, rose to head up not down for a moment of pure unremarkably, unmemorable forgetfulness.

Strike a light, me old china, will this humming-drummmery ever end? C'mon Town, just one more goal and we can have a snooze 'til June.

Ah-ha. Dembele wriggling and wrestling, Summerfield ticking and Dembele's blaster was beaten away. You see, sensible hair equals sensible soccer. He's de-oranged his head and he's back to being a footballer.

Clarke messing, Coulthirst nicely sliced into the Pontoon when chums awaited. Mad Dog Marty had had enough of this ambling toshery: off came invisible Kyei, on came big bruisy Clough to add less hair but more stares.

Poor old Harry Cardwell, chugging along alone, turning his marker on the half way line and hauled turfwards. Fox flighted the free kick into the heart of darkness. Bundling, trundling and Harry toe-poked into a big blue chest. Cardwell was chomping at the cheeseboard when the queue was at the meat counter.

Them. Free kicks. Sweeney stalking around the rear and falling off his tricycle. A blue tumble dead centre and Watson wafted against his own wallmen as Brindley lazily cleared for Town. Clarke, discombobulated by Akinde's manly chest, slipped, dithered, dillied, dallied and gormlessly legged up blue socks right on the edge of the Town area. The result? Elementary my dear Watson, who wonderfully wallied widely highly humorously into the most handsome corners of the Pontoon during the two added minutes.

Get out that relegation calculator. Add three, carry over two, and get one answer – woah, I see the light boy, I see the light. Can you feel it? Can you feel it? Can you feel it?

Remember, we're only halfway to paradise. So near, yet so far away.

2nd half – Akinde kinda magic

Neither team made any changes at half time. Another fact for your Filofax.

Town sinking, Barnet thinking of the impossible dream. Running, shouting, shooting and generally trying harder. Akinde bundling and barging, Town's midfield dissolving. Possession clearly not an obsession for the monochrome mumblers. The crowd complacent then complicit with sullen, silent seething. Feel the seethe from the tambourine.

Ah, a moment. Nicking knockings nowhere and Cardwell poked a toe and sneaked off to Dembele. A dibble, a dabble, and Dembele slipped a cheeky pass between blues into the deep leftness of their penalty area. Cardwell galumphed into the twilight zone way out left and shinned skyfully, but not skilfully, into the singing ringing tree corner. A couple of stripers lurked near the line looking forlorn.

Dembele started to stop tracking back to cover Hall-Johnson and Barnet began to explore strange new worlds, boldy going where no Barnet man had gone before. Err, did you see anything there? Nope. Then let's carry on as though a blueboy hadn't tumbled over a Cardwell shoe lace inside the penalty area.

Head tennis, punts and shunts and the ball hoopled into Akinde, backing into the right side of the Town penalty area, surrounded by stripes bouncing. Big John, great Bog John, turned and sauntered across the face of goal, rolling gently in to the path of Akpa Akpro, who toe prodded swiftly through the thicket of Clarke, across McKeown and into the bottomish right side of the net.

Didn't I tell you old rubber legs had come on? I didn't think I'd ever need to tell you that. Oh well, never assume, never presume. He came on and made some people happy. Not many, but some.

Oh Ak-Ak, it had to be you, it had to be you, didn't it.

Clifton replaced Dembele.

We've entered Desperation Row - Summerfield big-dipped dippily over from way out. Now whose turn is it to be the focus of fury? Ah yes, young Mr Hooper, the languid loper. He got worse at every uttered oath and curse. And someone said "You're in the wrong place, my friend, you'd better leave".

At this the lesser spotted Jackson replaced Cardwell to a chorus of disapproval. At least Harry looks like he runs around.

And then the crowd turned round for more as Hooper finally was released from his gathering misery as McSheffrey trotted on.

Nothing, nowhere. Town reduced to arbitrary aimlessness. Woolford blocked a cross way out left and had a little nap as the throw-in was triangulated to the unmarked Weston. The southern shuffler scuttled into the penalty area and scruffled a slap goalwards. The ball deflected off The Shins of Collins, rolling apologetically into the bottom left side of the net as McKeown lay down and cried to the right.

Seats were flipped as the most passionate and dedicated of occasional Town supporters roared the team on from Sussex Rec.

Ten minutes left. Huh, what's left?

A Summerfield sweep and Clifton, under the Police Box, swayed inside outside and swingled between two bluemen to the bye line. The Lovably Local Lad looked up, saw Jackson hurtling towards the near post and snithered the cross into the corridor of uncertainty. Jackson tumbled earthwards and the referee did his patriotic duty, pointing with great pointyness towards the penalty spot.

As moans were professionally groaned, Akinde chatted to Rose about his patio, and watched his heckling fail as The Mitchmeister crinkled a low bobbler under keeper's loopy lunge to his right.

Yeah, we never doubted you Town. Barnet had no choice but to bomb Town. Barnet bombed McKeown with set pieces and boomballing bashes. Jamie Mack slapped and tickled away with glee. A shot here, there and everywhere but near goal.

Five minutes were added.

McSheffrey's speculative big dipper dripped wide after Ross had fly-kicked with nonsense. A Town free kick was dumped to the edge of the area. Collins headed on into the middle of the penalty area, McSheffrey fell, the ball bubbled and Clifton side-footed into the old Ramsden's car park. Heads. Hands. Heads in hands.

And as push came to shove Clifton was spectacularly strong-armed into a photographer by the reckless Sweeney, who only received a yellow card for causing needless physical harm to a minor. Just because you're losing your league spot (hopefully).

It could have been worse, it should have been better. The Town players mentally wilted under Barnet's physical pressure and the crowd's emotional incontinence after having the whole world in their hands at half time.

Where would we be without dead-eye Mitch, the penalty king?