Cod Almighty | Match Report
by Tony Butcher
18 March 2006
Grimsby Town 2 Bury 1
It was Gary Childs, wasn't it - in what footballers call "the last moustache situation".
A bright, clear afternoon of sunny delights for around 100 Lancastrians burrowed like voles into the Osmond stand. The pigeon of hope glided gracefully above the pitch as an extra 49 Townites were lured into the pit of despair following last week's Barnet hair patrol. Bury in blue: de-lovely, delightful and devoid of hirsutical horrors. Ah, Schmeichel junior in goal: shrink-wrapped and without a red hooter. Bury look far too sensible; we can't play this for laughs.
Town lined up in a 4-4-2 formation as follows: Mildenhall, McDermott, Whittle, Futcher, Newey, Cohen, Bolland, Woodhouse, Toner, Reddy and Jones the Goal. The substitutes were copa-Kalala (the hottest midfielder north of Havana), Croft, Mendes, Goodfellow and Parkinson. Same as it ever was, same as it ever was. We do miss Glen Downey. Has anybody seen Glen Downey? I say, has anybody seen Glen Downey? What have they done with him?
Dish of the Day: he just can't help baking those puns, for you shouldn't bury your head in the sand about diabetes. You need common sense and a positive attitude... at Blundell Park? Duane's running out of ways to tell you to eat more carrots. He'll be talking about the virtues of Soylent Green next. Maybe that's what's happened to the invisible one: Soylent Green is Glen Downey! If Fenty parades in front of the Pontoon sucking a strawberry we'll know it's true.
As long as the teenagers remember Challinor, we'll have someone to boo - for Town fans have long memories. We've still not forgiven Mick Coop and we still remember the Alamo, which stopped us getting to the Lincolnshire Cup final in Lawrie Mac's day. But Jon Daly? Errr, oh yes, he was one of last year's clone-loan failures. He shouldn't have stood on Mr Baraclough's toes.
There's a game of football to be done. "Legsby Avenue." Sorry, the tannoy's crackling like a bacon butty: "let's be having you".
Town kicked off towards the Pontoon: Whittle had obviously been studying the research papers of the scientists at Boffin Island, recently released under the 30-yard rule. Usual start: back to Newey, who hoiked forward aimlessly, listlessly and the ball was lost.
The first couple of minutes brought nought but a raised forearm from Buchanan. The next couple of minutes brought nought but another raised forearm from Buchanan. The referee barely raised an eyebrow, the crowd barely a sound; it was like someone slowly turning down the volume on a cheap hi-fi. Do you mind, I'm reading the paper. Hmm, a Californian tried to sue himself, who'd have thought it.
Town were slow, direct and arbitrary: hey, why change a winning formula?
Five minutes... six minutes... a-ha, seven minutes and something happened. Cohen fleagled about on the touchline and passed the ball back to Macca, who curled a looping cross deep into the heart of the penalty area. Toner, twelve yards out, just beyond the penalty spot, headed firmly back across goal and Schmeichel hopped to his left to hold comfortably. Well, it was something.
Bury managed to turn Town like soft cheese on the right, forcing a throw-in. Town dutifully retreated into the six-yard box expecting a Challinor hurl, but he chucked it to the nearest, unmarked, chum. A bit of simple shuffling and smooching around the stranded Cohen resulted in Challinor booing the ball through the area. Newey flailed and kneed the ball over the bar as Daly finished his balti pie at the far post. After bit of mild peril a Johnny Mathis, oh sorry, Dwayne Mattis, shot was blocked for another corner, which was cleared lumpily.
Settle back into your seat and be sure to zip up that coat: there's a nippy little wind swirling around. Another Toner header from another drooping cross from the right was safely held by Kasper the friendly ghost in Bury's goal, but the referee decided to award a free kick as Toner had fallen over a plunging Buryite in the process. Ah well, there we are.
In the 12th minute McDermott chased back along the touchline, managing to reach a dinkled through ball before a sky blue thinker, and passed back to Mildenhall, who swiped the ball far, far up in the air out towards the managers' dug-out. Whittle took two giant steps for man and laid a short pass back to Mr Macca. The whole globe's gonna feel the effect of the movement (yo Bury!), for the Legendary Legend clipped a pass up the touchline to Cohen, who shake-rattle-and-rolled infield and towards goal.
