An invitation to treat: Gainsborough (a)

Cod Almighty | Match Report

by Tony Butcher

22 July 2008

Gainsborough Trinity 0 Grimsby Town 2

Roll up, roll up, step right this way! The magical mystery tour continues - the seach for a team we can beat in the county . With levels of miserable introspection at an all time high, where better to be than at the edge of darkness, the last Town in Lincolnshire. Who turned the lights off?

A proper Town team kicked off in the proper 4-4-2 formation as follows: Barnes, Stockdale, Fenton, Hope, Newey, Till, Hunt, Clarke, Hegggarty, Butler and Llewellyn. Stocky Robdale ain't so stocky close up, with his twiggy legs, Fu Manchu facial hair and rollerblind eyes he's more Sticky Robdale. Peter Till's tan hasn't worn off overnight, so I suppose it must be real. Hope is a finely chiselled solid English oak statue astride the road to Phil Barnes, or Paul Barnes as the tannoy announcer announced. Look, there's Tim Newey and Mick Fenton.

First half
Town kicked off and Gainsborough attacked with lovely Reesian interplay down their centre left. A cross, a shot, a fine save by the unsighted Barnes. With tea still being mumbled into by the smattering of nattering Mariners, Barnes lobbed the ball out and Town started to build an attack. From left to right and Till suddenly in space. He raced forward, on and on and on and boom-bang-a-bang, Till smackerooned a wobbling, dipping shot into the top right corner from twenty or so yards out.

Now there's a surprise.

Trinity's wheels were on fire for five minutes after the goal. They passed and moved like a Buckley team. They shot like a Buckley team too. Wide, high, and wide again after trickery dickery dockery down the flanks. And then all was calm as Town took control. Hunt swept up like an old faithful caretaker and Clarke tapped out a steady rhythm. Triangles were triangulated, with Till and Stockdale a natural fit down the right, and the whole team playing like, well, a team. There was fluidity in movement, a certain connection between players, with no cranky, awkward jerkings.

The fluidity of movement eased itself into slick and quick passing with Clarke and Hunt the bellows which blew the ball right and left. Wing play! Hegggarty chipped the keeper, who slapped away for a corner. Llewellyn induced some reverse swing from the old ball to tickle Heggarty free. His cross rolled, rolled and rolled towards Till, but a defender flung and swung away for a corner. Till roamed on the right, terrifying with terrific terrificness. And Butler scored a scruffy scraper after a fine move.

From slickness to sumptuous, imperious swagger. Butler went through on the keeper and hit the post, Heggarty headed wide. A cross here, a cross there; Town dominant in all parts of the pitch. Newey scored but was offside after another flowing move. The defence? Hope won every single header and was impassable. Fenton just about likewise. Near the end of the half a dink sent their centre forward free in the box. Barnes came out, the striker's foot reeled back and Robdale came across to nudge man and ball away in McDermottian fashion. Robdale does defending without tackling - he's a proper full back. Not perfect, but more than adequate.

Above everything, everybody looked calm and confident in each other. They looked like a professional team.

The half ended so quickly. It was enjoyable to watch a Grimsby Town team play one-touch passing and movement with goals. Gainsborough were not bad at all; Town just showed they were better.

Second half
No changes were made at half time.

The game was flat, the work had been done. Llewellyn and Butler worked well together, forming an intelligent partnership of nudges and nurdles, but neither has any pace; they relied upon midfielders running past them, which sometimes happened.The general pattern remained the same as the first half, except Town didn't score. It was an excellent training session.

And after 15 or so minutes the substitutions arrived, so the game dribbled away to nothing. Bore for Till, Rhodes for Hunt, Norm from Cheers for Sticky Robdale, Bird for Fenton, North for Llewellyn, Taylor for Butler.

Nothing to say, except the burgundy-booted North looks a bit porkier than you'd expect at this stage of the season and missed two chances, poking and slashing wide form close by. Taylor is till the little boy of two years ago and Peter Bore's shorts stayed up this time. Who wore short shorts?

Clarke sauntered into the area, down the bye-line and waited for movement. He rolled to the ball to Taylor, five yards out who flicked the ball over the bar. Heggarty headed wide and that's about it. Trinity had a couple of almost moments when the ball ricocheted into the path of a striker, but Barnes was in a smothering mood and saved without fuss, but very well.

See the power stations across the Trent, see the sunset on a bungalow for rent. Gainsborough, you belong to Grimsby. At least for tonight.

The result was good, but only what should happen you say. But it so rarely does, sir. It was the slickness and solidity of the performance that will lingalonga. It's secret smile time.