Cod Almighty | Match Report
by Tony Butcher
11 April 2009
Grimsby Town 0 Acridton 1
A drizzly, grey and dead day with stands full of people, but no-one there. Is anyone in the mood?
Town lined up in the usual 4-4-2 formation with Henderson, Stickdale, Atkinson, Bennett, Widdowson, Llewellyn, Hunt, Sweeney, Heggggarty, Conlon and Ak-Ak. The substitutes were Lund (still no relation, but hair combed), Heywood, Proudlock, F-f-f-f-f-orbes and Bore. Same as last week, and the week before, and the week before. What I am saying is that it was not different from before and, therefore, was the same. How very Town.
Accrington sailed into Town on a red raft with a some huge planks of wood down the middle and some little oil drums slung onto the side for buoyancy. Cheap, but effective, as long as they don't want to go a long way.
Let's get this over with...
The Stanley Stairlifters kicked off towards the Pontoon and exposed their amateur roots by refusing to kick the ball out of play. Town are professionals in that respect. Respect! Yo!
Tip-tap, spin - bang! Symes wobbled a wafting shot wide as Town stood back and admired the hip-hop body-jacking street jive. Why are the 80s in vogue? They were rubbish. Too much turquoise, too many moustaches and too much bleeping.
Now here's a man who's never worn a pastel trouser. Ak-Ak flicked and Thin Barry biffed a startling half-volley towards the bottom left corner from 30 yards. Arthur flew low and parried aside for a corner. The corner was wasted and chickens were basted, rather than counted.
For a team built round discotheques and parties, to live without a winger would be impossible to do. The Town defence sought him here, they sought him there, that darned elusive winger John Mile dashed and darted twixt and between Lulu and Sticky Robdale, introducing their backsides to the green, green grass of home. Miles mused and minced Atkinson's shoes, flaking a low drive across Henderson, who flopped and flipped the shot away. Ryan retrieved and dropped a cross that was scrunched away for a corner by Bennett. Town dozed, with Lulu and Hunt takin' turns a-starin' out the window at the darkness, as the Acciemen took a sneaky quick one while Town were away. Cavanagh gambled on Henderson being unsighted and walloped a low shot through a thicket of legs towards the near post. Henderson safely settled and swooped to swat away this fly-kick.
Catch your breath. Three minutes gone.
Tha-dump! Williams entertained no-one with a wibbling, shibbling shot towards the top corner. Henderson plucked the ball and his eyebrows. I've said it before and I'll say it again: Neil Warnock has no eyebrows; he is not of this earth.
Where the Accie-people were buzzing bees, Town were flutter-by butterflies, an ephemeral and endangered species. Town stood while Stanners moved. Town lumped while Stanners passed. Town shrugged while Stanners mugged the passers by. Which one of these teams is desperate for points?
Town couldn't cross, Town couldn't pass. Town were inert.
The game was open, end-to-end stuff, with huge, huge spaces in the middle through which attacking trains steamed. Town held on with last-ditch tackles, linesmen flagging and Henderson's fingers wagging. Stockdale poked, Bennett stroked, and Henderson croaked out admonishments. Accrington were far too interested in playing properly. That's just not cricket, is it. Symes stood under a huge punt, turned and sliced a volley well wide. Let's not bother to tackle today.
Town gradually clambered up the stepladder of sloth to reach the pelmet of parity. Ak-Ak did something involving running runningly and twisting twistily to enable Widdowson to swish way, way over through the use of his right foot to make imprecise contact with the football. Sweeney feigned disinterest to bamboozle one of the tall boys and bedraggle well wide of the right post. Ak-Ak, Conlon and Lulu thrashed out a tune on the old joanna to allow Stickdale to slink a cross in towards the near post. Ak-Ak and Heggggarty waited as Cavanagh swung his pants and sliced the ball into Arthur's waiting hands.
I'm beginning to forget about the little Red Riding Hoods now. It's all about us.
A Town corner, a Town corner, a Town corner. When will we do something? Ah, now. A Town corner on the left was swung high and deep; Conlon staggered back, stretched and marvellously pummelled back across goal. Arthur dived right, a defender stooped and diverted the ball left. The ground remained silent as the ball slowly arced across the face of goal and crawled over the bar for another corner. Forget about that one: it reverted to type.
The little clump of Lancashire in the distance asked if they could sing a song for Town. We're partial to a bit of Kenny Rogers. How about 'The Gambler'?
The game drifted into a midfield meringue, with our old school coppers, Sweeney and Hunt, oddly passive as the Accringtoners' little pistons pumped. Miles teased Stockdale with some ice cream, with Lulu an absent father as Symes and Lindfield roamed relentlessly, unhindered by the unhinged. It wasn't looking good.
Now this is Town: Conlon stroked a beautiful reverse flicked pass into the path of the onrushing Sweeney. It was like Rees and Cockerill, but on fast forward. Sweeney bustled through two red barn doors and, just as he was about to enter the penalty area, old Colin Murdock legged him up. Out came a yellow card, and into the wall went the free kick. Hmm, should we call him Pollack then?
Now this is Town 2: Ak-Ak chased a whack down the right outpacing the Accies' ancien régime, shaking off a final salty defender. Into the area, with Arthur hurtling forward, Ak-Ak was ready to plonk. You got to know when to hold 'em, know when to fold 'em, know when to walk away and know when to run. Cavanagh za-zoomed from nowhere to skiffle the ball off Ak-Ak's toes and away for a corner. Forget the corner.
One more minute and one more alarm bell rang. Miles mickled and muckled to mungle a pass behind the Town defence. Lindfield twanged Atkinson aside and approached Henderson from their left. Atko lunged, Lindfield bunged and Henderson expunged danger with his shins.
