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Cod Almighty | Match Report

by Tony Butcher

6 January 2019

Crystal Palace 1 Grimsby Town 0

A still temperate evening in The Great Wen with 5,399 Towntrippers going down memory lane, up Clifton Road and into the old bowl. We've often thought of that night when we had our last rendezvous, we foolishly wonder if you might, by chance, have thought of it too. Ah yes, we remember it well. Long time ago when we was fab.

Flying high, it's a bird in the sky, an eagle that rides on the breeze and rests atop the crossbar. We should do that, we could do the Fish Slapping Dance. Fenty, fetch the pilchards!

Town lined up for a minute in the 4-4-1-1 formation as follows McKeown, M Rose, Hall-Johnson, Hendrie, Fox, Cardwell, Clifton, Hessenthaler, Woolford, Embleton and Thomas. The substitutes were Russell, Pollock, Ring, Welsh, Vernam, Pringle and Cook. Same cobbled-together defence as last week then, there's still some stickiness on the tape. It was a surprise not see Mr Heath and Mr Robinson at least on the subs' bench.

They may think they know who we are but we definitely know who they are. Palace: taller, beefier, faster, more expensive haircuts.

Nothing can go wrong now.

First half: Redoubtable

Palace kicked off towards the smaller end and immediately were awarded a free kick for feeling the breath of a poor person upon their perfectly perfumed skin.

Right in front to the Town support Townsend teased and tantalised Fox with a soft-shoe shuffle. The flying Fox followed through with an old-fashioned reducer, early doors. Play continued and Palace petered out as the ball ambled out. The referee returned to the still writhing winger and flashed the yellow card.


Do sit down, shocks are so much better absorbed with knees bent.

With Townsend still gingerly arising, Atkinson held his left lobe. Uh-oh, he's got an ear infection. A bad case of VARs. A red card was flourished Foxwards.

Two minutes gone and the early doors reducer had reduced Town with an early bath for Fox. I think we have to class that as a drone strike on the fleeing Fox.

What are we going to do now? What are we going to do now? What are we going to do now?

Cardwell shuffled forward and Thomas moved to the right wing.

Wave upon wave of red and blue flew towards McKeown. Townsend, the pantomime villain, dancing around Woolford and dinking deeply. Sorloth arose beyond the far post and looped a header over McKeown. Hall-Johnson sauntered back and hooked off the line.

Zaha dribbling, drabbling, scrabbling and dabbling in amateur dramatics. Mitch and Hendrie wheel-clamped the roadhog and towed him away.

Ten men, we've only got ten men, we've only got ten men.

Town waited as Palace ate oysters at the local champagne bar. Nicking and ticking The Hess caressed a cross behind Schloppy Schlupp, Thomas sneaked around the back and ungainly bundled beyond the far post. Nice.

Back they came using Sorloth as a brick wall. Schlupp was slipped in and flaggled into the side netting. Incursions to the left, incisions to the right, a cross flashed. Hendrie stretched and Sorloth poked miles wide and high from two yards out. Falling and bawling from the ponceyshippers. Townsend hit the wall and hit the wall again.

Ticking and nicking from Town down the left. Embleton swung his pants and swung a coiling dink behind Schlupp, but alas Thomas slipped behind as the ball skipped by.

Back, back, back again came the moneyed elite, driving into Town with lights flashing and horns honking. Another cross from their right and Sorloth superbly swept wide from the centre six yards out. Zaha dabbled in Woolford baiting, swaying past the ancient mariner and swalloping lowly against the Jamie Macc's legs.

McKeown sprawled his giant duvet of calm to clamp shut a yard out with the goal agape, the Palace fans aghast. How did he do that? It's James McKeown, it's just what he does

Ten men, we've only got ten men, we've only got ten men.

Corners, corners, bundling and barging, head tennis back across the line. Woolford blocked as Sorloth shoved him. The ball tickled the post and plopped up a yard out. McKeown sprawled his giant duvet of calm to clamp shut a yard out with the goal agape, the Palace fans aghast. How did he do that? It's James McKeown, it's just what he does.

Palace desperately dim, desperately bedraggling lowly from afar. Wide, over, blocked, blocked and blocked again by red socks. Off the line, off near the line, slightly high, slightly wide, and always a masterful monochromer barring the way. Town let their centre-backs have the ball and swamped the rest. Kelly ambled forward unmolested. And carried on. And on. With stripes approaching as he approached the penalty area, Kelly scruffled lowly. The ball bumbled softly, Jamie Macc lay low to his left, finger-patted against the post and got up to clutch the rebound before any homester moved.

Souare slumped and Big Kouyate came on, increasing their height advantage to over two foot. Sorloth got bigger every time the ball came near him, but Hall-Johnson's reputation increased as he met and matched this Norwegian deadwood. The taller he got, the higher RHJ leapt. Palace piffled and wiffled, their tide receding as crosses came from deeper, shots from further and further away and Schlupp schlepped over the bar.

