Cod Almighty | Match Report
by Tony Butcher
14 November 2016
Grimsby Town 2 Barnet 2
A grimy old day of grizzle and mizzle in the dawning of the age of Bignotius with 70 Barneteers gathering in the gloom to witness the first day of the rest of our lives. Welcome to the day after release from the prison of footballing fear. I hear angel trumpets and devil trombones, no more treacle-drying dirgeball! We're gonna aaaaa-ccentuate the positive and eeeeeee-liminate the negative.
Town lined up in a variable squeezebox 4-1-4-1 formation as follows: McKeown, Mills, Gowling, Collins, Andrew, Summerfield, Chambers, Berrett, Comley, Jackson and Bogle. The substitutes were Warrington, Pearson, Jones, Boyce, Bolawinra, Disley, and Vernon. Meet the new boss, same as the old boss? Another higgledy-piggledy midfield with Summerfield the pivoting playmaker, Jackson and Chambers sort of wingers, sort of strikers depending on which side of the pitch the ball wasn't. Sometimes three, sometimes four, sometimes five in midfield Sometimes two, sometimes three, sometimes four in attack. Oo-oo-oo, sometimes the truth is harder than the pain inside. Or maybe we'll be playing a dynamic diamond dogs formation.
Barnet, all in mostly white, the purple slash flash too far. A load of big blokes and a couple of little blokes, but alas, dear Yorick, no Wesley Fonguck. Hey now, isn't that Akpa Akpro? Why, surely it is.
Here's to the future, now it's only just begun.
First half: V-neck jumpers for goalposts
The white shirts kicked off towards the Pontoon with a wiggle and a niggle and you have to give a giggle as they passed right out to Town.
Hmmm, it all looks rather familiar. Townites chasing caterpillars. Ah, but they're chasing them quicker. Andrew bounced off Akinde's aura and a bad cross is a good cross for us locals. Settle down, steady on, rock on, as every cloud has a silver lining. Omar was held close by the Bondz that tie, and oh what a circus, oh what a show. He makes us laugh, he makes us cry, Omar's toes twinkled and he closed his eyes. From the corner of the penalty area Bogle lilted over the wall and Stephens flew left like a bird in the sky to spectacularly finger-flip from under the crossbar.
They did things that caused minor moments of peril. Akinde's bulk bumping, Vilhete's tiny dancing, Watson's elementary promptings. But nothing to write home about as Townites began to do full court presses, pinning the whiteys back and beginning to ping passes. Everything was being done with vim and verve: throw-ins hustled, free kicks ticked over quickly. Momentum through movement, movement creating momentum. Even if this was the illusion of action, it was at least something to look at.
A moment of nothingness, the curds and whey of things. McKeown wellied a goal kick towards the dentists. A white head glanced on and the ball slid along the touchline. Omar chased in haste as defenders began to repent at leisure. Ah, we get pleasure in other people's leisure. Bogle barged down the touchline, cut back in between the two repentant sinners and, just inside the penalty area, be-thwackled lowly across the keeper as Johnson's shins beyond ensured the net billowed and bulged.
We have lift-off.
The wolf pack pounced on the unbuzzing bees. Passes coincided with movement of limbs, the ball swept majestically up and down hither and thither. We like the rhythm, we're under the spell, it sets Town's soul in motion. Zak! Attack! Mills roamed like a leopard down their left, dinking delightfully around an old, dying, desiccated gnu. A monochromer lurking and the last Barnetian standing slid away from a certain possibility of Chambers finally failing to avoid scoring. Bogle boggled and Mills's mushing menace persisted with a suave, silky sway which Berrett caressed around Bondz and wayly over and wide.
As thoughts turned to pies, a bog-standard clip down the left arrived at the feet of Taylor. Nope, nothing going on here. Let us ponder the future filling in our preferred pie. Chicken and ham with a bit of leek for me, Clive. What about potatoes? Sautéed, I'd say, Glenn, not fried. Taylor found a place to make a stand, took it easy and stood on the ball. Flash Omar's alive! Bogle flew away, pursued by barely a white shirt and flabbergasted through the keeper's legs from virtually the same spot as his first goal.
Magis, citius, rectior.
