Only shades of grey

Cod Almighty | Match Report

by Tony Butcher

11 September 2016

Luton Town 1 Grimsby Town 2

It's warm and it's wet and the knell of regret was pealing throughout the town. Luton: like the north, but with all the disadvantages. Where once there were vans there are now just plans and tanning shops. A near thousand dripping Mariners recognised the vista and remembered that when you walk through a storm you get wet.

Town lined up in a 4-4-2 as follows: McKeown, Davies, Pearson, Gowling, Andrew, Chambers, Comley, Summerfield, Vose, Tuton, Bogle. The substitutes were Henderson, Mills, Boyce, Disley, Bolawinra, Vernon and Jackson. We have a new normal, with Chambers on the right, Vose on the left.

Alas for today there is no black or white, only shades of grey. Town camouflaged as drizzle, Luton came dressed as some stewards.

What about the orange? They are big lads, and they do have a shape.

You'd have thought they'd have fixed the guttering by now.

First half: A little bit of toast

Town kicked off towards a wall of silence with a welly into the belly of Pelly Ruddock, their taekwondo tackler. He's a little bit frightening, but not as fast as lightning.

Lutonites lumping, Townites chomping. Deep data mining for a Vosian speculation. A goal kick tapped shortly and Summerfield mugged a muddled midfielder to pick a pickled pepper. Omar twiddled and fiddled to toe-poke timidly across the face of goal and barely out for a goal kick.

Hatters humping, Townites tub-thumping. Bogle boomed, Summerfield slapped and Sheehan swooped to slide as the shot slithered goalwards. Passing. Movement. Wet feet and homester harrumphing.

A long straight welly and McKeown raced out left to punch out for a throw-in.

Forget the hosts with the ghosts of a footballing past – the route zero barge-ballers were nothing but ten-pin bowlers. They created nothing but irritation in the home stands, those inhabited deserts of soundless fury.

The Town sponge soaked up the rain, soaked up the painfully poor Lutonian lumps. Vose drifted in and dripped a deflected looper up, up and away. The keeper set sail and finger-flipped over from under the bar. As ever Summerfield ducked to dink the corner at the near post. The ball simply got wetter.

Pearson back-flicked, the keeper flat-flipped and Bogle sweetly swept into the bottom left corner as a bunch of begonias lay strewn across on the goal-line

Pearson and Hylton collided and collapsed clutching heads as desperate Oranginas clutched straws claiming invisible elbow wafting. Oh pur-lease, tuh.

Passing, movement, hard running and hard luck. Teasing triangles on the left and a cross way, way overhit. Tuton chased into the void and re-crossed back. Vose sneakily stepped in front of a parked pick-up trucker and steer-poked wide.

All Town. All the right Town.

Tobleroning terrificness, a mesmeric miasma of midfielding and a corner on Town's left. Vose lofted into the centre and bodies arose. The ball biffled out to Summerfield, who mis-giggled goalwards. Pearson back-flicked, the keeper flat-flipped and Bogle sweetly swept into the bottom left corner as a bunch of begonias lay strewn across on the goal-line. Doing their best to look like a teddy bear, trying to pretend to be vertically dead, the Luton defence was doing the Len Ganley stance.

The tangerine terrors? A tangerine dream for us, just a couple of twirls and deflections deflecting widely and wildly. Pressure and corners. Nothing to get hung about. That's them done for this half, not so much undercooked as still in the freezer compartment of the local Sainsbury's.

Tuton turned and was hauled down by an ailing, failing fool. A booking. The Brains Trust convened. Omar chipped against the wall and Vose battered some shins. Two minutes were added and two minutes later those two minutes had ended. And so had the half. Shall we retire for a cup of hot chocolate and some reflections in a flat?

The table-topping Town are just big men running in straight lines. The mid-range Mariners had grace and space and were beginning to lace daisy chains. Three-dimensional Town against a one-dimensional town.

Second half: Cracking cheese

Luton made two changes at half time: Lee and Hylton were replaced by Rea and Vassell.

Summerfield barrumphed triumphantly down the right, chinkling a cheeky chip twixt retreating defenders and Charlestoning keeper. Tuton peeled away to the far post but the ball aquaplaned off the sodden turf, inchlets away from his toes. An inedible hulk swished out for a corner, which was cleared, returned and cleared and returned and cleared and returned and where are we now, where are we now?

Ah yes, Chambers delightfully deadened the plunging satellite and poked Omar free. A Bogle boggle and the keeper plunged low and left to palm up and away for a corner. Head tennis and scrambled eggs with some Tuton scoopin'. The Yorkshire terrier hid the ball in his undergarments and crawled through the undergrowth. Lutonites defeated his subterranean shufflings and Vose slapped a tickler into the advertising boards.

What a hoot, it's easy as a Sunday morning.

