The flaws of perception: Kidderminster (h)

Cod Almighty | Match Report

by Tony Butcher

31 March 2012

Grimsby Town 1 Kidderminster Barriers 2

In an old-fashioned house, with an old-fashioned fence on an old-fashioned bright and cold windy day as about 70 saucy Worcestershire wanderers wondered in the Blue Square backwaters. Who wants to go to every swell affair?

Town lined up in the usual 4-4-2 formation as follows: McKeown, Wood, Pearson, Miller, Townsend, Coulson, Wright, Artus, Winn, Elding, Hearn. The substitutes were I'Anson, Church, Soares, Hughes-Mason-Hughes and Duffy. Wood at right-back. Wood. At right-back. Bradley Wood. Good! Has the managerial madness been cured? Ah, Church on the bench. Maybe not. Death or Mau-Mau?

Kidderminster turned up all in red with ill-matched blue socks and without any frills, though their keeper looked shrunken and skittish.

Town were sipping cocktails at the last-chance saloon again. Tomorrow will be too late; it's now or never, the play-offs won't wait.

First half: Sleepy shores
Town kicked off towards the Osmond with frills and spills down the left. Winn, Hearn, doing things. A throw-in! A throw-in thrown. A ball kicked. A ball headed. Men running. Things.

A Town shot. Hearn twizzled and fizzled on the left and swished sailingly towards the top corner. Breedon hopped across to pluck his ukulele. Turned out nice again.

More minutes, more running, shouting and standing still. The movement Town need is on the hard shoulder. Bumping, barging, bundling and trundling, Hearn spindoodled, Artus laid the ball back and Winn wallied a couple of feet over. It was passing and some movement. Repeat on the right: Coulson drifted across and drifted a shot to the jumping flea. Ten minutes, three shots: affirmative action works.

And finally the Kidderminster Barriers clunked into gear. What is this thing they called football. Where's the hoof? Have they been watching York? Triangles? Tipping, tapping and unwrapping their presents. Town were starting to be teased apart. Guinan arose before McKeown to graze a corner over the unmanned goal from, ooh, let us say six yards out. They carried on pestering. Another corner, bonked down and McKeown doggy paddled to the foot of our stairs. Wood dillied and Malbon shillied around the dilly to poke into the open goal from a couple of yards out.

After a while the linesman's flag was espied flapping in the wind like Jamie Mack at a cross. What an excellently terrible decision, Mr Linesman.

Moments. A series of moments followed. Kidderminster were on the brink of sneezing through, but passes were delayed, heads remained bowed, and those moments passed. Town were dismally dishevelled in defence, with Artus and Wright standing together and standing far too close to Miller and Pearson. Pearson simply took two steps back and kept playing the wiry Wyre wingers inside.

And then, now and again, Town players co-ordinated their thoughts and their movements. These were the moments lodged in the collective memory, as they were things that happened. McKeown hoofed, Winn waddled on and on and on and driggled a draggler across the keeper and a foot wide. Winn volleyed: the shot a-looped goalwards in a vaguely interesting way.

Winn. Three shots do not a summer transfer make. Winn was woeful without the ball. On this performance, Winn shouldn't take his coat off now.

And here they come again. Bish-bash-bang. A clearance, a sumptuous sweeping crossfield pass and Guinan blagged a first-time drive towards the top corner from a narrow angle. McKeown spectacularly parried aside. That's how to attack.

Stodgy porridge given a stir.

On the Kids pressed, whistling tunes as Town hid in the dunes by the seaside, but it wasn't a knockout as Guinan poked woefully when dancing through the barn door. Wood slipped, Johnson flew, Wood pulled his shorts down and nothing happened when it should have.

Artus sketched out plans for a sunken garden near the covered corner and Elding prevaricated over the water feature before finally dinking delightfully to the far post. Hearn steered his header down and Breedon, the jumping flea with his weird aversion to catching crosses, skipped across to waft away from his post. Back and forth, forth and back, first down and ten. Townsend burstled toward the penalty area and out came a blue stocking, then a yellow card. Artus waited. Town players congregated on the penalty spot and sprinkled themselves across the area in a co-ordinated starburst. Wright ran in to the vacant centre to flick a header goalwards. The ball hit the left post then Breedon's backside. A goal had been scored.

A goal had been scored, but no change in the wifting and wafting of this match. The Kidders licked and lapped milk from Town's saucer. Storer wappled well over the bar, over the stand and into the washing hanging at 65 Blundell Avenue. Byrne sauntered across the face of the penalty area. Will he shoot? Will he pass to the unmarked chap to his left? Will he metamorphose into a butterfly? Will he become a bicycle repair man? Or a lion tamer? When faced with so many choices a young man can become wracked by existential inertia.

And then Byrne snapped out of his torpor to wallop from afar. McKeown waved the helicopter into land and did another Charleston save. The half ended with Elding being rubbish and offside. Details? You know what he does. Life is too short for plain crisps and the thousandth tale of Eldonian fluffing.

Not boring, not bad. Both teams had attacking potency. Town were arbitrarily anarchic and haphazard, with Kidderminster more methodically scientific. It was a bunch of spontaneous players winging it against a coached collective with wingers. None but the brave thought the Kidders would fail to score.

