Cod Almighty | Match Report
by Tony Butcher
10 March 2012
Grimsby Town 2 Forest Green Rovers 1
A balmy day by the banks of the Ole Man River with 39 new age travellers having a happening in the Osmond stand. Or are they the mysteriously missing Feyenoord fans?
Town lined up in the usual 4-4-2 formation as follows: McKeown, Silk, Pearson, Miller, Townsend, Coulson, Church, Disley, Soares, Elding, Hearn. The substitutes were Wood, I'Anson, Thanoj, Winn and Duffy. Is it real? Is it fake? Is this team selection a mistake? Stodgy Church, stolid Silk and stilted Soares?
The Greeners huddled and cuddled before the game, racing off in choreographed running and jumping, like a footballing Young Generation doing Seaside Special. Or perhaps too many episodes of Glee on the coach trip. Very showbizzy: we're used to the end of the pier show.
And now let's get the thing started on the most sensational, inspirational, celebrational, muppetational, this is what some call the muppet show.
First half: The Flat Earth Society
Forest Green tip-tapped off towards the Pontoon with tipping and tapping. There are dim recollections of them slicing and dicing through an invisible Town midfield and Miller blocking their path to glory after a Church-based folly. I think he thought the Earth was still flat and if he passed to Coulson he'd fall off the end of the world.
Let us consider the lily. It is spring and there are tulips to tip-toe through in Amsterdam. It's a sunny day and we're chasing the crowds away with muckball. Russell punched a whacky forward away for a throw in. A highlight.
Silk passed to Church who passed to Silk who passed to Church to go feebly where many men have gone before. Nowhere slowly under the dark shadow of the mighty Findus Stand. Boring, boring, boring, boring, boring, boring.
And Town bored them into conceding. After the further enigmatic riddlings of Silk and Church, Pearson surged and licked to Silk, who crossed deeply and wisely. Elding crept away from his marker beyond the far post to carefully nod back across the face of goal. Disley wafted; the unmarked Hearn leapy-stab-volleyed back across Russell from a couple of yards out. What a pleasant surprise.
Town oozed confident competence for the rest of the following minute. Coulson mazy-daisy-wheeled across the pitch into the area and half appealed for a half handball as the ball hit a red hand after much bobbling in the marsh. The minute ended.
The Foresters started foraging for fungus, running into the woods and building sustainable communities using just the dead leaves of Town's egos. Norwood advanced upon Silk, crazy Charlestoning with extravagant Poutonian step-overs. Befuddled and bemused, Silk used his charm to end this jitterbugging, legging Norwood up. So clearly a penalty about which no-one could be bothered to go through the motions of complaining. McKeown sailed right as Stanley Klukowski tapped rightwards and slyly taunted the custardian with Polish gestures. You can always rely on the kindness of strangers.
Town ground to a halt without form or function, just a set of defenders, mainly Miller and Pearson. Sure, sure there were moments of clarity, but in between there were just haze and daze. Soares superbly swept into the path of the marauding Disley, who bashed against Russell's mitts, then looped a header softly back. Hearn turned and slabbered, deflecting wide and Miller leaned well over from the corner. Beyond that there was nothing, nothing. There was nothing. Not a single moment of interest or hope as Town crumpled under intense ambling.
McKeown punched Pearson rather than the ball. Silk and Elding awfulled together underneath the mistletoe, as Elding passed behind Silk, who stopped, shoulders a-slumped. Norwood ran off and off and off and swiped against McKeown's legs. The ball ricocheted out to the edge of the area where Silk stood still and allowed a big bloke to be-donk a header a foot high and wide of the far post.
Townsend headed Norwood clear and smuggled against the inside of McKeown's right leg, deflecting for a corner. Norwood crept around a blancmange of footballers to graze alone at the near post, glazing a glance across the face of goal and wide.
Those were the events, in between which Town simply hoofed the ball away, or rusted on the right in a painful Church/Silk courtship ritual. The Greeners waited patiently inside simple, watertight structures for Town to stop drizzling, and then had a jolly time splish-splashing in the puddles. Kids' stuff.
Town were absolutely terrible: it was like watching them in the first three months of the season. Changes needed, and needed immediately.
Second half: Albanian jumping beans and locally sourced beef
And so it came to pass that the boy who couldn't pass and the man who wasn't there were removed from the cattlefield. Winn and Thanoj replaced Church and Soares.
