Who's driving the boat?

Cod Almighty | Match Report

by Tony Butcher

16 March 2015

Chester 2 Grimsby Town 2

If you saw Jack Lester among the jesters at Chester I hope you did not pester him.

Another weekend, another party with a bit of atmosphere with another thousandish travelling Townites painting another town red. Multi-coloured and monochrome jester hats adorned every other head as the Welsh border bounced. It's just another day.

A thousand people, one turnstile. The old drinkers and young shrinkers were caught short in oh so many ways. The Deva: changing yet changeless as canal water, nestling in green nowhere.

Town lined up in all red in the old 4-4-2 formation as follows: McKeown, Magnay, Pearson, Nsiala, Robertson, Mackreth, Clay, Disley, Arnold, Palmer and Pittman. The substitutes were Bignot, Parslow, Brown, Hannah and Jolley. Town were Lennieless but armoured, not effete; Palmer the bold flag-bearer with Pittman his trusty retainer, scuttlingly puppyish. Oh, sorry I've been reading those books again. Can't be doing with that. Town were unchanged.

Chester had lots of little men, some with beards, many with multi-coloured boots. There's nothing left to tell except that a gorilla has been released from a shopping centre in Thailand after 30 years of captivity. If you want a metaphor before tea, there you are.

Let's hope Town don't fester at Chester.

First half: It's not about the inflatable shark

The Chestermen kicked off towards the Town fans. They passed it. To each other. On the ground. They flittered around nicely and were filtered through Town's sieve. Colloids. I remember my O-level chemistry. It's an age thing: I've got colloids on my mind.

Magnay upended an upstart. The free kick was hoiked high and headed down onto various unmentionable parts of blue bodies. Nobody died. They moved nicely. They ran forward with the football at their feet, nicely. They ran into red brick walls. Nice.

Let's follow the redbrick road. Mmmackrethian fizzing, Arnoldian twirling, Palmer's exquisite biscuitry and Pittman's predatory probings. The Deviants' knitwear was gently unthreaded as Town stitched together something rarely seen at Blundell Park. Football. Passing, movement, movement and passing. Both sides had mobility and not a little nobility and ability.

Ah, Disley, good man. Robertson up 'n' undered amid general rebounding and Captain Sensible volleyed at their keeper from narrowly afar. Toto passed directly to them, McBurnie fell over Pearson and Robertson. What a splendid referee he is. Pearson used his charm to rebuff a blueboy. What a fine display of refereeing. Boo! Why hasn't the ref booked them for doing exactly what we've done? The whole world is against us. Woe, woe and thricely woe!

Arnold volleyed just over the angle of post and bar. Or as the French would cook it: Arnold a la Rodman

Toto was disrobed, Robertson was unhinged and a slap-cross was slapped down by McKeown. They dwindled. A Toto flicker and a late wasted cross were their only attempts to join the party. Let's just talk among ourselves for a while. Do you fancy a vol-au-vent? Cheesy dips? Shall we mingle a bit? Let's put some music on and sway to the rhythm. Sausage roll?

Palmer swayed free, arcing a wondrous pass with the outside of his right boot, and Arnold volleyed just over the angle of post and bar. Or as the French would cook it: Arnold a la Rodman.

Magnay back-heeled, Arnold bumbled, a Devaboy stumbled, and the Demon Barber skipped along the edge of the penalty area. A frolicking flick, Pittman rocked a roll to Palmer and a de-wonderful lifty-loft over the sprawling Worsnop and high into the centre of the net from a narrowish angle. Now that's what I call finishing. Ah, triangles of Cheshire cheese on toast.

Is it time to defrost the pudding?

A loft down the left and Pittman was fourth favourite of three. BAM! KAPOW! On came the afterburners. Pittman hared off, bore down on the keeper and poked lowly. Worsnop‘s left hand flicked left as he fell right and the ball slowly, slowly bumbled along and along and an inch or two wide of the left post.

This is lovely. They can't cope with the four mouseketeers up top. All Town need to do is keep playing football and attacking. That's all. Simple.

Nothing can go wrong now.

Second half: How to dismantle an automatic promotion

No changes were made by either team at half time.

Town: sluggish and slack. That half-time team talk worked again then.

The Devaboys dinked and danced between and around the rigid dirigibles. Crosses were crossed as they probed Town's flanks. They soon realised they were wasting their time on our right.

They weren't wasting their time on their right. Robertson legged up a local. The exceptionally nice referee wagged his finger and counted to three. Mahon and Hughes lightly toasted Jamboy as crosses were crossed. There was a certain amount of oohing and aahing from the local scatter cushions.

Magnay and Palmer tiptoed through tulips, Pittman turned at the near post and blamped highly agin the side-netting. There was a certain amount of oohing and aahing from the gathered scattered harlequins and mannequins.

A blue man was tippled through betwixt Jamboy and Pearson. He squiggled widely. Jamboy was turned into purée and only Magnayficence averted dismay, heading intensely and immensely off the awaiting bonce of a Cheshireman.

We're waiting for them to score.

Ah, that's better. Town unslumbering and mumbling forwardly. Pittman and Palmer chasing chips and squeezing pips. A Town corner. ELEVATION! Arnold elevated, Nsiala levitated and The Pittman toe-flicked the ball onwards as it bounced past. A fusion of Chestermen thigh-chested the ball off the line, by the right post. Town seized the day, shook the earth and shivered their timbers.

