Cod Almighty | Match Report
by Tony Butcher
3 April 2018
Wycombe 2 Grimsby 1
I never knew the old Wycombe before the war with its Howard Jones music, its glamour and easy charm. Watford suited me better.
A wet, mizzling day of mankiness in the gateway to the Chilterns. No mankinis today, the sun has gone away.
Who'd ever want a wet weekend in Wycombe, where for Town the light at the end of the tunnel is the light of an oncoming train? We've reached a dead end in the season, quite literally pop-pickers, in the Sands Industrial Estate cul-de-sac of broken dreams.
Remember, don't park on the mud slide darlin', don't stand in the pouring rain, just go straight in, past those lawnchairs. Oh, those lawnchairs are everywhere, they're everywhere in the picnic area. Or is that only me? Are you having some fun?
Town lined up in a 4:1:4:1 formation as follows McKeown, Mills, Clarke, Collins, Fox, Rose, Hall-Johnson, Berrett, Summerfield, Woolford and Vernon. The substitutes were Killip, Suliman, Clifton, McSheffrey, Dembele, Hooper and Matt. Behold tactical tinkering, with Rose sweeping the floor in front of the back four and Vernon roaming the puddles as the last black and white rhinoceros in professional football. Matt's more the dead giraffe of Grimsby, unofficially extinct.
The Hillbottom Boys may make Ainsworth's rockin' world go round, but there's an awful lot of crimes against hairmanity out there. Mr Bean's reggae riff, Williams's netballer pony-tail and of course, their Guv'nah, Mr Spiv, hanging around street corners selling nylons to the ladies to earn a bit on the side, missus.
Brown the keeper is a pink elephant. Lovely pastel shadings, sky blue arms and big pink body. I used to have a stuffed elephant like that when I was three. I'll ask my mum where it is, Mr Spiv may get a good deal.
Ah, the Chairboys are calling.
1st half – Jolley good show
Wycombe kicked off towards the near 400 hundred Townites as drizzle hinted in the air. C'mon Town, we've got to get it together sooner or later.
There's something in the air. The ball. Barge ball, bump ball, all roads lead to the dome that is Akinfenwa. He bumps, we grind our teeth. Double Rosing stopped their posing but…ah-ah-ah-ah-ah Mitch Rose, the ball winner, winning the ball. Ah, but there's the good, the bad and the rugby: he may win it, but then he has it.
Chips and slips and the Pony Tail clipped satisfactorily high and wide The Human Wardrobe chested and chipped, Kashket swooped behind Fox and swooned a dink. Collins sailed to graze vertically away from creeping menace. Jamie Mac stumbled over the rising Collins and two lawnchairs skittled into him as arms flailed, bodies ailed and Mills walked away with the ball.
Rose stretchy-poked a throw-in infield and Woolford swept a right-footed curler curling lowly towards the bottom left corner. Brown got down, deeper and down.
Well, we haven't seen the likes of this for many a year. Tactics. A plan. The smothering of Akinfenwa and smouldering counter-attacking with Hall-Johnson perky and persistent. Moments. Hints of a future filled with football, not just blokes trotting hopefully but hopelessly.
Dings were donged and Clarke stepped forward to sweep up some sawdust. No blueboys bothered to bother Slade's trusty old sheepdog. Go on, let it run around in a field, it hasn't got long left. Here Nathan…fetch.
You mock, sir! Remember, every dog has its day. Today's the day. Clarke espied space, remembered the instructions on the whiteboard, and criffled a low pass between centre-back and right-back. Harriman stretched and poked the ball on. Woolford gambled on full-back failure and ambled on alone into the penalty area, awaited Brown, and truffled through the keeper's legs into the bottom left corner. The pink Brown's face was red and the merry Marinerdom chortled in delight.
Chip, chip, boom. Boom, chip. You have to fight for your right to party.
Wycombe wellied and whined, tumbling, stumbling and fumbling with fury as Town's mass duvet kept wrapping them up. You know, sometimes Wycombe varied their tactics from hoofing onto Akinfenwa's head. Sometimes they chipped it on to his chest.
Home grazing, blazing, prodding and sobbing as stripes intercepted, diverted, inverted reality and converted to footballers. Jamie Mac hopped along his goal-line plucking feathered nicks and knocks from different socks. Akinfenwa chested and Collins flew across to deflect the gory. Corners in, corners out, flicked on, flicked away, flicked over and thwacked out. They can't pinch a goal if McKeown punches well.
Wycombe whack 'em. A bundle of barneys in the box, head tennis heroes and bodyline blocks from various red socks. Kasket stooped and flicked over McKeown, but was offside. Kashket triangled with Akinfenwa to coil around many into McKeown's arms. Repeat the actions, invert the actors. Sometime, somewhere in a field in England. Our custardian clutching lobbers and dobbers all along the goal, there's too much confusion, Town can't get no relief.
All hands to all pumps. He's the kind of guy who's hard to be around. He hugs 'em and squeezes 'em and we all know his name. They call him Akinfenwa, Akinfenwa 'cos he's round and round and round and round and round.
Town. Moments. Here and there. But these moments were scripted reality, planned actions, not haphazard hopefulness. Mills schmizzled down the right and Summerfield flying grazed wayly over. Jombati mugged a moving Townite on a Hall-Johnson fast break and was booked. Wycombe rattled by an unexpected display of disciplined nousage.