Gowling and Collins walked tall and looked Akinde in the eye. If you tried that with Vilhete he'd run through your legs. They tried. He did
Miffed off by the muddling, Watson tried to Eagle McKeown from the kick-off. Jamie Mack was paying attention and his studs were long enough. Barnet were really miffed off and started to pound Town. Gowling and Collins walked tall and looked Akinde in the eye. If you tried that with Vilhete he'd run through your legs. They tried. He did.
Townites took turns in eventually upending Mauro the magical meanderer. Breaks and crosses, Town floundering down the left. Gowling stretchy slapped away from waiting white socks, Mills scraped away from sneaky white shorts. White crosses overhit and underhit, Town flirting with foolishness, with just the isolated tiptoe towards the too-hip-by-half Hertfordians. Berrett dog-dipped but the keeper plucked from Jackson's toe. Chambers Causio turned on the halfway line, then panicked at his own excellence, running straight into a far-off waiting wall.
Vilhete scurried through a thousand legs and wibbled a wobble straight at McKeown. The closer it got, the more it wobbled, and the more Jamie Mack's gloves wibbled. A slap of foam and the ball deflected down and behind the Orangeman, skipped off the turf and crawled over the angle of post and bar. He should be so lucky, lucky, lucky, lucky with gloves. The corner arced in: a big bloke ducked at the near post and grazed a sneaker across the face of goal.
With Barnet bothering us shapeshifting sheep, the land was a ball of confusion and the referee collided with Comley. And promptly started to peep like a maniac when monochromers exchanged glances. Did you see that? Did you see that? Some white shirt forearmed a pass and Town were whistling Dixie.
Town's diamond life allowed Barnet to move in space with minimum waste and maximum joy.
No need to ask if Akinde and Vilhete are smooth operators. Zak! zapped with his siren to repel this hostility. Chambers upended their tiny dancer 30 yards out, deadish centre and was booked for being the next one after the one before that followed on from the start of it all. Watson wandered up and crinkle-snapped a coiling dripper towards the bottom left corner. McKeown carefully launched himself and did a double kangaroo punch away for a throw-in.
Breathless botherings from the Barneteers with more meddlesome manoeuvrings through the muddle of the middle. Another free kick even wayer out than before. Watson coiled highly and the ball dropped onto the roof of the net just over angle of left post and bar with McKeown looking for his koala.
And in the end Omar muffed a free kick and we could glow with the flow of the new.
Never mind the reality – feel the width of Town's lead. Uneasy lies the head that wears the half-time crown.
Town's dynamic double diamond was if not working wonders then at least being played with some aggressive intent. They ran, they tackled, they looked forward. And we looked forward to more of this, but without the squishy bits on the side please. Just round those edges with a bit of sandpaper to get a smooth finish.
Second half: A bout de soufflé
Barnet replaced Taylor with Akpa Akpro at half time to a slight chorus of Mariner disapproval.
Town kicked off, immediately turned and ran at Barnet. Andrew coiled, Big Bondz failed, Omar collided with the last defender standing and Comley, just beyond the penalty spot, swiped lowly inches wide of the right post for the wrong outcome.
A minute later the Omar collision chum was replaced by Muggleton.
Things changed, and not for the good.
A moment of nothingness nowhere and Gowling slipped as he passed. A whiteyshirt clipped back down the wing, into the exact same spot from which Omar started his run for his first goal. Akinde rolled around Gowling, headed into the area and fell to earth as the hairy one stretched from behind to knock on his back door. Hush, hush, the ball needed leaving and Gowling's to blame as the deep purple shirt pointed towards the penalty spot. Akinde strolled up, rolled right as Jamie Mack sighed sadly left.
At this the new man in Town brought on Tombola for Chambers. The ground fainted. A tactical substitution before the 70th minute! Not bringing on a centre-half to anchor midfield at the first sign of danger? Who could blame the players for being dizzy, their heads spinning like a whirlpool that never ends?
Barnet bashed on, with Muggleton a secret lemonade drinker, hurling sub-Challinoresque chucks with gay abandon. Even on Blundell Avenue, not the quietest dressed street in the world, Muggleton looked about as inconspicuous as a tarantula on a slice of angel cake.