Onwards, ever onwards, the Cohen surge causing the Pontoon to swell as he fluttered past one, flattered past two defenders. Reddy and Jones peeled away to the flanks and Woodhouse sprinted up the centre in support. Cohen acted like velcro to hairy jumpers in the Bury defence and, 25 yards out, feigned to pass to the left, but reversed the ball to Woodhouse. Curtis cutely swung his hips as if passing out to Reddy on the left, but swivelled in an instant to stroke a perfect pass to the unmarked Lumpaldinho, lurking on the right. Jones the Lump ©, just beyond the corner of the six-yard box, allowed the ball to bounce and cracked a brilliant curving, curling shot around Schmeichel with the outside of his right boot into the far corner of the net.
If a Brazilian had scored that you'd have been comparing it to the Lumpaldinho ©. It was that good. Football! That's all it took; what marvellousness and marvellosity to behold: total football from goalkeeper to goal machine using the power of the pass.
Town were liberated from the straitjacket of functional mediocrity for several seconds, with Bury wibbling, wobbling, and almost shaking into Barnet-like comedy, for they started to pass the ball directly to Town players and fall over themselves. But Bury never succeeded in being Barnet; they didn't have the same lack of heart.
A Bury attack down the Town left was easily repulsed with Toner and Newey indulging in some tic-tac-toe near the corner flag. They indulged a little too freely in schoolyard games of yore, for Newey hopscotched a clearance against Mattis's backside and the ball rolled into the area, straight to an unmarked Shakey. Said Shakey played his hot piano, dinking a slow, loopy cross towards Daly at the far post. Whittle grappled with his inner demons, clambered up a handily placed ladder and just managed to get his head to the ball, diverting it towards the centre-left of goal, as Mildenhall was hailing his taxi to go right. The Big M adjusted his feet and just managed to clutch the ball on the goal line.
Town boomed the ball down towards the Pontoon and managed to pressure the Shakeys into conceding a corner. Woodhouse, on the right, reached the penalty area for once. Futcher and a defender collided in the middle of the area, the ball bombling off their heads and falling near the penalty spot. Jones the Lump ©, unmarked and gloriously unimpeded, fell back, leapt up and hooked a scissor-kick skimming towards the bottom right corner. The ball shivered through legs and squished through Schmeichel's arms and in. Ooh, another goal from goal machine Gary Goal, the Lumpaldinho of Lincolnshire, the new improved Livvosaurus Rex, Sir Lumpalot, Jones the Gleam.
Town had a five-minute purple patch to turn the purple people-eaters puce. Flicking, tricking, surging, urging, rhyming, timing: it was pretty darn fine, for the Shakers were shook. McDermott and Bolland teasing through the right, won a corner. Futcher challenged; the ball dropped ten yards out and he fair wellied a volley screaming towards the roof of the goal. Schmeichel arched back and fingertipped the ball away for another corner - a superb reaction save. Town pressure, Bury ballooning clearances, worried and weary, the towel ready to be flung into the ring. Whittle volleyed another corner against the crossbar holding the roof of the Pontoon up.
They weren't Barnet. Bury had played some pleasing football, using Daly and Youngs as irritating rubber walls to bounce passes off. Their midfield, particular Johnny Mathis, had been bursting forward in support, but nothing had yet fallen for them. This changed, and with it the game. After about 25 minutes Bury pinged the ball about between, through and around Town. Daly flicked the ball to Youngs, who noddled the ball across the face of the penalty area to the unmarked Mattis on their centre-right. With no Town player near, perhaps 15 yards out and a goal seemingly certain, he shot across Mildenhall. As if by magic Futcher's legs appeared and managed to divert the ball over the crossbar.
The corner caused mild peril, but the ball was eventually scruffled away for Reddy to slash and burn. Town players purred forward in support, with Toner smackerooning a shimmering drive from at least 35 yards. The ball rose gently to a plateau, sampled the air quality and, deciding it liked what it smelled, just kept on drifting goalwards. Schmeichel was way off his line but the ball didn't drop, flying a foot over the bar. Well worth an "ooooh". A minute later a haphazard fly-kick from Schmeichel dropped onto Toner's trusty right boot, fully 40 yards out. His shot skimmed inches wide of the Police Box.
