Battered prawns in sweet and sour sauce

Cod Almighty | Match Report

by Tony Butcher

20 January 2019

Lincoln City 1 Grimsby Town 0

It was a chill but beautiful morning. Somewhere.

‘Twas dull, grey and chilly-willy as the bell tolled for noon. All was quiet in downhill, downtown Lincoln as 1,552 travelling Townites travelled from town to do their duty and feign botherment at Impish delight.

Town lined up in a 5-3-2 formation as follows McKeown, Hendrie, Whitmore, Ohman, Davis, Ring, Hessenthaler, Rose, Embleton, Cardwell and Thomas. The substitutes were Russell, Hall-Johnson, Woolford, Welsh, Pringle, Vernam and A Rose. Well, at least we have some defenders this week. And tall players. We'll need them, for Lincoln were typically tall, hugely hulking and snorting like angry caged bulls.

Well, it's a score draw already: two Harrys each, but Town without our talismanic Harry, spotted in an anorak near the septic tanks. Yes, Harry Clifton was standing near Akinde and Rhead. Ho-ho-ho, top bantz, as young people say. Now that's a cheap shot, and even Lincoln is full of cheap shops these days.

Why don’t we just hold hands and cock a snook northwards: cherish the thought that, unlike Hull, we both still have a Marks and Sparks.

Let's get this chore out of the way.

First half: Dim sums

Town kicked off away from fifteen hundred tense and terse Townites.

Boom-boom: Ring still rusty, Anderson plunged. A free kick kicked freely and the referee spotted their linebacker's bump-and-run coverage on our purple hearts.

Mad Marty Ball from Danny Boy's Lincoln. It's an eleven-man offense as Town hassled and hustled, groped and griping at the low level street mugging. On the ropes and on the floor, Öhman's head targeted for impish elbows. A yellow card for a lump of lard.

Frantic, frenzied, it's one down and ten, with a no-huddle offense at every set piece. No time to think, no time to shrink from mortal combat. A Town moment. Fleeting, distant. A Ring sling welly-welly over after an underhit Embleton corner.

Town being hurried, Town being bullied. Badda-bing from Freckling… ton, fizzling and flashing just over and just wide after purple haze and purple daze. Justice.

It's football, Jim, but not as we know it. Is this gridiron or Aussie rules we're watching?

Thomas chased a back-pass and their keeper hooked away in the nick of time and hit the turf. Thomas was booked. The pattern was set: should a player remain turfed a yellow card would surf on the waves of wailing.

Ten fraught minutes became eleven frazzling minutes. A punt, a rock, a roll, an Impish corner. Home grapplings with our saplings and Öhman headed out into the nether regions. Toffolo shimmered in and, from just outside the penalty area on the centre-right, whackled a low dipping volley through a thicket of absent legs and into the bottom right corner.

I can't tell you how delighted we were to see such an excellently struck goal to enliven a cold, dull day.

Their testosterone tactics were flagging, they were flaccid, not flying, and amusing all with their attempts to play football. Passing? Don't bother, you'll only make yourself look silly

Onwards, onwards marched the cyborg army, crushing human skulls, showing no mercy. Zipping and zapping as Townites were napping, Frecklington finagled and Whitmore scrimbled up, up and away from the farthest post.

Elbows. Studs. Mud. Bog snorkeling at its best.

In the 22nd minute Town crossed the ball. For a throw-in. There is hope.

Slowly, slowly these repulsive Imps were being repelled. Their testosterone tactics were flagging, they were flaccid, not flying, and amusing all with their attempts to play football. Passing? Don't bother, you'll only make yourself look silly. As the game slowed Lincoln began to look limply lamentable.

Big Bolger bumbled, The Hess hassled, Ring rolled, and Embleton was tangled up in purple to hit towards Hykeham from a dozen yards. Embleton began to appear in pockets of non-Impishness causing very, very minor moments of discomfort for all those red faces in the crowd.

Town corners, Lincoln panic. Embleton coiled highly from the left. Öhman arose and hammered a header that hit a human on its way towards the gaping goal. The ball fell, red feet beat purple toes. Another corner, coiled lowly from the right. Öhman ducked, Smith star-flapped and the ball disappeared behind a thousand static, writhing bodies. And Smith picked it up.

Rose wheeled out his Summerfield impression, widdling weedlingly as opponents swarmed. A flick, a switch and Akinde bedraggled wimpily straight to McKeown.

