The wrecking crew

Cod Almighty | Match Report

by Tony Butcher

28 March 2016

Grimsby Town 1 Wrexham 0

A grey day of shimmering rain-sheets and slurpy, swirly blusters with just over 300 Celtic caravanners wishing and hoping and thinking and praying for their dreams to come true down in the snug Osmond. Oh, oh, oh what a lovely wind.

Town lined up in a soggy-bottomed, lopsided 4-4ish-2 formation as follows: McKeown, Tait, Nsiala, Gowling, Horwood, Arnold, Clay, Disley, Nolan, Amond and Hoban. The substitutes were Robertson, Pearson, Jennings, Stewart and Bogle. Nolan sort of played on the leftish, with Arnold mostly here and there in the sheltered lands on the periphery. The formation was more like a wheezing bellows with a glaring hole in front of Horwood. Well, maybe no-one will notice, eh?

The new boy? Looks very young and very small.

Wrexham, what a bunch of barely remembered, barely bothered borrowed boys. Come on, who can forget Lee Fowler's failed four-game trial in 2005, or when Javan Vidal replaced Simon Heslop in a Paintbrush Tic-Tac-Toe Trophy game at Chesterfield on 3 September 2008? Who among us has a fondness for Fyfield or joy at Jennings? Wrexham: full of our former failures.

Is this an 80s-themed weekend? The red Wreckers turned up in national colours with an exciting Dusty Bin formation. You cannot be serious, man! Evans spread a little happiness with his colour-co-ordinated headband. McEnroe? Knopfler? Olivia Newton-John? Let's wait until the game starts to see if his body talks.

Who's going to reach out and a capture the moment? Everyone knows it's windy.

First half: Chug-a-lug and shout

Wrexham kicked downwind towards the Pontoon and anything off the perpendicular skewed and slewed into the Main Stand. The dentists were ducking, the Fentyists were clucking, the sponsors were tucking into their canapés. Do you prefer a can of peas to a canapé? What kind of person are you? Frozen in Ladysmith Road are the crème de la crème of peas.

A punt, a skip and a jump into the crowd to collect the ball. A punt, a skip and the ball flew over McKeown, over the bar and not for a corner, oh no-no-no-no doubt, no doubt about it.

Were they frightened? Were they scared? Well, they were thrown into confusion as Town glided down to the Osmond End so silently. It wasn't an illusion, there's no doubt about it, Town passed and moved and crossed and grooved. A corner in the covered corner. Nolan coiled deeply beyond the far post, Arnold avoided Welsh wagons, sauntered back a yard and sumptuously, sweetly cushion-pinged a teasing dink back into a vast void. The unmolested Disley, ten yards out, feasted upon the virgin volley to smackle straight into top left of the net. Ooooof.

Men of Clwyd, stop your dreaming. Can't you see the three points gleaming?

Jennings pushed Horwood over at a throw-in when the referee wasn't looking and something almost happened. Something of nothing was partially cleared towards the Police Box. Carrington knitted Nolan into a striped scarf and dragged lowly behind the line of monochrome. There was hibbling and bibbling and faffing about as Fyfield blampled majestically over.

[Editor's note for Wrexham fans: Annwyl darllenydd geltaidd crwydr, dim ond neidio i'r ddiwedd yr hanner cyntaf. Rydych lawer wnaeth bugger i gyd am y est yr hanner.]

Oh how the Pontoon sniggered when Toto toed away a Welsh punt for a Town goal kick. Oh how we were triggered into shrugs as Amond thigh-cushioned an intercontinental missile and Hoban bogle-banged up on the roof, where the air is fresh and sweet, away from the hustling crowd. Oh how we figured that it's just the way it is, for some things will never change, as Clay volleyed onto a distant steward's forehead. The steward was just not paying attention and headed wide.

What happened at the corner? Ah, let us leave that hanging in the air. It probably did

The Pontoon purred at passing and pinging past the piggies in the middle. Hoban, alone on the penalty spot, twisted and fizzled out with a spectacular overhead back pass to Touch-My-Hair Taylor. The wind, remember the wind. An empty polystyrene burger tray skittled out from the far end of the Lower Horsemeat, cartwheeling around the Wrexham defence, and back in to the stands. A perfect parabola, and perfect metaphor for the Welsh flagons, defeated and discombobulated by detritus.

Jingle jangle triangles at a Town throw-in and a Clay cross was red-flicked away from Amond's awaiting head. Horwood piped up and cheekily Causio flicked back to the unmarked Hoban. The belittled borrowed battler took an age while buffering and the pass-shot belooped off a red foot over and wide and wide and over. What happened at the corner? Ah, let us leave that hanging in the air. It probably did.

Oh, you don't know what a Causio flick is? Well, there's a little challenge for you. How the old forget and the young never know. You'll love the moustache. Bella, bella.

Jangle jingle triangles of passing and much pinging in the rain. Amond's perfectly cushioned tickle sent Hoban behind the defence and, from a narrow angle, a bedribbler bedrubbled across Taylor and past the far left post. My, that lad ain't never gonna score.

Awooga-awooga. This is a warning: alien attack imminent.