As the rain poured down, Luton purred forward, exposing every weakness however carefully hidden by the kids. Incessant rain, incessant pressure, obsessively down the Town left. The back four narrowed and the tangerine team took vacant possession of the green belt on the edge of Town. Hang on to your ego, here comes the fun.

Triangular tickles through their right, through the chocolate soldiers on the Town left. To the bye-line and a pass pulled back to the unmarked Marriott, a dozen yards out. A first time swipe and McKeown splendidly soared high and left to spectacularly parry aside. Half cleared, fully returned and McGeehan arose at the far post to glance wide. Ah-ha, a tale of two full backs: Andrew brushed aside, Davies McDermotted McGeehan to distract and cause diversion from danger.

The ebb flowed one way. Omar nudged aside a ditherer and diddled against some socks. Two straight passes and Marriott za-zoomed away, skimmering lowly and left as McKeown marvellously muzzled away for a corner. Pelly Ruddock shrugged off no-one and delicately dinkied a winky top. Marriott scuttled free, took one touch and hook-volleyed immediately. Jamie Mack stood tall and beat away from his face.

We're where we always are: we're waiting for a Luton goal to come into our life. It isn't a foreign feeling.

Waves of sorrow, pools of joy as Luton attack, attack, attack, attack, attacked. In and out, non clearances thricely as Pearson and Gowling chased the last lump. The ball fell to Rea, 20 yards out, who walloped a welly off Gowling's thigh and the ball shimmered into the bottom left as Jamie Mack stood and despaired.

And still the Bedfordshire bellows whipped up the waves of homester attacks. The ball on the floor, their feet moving and Summerfield magnificently slidey-blocked as the micro-moment of nearlyness almost occurred. More air, more flames of fear, always, always down their right. Pelly Ruddock spread some muck and a cross zingered in from the unmanned left of the Town empire. McKeown jumped, the ball sailed on. Two of us, two of them jumped. The net was a-gaping and they all fell over as the ball hit orange, bee-bumbling off shins and things for a goal kick.

Haven't we reached the Parslow Point yet? Or have we dipped into the Jackson Jacuzzi?

Now that's better. Dibbly-dobbling and suave slinks and dinks down the right. Davies dived under duress, bounced up and arm-wrestled Tuton for the chance to deliver a delightfully dangerous cross. Half-cleared in the half-light into the halfway house outside the penalty area, Summerfield scoopy poked a dipper wide of the left post.

Woah, here we go again. Triangles to the left of us, triangles from their right and a low cross shivered through the six-yard box. The unmolested Vassell carefully steery-poked a crawler over the crossbar. It took great skill to avoid scoring – far more than you or I, mere mortals in this world of footballing gods, could ever dream of possessing. Look on ye work and despair.

Haven't we reached the Parslow Point yet? With about 15 minutes left Action Jackson replaced the immensely impressive workhorse, Tuton. Have we just dipped into the Jackson Jacuzzi?

Woah, here we go again. Triangles to the left of us, triangles from their right and a cross shinkled away to Summerfield on the edge of the area. Look to their right side, Luke! He turned, espied great possibilities and tickled to Jackson out wide. Off hared the sprightly sprinter, visibly flustering the Orangemen. To the bye-line, a check back, a look, a cross and Bogle arose between several redundant defenders to plonk the ball into the bottom right corner. All rise for the glimmer twins, as Omar pointedly pointed at Jackson's shirt.

Eight minutes left and a lead to protect? Surely we've reached the Vernon Vortex now.

In, out, up and down, a big welly skewered up and away over a dozy defender down their right. Jackson beat it down the touchline, awaited assistance and rolled casually to the on-strolling Vose, who carefully poked across the keeper and across the face of the far left post.

You've got to pick a pocket or two-oo, you've got to pick a pocket or two. Magnificent triangular possession involving most of your favourite characters from literary history, metaphorically if not literally. Vose juggled off the Bogle wall, sauntered straight down the middle, he went zing down the middle, flipping into an ocean of Orange doubt. Chambers arrived to slip-slop across the keeper and past the farthest of far posts.

Oh look, another Hatter header wide.

Four minutes were added.

An Orange roamer roaming, with a pathetic foot hang from Vose and Andrew invisible to the naked eye. A blast pinged low to the near post and bodies arrived as McKeown star-jumped. The ball flew off orange to grey, back on to orange and dribbled slowly, slowly over the touchline for a goal kick as the home fans bayed. Well, I say bayed – they were baying on the inside.

Townites took it in turn to play time chicken with the referee and yellow cards emerged for innocent accidental boot-aways and look-aways. Berrett replaced Vose. Did he even touch the ball? Jamie Mack clutched a deflected skipper, McGeehan glanced well, well wide from a corner and McKeown mis-scraped a hack. And so we've reached the final curtain for the sad Hatters.

This was the day Town arrived back in the League, for they were at ease with their status. The cultural cringe was cast away. No embarrassments, just professionals playing with dignity and discipline.