Suddenly Town were twice the team they used to be. Thanoj wheel-clamped an old red Escort and passed the ball. Passed it! We like Winn. He smiles, he runs quickly, he tackles, he crosses in a way that doesn't make us cross. Coulson felled, Pearson grazed wide. Another feller treed, no Town player felled and the free kick ducked and dived inside the penalty area. In and out, up and down. Thanoj bonked a header firmly over.
Winn winked wonderfully, crossed deeply and Hearn stretchy-scraped a volley from a narrow angle beyond the far post, which Russell ached lowly towards and slapped away from his near post. Over came the corner, out came Russell to patter-cake to Hearn who scramble-egged off the inside leg of a little full-back.
Another corner, another chance... for Forest Green as the clearance bumbled out to their right as three red shirts shivered down the left. Undermanned, underpowered, Town were under their thumb. Take it easy baby, their left-back, alone and unmolested, scraped across McKeown and inches wide. And on came Tommy Wrong. Feels alright.
Town, Town, Town, little moments of adequacy and hope. Thanoj winning tackles, Winn winning our hearts and minds with direct action. A corner, Pearson headed down but straight at Russell. A shot, Winn drifting infield to wibble and Hearn nibbled as it passed. Another shot. Thanoj ba-dumbling from way, way out and Hearn clearing their lines. Things. They are happening.
Ahem. Let's gloss over that. What? That? That thing I haven't told you about. If you paint over a smudge did the smudge exist? The ball walloped flatly straight down the middle, their little striker Taylor fliddled free just outside the area. McKeown danced in the space between the heavens and the corner of the D and Taylor dinked it straight into the arms of Mary. Has the gloss paint dried yet?
Oh Elding. A free header plonked straight into Russell's waiting palms. Oh Elding, generally.
Hearn started to grimace, to lay upon the turf and hold his legs, stretching and aching and hobbling and off he went, replaced by Mr Fluffy. At last the dream team! They were young and they had each other. Who could ask for more?
The Gloucester gladiators charmed forward with Silk threatened by shadows on our right, exposed in the light. Tommy Wrong did the right thing and headed over from ten yards out. That was them then; that is all from the red dusters. I don't count vague long chucks or chuckles.
And then the game went a bit bananas in the last ten minutes. Disley jinked and dinked, Duffy arose at the far post and headed out of the keeper's hands to Elding, alone on the six-yard line in the very centre of an open goal. Now, here are the facts: he leant back and swayed the ball against the underside of the Pontoon. He was most unfortunate in that a defender got his nose out of the way. He only does own goals and penalties, that's his way.
And here we go, a hump and dumped corner dropped between Pearson and defender. If it's good enough for Fleetwood, it's good enough for us. Handball? Wahey! Indeed. Elding picked up the ball and was body-checked by the referee as he waddled back. Everyone above the mental age of eight knew what would happen next. And it did. Russell plunged left and Elding side-footed it to the place he always puts it - left of the keeper. Russell palmed away, Coulson poked back and Russell screw-topped right to push aside the rebound.
The madness continued as Town threw epigrams and epithets in the hope of an epilogue. Woah, what happened there? Crosses cleared, Duffy swinging his pants on the edge of the area, the ball bonking off the inside of the near post with Russell bewildered by this inverted Duffian logic. And Duffy was booked for persistently persistent mouthing off over nothing. He obviously fancies a rest over Easter and suspensions have to be earned. What a pro.
On and on Town roused, with Winn an increasingly prominent crinkler of crosses. A hoik, a fall, a free kick awarded, 20 yards out on the right as four minutes were announced as added time. A wall started to coalesce in strict order of height, smallest on the left, tallest on the right. Winn and Townsend stood above the ball and pondered ponderously. Russell crouched behind the wall, unsighted. Townsend took a couple of steps and carefully coiled over the third smallest man on the pitch into the leftist of left sides of the goal. And there was much merriment in Marinerland.
Music and fashion were always their passion and at the end of the day, Barry, they fell in love.
I told you I don't count vaguely hurled chucks as relevant data to input into your personal memory sticks. Look there, me hearties! There be three points sailing into port.
The Forest Green Reaper's scythe remained in the boot of the coach, for we all know that drawing at home to the Hippies to lie just outside the play-offs is unacceptable. A dreadful start, then tactical and personnel changes made the difference. Town were initially lucky that Forest Green kept finding McKeown's shins so attractive, and that the crowd's thoughts were picked up by Ron and Ron, and The Management did what they were told. They're young, they're learning.
Could have been worse, but it wasn't. Carry on.