Dig for victory

Cod Almighty | Match Report

by Tony Butcher

23 March 2015

Grimsby Town 2 Eastleigh 1

A grim-grey day with a surprisingly sneaky wind chilling into the faces of 50 or so self-styled Spitfires cuddling together in the covered corner. So begins another weary day. Time to spice up your life with wool-based jollity. Get your old scarves out for the lads.

Town lined up in the old razzle-dazzle 4-4-2 formation as follows: McKeown, Magnay, Pearson, Nsiala, Robertson, Arnold, Clay, Disley, Jolley, Pittman and Palmer. The substitutes were Bignot, Brown, Parslow, Hannah and John-Lewis. Town Mackrethless, would Eastleigh by breathless chasing Jolley? Would we be breathlessly tutting ineffectual strutting? Questions. Don't ask. Shorty will just get shirty.

Eastleigh turned up looking rather big in blue, with Long Tall Harry the tallest of the poppies. Nothing strikes more fear into opponents than a lanky lad with floppy hands and an alice band. Midson turned up in that ever popular moustache-and-mullet combination. He looked like a spiv, or someone who failed the audition for a Showaddywaddy tribute act.

Hey, we're trying to create a party here. Don't bring mid-70s chart fodder to the discotheque, Grandad. It's not Grandma's party tonight. We want some reggae like it used to be.

Let's get in the mood for dancing on Eastleigh's promotion grave.

First half: Itchycoo Park

Eastleigh kicked off towards the Pontoon. They kept the ball for 2 minutes 39 seconds. Like you and I care?

It would help if Town players stood just a little closer to their guests and not just showed them where the fridge is. Please help yourself to our chips.

They had the ball. They had the ball again. They had the ball slowwwwwlllllly doing nothing but in a slowwwwww tall way. Constable tumbled, Constable mumbled. Officer, arrest that man, he's a public nuisance.

They had a shot. A Stanley drooper, not a Stanley knife. Nice, easy, a yawnsomely pleasant lilting lullaby straight to Jamie Mack. Awoken by this slumber, Town started to stand near them. That was enough to pluck their plums and turn them into puddings. Wahey! Their keeper can't kick. Whoa-ho! Their keeper can't punch. What can he do except match his boots and socks in the same shade of yellow?

Ooh, aah, almost and nearly. Moments of potential connection, snookered by divots and diverted by sneaky snides. A throw-in down-down, deeper and down by the corner flag in the open corner. Magnay and Arnold pretended to mess up a muck and muck up a mess. Ah, you fools, this is science, not art. The angle of attack just needs to be adjusted.

Another throw-in further back, chucked short and ducked back to Magnay. A shimmy 'n' shake, nutmeg and delightful deadly dink towards the far post from the Magnayficent One. Flitney flapped, Jolley slapped, and Palmer calmly proddy-plonked in from six yards as bluemen dissolved.

Ooh, that's nice. Passing, movement and Feetov Clay's boondocker spoondled away for a corner. Elevation, Mr Arnold! Elevation is what you need. A free kick. Elevation, Mr Arnold! And elevated it was. Minor pandemonium for mere moments as Palmer failed to grow three inches. Booo, rubbish genetics! Divots again. Hello to Feetov's cousin Shinsov; we hope your stay is short.

As Messi mugged Milner, so Magnay megged Midson. And all for under a pound you know. Arnold will give you good rates on a haircut, lad

Ha-ha-ha-ho-ho-ho. Midson. Pathetic shot.

Ha-ha-ha-ho-ho-ho. Midson chased Magnay into the burgerstand corner. As Messi mugged Milner, so Magnay megged Midson. And all for under a pound you know. Arnold will give you good rates on a haircut, lad. Ooh, the tide was turning.

Magnay roamed the earth from right back to left wing, cunningly lobbing the keeper with a shinny-divot-dink which caught the wind and sailed on by. Pearson boomed a header straight back down the pitch into the tundra. Palmer chased on unhindered as the custardian quaked and weakly lifted the ball softly and straight into the awaiting arms of Floppy Flitney, the flibbertigibbet flapper.

What about them then? Falling and bawling. Constable, the old dog, barked and snarked; Turley asked Disley if he'd spilled his pint. These southern men better keep their heads. We've seen their likes before: all fur coat and sly kickers. Nouveau-riche arrivistes without any style.

Oh, is that it already? Why yes it is, sir. There wasn't anything to be afraid of but fear itself. Town were playing against a footballing chimera. I said chimera, not chiminea. Or are they? Which is it? Shall we call their bluff on promotion? Eastleigh are either (a) a fictional animal composed of very disparate parts or (b) a free-standing front-loading oven, essentially useless unless you want to bake a potato.

You, the jury, decide.

Second half: Up the Magnayers

Neither team made any changes at half time.

And repeat, except without the jeopardy. They had the ball for a bit. After six minutes of space-noodling Town hit a power chord and raced away. Pittman bedraggled a zipper and Flitney floozied without fuss.

