Cod Almighty | Match Report
by Tony Butcher
24 December 2017
Luton 2 Grimsby 0
A delightfully dreary day of nothingness in the dank underbelly of Britain with 446 travelling Townites taunting the locals with its similarity to… Grimsby. We see a kettle, we're calling it black. Well, Luton at Christmas, it's better than washing the floor.
Though they might wipe the floor with Town.
Town lined up in electric blue in the now usual 4-4-2 formation as follows: McKeown, Mills, Clarke, Collins, Davies, DJ Jinky, Summerfield, Rose, Dembele, Jones and Matt. The substitutes were Killip, Dixon, K Osborne, Berrett, Woolford, Vernon and Hooper. It's another same-again-Saturday for Slade's secret Santas. Luton, the fiends: they're very big and scary but they don't look like a fairy on top of the tree. Let's keep it in single figures, let's keep us shape and dignity.
1st half – Legroom for the blind
Town kicked off away from the Town support. Try a little touch, try a little too much. Wham-bam-thank-you-man. Whack-a-mole, thwack-a-mole. Orange here, there and everywhere, spinning, grinning, thinning out the Town defence. Our Collins blocked, their Collins shot and Clarke's flesh blubbered the ball off the line.
Scrambles, scrumbles and bumbles to clear the air. And what of the second minute I hear you ask?
Dervishes whirled and the orange river overflowed, flooding low-lying coastal areas. Man the pumps, stick a finger in the crumbling sea wall. In out, in out, stretching, wretching, wrenching and buttocks clenching. Here they come again.
And what of the third minute I hear you ask? And the fourth, the fifth? Plead the fifth to stop the bleeding.
Here they come again. And again and again. They never left. Infiltrations and deliberations, Matt thighed wide from inside the six-yard box. Our six-yard box. Town: breathless and toothless, mauled and hauled over hot coals by an incessant foe.
Town kicked the ball into the Luton half. We have hope.
Town kicked the ball into the Luton penalty area. Was that a handball I see before me? Well, I saw it that way; the pastel peeper pickled peppers instead.
Stop moping, Town are coping with the powerballing. We're the wall it keeps bouncing off. Or Clarke legged 'em up if the mortar cracked.
Well-well, said the rocking chair. Summerfield sizzled a slap six inches or more wide with Stech scrabbling to appear supercool as it sozzled past his right post.
Jones chased a delicate hoof down the right, spun a dummy, shivered lowly and Justin sliced over the bar at the near post. A corner, another corner. Hey, Town had corners. And Collins kept heading them. And then there were none.
They're back, they're here already. They're among us. You're not safe.
Crosses and corners, threads pulled, edges rounded, blue heads and blue bodies flying horizontally to divert stranger danger. Deep by the Town corner Summerfield stumbled after an expected home shove: a free kick for diving. A clip, a panic, a bit of this and that. Potts headed and McKeown punched over from under the bar as Hylton lurked in his ribcage like a parasitic arthritic art critic.
The corner cleared, Dembele hared away and was sliced in two by the shins of Shinnie Shin-Shin for a firm finger wagging of yellowness. A chance to breath, a chance to dream and Mills flaggled woefully wide. A minor moment of Town attacking and a break back.
Hylton stroked to their left and Berry sauntered towards the centre in the middle of the Town half. Mills neither stuck nor bust, standing in the way of McKeown. Berry could see that McKeown couldn't see, so see-sawed a lovely lilting coily dipper around and over Mills and over and around the static custardian into the toppish leftish side.
Luton stood on Town's throat, upping the ante, upping the pace. Furious, frantic and frenetic, Townites permanently horizontal in an orgy of blocks with socks.
And the whistle did blow.
Town were doing magnificently to mostly repel the raiders of the lost art of powerball football. It's about character. Weak teams with weak men would be five down by now.
2nd half – Know your place
Neither team made any changes at half time.
Bang, bang, bang went the trolley, clang, clang, clang went the bell. Hylton wellied well wide after wafting around the wiffles and waffles alive-alive oh.
DJ jinked, Matt spidergrammed around and whacked against the outermost side of the post from the narrowest of slim angles. It was almost a slim-line tonic, but with a bitter lemon of shot. A cross, a free kick, a nearness of almostness where moments almost happened.
Whoopsy-daisy chains and laughs, got to keep the loonies on the path. A flick and chase and McKeown had an acid flashback. Jamie Mac waddled out to his right and upended a flying turkey in the most subtle of unsubtle ways. Shall we say he just used his charm to meet the referee and his yellow card.
What a time to be alive, what a time be a Town fan. What an excellent minute. Jones dribbled and dribbled, mesmerising these almost Midlanders with a twisty tale of Christmas ghouls. A shot blocked and Dembele dribbled twicely into and across the orange wall. Rebounds, ricochets and minor panic in the home defence. The ball squirtled across and away from goal and… and Matt stupided a foul.
Listen lads, we can still do this…
Deflation not elation. A hump, a lump and dump downfield with dancing in the darkness. Collins and Davies shuffled Lutonites towards the corner and the danger was averting. Gentle Ben decided to tinkle back to Collins when a welly was all we wished for. An unseen Orangeman nicked in and Collins knocked him over. A free kick, just outside the area. All humanity gathered on the edge of the six-yard box, and the cattle in the Home End were lowing. Fizzed flatly, J Collins arose above the frozen Rose and thumple-steered into the near post.
Ah, lovely, look at the sky. Is that the Plough? And look over there, it's the Big Dipper. Could it be magic? Oh hang on, that's not the night sky, that's Luton fans practicing for Sky with their unsmart phones. Hey you happy Hatters, you're not at a Barry Manilow Concert. Have some dignity in your rise back to where you once belonged.
Now, this is a test - a test of character. Will Town subside in self-pity or keep their dignity? It's all about keeping the score down, isn't it.
Let's get the nuts and bolts out of the way. Hooper replaced DJ, Vernon replaced Matt, Woolford replaced Dembele.
And still those blue waves crashed into the bobbling ball. Collins, Clarke, Davies and Rose, flying horizontally to intercept doodlebugs on their way towards Jamie Mack. Let us take our heart from Town not falling apart. Jones caused moments with noodles and nudges that faded to nothing as he neared goal. Moments, that's all we had together, let us treasure them for what they were.
Four minutes were added.
And still Luton poured forward, relentlessly in search of more and more and more. Rose dillied and dallied and was robbed as he bobbed about. Lee managed to caress wide from the penalty spot. A wiggle and wriggle and flashing fliggle from D’Ath at the death, with McKeown superbly parrying aside. And then the last thing, the very last thing, was a wonderful thing. Rose's full body dive to divert a further flannel. They didn't give up, so we won't give up on them.
Well, there you are, it could have been worse. A couple of misjudgements by the full-backs created the moments of danger, and the tangerine dreamers had the wit to pounce upon the sleeping fishes. Town did not have the wit or physical ability to create anything worthwhile. They needed an extra touch to control the ball, an extra second to think before acting, and an extra second to wait for help. Town could stop 'em, mostly, but not start to do anything themselves.
Luton were just better than Town, no disgrace in that, for they just found a way to unblock their drains.