High and higher, longer and longer as the half got shorter and shorter. Bibbles boobled and Fox charmed a blueman to the ground. A free kick coiled farly, Akinfenwa walked in unmolested beyond the back post, six yards out. McKeown spread his wings and toed the ball back. Akinfenwa prodded again and Jamie Mac marvellously swooshed and swooped to flip away into the centre. A mass of Marinermen congregated to put their fingers in the dyke of desperation and Hall-Johnson ran away with the spoon, licking his lips to the sound of roaring Townites.
A minute was added, and that minute ended. The away end erupted in raw emotion. Sweet dreams are made of this: a Town team, tactically astute, rigidly disciplined. There's something to believe in.
Cor, eh, who'd a thought it?
2nd half – clutching at straw men
Neither team made any changes at half time.
They tried to break us, looks like they'll try again for when Wycombe play Town the Chairboys never lose it.
Pressure, pressure, pressure. The intensity levels upped to eleven, blueman barges and blueman charges into the battlements. Wave upon wave of blue, high balls, higher balls. Balls going higher. Blue men falling, falling, squawking and shrieking for free kicks. Who'll crack first, the ref or Town?
Sock blocks and Mitch Rose's magnificent flying chest saves. Town were sinking under the sheer weight of balls.
Just before the hour the flagging Vernon was replaced by Matt. Vernon's efforts were appreciated. He did what he could within his own physical capabilities and did provide a wall to bounce off, an occasional platform for counter-attacks.
A free kick deep in the Wycombe half was pumped high and long. Akinfenwa soared above eagles to thunkle against the face of the crossbar. The waves kept on crashing, as Town failed to gain free kicks for local nudgettes, but were penalised for fretting. Another free kick, all hands to the pump. We know what's coming. Boom! Bang! Bodies collided near the goal line and the ball fell to El-Abd, alone ten yards out, who crankled a volley through several Town legs.
Fee-fie-fo-fum they smell the blood of an injured Grimbarian.
Boom, bang-a-bang everyone knows what's coming; it's hugball. Here it comes again. Biffing, bundling, Akinfenwa turned and McKeown flung himself late and low to snaffle up a sneaky grubber.
Fire in the hole! Incoming! Duck!
Incessant pressure, left and right. An infiltration ended by Mills and Hall-Johnson. The corner curled out and El-Abd arose in front of our twin towers to glance on and down towards the far post. Kasket, unmarked virtually on the line, stuck out a leg. Town haven't got a leg to stand on in defence of that defending. Someone, somewhere forgot their instructions.
And on that bombshell McSheffrey and Hooper replaced the impressively irrepressible and effervescently excellent Hall-Johnson. And Berrett. Town moved to a 4-4-2 formation.
You know, they gave it a bit of a go for a bit.
Town pressed and the word pressure can safely, and accurately, be applied. Ooh, almost a shot. Ahh, almost not a shot. McSheffrey weakly volleyed straight at Brown and Town won corners. They came in, they went out. McSheffrey flatly flumpled, Collins stooped and flicked on into a vast vacancy beyond the left-back. In such a situation you would, naturally, wish the highest scorer at the club to be alone six yards out with only a pink elephant to deal with.
Is Mitch Rose what you wished for?
'Tis but a sorry second we have to recount. Rose controlled the ball, watched Brown lie down at his toes and dragged the shot across the face of the far post. Look at his face, just look at his face. Look at our faces. Every picture tells a story.
Wycombites continued to dive for pearls and Pony Tail Williams was booked for desperately seeking a penalty. Wycombites continued to wallop and whine, wearing down the ref and Town's defence with a barrage of balloons. Ping-pong, is something wrong? Within this perpetual motion of up'n'undering Clarke shinmegged himself. Skew-whiffing back across the six-yard box, O’Nien poked and McKeown spread his butterness to divert superbly. The ball rolled casually into a black and white hole and Akinfenwa swept the rebound towards the empty net. Hail Caesar! Jamie Mac arose to brilliantly batter aside. Dignity. Defiance. Darn good 'keeping.
Town's attacking floundered on the flouncing forwards. Hooper. He was on the pitch and, let's be positive, he tried harder than Matt. The dying spark: Jamille Matt you've left your mark on Grimsby. We see the promise of your miss, but with someone else, please.
Five minutes were added to a disgruntled home murmur of apprehension. McSheffrey tackled himself and in a tricycle Tyson steered a volley across the face of the far post. Town plugged on, with hints of a moment of possibility. Summmerfield slashed wastefully wide from afar. Hoooper errr… yeah, Hooper errr. Matt was momentarily free, dribbling into the penalty area surrounded by blue with monochromers seeping into the pores. Read that sentence again. See, no need to say anymore, is there.
And in the very final minute Town won a corner. And another. Jamie Mac joined the party and Collins arose at the far post, headed down and back across the face of goal. The ball softly, gently arced across the goal and past the post.
The usual outcome but in an unusual way, for there were signs of hope for the future. In the first half Town were tactically superior and played with immense commitment. Jolley's plans were working. And then we plumbed the depths of our own inadequacies with substitutions.
We expected a slapping and Town were slapped for ninety minutes, but they didn't subside. Town were simply beaten by a stronger team full of confidence. It could have been worse but it wasn't. There's summat to hang your clogs on.
Whatever, we all know that it's all about our base now – two games to save our souls.