And on one bound the crowd was free to queue for half-time nick-nacks and snacks.
Accrington were highly motivated, highly organised and highly annoying in their persistent spoiling. They're just highly annoying full stop, aren't they. All in all parity was a positive thing, for Town had been physically and mentally lethargic. The first 25 minutes were best placed in an old biscuit tin and buried in the back garden. Be positive: Town were getting better as the game progressed.
Neither team made any changes at half time, which seemed to drag on and on and on and on and on and on longer than this sentence.
Town started as they usually do - with a crash bang wallop. Hegggarty danced, Conlon pranced and headed four yards wide. Hegggarty did the Hegggarty thing he does: the little twirly poke and run around the backside. Cavanagh stuck out a boot and tripped him up as he was about to enter the penalty area. Forget the free kick - Sweeney hadn't put his contact lenses in - every kick was either fuzzily short or frazzily long. We're back to the 1980s again. Mullets and perms are a no-fly zone, by order of the UN Security Council. You have been warned.
Widdowson stretched and felled his winger just outside the penalty area and was booked for that Premiership leggy-uppy thing they do when they mistime a tackle. As the throng gathered in front of Henderson, Miles scampily rolled the ball across the face of the penalty area where some other oiky scally swept a shot through the advancing swarm of monochrome. Henderson parried; Symes whacked the rebound in and the linesman flagged for offside.
They won't be back for 20 of your Earth minutes. Set phasers to stun, Mr Lulu. I'd be stunned if you did anything, Mr Lulu. Please stun us sometime soon, in a positive way.
Here we go again with that ten-minutes-after-half-time onslaught. Town pressed the pedal to the metal and the whiskey was dry. Hegggarty trickled a low pass to Conlon, a dozen yards out, who slap-shot straight at Arthur's head. Over to the right... passing, passing, passing and passing. Hunt stumbled through and stumped a shot into the ground; Arthur hovered to his right and the ball bumbled off the turf into, out of and back onto his hands as dead-eyed Conlon lurked like a great white-headed shark.
To the left, to the right, crossing, retrieving, crossing, hopscotching, barging, clanging ring-a-ding-ding, ding-ding a dong, diggy-loo diggi-Ley, boom bang-a-bang, la-la-la how did he do that? Town: everywhere, omnipresent, omnivorous. Accrington: ebbing away on the tide. Conlon and Hunt squeezed a lemon pip and the ball fell inside the D; Hegggarty curled a shot around a defender towards the top right corner. Arthur was unsighted, Arthur was aware, Arthur leapt high and wide, brilliantly punching the shot aside one-handed. The save was staggeringly excellent. On another day perhaps we'd have appreciated it more. Like next Monday, Arthur, next Monday.
And Town's usual Warholian moments ended with a Bennett faux pas. Dillying and dallying on the halfway line, the Teenwolf was dispossessed and Town had one where Accrington had three. Atkinson stood firm in the centre, waiting for the moment to strike without thinking. As the flying V formation swirled around him, Atkinson puffed out his chest, ate a cowpie, and took one giant step for Townkind, halting the red tide and causing the silent, sullen majority to rise in acclaim.
Nothing happened for ten minutes.
With just over 20 minutes left Monsieur Ak-Ak was replaced by Proudlock, the man with salmon pink boots.
And then they scored.
Town failed to clear a half attack and then failed to clear a quarter attack. The ball kept being pumped back to the Accies middlemen halfway inside the Town half. With Widdowson plonking upfield to support a non-existent Town attack, a little redman scuttled towards the unencumbered corner flag, levered a cross towards the near post and the giant beanpole Symes rose above the small beanbag Stockdale to bonk a header down just inside the near post.
Utter, total silence, except for the hiss of deflation.
Widdowson took out his chainsaw and chopped down the Giant Symes-wood tree. The referee called over Bennett to threaten da kid, the insolent yoof, with an ASBO if he did it again. A minute later one of the Accy-strikers stamped on Henderson as he plucked up a through ball. This was, it appears, in a CCTV blind spot. Things were getting tetchy.
In this madness a moment to savour, or perhaps a moment of saviour... for Chester. Town tore a small hole in the fabric of time, ripping them asunder on the right. Proudlock swivelled, swerved and dinked a cross in to the centre. Conlon awaited, unmarked eight yards out, the ball slightly behind him. He flipped himself up like a clockwork monkey, whirled his legs and thwacked a bicycle kick across the keeper towards the near post. Arthur threw himself forward, arms akimbo, and the ball hit him, squirmed up, up and across the face of goal towards the top right corner and... and... and... dragged itself over the bar for a corner. We'd love you to have a blinder on Monday. Not now Arthur.
Forget the corner.
Forget the rest of the game.
Forbes replaced Llewellyn. This made no difference at all to anything anywhere ever. This was an irrelevance. Forget it.
At some point Sweeney gassed one of their ferrets and was booked. They took the free kick snidely quickly but Henderson superbly flipped the shot aside and over.
The rest was a waste of everyone's time. I told you to forget it.
The referee added four minutes but should have added 20. Whenever Town tackled they tumbled, clutching a body part and demanding the trainer. Whenever the ball went out of play they tumbled, clutching a different body part and demanding a trainer. The referee allowed them to disrupt the momentum Town hadn't built up. And were never going to. Town had no gumption, no plan and nothing to add. The crowd sat without murmur, without reaction, simply watching and waiting for the patient to die.
If it weren't for our keeper they'd have scored four. If it weren't for their keeper we'd have scored four. At no point during the game did it look like Town would score. It had the air of a 1-0 defeat right from the beginning. It was a self-fulfilling prophecy. Everyone - the crowd and the players - got the result they expected. I hope someone put a tenner on it; the odds were very good, you know. Let's hope this was the only hiccough left in this indigestible season.