Baking flans for Nigel

Cod Almighty | Match Report

by Tony Butcher

21 March 2021

Mansfield Town 2 Grimsby Town 2

The queue in the car park beyond Field Mill; dodging the abandoned fridges on the path beside the car park beyond Field Mill; watching stewards pick on the timorous teenagers inside Field Mill. This is our Field Mill of dreams.

Ah yes, Mansfield, we remember it. Well...

Flags a-fluttering, Twitter a-muttering and one day they'll fix the guttering in the abandoned tin pan alley stand.

Only a dozen more of this rotten box set to get through before the season is cancelled, we may as well keep watching to the bitter end to see if the Fridge Magnate finally falls.

First half – Bapp for bolts

Town kicked off towards the invisible army of Townites watching at home on their surroundsound TVs set to Grumblerama mode.

Straight up, straight out.

Up, up and away, where is the ball? Sucked into the shack of shame, constantly lobbed into the sludgepits of gloom, it's all slipping away as stripes slipped over.

Gordon's alive! Behold Galloping Gordon's drive and dive for a Town goal kick. What a shame, Lamy was a bit lame. Let's avoid the blame game.

Punting, shunting, bog-snorkels and bogle-clenching. Oh don't mention Omar, you’ll make grown men cry. McKeown punched a free kick away and a red van pulled up outside Wrens Kitchens. Did you see anyone get out?

Heads on a stick and hearts on a sleeve as a Town free kick, well, just sigh and let your feelings go. How can you go with the flow when there is no flow, just the slow, slow death of dignity.

A Matete pass set up a yellow drive down their right and Waterfall scraped away from the near post for a  corner that was overhit, over our James to the giant Perch, who noodled back. Scrumbles and yumbles as a  scruffed shot was handled with care by Waterfall. Play on said Macduff.

Bumbling and fumbling deep down the Town right. Benning and Law passed along the floor, McLaughlin was shivered and shooed across the face of the penalty area and the ball rolled on into the void dead centre. Maris took a step and swept straight in off the right post with McKeown motionless without a wave. Without a wave we're drowning.

Headless chickens roosting, pecking at the dirt, no-one laid an egg. Reputations changeable, situation intolerable.

A Benning free kick coiled, McLaughlin stooped and glanced inchlets wide of the farthest post. You know that red van has gone. Suspicious, eh?

And the sun came out as the sun set on the five-year mission to meekly go back to where we've been before. There'll be strange new worlds down there, though Kings Lynn does not count as a new civilisation.

Flash Gordon driving past Lamy again, Hendrie skewered away.

What of Town? A series of free kicks for Benning going wacko on Jacko. As is customary, there is nothing to declare as we pass through the border between leagues. Town haven't even had a cross, let alone a shot.

Shall we count the cars in the car park? A couple of grey hatchbacks, a green van, a big black SUV. Two people stood on the hillock between stands. 11 hillocks in stripes stood on the mud in front of the stands. This is beyond feeble.

Every moment has its pleasure and hope. On half time the Manskeeper fluffed to Payne and Perch cleared the uncontrolled interception. Lock up the streets and houses, there's something in the air. It's a corner! Elevated. Deflated. The keeper arose unmolested.

Two minutes were added. One of the grey cars drove off.

Shape without form, shade without colour, paralysed force, gesture without motion; this is how Town always end – with a whimper.

Second half – The last post

There's going to have to be different men. Ch-ch-ch-changes: Spokes for Coke, Williams for Lamy and Town moved to 4-3-3.

Hurrying, scurrying, pestle and mortar bombs with Spokes at the wheel. Town fizzing around, falling down and finally, after 49 minutes a 'shot'. Williams' eyes brightened as he imagined a better world and Baled a free kick into Watership Down.

Spokes whirled and slicked a slinky pass into the penalty area, but a sprinting Payne is painful to watch. Spokes tractored through the mud and was halted by a barbed wire fence. The free kick coiled and we have the fantasy of almost nearlyness as shins and chins wagged.