Flitney flapped at a cross. Flitney scoopled a fly-kick. Flitney hooked a fly-kick and rattled the Police Box. Jolley nearly crossed the ball once. Palmer didn't pass, then Palmer did pass. All the right notes but not necessarily in the right order.

Eastleigh had the ball in the air for a bit. They were tall, after all. Toto stepped across a bumbler near the edge of the area. What is this yellow plastic that the referee is holding high above his head?

Crinkled short as all awaited in the penalty area, podgy dodgy Howard hit a short free kick a long way down Wonderland. A long-forgotten free kick to a long-forgotten world of merriment and mayhem. They did have a shot – they kicked a drop-ball back to McKeown. It would have gone in if he'd been washing his hair. McKeown wasn't washing his hair.

They kept having free kicks: they were rubbish free kicks. That's all you need to know. Please carry on, there's nothing to see. Nsiala was needled by a Southern Man, Magnay the Protector pushed over Toto's teaser. Don't mess with our Toto.

Seventy minutes had just flown by like a crisp packet in the Main Stand and neither manager had made a change. They're gonna get twitchy. Who'll reach their tipping point first? The answer, my friend, is that they blew it in the wind: Eastleigh hit their Triple Point before the Short One hit his Parslow Point, so the crowd didn't reach boiling point.

On came a bunch of them for a bunch of them, with the Shopfitter replacing Pittman.

Hoiky hoofing and goofing, Flitney punching like a rabbit and Arnold barundled around on an amble from right to left. The ball boombled to Jolley, who stepped in, stepped out and slapped a shot at Flitney's face at the near post. Flitney fopped the ball aside. Oh look, some noise. You can see some noise, you can feel some noise. Some, not much. The scarves are keeping us warm though.

Magnay disrobed a blue man, one-two and off Arnold hared into the corner to cross. Palmer cushioned, Beckwith back-flicked away from near the Lenniemeister. Calm down dear, everything is fine. The Dizzer swooped on the right and calmly, carefully pinned a pass to thread a needle for Palmer to roll and roam to the bye-line. Our Little Ponytail carooned lowly to the near post, where Flitney dropped and flopped and John-Lewis slopped in the rebound.

Abandoning their direct football, Eastleigh went long ball, adding in higher studs and sharper elbows

Four words: attack the near post. Listen to the voice of reason and we'll have a season to remember.

Four words: bring on Danny Parslow. The secret of great comedy is… being funny.

Parslowless, Town decided to sit back, so these pesky footballing artificial additives, these synthetic fibres of soccer, decided to just have a bit of a go. Abandoning their direct football, they went long ball, adding in higher studs and sharper elbows.

They crossed. The unmarked McAllister flick-headed wide at the near post. Relax. There's no time left at all. Nothing can go wrong now.

Eastleighians kept a-kicking and kept a-falling. The ref kept giving them free kicks. The fourth official awaited with his flashy flash-machine as they prepared to cross on their left. Bodies started jumping around; the linesman started flagging furiously. Burton and Magnay squared up and the Scunny reject spectacularly plunged, suddenly struck by a Martian death ray. Ooh, we have a minor fricassee! What, you say there are no Martians on Mars, let alone death rays capable of penetrating the Earth's atmosphere? That's pure fantasy nonsense? Exactly what the linesman and ref thought too. Exactly what we all saw too. Magnay shoved Burton a bit in the chest. Pathetic.

A chat became a discussion, became a conference with counsel and, just as the trial was about to begin, the referee pulled out a red card and waved it vaguely towards someone. Gonfora Burton was off. On strode the referee, fondling his rear pocket. Magnay awaited, Magnay watched a wafting of yellow. And all lived happily ever after.

Their silly billy manager followed his daft substitute down the tunnel and on to the coach. Off, away with you!

At this, Townites decided not to tackle or touch the Bluemen. At all. Ever, until the end of time. Walker, their new right winger, received the ball inside his own half, under the Frozen Meat Stand. Clay stayed inside the Town half and retreated. Walker just ran and ran and ran past the inert Clay, the static Robertson and the invisible Jolley. To the bye-line, pulled back and McAllister walloped from near the penalty spot. McKeown superbly sailed right and parried aside. Deadpan Deputy Doig went ballistic, Magnay frowned, Pearson growled, Jamie Mack scowled.

Is it still going on? Yes. It is still going on. Eastleigh hurled themselves against the straw bales and straw men. A clearance, a draft free kick. Flitney walloped long and hard down the middle, deep, deep and deep into the heart of the Town penalty area. Everyone backed backwards and the unremarkably unmarked Turley, about seven yards out, back-headed and the ball oozed gently into the bottom left corner.

Fear not, gentle reader, for Town held on. There was no time to lose. Luckily.

How did they do that? Town made hard work of something that their hard work had made easy. Typical Town to get themselves in a pickle.  Somehow it could have been worse, but at least it was better.

Mustn't grumble.