And then the moment we'd waited 42 minutes for: Town were awarded a free kick. We are honoured, your majesty, for these crumbs from your golden table. A corner followed and Embleton shot safely into the waiting arms of Hennessey.

Two minutes were added and Hendrie was booked for something or other in a mad harum-scarum dash as Palace broke from a Town attack.

Ten men, we've only got ten men, we've only got ten men.

Every second without a Palace goal the Town fans' roar rose a decibel, the Town players grew a further inch. The force is strong with Luke, the spirit is high with Harry. Even if the sky falls in, this half tells a story we've wanted to hear for years. We were wonderful, we were magnificent, we are Town.

Second half: Indefatigable

Neither team made any changes at half time.

With such a wistful eye upon this little tent of red and blue, here we go again with the ballad of the siege of McKeown's goal.

Selhurst sweeping, no-one sleeping, no Town weeping. Sorloth stooped and steered well wide. Isn't it good, Norwegian deadwood. Zaha, Zaha, Zaha, Zaha, Zaha Zahahahahaha.

Thomas poked in the eye by Zaha. It's OK, he said sorry. Mitch mangled by Zaha. It's OK, Palace got a free kick. Town got out the duvet as Zaha za-zoomed greedily.

Ten men, we've only got ten men, we've only got ten men.

Why change a non-losing strategy? Town allowed Danns and Kelly to wander lonely as clouds. Kelly long biffed, Jamie Macc parried, RHJ swept away. Little Harry outjumped Kouyate, RHJ scaled Mount Sorloth. Falling and fooling, Meyer buffled, Embleton scruffled and Townsend hit the wall.

Back, back, backs to the wall. Tiny chinks of light twinkling through tiny gaps in the Town blanket. A fleeting moment of dozing and Palace hordes flooded through. A cross from the left and Kouyate headed against the outside of the left post.

Oh my God, noooooo, it's The Wickham Man replacing Sorloth. He's a big beefy boy but his legs don't move. Like a Premier League Matt Rhead, but without the goals.

Boooo. A Townsend trifle wobbled just over and Ayew came on for the anonymous and irrelevant Riedewald.

Hey Palace, ten men, we've only got ten men, we've only got ten men.

Minor moments of Mariner relief with Embleton driving into the corners and Clifton barging through the detritus. Ah-ha, Atkinson falling for Zaha's charms again and Mitch Rose was booked for persistently stopping a millionaire moving as he wished through the hoi polloi. Bedragglers and headers here, there and nowhere.

With ten minutes left Vernam replaced Thomas. Ten men with ten minutes for a perfect ten performance. Listen lads, we can still do this…

Townsend wiggling and waggling away from dozens of pursuing Townites, coiling around the far post lowly. Ah yes, yes that Olde Englishe folk song revived by Roy Harper in 1975, I believe. When an old England player leaves the wing, you never know where he's gone.

Little Harry was hobbled in a sandwich clobber, so was moved forward and Cardwell went back to centre-back. Clifton tipped a tap to nick and knock, then volley-dipped nowhere really but, hey, a shot, corrr. They're giving it a go when they can.

You could feel the hand of history shove us off the headlines and down to three trite lines where we're 'plucky' and 'gritty'

Ten men, we've only got ten men, we've only got ten men.

Town were cool, Town were confident and cheeky Mitch nodded a Palace punt back to Jamie Macc deep inside the Town area with several 'stars' lurking. Town continued to let their centre-backs wander around and a Danns' drifter swayed within kissing distance of the face of the right post.

How long left? Five minutes, just five minutes. You can feel the hand of history on our shoulders…

And so did Ayew, plunging pathetically on the right corner of the Town area and allowing the referee to fulfil his obligations. A free kick instantly awarded. Schlupp slipped in a clip, Ayew arose in the middle, six yards out and plonked a header down into the right corner.

You could feel the hand of history shove us off the headlines and down to three trite lines where we're 'plucky' and 'gritty'.

During the hubbub of home happiness Cook replaced Woolford and Town moved to a 3-4-2. Well, you may as well have a go. A break, a sneaking snake down the right. Embleton swingled though sharp toes and swept overly.

Three minutes were added in secrecy and the undermanned Town's pants were stretched to the twanging point as Zaha greedily wiggled and wafted highly into the high stand.

And this tale is now told, our heroes were bold, our heads were high and we have no need to cry as the Palace fans stood to applaud the Mariner magnificence. For we had ten men, we only had ten men – for the whole of the game. The secret of Michael Jolley's Black and White Army is now out on the world stage. We have had a successful heart transplant.

We were magnificent in accumulating adversity.