Life seems but a quick succession of busy nothings.

We're keeping it tight and putting up a fight. In and out, scrapping and yapping at yellow ankles. A Town corner on the right coiled gently into the centre. This provincial John-Lewis hasn't been shut down yet, as the man arose alone to graze into the unattended far corner

Lennie scored? No kiddin'. This calls for a celebration. I'll go get some donuts.

Matete was booked immediately on the restart for clattering clots. You know, I'd rather forgotten that Mansfield existed. Let us have the luxury of silence from these lambs.

Scruffy fluffiness with flailing feet. Striped surging, yellow gurgling as finally a Spokes shot was blocked. It's one-way traffic but we're on a one-way ticket to the blues. Behold befuddling buffoonery with Benning on their left. A vague cross vaguely near knees at the near post as bodies arrived vaguely. Shins were knocking and bees were bumbling. Law spun slowly and placed a pass into the far corner with Hewitt writing a haiku and Waterfall watching.

Perhaps they were so anxious to do what is right that they forgot to do what is right.

And still Town marched on Mansfield in waves of mudball. As McLaughlin hooked Harry and was booked, on came Matt Green for Jackson, who'd had an enthusiastically non-League afternoon. Hewitt arose at the free kick to head highly over. A Town corner, straight out, what a waste.

Rejoice! Rejoice! It is my duty to report to the nation that in the 78th minute Town had their first effort on goal from open play. Jamie Mack's drop kick bounced once and would have gone in had Stone not existed. Actually, when you put it that way, did he exist? Is it just an assumption that they had a goalkeeper?

Rejoice! Rejoice! With staggering stupidity the Stags removed attackers and brought on defenders with 10 minutes left. Yes, they have their Parslow Point too as they threw on the flying squad and dug up Mr Potato: Sweeney for Maris is your tortured wordplay for today.

And Adams replaced Matete as Town moved to a three defenders, Clifton, Spokes and loads of blokes upfield formation. The application of chaos theory: what a delicious contradiction for Mr Keep-It-Tight.

What we really need is Malvind Benning to do the decent thing and score another own goal. It's what he does best and this would be all done in the best possible taste.

Town: underhitting, overhitting and an unstructured blob of desperate activity. Just stick it in their mixer and see what happens.

In the last minute Adams faced North but went South and Perch scraped away the swinging cross from the near post. The corner drooped farly, was headed back and out and back and out and Williams dropped when feeling yellow peril. A free kick, central, 20 or so yards out.

Five minutes were added.

Stone lurked on the left of goal and Williams beautifully Baled a dipping wobbler into the top right corner. Blimey.

Listen lads we can still do this!

Mansfield panicked, Town attacked in spasms of spits and spots. Green fiddled about down the left and Spokes coiled a big dipper beyond the far post. Yellow statues, Stone perplexed by pigeons, Little George snuck around the back and, a couple of yards out, headed against the left post. Out the ball bonked, Lennie twizzled and flibbled widely over.

Come on, come on, your inside is out when your outside is in, the higher we fly the deeper they go. Hewitt hurled a chuck and yellows nodded back for a lob that Lennie nodded wide.

In the seventh of the five added minutes a yellow clot clattered Clifton 25 or so yards out. Is this moment when this worm of a season turns? Stone wibbled behind a wobbling wall, Williams puffed out his cheeks and Baled way, way over. We're through, we're through, it's over, it's over, it's over.

Here we go round the prickly pear
Prickly pear prickly pear
Here we go round the prickly pear
At five o'clock in the evening.

Stones, worms and seasons unturned. There's a time to laugh, a time to weep, many would swear it's too late.

We've been fobbed off and we've been fooled. We've been robbed and ridiculed. Will the anti-Fenty flouncers bounce back to Blundell Park after another march towards adequacy?