Finally Mill's marionettes managed to keep a long punt in play. Action Jackson barge-balled down their right, attracting the bears to his honey. As red meat slobbered, Gowling diverted at the last with a superb supermarket sweep. A corner, barely alive. As red heads nuddled, Jennings, right on the bye-line by the right post, flicked over his head. There's something weird and it don't look good. Who you gonna call? Hoban stood by the far post and grazed away.

And in the end the loathing you make is equal to the loathing you take. Yeah Jennings, nur-nur-nuuuurrrgh to you with knobs on. Gowling flew over Jennings and arose only after the yellow card was back in the ref's pocket. Huh-huh-huh. Huh.

Well, that was oddly fine. Despite the erratically wibbling wind, football was played, mainly by monochromers. If only the chances would fall to the right Irishman all would be well in the world.

Second half: Shake your tambourine

The red Wreckers replaced Fowler with York at half-time and abandoned their Dusty Bin tactics, moving to a 3-4-3 formation, perhaps as a moving tribute to Johann Cruyff.

Ah, they mean business. Town's drainpipes were no match for the flared trousers of the flying winger. A short covered corner taken quickly. Down dived a redster under a tackle from the ref, Gowling was the hair at the greyhound track and was roasted with a sprinkling of nutmeg. A delicate dink to the near post and Jennings, devoid of striped neighbours, maintained his Blundell Park form and avoided scoring.

Town's attack dissolved with vague flailings and off they went. Heslop slopped a big boomer from right to left, right onto Newton's toes. The old Imp volleyed spectacularly low across McKeown and inchlets wide of the left post.

And then the wind blew. The headbander headed back to his keeper, but the ball skittled along like a cheap beach ball in Mablethorpe. Slips and slaps skidded and skewed, the ball ballooning backwards. With the aerial route denied, the Welshies couldn't get out of their half as Town did a full court press. Just a bit of effort and a bit of nous stemmed the tide of history

Are we bothered by the free kick given for Gowling's trip after the ball was already out of play? No, nothing happened. Were they bothered that their resurgence dissipated in the rain? I suppose they must have been, as Grandmaster Mills made more changes, bringing on one of his furious five failures, Vidal, for, err, who cares. Vidal isn't a vital character in this passion play.

The ebb flowed backwards to Easter. What does that mean? Whatever you want, whatever you like. Nolan should have passed, but shot straight in to Welsh boots. Hoban shot high into the Pontoon when he should have passed. Pinging, pinging, pinging around and about the static caravans of Wales. Arnold swinkled down the right and Smith's slipshod slap fell perfectly for Clay, in the middle of the middle of the penalty area. The goal agaped and Clay swiped and slashed slackly into the annoyance of anoraks behind. Isn't that the collective noun for Town fans?

Don't forget the wind, don't forget the rain, and don't forget to put the clocks forward.

On came the crowd favourite. Yes, Hoban had worked hard, had been a right pest to them, but goals would be nice. Oh. Amond was taken off. Oh

Oh, that's black and white magic. Amond snuggled in front of a giant redwood by the dugouts and magnificently swept the ball into the centre, perfectly into the flightpath of Nolan. The impish ex-Impite chested past a stray defender, bundled into the penalty area and lowly passed through and around the plunging Taylor. The ball, alas, riffled along the side netting.

Let us alas again.

A corner drifted delightfully and bebumbled off the last Wrexer's head. Gowling gawkily galumphed and Amond poked the bouncing ball away from the plucking Taylor to Captain Sensible. Disley shinned, a Welsh leg squawked the ball off the line against the back of a prone defender and straight into the arms of Taylor. And more Town pressure. A corner, half-cleared, rinky-dinked back by Clay. Hoban stooped to glance. The ball swerved over the frisky fingers of Taylor, snaggled agin the crossbar and straight back to Hoban, stood near the penalty spot. The goal was open, the legs akimbo: Hoban shinned six yards wide.

And finally, with fewer than ten minutes left, on came the crowd favourite. Yes, Hoban had worked hard, had been a right pest to them, but goals would be nice. Oh. Amond was taken off. Oh.

Wind. Rain. Wind. Rain. Throw-ins. Goal kicks.

And the ref went slightly mad. More pinging and singing as Hoban burstled through. Taylor swept out and Hoban stumble-slipped as the keeper barely collided with his sad boots. A booking. Clay was booked for diverting a returned ball at a free kick.

Four minutes were added. Town panicked as Wrexham took route one. Big balls, big men and big girls don't cry. Arnold swayed away but Hoban ran away from the near post to mark. The moment was gone and so was Hoban, replaced by Pearson. In the fifth of those four minutes Clay timidly wafted and off the redmen flew. Triangles and slide rules crissing and crossing, a flick at the near post, a bundle of big blokes at the far post, and the ball boombled back to Action Jackson half a dozen yards out. The lanky lithe lolloper set himself for a smashing grabber, but across from Norway flew four horsemen of the apocalypse and Jamie Mack's fingers diverted the bazooka onto Toto's knees and…

Time for tea.

If you missed this game you missed a lot of wind and many ker-razy swirly capers. Town overcame busy but ineffective opponents and should have won by many more, while almost avoiding victory. Despite the woeful weather, football occurred. It would be nice if we passed to the right Irishman inside the penalty area.