Cod Almighty | Match Report
by Tony Butcher
29 August 2009
The Living Dead 1 Army Dreamers 2
Tryin' to make some sense of it all, but I can see it makes no sense at all. Clowns to the left, jokers to the right: here I am, stuck in the middle of the Pontoon.
Town lined up in a 4-4-2 formation as follows: Forecast, Stickdale, Atkinson, Bennett, Widdowson, Clarke, Boshell Sweeney, Leary, Jones, Conlon, North. The substitutes were Overton, Linwood, Heywood, Boshell, Fuller, Normington, and Proudlock. After the unsuccessful experiment with Jones on the left at Cheltenham we moved on to an experiment with Jones on the left at home. Perhaps the manager formerly known as Mr Re-Newell sits in his rented Holton-le-Clay cave and watches spiders instead of scouting videos.
The pre-match entertainment was, in essence, the Town substitutes kicking footballs up various groundstaff's and ball-boys' backsides. Take away the ball and replace the word 'ground' for 'playing' and we have substitutes in alignment with crowd.
It was most unsporting of Aldershot to play in fancy dress. I think they came as Town.
Come July everybody was building hopes, some building monuments, others jotting down notes. Now in August everybody's in despair, every girl and boy, and then Quinn referee got here and nobody jumped for joy. The game started at 3:07.
First half: condensed mulch
Town kicked off towards the Pontoon, Clarke slipped over.
Town lumped airily and stood around watching fairily; the Shotty boys had a couple of shots. Nothing of interest occurred for ten minutes, the ground silent save for the sound of the leaves rustling in the tree above the snack stand. A woman opened a book at page 23 and a young boy smudged melting chocolate over his new Town shirt.
Players fell to Earth clutching heads. Minutes passed by. Town hadn't passed or passed by a Shotty yet. North burst through and Blackburn clipped his heels. A booking. Sweeney was clattered by boot and forearm. Play continued. Jones dribbled a shot and on came the physio again. The referee looked around and wondered... who did that? He wandered around the static Shots, staring at each nose. Nope, no idea.
Leary sneaked a quick free kick, North pounced and plopped the ball in. Oh joy! Oh no! Offside. Oh unjoy. We're unjoying this game already.
Flash Grimsby's alive? Conlon flickered North free down the middle. Dannyboy walloped straight at the keeper. No-one followed up. The Shotties bumbled; Leary chased down the clearance and Clarke thwackled a tremendous first-time sweepshot from just outside the area towards the top right corner. Jaimez-Ruiz flew and spectacularly tipped the ball over the bar. Jones coiled a shot at the Shots' J-R, North volleyed over, and as Stockdale's cross cruised through the hamburger stand, it's Town, Town, Town until our daddy takes the season ticket away.
Stupid Town. Typical Town.
Aldershot, becalmed and be-snoozing towards defeat, walked into the candy store and helped themselves to a big box of lollies. They broke, Widdowson stood away from Hot Louis Soares, allowing HLS to cut on to his left foot and carefully chipple into the centre of the penalty area. Mini-pop Donnelly arrived alone and noodle-flicked a loopy, soft header across and over the static Forecast from a dozen or so yards out.
Empty. Soulless drifters floating like zombies across the barren wasteland. This is normal. This is our world.
Massive Marvin Morgan bumbled, stumbled and scrimpled wide as three Townites trembled in fear, afraid to move, to tackle, to stop themselves from spinning further down the hellish pantomime plughole. No-one tackled, no-one covered as Soares was freed inside the area, a dozen yards out, but fluffed his pillow a bit too much and Forecast managed to block with the goal a-gaping. A corner was cleared halfly, and volleyed back towards the right corner of the Town goal. Forecast transfixed, monochrome heads ducked, the ball looped and dipped towards the open goal before a red shirt thrust itself ballwards and diverted it back across the face of goal, stumbling a foot or so past the left post. They're saving our embarrassment now?
After a few more minutes feeling sorry for themselves, Sweeney delightfully dinked a dipper over the top of the defence on the right. North volleyed across the face of goal as Conlon stretched and missed. That was Town. That was it.
Is that it completely?
Sleep-in, sleepy, slipshod, a silly goal and mass panic. The players are feeble.
Second half: evaporating hope
Neither team made any changes at half time.
After a couple of minutes of macramé the Shotsters chipped a free kick down the middle onto Massive Marvin Morgan's thighs. He leaned back into Atkinson and carefully flipped the ball to his left into the path of the in-rushing and totally unmarked Donnelly, where-are-you-and-are-you-listening-Peter-Sweeney. The mini-winny-popster strode on unmolested down the centre, into the area, swished left and mishit dreadfully straight to the low, slow plunging Forecast. The man who is NOT OUR KEEPER AND NEVER WILL BE pathetically parried aside, straight back to Donnelly, who walked around The Mistake and tapped the ball into the empty net.
It makes you pine for the days of the solid security of Anthony Williams.
In the next 30 minutes precisely four things happened:
1) Linwood and Proudlock replaced Clarke and Leary. Bennett went to centre midfield, North to left wing
2) Conlon headed a Sweeney corner vaguely goalwards and North stood in front of the keeper and diverted the ball wide
3) Proudlock was booked for forearming a centre-back
4) Conlon hoiked a volley from nearby, way, way over the Osmond stand roof
And then, by accident, Town scored. With about ten minutes to go Sweeney caressed a pass onto North's right foot, who crossed from the left and Conlon sailed into the sun and nudged a floaty header into the left side of the net from about ten yards out.
There were still some Town fans watching the game and saw this goal as it happened, in real time, in real life. At least a couple of dozen, I'd say.
And this set up a real Grandstand finish. No, more the World of Sport and the four o'clock wrestling slot. A bit of hamming and slamming almost brought Ryan Bennett's mum onto the pitch to wallop the ref with her brolly. All in all, the only event involving the football was a Sweeney teasing dinker cross which drifted through the penalty across the face of goal with no Townite stretching.
There were four minutes of added time. Town never got near threatening a goal.
If you can't threaten a goal, threaten a man. At a throw-in down in the Osmond/Findus wastelands some part of Proudlock collided with a Shotter, who fell clutching his head. The linesman fluttered his eyelashes and his flag and players stood around looking puzzled. Conlon marched up to the prone defender and appeared to bellow in his face and aggressively lift his shirt. The injured party suddenly rose and shoved Conlon back. Cue some doggy-paddles and snarling, with lots of rolling grapples. Minutes passed by as the little men in pastel blue whispered to each other. Out came a red card and Proudlock was sent off. A minute later out came the red card again, flying into Conlon's sweaty face. Conlon refused to go, pleading innocence; Bennett was booked for being captain, while the referee was surrounded by stripes.
Let's end on a positive. At least we can add something to our honours board - first club to be charged with surrounding a referee in confrontational manner. Yo, respect!
The match finished just before midnight.
First half: sleeping sickness. Second half: inertia followed by mass hysteria.
Town were collectively and individually below acceptable standards of professional footballers: dishevelled, disjointed, disharmonious and disastrous. They were mentally weak, reacting to adversity by shrinking from the world and crying that others were to blame. Had the players been as committed as they were against Rotherham, this would have been a large and satisfying victory.
They aren't fit mentally or physically and the imbalance in the squad has not been addressed. The difference in these two teams was in midfield, especially out wide. Town had no calm in the centre until Bennett moved forward. That says a lot about him and the squad.
We're a one-boy team.