Cohen pounced upon a slightly awry pass to the left back, stepping over, through and around, shaking his hips and sending the defender back to his roots. In one movement Cohen created space and whipped in a brilliant dipping, curling cross through the middle of the penalty area. Unfortunately, no-one thought he could do that, so no-one anticipated his brilliance, and the cross was to no-one. He gave a look that could have lasted years.
Happy? So far, so good, but what happened next? Nothing as far as Town were concerned; they were the deadest dodo on planet dodo for the rest of the half. Bury dominated possession, pushing Town back, standing on Woodhouse's toes rather than letting him complete his impressionist landscape painting before approaching. Town started to hoof it, resting on the old Reddy-can-run-fast routine. Yes, but only if he is fit, and can be bothered.
Bury continued to infiltrate the spaces between Town's midfield and defence. Youngs and Daly pulled Futcher and Whittle from side to side and there were moments, brief moments, of worry. Was that handball? Youngs slid down their left and, deep inside the Town area, dragged a shot goalwards. Whittle stretched to block and the ball rolled behind him, then away from goal. Was that handball? Pressure, tightening pressure exerted with corner after corner, long throw after long throw, and a shot from inside the area hit a Town 'chest', bounced back and was poked through to Mildenhall. Town flapping, Slade flipping on the sidelines, Futcher slipping and Mildenhall slapping the ball away.
As half time approached Bolland had enough of this timid Town play, making a thunderous triple tackle all along the halfway line. There was too much confusion, Town couldn't get no relief. Cohen, fantastically, charged down a clearance, but the tempo was still being set by Bury. Outside in the cold distance, a wildcat did growl: you should have seen Rodger's face. As the half ended Bury squeezed Town's ribs again: Futcher shinned the ball away for a corner and only Bury's inability to pass accurately when inside the Town penalty area seemed to avert danger.
There was just one minute of added time, despite a couple of head injuries and Toner being hobbled off for treatment. The sooner it ended the better, for Town were slowly twisting in the wind. And there wasn't even a breeze. Weird.
Town were leading after a couple of bits of football, inspired by the inspirational carpet fitter from the Wirral. We can't blow it this time, can we?
Stu's half-time toilet talk
"You should either buy a belt or a longer shirt."
"Bury aren't going to avoid scoring."
"I couldn't ring you because my phone fell down the U-bend."
"At what point do we say: 'He used to play for Tottenham, you know'?"
"I went out with two vicars on Monday."
Neither team made any changes at half time. They kicked off, nothing to report.
Have you heard about the Brain Gym? They'd tell Newey to drink more water, but that won't make him any better; he'd just want to go to the loo more. It wasn't like this in Lawrie Mac's day.
Nope, still nothing to report. They have the ball for ages, Town kick it back to them; they have the ball for ages more, Town kick it back to them further down the pitch.
At last, something to tell you about. About ten minutes into the half they took off their chief arm waver, Buchanan, and replaced him with, I don't know, someone else. I'm sure it's important to someone's else's mother and bank manager, but does it matter to you?
Go on, take a deep breath of yellow and you will feel relaxed.
The action is coming thick and fast now! Parkinson replaced Toner after 56 minutes. Parkinson went to the right and Cohen moved to the left. Parkinson did not touch the ball for 11 minutes and 28 seconds, when the ball ricocheted off him in a tackle.
In the beginning, long before that... Have you ever heard the album Colors by Ken Nordine? Jazz baby, cool. Beige and burgundy are the hep cats of colour. Will the Rochdale game ever be played? She's 92 and owns all her own teeth. Fancy that. Oh. They've scored Dave.
A tip, a tap and Bury played the training ground blues through an invisible Town defence. Daly on slide guitar, alone on their centre-left perhaps 15 yards out, received a pass from, let's call him Youngs, pounding out a bassline. Daly shimmied inside, consulted his caddie, opened up his body and lofted a sand iron over the big old oak tree and right into the hole. A perfect chip, with Mildenhall pinned to the ground, aghast. An hour gone, the crowd fraying and praying already.
From the off back they came, Bury pushing Town back against the wall and asking politely for a cup of tea. Mattis stepped in front of Futcher and fell over as he volleyed forward. No penalty, no goal kick, for he was offside, or at least given offside. It saves having to make a 'big' decision, doesn't it. What's going on? Well, just Bury passing, Bury pressure. The game had long since descended into the usual festering cesspit of lumped nonsense, with Town yanking the ball vaguely forward. Every hoof was won by a Bury head, every clearance collected by a Bury midfielder. They just kept the ball to themselves, their clock slowly ticking, waiting for someone to fall asleep.
