A long drawn-out affair

Cod Almighty | Match Report

by Tony Butcher

5 April 2021

Grimsby Town 1 Cheltenham Town 1

It's bright, it's breezy, we're all feeling a little queasy as everything changes but nothing does. Some day this season is going to end.

That'd be just fine with the boys on the bench.

The Robins rocked up with Lloyd on the bench and Griffith in goal, let's hope he's a comedy keeper, with short fat hairy legs.

First half – Sea of time

Town kicked off towards the Osmond and rode the wild wind. Boom bigly boys. Bang, just one touch and the alarm bells rang. Hendrie coiled highly and vaguely, Lennie bunny-hopped and Habergham slap-shot over. All gone in 20 seconds.

When the wind blows there's blowback to the full-backs with the electric blues drifting into solitude as the ball boomed over their heads. Don't you sometimes wonder what it would be like to be there in sound and vision?

All in a line bouncy-bouncy-bouncy, everybody somersault! Striped socks are slipping down as Lennie chased a Big Jim flicker-flicker-flan to the lime and limpid green stopper. Little Harry scruffled from afar, the ball tip-toed through the tulips.

Hang 'em high! A harmless hoik hoisted and Hanson was pushed as he chased the ball out of the penalty area on the right. Big Jim lobbed back, Payne twisted, slalomed through some blue cheese and rolled the ball across the face of the goal. A stopped clock arrived as John-Lewis tapped in from a yard out. Some people say Lennie scored, others that Lennie failed to miss. What everyone didn't fail to miss was that Town had scored. Our distinguished guests were most miffed.

OK, what's next?

Ladies and gentlemen: please be upstanding for a collection of overhit hooffery. Habergham Sam chased a big punt and sneakily won a corner, and what?

I'm glad you asked. It pays to pay attention to the weather at this time of year. It's time to wrap fleece around your potatoes - there's a frost forecast.

Boom-boom. No, not Basil Brush but rocking Robins in a rush. Matete and Clifton were double piggies in double trouble at a short corner. Toblerones were triangulated and Hussey whipped a dipper through the candyfloss. McKeown flew low and right to parry aside. Hewitt squealed at the corner for some temporary respite. A drop ball, some pinball and Waterfall was sent away to change his bloodied shirt as a long, long, long throw hurtled in from the shadows of the Police Box. Snittering skitterballing and a blue volley lashed over.

Cheltenham: fishing for throw-ins with chips and chases. Here come the big boys, here we go. Tozer launched a javelin from under the Police Box, Boyle arrived and arose above the Tiller Girls to be-thwonk into the bottom left corner.

Raggle-taggle Town in a right tizz.

Another corner, cracked and coiled beyond the far post. Boyle arose above Hanson to head in and head away with his head in his hands as the raspberry ref spotted a ripple in the space time continuum, or maybe his dilithium crystals were overheating.

Here they go again – they've made up their mind, they ain't wasting their time with a tiki-taka. A flat kick down the middle by Griffith was flicked on and Smith walked along the Bois de Boulogne with an independent air. McKeown approached and the orange duvet ensured feet remained warm with a bit of foot-tapping in the shadows.

Aimless hoofing, the ball simply scootling on for goal kicks and drop kicks. Mr Grimsdale! A roll back rolled rollingly, Griffiths swiped and sliced straight to Habergham who passed against the blue toes. The ball skittled across the area to Payne, who ballet danced around ball and man and a big blue boot booted against Habergham's bun and back into the keeper's hands.

One minute was added, season to taste.

Welcome to Pepperland and the march of the blue meanies.

Second half – Sea of holes

Neither team made any changes at half time

And we're off with an up and under in the skittering wind. Tozer hurled from the end of the pier, a flick on from the crowded prom, Boyle bashed and Jamie Mack sensationally smashed up, up and away. A free kick on their left, whipped and dipped, McKeown pawed and clawed from under the bar.

Town just can't get out of their heads or half. A goal kick scatterbrained and sliced into the Frozen Horsebeer Stand. Tozer torpedoed into the near post, Menayese grazed out of Jamie Mack's hands and the ball crawled onto the roof of the net. The corner coiled and curled and McKeown leant back and spectacularly punched off the line.

Town can't keep it, can't get it, just can't do anything. Oh Hendrie, the gentle grafter and other short stories. A free kick fluttering and Smith freely headed straight to Jamie Mack

Free kick, free kick, chuck, chuck chucky-chucky-chuck-chuck. I guess they need the eggs.

On the hour a delicate dink sailed beyond monochrome heads and bounced in the twilight zone. Jamie Macc star-flopped and felled May. The ball was wellied upfield, Payne flicked and Big Old Jim treacle tarted into the side netting when left to roam freely beyond the barbed wire fence.

This way, that way, end to end, eye to eye, Town almost broke on through to the other side. Habergham in-coiled a corner, Payne leant back and grazed a looper-drooper across the face of angle of far post and far bar. Off they ran with slap-shots slapping off black shorts.

Cellophane flowers of blue and blue, towering over his head. Look for the goalie with sun in his eyes and it's Jamie Macc.

With 20 minutes left Cheltenham made a quadruple change. Within microseconds one of 'em, Lloyd had gaily galloped into the garden and planted his begonias. Too early mate, there's a frost tonight. No wonder he shankled several miles wide

Ah-ha, we wondered when we'd rearrange the deckchairs. Coke replaced John-Lewis and Town had the appearance of 4-4-2. Sort of.

In the hole! Incoming! Remember, Charlie don't surf. Charlie? He went for a Burton didn't he?

Matete and Hendrie both decided to go after Claude and another howitzer shell was lobbed into the near post. A blue head flicked on and over.

With five minutes left Payne was removed from vision. Who is our black and white night, our seventh cavalry? Matt Green.

Big Blue booming into the deep left of the town penalty area. Williams ran towards the big screen, hooked back over his shoulder and watched the ball kiss against the inside of the far post and roll across the face of the open goal. Menayese tricked out for a goal kick. Incoming! Whooosh, ker-boom. Pffft. Jamie Macc picked up the headless cabbage as it rolled off human flesh.

Long throw bundles and Macca picked it up.

Three minutes were added. Up and down, down and out, the clock ticked on. Ten seconds, nine seconds, eight seconds, their keeper flat-packed a drop kick that was headed straight back down the centre left. Seven seconds. Green bounding free and through. Six seconds. The keeper raced out. Five seconds. The keeper raced on and out of his area. Four seconds. Green saw the possibility of redemption, he saw a Jamille Matt-like career flowing from his season-defining, season-deciding intervention to save the merry Mariners. Three seconds. Green feebly flicked against the keeper's chest.

Two... one... and that's it. The end.

And here we are now, we are where we are with the season drawing to a conclusion many had drawn before it started.

We're stuck in a rut of unembarrassing non-defeats that mean one point forward, two points back. Town could have stolen a win from a game they really, really should have lost heavily. Should, would, could – modal verbs that express a necessity or a possibility. It was necessary to win, we had the possibilities, but we remain in the gutter looking up at the stark reality of a wet weekend in Wealdstone.

Oh well, there's nothing you or I can do about the shape we're in. We can't sing, it ain't pretty and our chances are getting very thin indeed. We're not in the soup, more the consommé.