Persistent proddings down the Town left and Jackson pulled out of an Ak-Ak slide. The formerly forlorn failure spun and dinked behind Collins. Weston sneaked in front of the ancient Mariner and both fell to Earth on the bye-line. The dreaded pigeon-toed, under-growed purple people eater sure gave a decision that looked strange to me. Akinde strolled up, rolled right as McKeown flopped low and not right enough.
And now Bignot began fiddling with the formation as Town had fumbled and Disley replaced Berrett. Bignot is very much the anti-Hurst. Levers were pulled, whirring noises emanated from the bowels of Blundell Park and old man Dizzer wheezed into action. A Zak! chuck hubbled and bubbled and rolled out to Disley, who carefully steered a yard wide. Tombola bowled along as Barnet doubled up on him. Big booming balls were flung from left to right to right to left but this wall remained intact.
And still they came…
Akpa Akpro chesty-turned and swivelled a volley into the place where Barnet's supporters would have been if there had been any
Dozing on the right with a pot shot pinged in from afar, McKeown parried into the centre. Akinde was way offside and let the ball roll. Weston retrieved, Akinde sieved for gold and rolled to the penalty spot. Watson wandered in unhindered and managed to miss with a pleasant swish over the bar. Muggleton murderballed a long hurl and Akinde headed straight to Jamie Mack. Repeat action and a shot in the dark.
What else? Ak-Ak chesty-turned and swivelled a volley into the place where their supporters would have been if there had been any. Seventy, oh please, remember you're in the League now. Where is your dignity?
The clock was ticking, and Town were tocking. Come out of the garden, baby, you'll catch your death in the fog. The dynamic diamond dogs began flipping and clipping, pinning the Barneteers back into their own penalty area. Comley big-dipped onto Tombola's toes. Mills scurried up and we all wished his swish had not mished by a millimetre. Weston poked a pickled pass back towards the sleeping keeper. Omar sprang into action, jinking around the blueman. Defenders hurtled back and from a narrow angle Bogle bonked into the side netting as Jackson lurked inside the six-yard box.
Vernon replaced Jackson and Town were knock-knock-knocking at Barnet's door.
Tombola was booked for being fouled. Andrew flapped forward and flipped over the bar. A corner. Why? Who knows? Who cares? From the left, Summerfield clipped and a Town head flicked on at the near post. Collins stretched beyond the far post to fizz back across the face of goal. Retrieved, crossed, in, out, and Summerfield slashed into the groan zone of the Pontoon. Another pot shot, pot luck on guessing who. Bignot said shoot on sight on the off-chance, not off site when there's a chance on. He's only been here a few days; maybe it's the Brummie accent. Kipper tie? No, coffee – white and one sugar please.
Vernon cheekily stumble-tumbled before the purple poltroon. Omar brushed aside Summerfield and wellied woefully into the singing ringing tree corner where the young people reside with their colour and noise. The more shots there are, the further they get away from goal.
A bit of pass the parcel on the halfway line and the newly arrived Mr Sesay from north London miscontrolled the ball. Vernon sprung into life and leapt over the lunge, striding forward, striding goalwards. The purple poser peeped and gave Town a free kick. Eh? Up went a red card and up went the flashing board: five added minutes.
Punting, punting, punting with Gowling permanently positioned up top. Let's punt again. Mills chipped and Gowling sat down when invited by Nelson to consider the current malaise in liberal democracy. Has this species finally amused itself to death? Hilariously, the purple arm pointed towards the penalty spot. Oh how we laughed. Oh how we cried as Omar opened his body and side-footed millimetres over angle of post and bar as Stephens stood and stared. Everyone on Earth knows where Omar puts a penalty. And it isn't there.
Shocked. And stunned. Shocked and stunned. That's that.
And in the end Bignot led the squad into a huddle in front of the Pontoon, and led the mutual muted love-fest. The result could have been so much better; it could have been so much worse. The performance was distinctly different from the recent past, but within a superficially similar basic framework. There was vim and verve, there was evidence of the modern obsession with high pressing and a desire to enjoy themselves and entertain us.
I've seen the future, brother. It may be murdering the opposition, it may be being murdered by the opposition. It may not be dull.