Cod Almighty | Match Report
by Tony Butcher
25 February 2018
Town 0 Exeter 1
On a clear day you can see forever and ever and ever more trips to Gateshead. Yes, it's mourning again in Fentyland as the past is catching up with our future. It's cold, it's bitter: what a pathetic fallacy.
Town lined up in a 4-4-2 formation as follows: McKeown, Mills, Clarke, Collins, Dixon, Clifton, Berrett, Rose, DJ Jinky, Cardwell and Hooper. The substitutes were Killip, Osborne, Sulimani, Dembele, Kelly, Vernam and Matt. After capitulation comes decapitation: no Vernon, no cry. Please don't shed no tears for everything's gonna be alright with a double dose of Harryin. Panic in the streets – no Summerfield, do cry with a rose beret flapping in the wind.
Exeter, just boys and men in hi-viz vests, though one of them has borrowed Leroy Sane's hair for the day. Well, there's always one character with his comedy wig on the works outing.
Together we'll stand, divided we'll fall, come on now people, let's get on the ball. Oh dear, a team huddle-cuddle, a sure sign of the desperation of the ailing and failing.
Now, where was that minute's applause for Plowes, the thorn in the boardroom side? Just a minute, that's all they had to give.
1st half – hesitation, repetition
One of the teams kicked off towards or away from the 150ish garrulous Grecians sunbathing in the Osmond. These things happen, you can't blame the board for that.
Passing. There was passing. Movement, there was movement, for at least Harry's game. Clifton and Mills raided and roamed nicely with triangles of hopefulness heading south. A corner, a throw-in, a corner again. Berrett took them. Move along, there's nothing to see here.
DJ's muscular jinking caused minor moments of peril. A cross flocked into the side netting, a corner, a throw–in, a corner. Berrett took them. Move along, there's still nothing to see here.
More of the same. Moments, not magic, but not tragic either. There is hope. There is also Hooper. These do share many of the same letters, that's true. They are entirely different concepts though. At least Hooperman isn't Matt.
Ah-ha, a thing, I think. I think I thaw a thing. DJ jinking and linking with Cardwell who teed up Hooper to slash sloppily into the DMZ between the Grecians and Poundlanders in the covered corner. Wafting woefully wide, look it up on the internet under www.sladessexystrikers.co.uk. Please beware, it's not for children or those who live in bungalows.
Exeterians exiting their gift shop and moving towards the car park. Hello? Did you have a nice day? A day-tripper tripped over a kerb and DJ was hit in the jinkies. Oh, you want that in straight journalese. Exeter won a free kick and the ball hit the wall, that's all.
Hubbling and bubbling, huffling and puffling and Clifton sliced into the Osmond. Bubbling and hubbling, heads that play tennis, hands that clean dishes and happy yellow feet scriffle the ball off Clifton's toes inside the six- yard box. Toblerones and trombones, Cardwell roamed, Clifton cantered to the bye-line and the cross was scrubbed aside at the near post. Almost. Nearly, not quite.
Ball, boxes, heads, tails. Now here's a tale.
Just as we thought it was going alright. It's Nathan Clarke, that's all.
Ominous luminous infiltration after a minor infringement of Clarke's human right to head the ball. A tickle or two, a turn and Clarke moronically swiped a fluorescent funster from the rear wide and right inside the Town penalty area. And Clarke had the gall to complain and claim he took the ball. Yeah, the balls of that boy's feet. Stockley stepped forward and strolled to roll a mis-hit scruffler lowly and centre right under the zooming arms of the furious Jamie Mack.
Well, that's that then.
From the kick-off Town boomed once, boomed twice and Cardwell collapsed under Brownian motion. A penalty. Salvation through our only solution! Hooper clutched the ball and waited as Pym pom-pommed along his line, then bedraggled lowly and right past the right hand post as the keeper dived right. Right, that really is that then.
Every hump and dump, cross and crinkle landed on the frizzy hair of Brown. Mills unfurled his exceedingly flat pancakes to chortle hurls deep into the penalty area. Bodies collided, the ball carried on serenely.
Two minutes were added. Feet got two minutes colder, we all got a year older. That was a half of just one minute. There was the usual hesitation in front of goal, the expected repetition of defensive dumbness, but no deviation from our norm.
Come on, come on, hurry up Harrys or we're going down the plug.
2nd half – no deviation
Neither team made any changes at half time.
They had an attack, Brown stooped and glided a header across the face of the left post. And that's Exeter done for the day. There are rumours of them kicking the ball towards Jamie Mack. Rumours. Never listen to them. Dates and facts. Hard facts, hard news. Did anything happen? Hard cheese.
Mills chucked longly, Berrett coiled free kicks. Fingers were flapped, thighs were slapped, why don't you take a little nap. DJ jived persistently in the shadow of the Frozen Horsebeer Stand, confusing his marker into a series of trips and flips. Berrett coiled the free kicks, Brown headed away, or the ball was headed away by Brown. Sometimes, headers from Brown got the ball away.
Scrambles were scrumbled, the ball dropped behind, in front, above, below but never where Town toes were pointing. Rose tried to control a blooper ten yards out, but dribbled into custard. Hooper mimicked his hero, Marcel Marceau and was hit by a custard pie. A fluorescent hand collided with the ball at a mumble-jumble rumble from a Mills hurler. Not even the bald and beautiful would claim a penalty from such nicky-nacky-noodling.
And on came Matt for Hooper. And within ten seconds he'd party-pooped by shoving at a messy muddle of bumbling scrambles.
Was this a shot on target? Was it all a dream? Something almost happened down the Town right, a deflected something that may have hit the keeper or a luminous lump near the near post. Shall we claim that as the first shot on target from open play this year?
Rose wildly slashed a non-cross, non-shot over the rainbow from nearby but near the touchline. A moment of nothingness that could have been everything and nothing. Slash and burn your hopes.
You know that the trouble with Harry Cardwell is that he ended up being a superb ball boy. A series of fantastic late runs into the box to retrieve the ball and hand it back to the keeper: wonderful.
Dembele replaced Clifton, who received hugs from Wilkie and aural warmth from the stands. And then we had Town's chance, their one true chance in the second half… of the season. DJ hopped into yellow and Berrett coiled the free kick to the far post. Matt arose alone six yards out and shouldered softly into Pym's hands. It's always best to gloss over a Matt finish.
Time ticked on as finally a member of the luminati was booked for wasting their own time. DJ jinked again on the right and Wilson legged him up. Again. Out came a yellow card, then a red. Oh yeah, he'd already been booked. How unlucky are we, eh? A penalty to miss and the opposition having a player sent off. We're so unlucky.
Dembele poked over greedily. Go to the barbers. Vernam came on for Dixon and Town played with three at the back. The momentum swung back into the muddled middle.
Five minutes were added. And? Potholes got bigger.
The first half was better than usual, mainly down the right through Mills and Clifton, while DJ was a superficial menace. The two Harrys added some vim, but petered out after half time.
The more things change, the more they stay the same.
Town deserved a draw more than their dreadfully dreary Devonian destroyers. It should have been a dull, forgettable, wind assisted goalless drossfest of a draw. But stupidity and fear combined and Town paid a penalty for mental weakness.
It's always the same, it's a shame; that's all.