Over to the management with two brains. Nothing can go wrong now.

Second half: Oh pointy birds
Neither side made any changes at half time.

Them. Them, them, them, them, them, them, them. In a word: them

Within a minute some things happened frenetically down at the Osmond end. They attacked left and right and crossed left and right and passed to each other inside the penalty area. Someone shot and someone cried and McKeown closed his eyes as Town threw their windows wide. It didn't go in, which was nice, but no-one knows how.

Grimsby Town... nope.

A red tide red-rocking and rolling over the monochrome shingle. They had the ball, they had pressure, they had a free kick 20 or so yards out on their centre-right. It rebounded off the wall. They kept it, they crossed it, they scored. Malbon rose between Pearson and Miller, around eight yards out at the near post, to bump a header high into the net. Miller and Pearson had a minor barneyette of blame and recrimination.

At this, Church replaced the woeful Winn, with Artus shuffling out to the left wing. Church and Wright in centre midfield. I'll give you a minute to come to terms with our loss of dignity.

How are you? Do you need counselling?

Wright slow, Kiddy knickers, Johnson danced down their left and swaggled high into side netting. Wright slow, Miller underpowered and underpants, Church urghed and erred, Elding welding and the crowd in a Town frown. Shapeless, formless, gormless and harmless. Aroused from his slumbers, Coulson shook off his lead balloons and Town precision-passed across the edge of penalty area. Townsend dripped a cross, Artus ducked and flicked his fringe to graze a foot wide.

It's a lovely afternoon. Why bother recording the unbearable triteness of being at Blundell Park? I must have better things to do, and so should you.

Them passing and stuff. Pressure and corners as they zig-zagged their way through the boredom and pain. Pearson slidey-blocked and there was a big hoo-hah about handball or something. There's something in the air, there's something in the way Kiddy move, there's something I really want to know: tell me about your encounter with a squirrel.

Elding missed a sitter again as he was again offside and was again replaced by Duffy. This happened at some point that was either before or after the things I may not forget to write in the next paragraphs. Does it really matter?

Wood and Coulson were absent friends as Johnson jive-talked his way into the penalty area, crossy-shot and Jamie McFly kicked aside at the foot of our stairs. Wright skew-whiffed a clearance and Storer big-dipped a volley that McKeown parry-punched away in glorious Technicolor.

I'm not sure that Breedon had needed to touch the ball yet in the second half.

How about now?

A Town corner coiled and looped and drooped in the wind. Pearson was the pied piper of the Pontoon, leading a red conga from penalty spot to corner flag. Scrunching and scrumping, Hearn intercepted on the bye-line, turned and smuggled a high snorter across the face of goal and beyond the angle of post and bar. Breedon did need to touch the ball after all: he had to take a goal kick.

Hello, hello. What's going on? What's all this shouting? We'll have no trouble here. Sensing the end of the world again, the Findusians started chanting. One last half-hearted push for the lads!

Duffy! After four falls he finally got the free kick he craved when he crawled along the ground picking daisies for his chain. He's like a human diversion, a Mariners Maguffin. Coulson snuck around behind Mr Fluffy as he missed a free header, hooking goalward from a narrow angle. Breedon flung himself forward. The ball plopped over his green dungarees and arced towards the flirtatiously empty goal. Sadly it is my duty to report that the ball failed in its mission and passed away from goal via a blue boot and straight into the keeper's arms.

They brought on a couple of chaps. Town took off Artus and stuck Hughes-Mason-Hughes on the right wing; he touched the ball once as Town resorted to route zero dimball.

With no defence, no organisation and no idea Town were a blob. Kidderminster showed their inexperience, their innate smallness, their inferiority by cravenly continuing to play football within a known and observable structure. Pah, amateurs, eh. Town were dissected almost at will.

Wood was rotted on the right, Rowe rolled over. A centrally placed free kick ram-raided through the wall and McKeown splurged left to superbly parry aside. In came a redshirt, up popped McFly to brilliantly block the follow-up.

There were five minutes of added time after the three lengthy stoppages for the Kids being hurt. Come on, you knew it too. They ran off after a hopeless hoof was repelled. Church, Hughes-Mason and Wood were around. The redmen just kept the ball, calmly, patiently waiting for a gap. A gap appeared. Rowe line-danced in from their right past one, two, and a third non-challenge: it went zing down the middle.

The game ended a couple of minutes later. In that couple of minutes all that happened is that 16.54 per cent of the crowd left the ground. At least we won't be wasting our time with any false hope in April, or queues down Brereton Avenue.

The facts keep racking up stats. Town are just one of the better mid-table teams, the sort that give the play-off contenders a good game. They have to work hard to beat us. There, that's where Town are. No delusions, no confusions, just the facts. Underperforming despite available resources and basically in the same position as last season.

We're back to where Shouty and Shorty started, but by a different route. It is less frustrating when you realise Town aren't capable of beating the better teams. That was Woods' mistake. At least they've got the expectation management sorted.

We have a month of slippers and dressing gown football: comfortable and safe.