Nothing can go wrong now. Wahey, Brizzle are losing too. Everything's coming up roses

A break, a shake of Palmerian hips and Feetov Clay was teed up, but passed. Arnold swung. What a magnificent feint: rather than shooting he delicately spun the ball vertically with the outside of his right boot so that it looped over and around their centre-back into the path of several red raiders.

A bit of British bulldogs later, the ball returned to the Feet of Arnold. A swing, a miss, a miss, a swing, a shot twocked lowly towards the bottom right corner. Worsnop finger-flipped aside, but onto the post. The ball bounced and Pittman pounced.

Sit back and relax, we're in easy street: Town ascendant and mildly rampant, opponents dispirited. Nothing can go wrong now. Wahey, Brizzle are losing too. Everything's coming up roses.

An isolated moment of something for them. Lovely for them to have something to remember. Dribbling and bibbling about way out and Mahon whacked low. Jamie Mack plunged and pawed aside for a corner. Relax, nothing happened. We have a defence.

Get your smartphones out for the lads. Three points off top with a game in hand? We're on our way, we are Shorty's 932. This time, more than another time this time, we're gonna find a way. Can you see the Chester jugular? I said jugular, not jugglers. This isn't a circus.

Oh. It is.

At this point TMKAS decided the time was right to join the fans in fancy dress. We came as jesters, but he'd misheard and brought a clown outfit.

The change it had to come, we knew it all along. When Town take the lead in the second half, on will come Danny Parslow and a 4-1-4-1 formation will crumble before us. Hark! I hear the foe advancing, barbed steeds are proudly prancing. Space and time were ceded as Town's men retreated towards Harlech.

Clowns to the left of him, jesters to the right, it was so hard to keep a smile from Burr's face. Town were losing control, yeah, we're all over the place. Here we are Shorty, stuck in the muddle with you.

Chester gestures and Deva dances down Town's left had Robertson in a jam. To the bye-line and flicks and tricks and crosses and Heneghan swept low through Magnay's legs and through McKeown.

Heneghan is a centre-back.

Chester were suddenly rampant again. They ramped and ramped and ramped again, Townites scattered haphazardly before them, mere musical chairs. Town half-cleared, quarter-cleared, octo-cleared and Arnold wafted wiffily in a half break back to them. Off they rampanted towards Jamboy, cannily concentrating on their strongest point, and our weakest. Outmanoeuvred, outmanned, outpaced and outthought. Mahon jinked, Robertson wafted a leg backwards and over that deliciously dangling carrot the March hare lurched.

Finally someone was booked: Jamboy.

McKeown plunged right as Rooney passed the ball in low and left. The little locals had the Big Mo. Magnay went bananas at Arnold and Robertson. The Town fans went bananas towards the bench.

Frazzled and dazzled, Town were a stinking gloop: shapeless, formless, hopeless. Chester attacked, Town cleared, but to none, nowhere, for there was no-one, anywhere to pass to. Pass: such an ancient concept, I really must stop harking back to the glory days of the past. Town hoiked and hoofed, Chester outnumbered and outmuscled Pittman and just surged back time and time again.

Jolley replaced Arnold with about five minutes left.

Do you think Luton, York, Cambridge, Newport, Mansfield, Fleetwood or Crawley would have retreated when winning 2-0 with fifteen minutes left?

There were three minutes added. And Town should have won, and then should have lost. Attack, attack, attack, attack, attack. Hey, an attack! Pittman slipped clear and slipped a delightful dink to the far post. Completely unattended, six or seven yards out, Jolley chested the ball down. Waited. Waited. And walloped straight at the smothering Worsnop. A great save or a bad miss? Even a schoolboy would have sold a dummy.

Hey, another attack, Disley driving the bus and the boat. Mackreth crossed, Jolley headed back teeing up Clay. The shot blocked off several blue body parts. Disley flew the plane and the kite. Robertson roamed, Worsnop charged out as Jamboy passed to the awaiting Pittman, who whacked against the enveloping Kay. A great block or a shocking miss? Praise the defender.

There's more. Off they trotted, lollipopping behind Toto, who arched his back and ached softly sideways, straight to mini-man Mahon. Jamie Mack swooped, the ball flew back, and he blocked again, squirtling the ball into the centre of the area. Red bodies flew, a blue body skewed and out the ball spewed. Wellied onwards and upwards by Jolley into the right side of their penalty area. Kay hoiked a hooky harrumph and the ball smacked against Jolley's nose, ballooning high over Worsnop and dropping just over the angle of bar and post.

Town heroically held on for that positive point in the remaining eight seconds by keeping us shape™ at the goal kick. What a game, what a performance, what a massive point this was! We'll probably look back on this with fond regard as the day we successfully avoided accidental automatic promotion. It takes genius to turn a simple 2-0 victory against mid-table chancers into a plucky point within 15 minutes. I did ask a man sat to my left who is officially a genius and he agreed. We could all see, we all knew – as the substitution was happening. No hindsight involved.

Do you think Luton, York, Cambridge, Newport, Mansfield, Fleetwood or Crawley would have retreated when winning 2-0 with fifteen minutes left? Exactly. Teams with confidence in themselves and their destiny don't hide behind the sofa. They see a weakness in the opposition and impose themselves. Under this present manager Town don't inspire fear in our foes – they inspire fear in the fans that a way will be found to fail.

After 70 minutes Town were cruising. Luton, York, Cambridge, Newport, Mansfield, Fleetwood and Crawley would have gone on to win by four or five. That's why they went up. Town hoped to hold on for a victory. That's why we don't go up.

Jeez, we could have lost, but only because we refused to win. Those changes: where's your shame?