Battling tops, spinning bottoms, a kaleidoscope of collisions with clatterings and batterings. The Hess was booked for tackling, Toffolo was booked for wasting time by time-wasting.

Four minutes were added during which, just to balance out the half perfectly, Akinde "accidentally" spear tackled Ludwig's lug holes. Ohman had word with the ref. Many words.

Typical Lincoln. Typical Town at Lincoln. Typical Premiership reffing of Town. Town were simply overwhelmed by the physical intensity of the onslaught. Then Lincoln tired and they were nothing more than a bulky and better Port Vale when they were unable, or not permitted, to bully.

But there's a red card out there with someone's name on it. But who?

Second half: Bang-bang chickens with frayed noodles

Neither team made any changes at half time.

Bang-bang. Lincoln walloped off to Akinde. Bang-bang. Whitmore chopped him down. Bang-bang. He hit the ground. Whitmore was booked and Bostwick headed firmly overly over, with added fruit.

More of more of the same of the stuff we expect to see when we wend our way down to the city of culture without cultured football. Lincoln sat back and waited, Town fiddled around on the flanks. Sometimes this, sometimes that, a little bit ooh, a little bit aah, a little bit wrong, a little bit right. You know that's true.

Rose posed a multiple choice question to Ring on the wing. Alas, he chose "right foot cross" when the correct answer was "the effective abolition of the Milk Marketing Board in 1994". A Town corner and Whitmore was wrestled away from where the ball never reached in the deep, deep background of this Hieronymus Bosch painting: Mankind Beset by Devils. Embleton mis-crumbled an underhit swipe at Smith, who may as well have gone home.

Them. Some shots. Probably. Town were tapping lightly against thick stone walls.

Them. A breakaway, a cross, a push on purple and the happy whistler had already chirruped by the time the ball had got to Phoenix. They'll remember a goal disallowed. We'll remember nothing of a moment of nothingness.

Us. Tip-tapping secret messages.

Them. What a bunch of punters. Akinde trampled over Davis; Jamie Mack magnificently sliced through the nonsense to sweep away any fears.

Them. Brawn-based counter wellies. Soaking up the trickle of treacle and hoofing upfield. Chips were chased, and Öhman slid in from Sweden to freeze Akinde out of the picture. What an utterly sensational interception from long-legged Ludwig.

McKeown raced out and slid towards the approaching menace. Rowe fell over the yellow legs as the ball stopped under the tumblers

Impish plunging at Townites lunging. Davis booked, Cowley twirled his fingers and a trick free kick followed. A big brutish redster on the end of the wall blocked off purplers. Infiltrations, deliberations from Davis and danger diverted.

With about quarter of an hour left Vernam replaced Cardwell and, as we got on our knees and prayed, Öhman was felled again.

Town, knock-knock-knocking on heaven's door. A cold black and white cloud is coming down. A cross half cleared and unthinkingly hoofed as high and as far as possible. Ring and Rowe stood on the halfway line. The ball bounced midway inside Town's half. Ring did not pursue. McKeown raced out and slid towards the approaching menace. Rowe fell over the yellow legs as the ball stopped under the tumblers.

Wailing, gnashing, howling and growling. The ref ran towards his linesman. A nod, a wink and out came the red card.

With Öhman still woozily wobbling around, Hall-Johnson was about to come on. The Jolleyman stroked his chin, sucked a thoughtful tooth and eventually sent on Russell to replace Whitmore.

Town moved to a 4-3-2 formation with Mitch somewhere back there.

Arising from the bench, Ahkeeeeem Rose replaced the walking, wounded Öhman.

Biffing, banging, bundling, barging on the edge of the Town box. The ball squirtled way out west and Akinde fell over a Townite. A free kick, but no cards produced. It was either a foul or a fall, deliberate or not. One thing or another. The free kick hit the wall then hit the back of the scoreboard.

And now, the end is near, as we reach the final curtain, they brought on the pantomime cow. Hello Fat Matt.

There's nothing in these streets looks any different to me. Five minutes were added. Nothing happened.

Town never looked like scoring, Lincoln never looked like passing. Cowley's clatterers' tactics were to be Kloppishly overwhelming for 20 minutes and then brick up the garden. They succeeded. Town were able to repel them, mostly, but posed no real danger.

This was a coaching exercise where well-grooved old ways defeated the hastily stitched-together new ways.

They are very good at what they do; Town aren't yet good enough at what they want to be. Just a snapshot of two old clubs moving at different speeds from different places.

Things change, but Lincoln never do. Good luck to them. They'll need it when Dannyboy goes.