Bring on the caution horses

Cod Almighty | Match Report

by Tony Butcher

4 October 2015

Grimsby Town 1 Forest Green Divers 1

A flat, bright grey day in the home of the happy shopper with a shameful, desultory, derisory 37 Gloucester old spots dotted in the distance. Forest Green is people.

Town lined up in a 4-4-2 as follows: McKeown, East, Pearson, Gowling, Robertson, Mackreth, Clay, Disley, Monkhouse, Tomlinson and Pittman. The substitutes were Nsiala, Marshall, Bogle, Amond and Arnold. That's not a strong bench: that's the first-choice attack.

Same team as last week. Oh dear, appearances can be deceiving – perhaps the Sage of Cheapside is just giving the failures another chance to redeem themselves.

Ah yes, the fruity Forestmen in fluorescent jackets and jodhpurs. Big and green and big on greens. Oh the irony, for a vegan collective. What's that rumbling around in the darkest depths of the forest? Kinda broad at the shoulder and wider at the hip: it's Big Jon Porkin. They have a lot of meat for a team of vegetables.

Shall we start before it gets cold?

First half: Tied up in nuts

The jelly green giants kicked off towards the Pontoon. Tomlinson hooked, Mackreth walloped into side net. Twenty seconds and a thing happened. Wo-ho, I'll have the cheese platter for pudding.

He stood six foot six and weighed two forty-five: it's Big Jon and no-one gets outta here alive. Porky truffled and Pearson mucked out the yard. Big balls for a big man. Is it a double bluff?

A further five minutes of fluff and bluff and East was mugged under the Frozen Horsemeat Stand.

Frear fearlessly faced the crowd, smiling, and flashed lowly through the six-yard box. Robertson delightfully dummied and out the ball shot to the other wing. In the ball came, back through the six-yard box and back out went the ball. In came back the ball and I'm getting dizzy, my head is spinning. Just like Keanu Reeves, who stumbled and bumbled and thigh-rolled goalwards. A trickle and treat as a monochromer wellied away. Knock those knees, we're surrounded by trees.

Now hands that do dishes can feel as soft as your face. Mackreth arced a header. Softly, gently, like mild green Fairy liquid.

What are we watching? What are we doing? Particles colliding, randomly.

McKeown's studs were adjusted as circling gulls dodged bullets. Orange boots with pink shorts will not do, Jamie Mack; don't even think about that – you'll give us a migraine. Porkin waved his boots in Gowling's face at a barely remembered green corner.

Same team as at Southport, same shuffling shoddiness as at Southport

Ooh, nearly a thing. A corner, mildly elevated, and Gowling ducked backwards and headed forwards. Tomlinson, beyond the post, swivel-hooked across the face of goal, the ball avoiding all humanity, woodwork and man-made fibres.

Ooh, nearly a thing. McKeown long-wellied down the right. A fluorescent fool missed and messed as Pittman snaffled and snarled behind. A turn and chip and the unmarked Tomlinson missed a high-stepping hook-swivel. Exactly like last week. Two chances, two air shots. What an airshot he is.

Ooh, a thing. A Town corner was dwindled back to the touchline. Robertson stepped infield and slipped a sly chip towards the flock of seagulls. Disley noodle-nurdled upwards and onwards. Pittman, at the near post, knee-spun and hooked low inside the post and outside the keeper's floppy-flap-slap. Isn't that lovely.

Oh, a thing. Five minutes of faffing and East allowed Frear to lob a long diagonal dump towards the far corner of the penalty area. Robertson dropped the vat of melting lard. A Porkin roll, no sauce, and Town in a pickle as Pearson was perplexed. Porkin calmly stroked his white cat and stroked a roller around the squidge of pink and into the bottom right corner. We can but tut. We're in a rut.

What else? Nothing but Monkhouse being WWF'd by Jones and Disley hoop-volleyed over the centre from the centre.

Same team as at Southport, same shuffling shoddiness as at Southport. Two teams playing like away teams, hoping to grind out a sneaky win on the counter-attack in a competitive tug of war. Behold the strength of the bench!

Second half: 13 minutes

Neither team made any changes at half time.

Did you notice that? No changes at half time. We noticed that. Why would things change?

A bit of hustling and Maxted dropped a cross. Stay seated – the void was filled with green. A bit of huffling and puffling and there is nothing to say. Nothing. Nothing at all. Bargeball, hoofball, swingings and dodgems.

Ooh, fancy that: passing. A lot of it, almost double figures, as Town triangulated down the right. Mackreth crossed to the near post, Tomlinson knee-thighed well wide.

Nothing. Nothing at all. Bargeball, hoofball, swingings and dodgems.

Ah, moments. A corner returned to Mackreth, returned by Mackreth and Tomlinson arose alone to noddle over. So when can we give Tomlinson back?

We need a petty punch-up to spice up this life. East and Porkman exchanged solicitors' letters with a hissy fit over a throw-in right next to the tunnel of love. Nope, not good enough. Pouting and shouting's only enough for a flash of yellow from the tremendously terrible referee.

Oh, how Dizzerpointing. A swish was not what we wished.

With 20 minutes left Pittman was replaced by Bogle. Bogle started to forage in the Forest.

East swished when he should have swashed. These are things that would not normally be considered moments but, as that famous old Bible parable has it, when the biscuit tin is bare a starving man will sniff the lid.

As that famous old Bible parable has it, when the biscuit tin is bare a starving man will sniff the lid

Oh them! A corner, much muffling and muddling and Big Bad Jones wellied low. Jamie Mack sprawled right and clutched as rainbow boots wafted nearby.

Oh them! A corner, flicked on by Bogle at the near post and large men hugged. The ball fell onto Big Bad Jones' toe and walloped against East's chest. That's them done. Bye.

Ah, finally, we've decided to play football. In the 77th minute Amond and Marshall replaced Mackreth and Pittman. A bit of a buzz and a bit of a do. Amond spun and coolly, precisely, perfectly passed down the touchline under the Police Box, forcing Marshall to sprint, and the Fruitymen to wobble backwards. Mercurial Marcus Marshall stepped up, stepped on and stepped over to fliggle to the near post. The Dizzer flew, Maxted groped and the ball stuck in the rubber gloves. Pace and intent, that's what that was, that what's been missing.

Intensity and intention. Marshall barged, Monkhouse nodded on and Amond was free behind the greensters. The ref gave Town disadvantage with some pre-school early tooting. Why are we moaning? You see earlier, much earlier, in this farrago he'd played on and on for oodles for the Gloucester galumphers before awarding a free kick. Why then? Why not now?

It's getting late, turn on the lights. A Town corner on the right and all humanity awaited inside their penalty area. The referee stared at Jones and Gowling. The corner was clipped. Jones WWF-ed Gowling with a headlock, arm lock, hip throw and body slam. The Pontoon roared. The Dentists roared. The Frozen Horsemeaters roared. The 37 Gloucester old spots roared their eyes out at the idiotic immolation. And of course Town were made to retake the corner. Jones kept on hugging and mugging Gowling. And nothing happened ever again.

Oi Shorty, stop playing our reserves.

Town: tactically dumb, flinging high balls up to moderately sized strikers up against huge, hulking grapple-machines. What a poverty of ambition, an overarching caution acting as a brake. This is a workman refusing to use all the new tools in his box, always opting for his favourite old screwdriver rather than the shiny new specialist electric saws, drills and hammers. Are the new tools just for show?

Thirteen minutes is not enough time for the cavalry.