The right Town turn up

Cod Almighty | Match Report

by Barry Whittleton

3 January 2017

Carlisle United 1 Grimsby Town 3

Carlisle away. Probably one of my favourite grounds. While I wouldn't tempt fate prior to kick off I'd never seen Town lose on either visit. A 2-0 victory on a freezing Friday night in 1979, when – despite what Bill Brewster says – I'm sure we had 100 there not 34; and a 3-2 victory a couple of seasons later. This was memorable for the locals throwing a spanner at us and bricking the disabled supporters' bus. Very brave lads.

Pre-match talk in the excellent Magpie pub was all about the obvious 3-5-2 formation and Yussuf's non-inclusion. My own opinion was if it comes off he’ll be a Twitter hero; if we get stuffed the trolls will love it. Those who know me will confirm I have a set of stock answers. An "enjoy the game" will elicit a "will if we win" response; and a "what you reckon today?" a "depends on which Town turn up".

This match, the right Town turned up.

The Mariners lined up with Mills in a midfield of also comprising Disley, Comley, Davies, and Andrew; Pearson, Collins and Boyce as the three; with Vernon aiding Bogle up front.

First half

Kicking toward a blinding sun, Town were on the front foot from the off. The stuttering mistake-ridden strangers of Saturday had been replaced by a vibrant, purposeful unit who rocked Carlisle – the best team I've seen so far this season – back on their heels.

Passes found their targets, players found space and a marauding Davies and Andrew peppered the Carlisle goal as desperate defenders blocked. Davies in acres found Vernon, whose blocked header was shielded back to a keeper as Disley bore down. Town were confident, the support buoyant.

The home team's sole foray of note resulted in a harmless shot over and Town continued to push forward. Then against the run of play a route one raid, a flick and the hosts were in front as their centre-forward, Wyke, ran clear to slot past an onrushing Henderson.

One-nil. Unjust.

For a while Town faltered. Carlisle pressed forward. A cross from the right found a Carlisle head but Henderson was equal to push it over.

Slowly Town re-established a foothold, regained some confidence and should have gone in level. A free kick found its way to Pearson out wide. His delivery laid it on a plate for Boyce at the far post. His header missed the gaping net from what looked from afar like five yards out.

As a fellow traveller remarked in the half-time bar, Marlene could've scored.

Second half

That there were no changes at half time had a few grumbling, but the team's response was perfect. With slackers still making their way back to seats Bogle chased a ball down the right. He muscled his way past the full-back, burst into the box, composed himself, and from a tightish angle netted.

The faithful 400+ roared their delight.

Carlisle responded, and a cross flashed across goal with no-one getting a killer touch. Town hit back forcing their hosts on to the back foot again. Vernon departed and new boy Yussuf joined Bogle.

The impact was almost immediate. Yussuf battled to win a free kick, which sailed high and wide and again to win a corner in front of the Town support. Andrew swung it perfectly onto the head of Bogle who obliged. Two-one Town.

Almost from the kick-off the equaliser looked nailed on. A move down the Town left saw the ball drilled to the back post where it was met and an expectant home crowd behind the goal celebrated. Prematurely. Banks-esque, Henderson flung himself across the goal and clawed the ball away. Magnificent. Vital.

The Town support roared its approval. The combination of noise and the boost drove the team forward. A neat back-heel set Yussuf free charging goalward. The expectant travellers waited for that Tuton moment where the newbie slides it the wrong side of the post. Not today; calmly, Yussuf slid it home. Three-one.

Devitt hit a post, we scrambled a few clear, and Andrew scored a fourth with a vicious inswinging corner which the ref denied for breathing on the keeper. Town would not be denied.

The game meandered to an end and the players and fans celebrated long and heartily. Welcome to 2017. If this Town continue to show up on a regular basis, it's going to be a good one.