The shape of things to come

Cod Almighty | Match Report

by Tony Butcher

24 October 2018

A chilling evening with the hint of a fringe-flopping breeze as 127 U-benders huddled together with their feet beat after the two-mile trudge to meet at the turnstile. Have a cup of tea and tell us of your dream of avocado dips with your chips. Ah, the dream turned to mushy reality.

Town lined up in that mightily morphing 4-3-3 when attacking, but 4-4-2 when defending formation as follows: McKeown, Hall-Johnson, Whitmore, Collins, Hendrie, Embleton, Clifton, M Rose, Hooper, Vernam and Thomas. The substitutes were Russell, Famewo, Hessenthaler, Welsh, Pringle, Cook and A Rose. No change from Saturday; why changes horses for courses midstream?

Colchester turned up in fancy dress: Harry Pell came as a pencil, the rest as a football pitch. Their mint cracknel kit blended seamlessly with the green, green grass of home, such that little Lapslie was an invisible man, indistinguishable from a blade of grass.

Whoa, they'd turned up in camouflage, but things are never quite the way they seem…

First half: Green is the colour

Colchester kicked off towards the Pontoon and, my, don't they loom in the gloom.

Town tinkled and twinkled with a one-touch training exercise across the face of their penalty area, with Embleton the fulcrum. Ticking, tocking, a dink and drunkle from Thomas barundled and bumbled through to the far post. Slim Charles Vernam hustled in unseen and unmolested to stud-poke against their jazz guitarist and fabulous flying duvet, Monsieur Rene Gilmartin. The duvet diverted for a corner. Move along now, there's nothing to see here.

Piddling in puddles of post-modern pole-dancing. Biffing and banging, barging and charging. The warning lights are flashing, I can't hear no whistles and yells. It's pinball. Jim. But not as we know it.

Vernam va-voomed through distant shadows on their left, dancing on their ceiling and wellying over the angle of post and bar. We can ooh if we want to.

Town atrophied alarmingly with a one-touch training exercise across the face of our penalty area. Without wellies Town sank into the bog as Hall-Johnson underhit inaccurately to the unalert Whitmore. Knocker Norris mugged the mordant Mariner and swayed into the penalty area. A hundred hearts sank, but we have Jamie Macc's big bedspread of love to thank for wrapping the present up again.

A minty bunch of camouflaged twirls and curls, a bit of biffball and tall falls. Tedious tussling and hustling, scruffy scuffling and Harry Pell. He stands like a statue, he's part of their machine, feeling for the bumpers, rarely playing clean. Colchester sure play a mean pinball.

There has to be a twist, Ah, Slim Charles! A triple dribble swizzle through their right with a feint too far. A shot blocked, a pass knocked and Hooper… well, Hooper just hoopered. Dallying, dallying, not shooting but eventually poking weakly toward Thomas. Indecision, imprecision, indifference: why is he in the team?

How could the ref tell that Pell fell under Little Harry's aura? The raspberry fool is fooling no-one but himself

Colchester obsessively sought out their big friendly giant with staring eyes. Fearless Frank Nouble eclipsed Hall-Johnson, clipping him around the ear and bounding away for a moment of forgetfulness. The rotting ref perceived an RHJ head-butt of Nouble's arm. How could he tell that Pell fell under Little Harry's aura? The raspberry fool is fooling no-one but himself.

Minty shinty as big balls boomed, tall men poppied above the extendable arms of James McKeown. A long haul hurled; two heads arose and buffled widely wide as Jamie Macc flailed underneath.

Embleton razzle-dazzled 'em with a showy run that was most splendiferous. With those in the Pontoon most vociferous. He threw them a fake and a finagle, but we know that Hooper's a bagel. There endeth the excitement in the Essexers' penalty area as Hooper dillied and dallied, dallied and dillied.

The green bug-eyed monsters of rock rolled back into Town's half. Tumbles and stumbles with homester grumbles. Rose was hauled down by lapis Lapslie, and the mintymen were awarded a free kick 25-ish yards out. Pell's skipper flipped off Rose's toes and skimped safely into McKeown's awaiting arms.

More green guzzling and stripey slacking as Pell swivelled and swelled a swinger that drifted across the face of goal from just outside the penalty area. It was close, but wasn't right for them as it coiled right away.
One minute was added. And that's all there is to it..

