The wheels on the bus fall off from time to time

Cod Almighty | Match Report

by Tony Butcher

9 March 2013

Grimsby Town 1 Kidderminster Harriers 3

Good old Dartford, nothing can go wrong now!

A drippingly drenching afternoon of drowning drizzle down Mariners Way with around 250 Carpetbaggers munching burgers in the Osmond Stand. What is this I see around me? A thousand returnees: all Grimsby-till-they-try-out-watching-us-again. They still drive us crazy after all these years.

Town lined up in a 4-4-2 formation as follows: McKeown, Wood, Miller, Naylor, Thomas, Luton's Marcus Marshall, Disley, Thanoj, Colbeck, Cook, Hannah. The substitutes were Hatton, Artus, Devitt, John-Lewis and Brodie. No place for young Doooooooooooooooogie the Droog from 'Ull, but Pearson and Hearn were seen splish-splashing as they made their late dash for Wembley by warming up in the wet.

They've got Cheyenne Dunkley, we've got Cheyenne Brodie roaming the West Marsh looking for fights. It's massive, it's a must-win game, it's a cliché and it's a knockout. If looks could grill, Shouty is a barbeque and Shorty is the heat-resistant spatula boy until his dying day.

Mud, mud, glorious mud, there's nothing quite like it to make Town's game a dud.

First half: Carpetbaggers
Kidderminster kicked off towards the Pontoon and Town sniffled out their sneaky pitter-patter passing that caused crowd pandemonium in the FA Cup farrago. For a while. Sticky pudding of a pitch, stodgy pudding of a game. Stop whacking high to Hannah. He's not a top shelf publication: he's more house and gardens.

Underhit, overhit, wobbling free. Town weren't making good use of things that they found and kept kicking the ball out of the ground. Woah, a pass, along the slithering turf, Hannah turned around with bright eyes and a total eclipse of his marker. The shot deflected for a corner. An event! A thing. Something happened. Not much.

The Kiddermen were sliding between Town's rigid lines, taunting with tips and taps. Town were a chuntering chuggerbug with the handbrake stuck. Wingers wonky, full-backs flaky, midfield muddled and huddled, and studs too short. Where Townites slide the yellow peril did glide.

Ooh, is this something? Cook slabbered a dipping, swerving volley just over the bar of the Constitutional Club, knocking over a packet of cocktail sticks, much to the chagrin of mein host. Hannah... nearly but nope. Gowling's bouncing hair smothered the Yorkshire yapper and he was offside anyway. Sit down at the back – we can't see the Pontoon rusting.

For goodness' sake, stop punting! Big Cheyenne was a northern eater, happily munching Hannah, his little mariners pie. The Ross house isn't built on stilts – he's a bungalow boy, so keep it low.

And the Kiddermen slowly, slowly started to lay out their wares. They passed and moved, from right to left to right for Devaney to twinkle his toes past the traumatised Thomas. Freed from his ramshackle chains, just a dozen yards out, a helpful divot appeared and the rest is a smack in the face for a man in the middle of the Pontoon.

A throw-in thrown, a turn turned, a pass passed and a slap-shot shimmering a couple of feet wide of McKeown's right post. And again. A cross crossed, Wood half headed out and some bloke slap-shotted a yard wide of McKeown's left post. The Carpeters copied Town's short corner routine, but missed more stylishly, Malbon hoiking over from eight yards. Town had the ball, Kidderminster had the shots.

They pressed and Town messed: Miller's mad chip to Wood epitomised the lobotomised discombobulation of the locals. 

After half an hour of flunking donuts, Town strung several beads together and called it a negligee. Wood and Colbeck piddled about, piddled about in the empty corner twixt Osmond and Findus. Wood cut infield and lofted a left-footed cross into the centre of the area. Hannah arose and glanced cutely on. Lewis brilliantly flew low and left along his line to flip away from billowing netting and lurking Marshall.

Have I ever told you the story about the old, empty barn on Town's right? 

Thanoj, halfway inside the Town half on the centre-left, a-turned and spray-painted a doodle towards Colbeck. The occasional table was knocked over by a passing butterfly, half-heartedly challenging and shouldering the ball onto a carpetbagger in the centre-circle. One, two, buckling Town's shoe. Wood was exposed without the Colbeck safety varnish and Demetriou flung a fine first-time cross which dripped and dropped and plopped right onto a yellow boot. Malbon, just four yards out and beyond the far post, carefully stroked the ball low across McKeown.

It had been coming, and then it arrived.

A couple of minutes later Naylor's knees knocked for another Kiddercorner after Aswad was awol in mind and body. Town didn't have a left-back playing in the same dimension in space and time as the rest of humanity. Was it a hologram, or an astral projection? Less Tardis, more tardy today.

Astral projections? Sounds like a Van Morrison album. Thomas will be a Morrison's van driver if he carries on like this.

Thanoj and Colbeck exchanged glances and played in our stranger on the right. Marshall mesmerised the mediocre with his dancing feet, jingle-jangling through a double-barrelled, double-barred gate. He hit the bye-line, carefully caressed a pass into Hannah, who steer-poked towards the bottom right corner. Lewis magnificently plunged and pushed the ball along the line, arcing slowly around the post as the whole ground was up on its feet ready to acclaim the returning goal hero.

A corner. Wasted.

