Cod Almighty | Match Report
by Tony Butcher
12 September 2009
Matchstalk Men 1 Matchstalk Cats and Dogs 0
Here we are again, stuck in another September rut: surrounded and confounded by statistical facts. They say they've got a real solution. Well, we'd all love to see the plan.
Town lined up in a 4-4-2 formation as follows: Lillis, Ribby Stickdale, Atkinson, Linwood, Widdowson, Fuller, Bennett, Sweeney, Jones, F-f-f-f-f-orbes and North. The substitutes were Overton, Clarke, Heywood, Leary, Normington, Bird, and Master Bradley Wood. Bennett was the central core of the reactor, with Sweeney bubbling steam through the smallest of pipes; Josh and Jones were on the wings. Have we reached the maximum Josh quota?
It never occurred to me before, but we have Brian and Michael in charge. The team we watch has seen better days, and this present work of art is dull.
At three o'clock there were 63 day-glow sticks in the Osmond stand; counting bulls is the same as counting sheep. Wake me up before they go-go, both teams are hanging on like a yo-yo.
First half: arrive without travelling
Town kicked off towards the Osmond void and the woolly Bully's jaw. Surrender to that void, the referee's head is shining, it is shining.
Ah, fouls and fluff, kicks and kerfuffles. Atkinson shoved, Plummer plummeted. Lowe grappled with F-f-f-forbes' condiments and their Jones nobbled F-f-f-orbes in the male inner thigh. It's time for shovels and shakes by the seaside. Sweeney shoved Southam by the sea shore and the Southam that Sweeney shoved was seething, I'm sure.
North nearly, but didn't, and wouldn't as he was offside. Fuller flibbertiboobbled free and won a corner. And that was where the story ended. Tune in next week for the continuing story of bungalow Sweeney's underhit corners.
Hereford had two pesky pests who fell and flailed around Atkinson and Stick-lite. Hereford also had an exceedingly helpful linesman who believed in magic. If the music is groovy it makes you feel happy: the linesman was playing a Showaddywaddy selection by semaphore.
They had a cross or two, if not a crush on you and they may even have a had an official shot of some sort which Lillis was required to touch. I stress the word may as nothing was troubling bar the linesman's penchant for pottyness. If the Bullpeople tried a shot, a Town body flew. Well done Fuller.
Bartlett shanked a shocker straight to Bennett, eight miles out, who wobbled a wibbler a yard or so safely wide. That was something, that was 20 minutes of noodling with a paper fork. North burst and poked, Fuller poked and burst. Moments of almostness following decent local moves by decent local people.
To relieve the boredom their centre-back punched a free kick wide at the far post in comically ungainly fashion, unfolding himself like man from Mexborough opening a deckchair for the very first time on his very first trip to Cleethorpes. Oooh look, a sailing dingy!
And then something happened. Hereford were given a free kick 20 or so yards out on their right. They danced, they sang, they tapped it for Southam to coil. Southam coiled, the ball curled and Lillis knew exactly what was hoping to happened, comfortably, but spectacularly parrying away from the left post, just to make sure. Solid, professional goalkeeping.
Mmmmm, yeah... and Linwood headed a Sweeney corner way over.
Hereford slow-burned, Town half bubbled, they all toiled and the referee was trouble. The gruel was thick and drab. Still, better than last week.
Second half: see all without looking
Neither team made any changes at half time. Don't you know it's gonna be alright?
Town did some attacking, then they didn't. More moments of might've been with Jones the Slip and Frodo Fuller ending without beginning. Hereford were awake, Town began to ache. Their Jones grazed a loopy header over and beyond, plummeting Plummer weebled and wobbled through the Town left and bedraggled across Lillis, who withdrew his hands as it scuttled safely into the rat hole.
Retreating, waiting, huddling together for shelter, Town wilted. Feed the weeds Old Farmer Mike! Clarke replaced F-f-f-forbes just past the hour, with the deck of cards being shuffled one more time. When I see the four I see an unchanged defence, and when I see the five it reminds me of the five wise virgins who trimmed their lamps. Or perhaps a five-man midfield with Clarke sweeping behind Bennett and Sweeney, who had been pushed further forward. They may be different things.
Woah, there they go again, Southam or somebody curling wide, Plummer drivelling and someone swishing through the six-yard box with no friend nor foe around. Town were standing aside, frit of human contact. "Get into them."
Bennett headed and Bartlett cooked a superfluous sausage casserole at the foot of his right post. No need for carrots, lad.
Lillis flopped a high free kick and inaction Jackson thrashed goalwards through a thicket of legs. Lillis superbly sprang back and low to divert danger. And that's them. They had attacks, but big backsides and bad candyfloss sweetened Town's defensive perambulations.
Ah, perambulations, and celebrations, we want the world to know we're happy as can be. We do attacking! Sweeney kissed Santa Claus and Jones the Slip slipped away with a swivel and slide, cut back and dinked a dolly cross to the far post... just over North and in front of Clarke. Sweeney bumbled and burned, chipping over the last defender into North's flight path. Dannyboy slinked into the area, winkled away the defender and tinkled against the jumping Bartlet's toes. No-one followed up.
With a couple of minutes left a Town corner was cleared back to Stockdale, who lobbed vaguely behind the onrushing defence, to the left side of the area. North, alone again naturally, bumped a retreating Orangeman away and bore down on Bartlett. The keeper star-jumped and North tapped against his jabbering feet. The ball reared up in lovely loopy slow fashion into the centre. A defender stood underneath, North growled over his toupee and nodded into the vacant lot. Offside? Frankly, my dear, after all this time and all those disallowed goals, I don't give a damn.
There were three minutes of added time during which Town failed to waste time in open play, though Sticky Ribdale did manage to take 27 seconds over a throw-in. It takes time to complete the risk assessment questionnaire, doesn't it. And Town should have scored a second when Fuller broke away, teased the last fluorescent fool and tickled Sweeney free inside the penalty area. Bartlett raced out and plunged to divert Sweeney's dink from a few yards out, a few yards wide. Why waste a precious thing when it isn't needed. Goals are like elephants' heartbeats: there are only ever so many that can happen.
Lillis caught a cross and then the three minutes became three points.
It wasn't great, it wasn't a mess, it was adequate in the circumstances. It was two rather flimsy teams poking a toe in the pool of hope. Bennett did the negative things well and had tremendous stamina, being frequently the most advanced Town player. Linwood and Atkinson looked a partnership with solidity, while the two little wingerboys were far more assertive and verging on the effective. Don't get carried away, but don't write it off either. It was what it was, and it was enough.
Tackling, shackling, cackling, half time. Craved, saved, raved, waved, the end. Town were without misfortune and without Matthew Heywooden.
We won. Be happy for once.