Town could have scored, they should have scored and everyone was just a little bored with the biffballing.

Second half: The tom-tom club

Neither team made any changes at half time, though the linesman at the Osmond end got taller and improved his flag-waving technique no end.

Chivvy chips and chippy chasing, Pell bedraggled wide through a tunnel of Town toes. A corner, taken lowly, unravelling slowly with small bimblings of adversity averted. It's now no shock that Townites block. Nice.
And what's happening in Stripeworld? Some minor moments of fleeting perildemonium as an Embleton free kick was glanced on by Collins. Location! Location! Location! In the centre of town Hooper stared into the estate agent's window, dreaming of a two-bed flat with a sea view. We viewed a flat-footed dreamer.

Thomas. Is he still here?

Flinty mintyness and Hall-Johnson was shredded by the flying wing-backer. A dink from the bye-line and Senior had a moment. He arose alone ten yards out, nodded sagely, and watched the ball bounce off the crossbar and back into the stormy weather in the centre. Scramblulations and excitations as chip paper billowed silently across the ground. The Senior moment passed, their chance gone and now forgotten.

Green slinking, striped sinking. Town receded into the darkness, rarely spotted beyond the half way line, isolated in their triangles, the full-backs exposed as the wingers dissolved. The big bullies weren't so woolly now.

We need a change, he made the change. Ch-ch-ch-changes as Hessenthaler replaced Hooper and Town smoooothed to a smooching 4-2-3-1 formation. Hessenthaler may get a longer run in the team if he gets longer studs.

Long balls, short balls. Balls. Rose misjudged a Gilmartin goal kick and the ball bounced into the void. Norris nurdled and gurgled a creeper across the face of goal. McKeown whittled on a stick.

Are we going to have an attack? We're just waiting for them to score.

Along comes the driver, pulls the little lever. Puff, puff! Chuff, chuff! Off we go!

Nicking and knocking, parcels passed, Rose mugged a day-tripper and delightfully dinked into the absence behind where a right-back would have been if they had a right-back. Thomas the engine rolled Kent into a carpet, put Prosser on the floor and crankled lowly across Gilmartin into the bottom left corner. He turned to salute the Pontoon, who stood to attention in appreciation.

Just walk away Rene, you're not to blame.

Colchester took off players and replaced them with others. Well, that's what happens when you make substitutions.

Thomas the engine rolled Kent into a carpet, put Prosser on the floor and crankled lowly across Gilmartin into the bottom left corner

Pinballing with multi-balls, clattering and chattering as three Town shins diverted three Town non-clearances into the paths of the jolly green giants. Good old Mitch. We knew there was something to cheer about him 'cause when he turned around he was pullin' up a big palm tree. Pell quelled, Pell felled, for whom the bell tolls, it tolls for thee Harry Pell.

Dashing, smashing, slashing, lashing, crashing and mashing. The little green bugs were repulsed by some Town aerosols. Lower that eyebrow, Mr Highbrow, I said aerosol.

Yeeks, they be sneeks. Hendrie was shredded wheat and Senior arose to soften a cushioned header inches wide of the near post.

A momentary moment of non-minty attacking. Hall-Johnson pursued a clearance, magnificently slide-blocking by the tunnel and coiling a clip to Thomas. There are no more Mariner moments beyond the halfway line. Well, Town did once break the Maginot Line but Prosser lay down on the halfway line. As Town approached the penalty area the referee halted play and ordered a competitive drop-ball. Locals observed the apparent inconsistency in approach taken by the raspberry fool and tutted in the local vernacular.

Time ticked on, Welsh came on for Vernam, they inned, they outed, but Town would not crack. Town were staunch as Colchester's missile failed to launch. They clipped, dipped, whipped, slipped and Town nipped away once on a counter attack that got as far as the halfway line.

And back they came.

Barging, charging, and giving it large, the green men threw a mighty wind towards Jamie Macc. Famewo came on, five minutes were added. Big bashes and a plateful of scrambled eggs. Block paving is the way forward, as Pell found out. And over they shoot again.

Went the day well? They had the ball, they had most of the chances. We got the points.

And we're back to where we started, grinding out victories through sheer will and organisation. The tagline for last season's Jolley adventure still stands: it ain't pretty but it is pretty effective.

We aren't complaining.