Bury worked the corners, turning Town constantly, forcing throw-ins. Cue a series of Challinor hurls. No chances were created, just pressure and minor scramblettes inside the Town area. The Town fans were beyond restless, furious with the tepid plonking.
With about 20 minutes to go Town managed to hoof it to a team mate. Futcher wellied the ball straight down the centre-left. Reddy raced after it, huckled Woodthorpe away and, from a narrowish angle perhaps a dozen yards out, lashed a left-footed shot into the side netting, next to the angle of post and bar. A minute later at least two and a half passes were made, culminating in Cohen chesting his way across the face of the penalty area. He shuffled, chuckled and tried to chip the ball into the top right corner. Schmeichel sprinted across his line and plucked the ball away without too much fuss.
Was that a shot by them? Yes it was: Flitcroft, 25 yards out. High, uninteresting in execution, interesting in construction. They simply unravelled Town, thread by thread. "And what about Tom Newey?" I hear you cry. He decided that he wasn't a left-back but an auxiliary centre-back, with special duties. Those special duties included not moving, and pointing at unmarked Buryites. Three times in 30 seconds he failed to defend, retreating when the ball squished nearest him, allowing their right winger to pass without need to show any identification and standing still while the ball rolled free in the area. Town needed an estate agent, not a builder's mate. Put the kettle on, Tom, there's a good lad.
No mention of Bury chances yet. That's because there were none.
Town had another couple of minutes of adequacy. A Lumpy shot hit Cohen, who smuggled the ball in from near the penalty spot but he was way, way offside. And finally Woodhouse decided to tackle, hassling and harrying Flitcroft into a mistake. Reddy was sent free down the right and his cross in to the middle of the area dribbled off someone's shins straight to Schmeichel. That's Town, that's all; nothing more, nothing less, that was the best.
The last ten minutes were a howling squall of Bury attacking and Town desperation. Clearances were hoofed, scooped, whooped and roofed. Parkinson sliced a clearance back across goal; Newey didn't move his legs; Futcher wafted his legs in front of crosses; and Town were clinging to the win by the final nanometres of their fingertips. More crosses, more throw-ins, corners, corners, corners. With two minutes left Schmeichel raced upfield to join the party. The corner was curled to the near post, where Mildenhall was flattened. Town didn't bother trying to take it quickly and Special K got back to his breakfast bar.
There were four minutes of added time in a half with four substitutions and no injuries. Bizarre, annoying and causing the crowd to implore the clock to tick quicker. In the 95th minute Reddy was suddenly sent free behind the defence with just Schmeichel to beat. As Reddy, about a dozen yards out, prepared to shoot, the referee ended the game.
Three points for five minutes of football. We never thought we'd feel this way, the way we feel about Jones. Where would we be without him, the Lump of satisfaction.
You can hide behind a cliché if you want, but the truth was out there. Bury looked pretty and pretty decent going forward, causing Town problems, and this from a team with the worst attack in the division. We can but hope that Town are sinking into the old routine of playing to the level of the opposition. After Bury had their first serious attack Town were horrible to watch and barely effective in all departments. We're back to the 'winning but...' routine.
Savour the goals, forget about the rest. Have a good sleep, roll on Rochdale.
Nicko's man of the match
No-one was outstanding but there were cameos of goodness. Cohen's turbo-tackling, Bolland's human cannonball rumbling, but just because he scored two crackers, it's Gary Jones the Lump, the Lumpaldinho, the Goalminator.
Markie's un-man of the match
Just because he's picked to play at left-back it doesn't make him a left-back. This man is not a left-back: Tom Newey.
Mr R Booth ws totally inconsistent. He'd allow mud-wrestling one moment but then award free kicks for possession of a loud shirt in a built-up area. He avoided bookings, which was a feat in itself given a couple of high boots and several flying elbows from the boys in blue - especially Woodthorpe's forearm into Reddy's neck in the last couple of minutes. He was untrustworthy, which transmitted itself to the players, though he didn't give Bury any penalties, which was nice. Would anyone quibble with 4.444?