In added time Town got a free kick under the Findus. Everyone except Thomas went up into the Kidderminster penalty area. Wood rolled it short to Marshall, who advanced tentatively towards a small wall of custard creams. Alas poor Marcus, he didn't dunk well, collapsing in a soggy mess without the ball. The yellowmen ran off with the spoon, sprinkling Malbon free against Thomas on their left. Awol backed off and off, allowing the perennial pest to turn and choose which cheese to crumble upon his biscuit selection. Town were in a pickle alright. Malbon passed into the centre, where a chap waited and rolled an overlapping mattress free. A clap, a stab, and Gash kneed in from two yards while surrounded by a trio of monochrome statues.

And the half ended to a chorus of disapproval, primarily from those who are rarely among us.

Kidderminster were a team, they had a plan, they were committed, organised and efficient. Town weren't. High balls to Hannah will not do. Disley and Thanoj were rather cloying clones, with Miller and Naylor similarly having essentially the same attributes. If it's a question of balance, Town had earache. Thomas and Colbeck were awful, Marshall maddeningly mixed mediocre with menacing and the rest were all much of a muchness, neither good nor bad as individuals, but collectively incoherent.

Two Town errors, two goals conceded. Two Town shots, two great saves from their keeper. Your first-half shell has been nutted.

Second half: Carpet cleaners
Neither team made any changes at half time.

Marshall befuddled in the shadow of the Findus and fell under the intense gaze of several midlanders A free kick! Panic! Disley headed on, Gowling staggered and stalled the ball across goal. Miller, alone and six yards out, took one touch and volley-passed into to the left corner.

There's panic in the streets of Hummmmmmmmberside.

The crowd's dander up, Town hared along the yellow brick road. Kiddermen retreated, shrinking into their own penalty area as cracks became gaps. Ooh, a cross, ooo-er. A corner. Oh, Colbeck pathetic. They broke in a trice, waves of yellow flooding across the swamp. A dinklette drifted over Thomas into the far reaches of the penalty area. McKeown came out, stopped, then flew towards Devaney, splatting a block with his chin and scooping up the rebound. His first save, a fine save.

After one patheticness too many, Colbeck was replaced by Devitt. The crowd was buzzing, the team buzzed. There was buzzing and busying. There were triangles, passion and passing. There were crosses, and desperate clearances inside the six-yard box. Devitt drifted in from the left and dinked delightfully to the near post. Hannah neared and Lewis awaited the deflection that never came, clutching the skipping whip to his midriff.

Thanoj robbed a rover and caressed to Devitt by the tunnel, who exchanged first-time links and dinks with Hannah and Cook. Devitt's cross was deflected to Cook, who took the ball on his chest, waited for the ball to drop and fleagled a drooping half-volley a few inches over the bar.

Town had the big mo', the crowd roaring, Kiddermen buckling. You could sense the game swinging, an equaliser inevitable. Nothing can go wrong now.

With 25 minutes left Town's management threw in the towel. They replaced Hannah with LJL (aka DNR). The nurses had switched the life support machine off. The atmosphere collapsed, Town instantly retreated to drossy lumps towards the John-Lewis. Nothing stuck, nothing moved, nothing happened, nothing would ever happen. This was the end.

Lenell John-Lewis: the elephant in the building.

A couple of minutes after coming on LJL was booked for a semi-Nani on Dunkley, causing a minor fricassee between Shouty and the Kidderminster bench.

Marshall the meandering mazemachine was cynically tripped from behind by the ball, earning a booking for some Kidderman. We counted all nine of the referee's steps, and Devitt coiled a foot over. Town did absolutely nothing else for 20 minutes The clues are there – LJL was on the pitch.

After finally realising the game was already won, the Carpetfitters started to express themselves through the medium of dance. A throw-in hurled, a one-two and Pilkington steered low from inside the D straight into McKeown's awaiting hands. Trained analysts have confirmed that Grimsby Town players were within 3km of each yellow dot. They had another shot sometime too, but I really, really cannot be bothered to remember anything about it.

With quarter of an hour left Kidderminster footballers used their feet to kick the football to each other in various parts of the pitch. Possession, triangles, control, movement, you know all those words and alien concepts. Bewitched and bewildered Town were bisected and dissected by superior footballing organisation and brains. They were made to look silly. Understaffed in defence, Town ran out of luck as a pass was passed behind the dawdling Thomas. Some bloke had a shot which McKeown plunged low to save as Malbon awaited at the far post. The plucking scrape flicked agin unlucky Bradley Wood (og) and rolled in.

Ah, the sound of plastic flipping and car engines starting in Brereton Avenue. Fifteen minutes left and fifteen per cent of the crowd left. If ebony and ivory live together in perfect harmony then a big Town crowd and a dreadful performance are side by side on the piano keyboard.

Brodie came on for Marshall five minutes later. So what. 4-3-3 yabba-dabba-dabba doo-doo. So what.

Very late on Devitt slashed into the side netting, scraped a shot from the edge of the area over the bar and crossed for Thanoj to head divingly at their keeper. This was all probably in those five added minutes of purgatory and punishment. If Kidderminster did more things it's lost in the haze, daze and fury.

There isn't anything positive to take out of this performance. A significant number of mistakes were made by players and management, all of which were punished by competent and confident opponents. It's nothing we haven't seen coming since Christmas.

This was not a surprise to those with eyes to see.