Cod Almighty | Match Report
by Tony Butcher
7 October 2018
Grimsby Town 2 Port Vale 0
The old home town looks the same as we step through the rain with nowhere to go but up. The Osmond stand was empty cold and bare, but with the covered corner open the Port Vale fans made their music there. Yes, two hundred Valiants were cowering in the covered corner, with a dwindling multitude of Mariners cowed by the enervating drift of life.
Town lined up in a fluidly inflexible 4-2-3-1... no, 4-4-1-1... hey, let's split the difference and call it a 4-4-2 formation, as follows: McKeown, Hall-Johnson, Whitmore, Collins, Hendrie, Embleton, Clifton, M Rose, Hooper, Vernam and Thomas. The substitutes were Russell, Dixon, Hessenthaler, Woolford, Pringle, Robles and A Rose. At last, we have a right-back at right-back. And a right-back at left-back. And… oh, it's just the same as Tuesday, but with a crowd-pleasing appearance on the bench for Akheeeeeem Rose. Never change a winning team and never give a sucker an even break.
What madness will we endure before the deep purplers from Port Vale?
First half: A cupful of cheesy wotsits
Town kicked off towards the emptied Osmond with a hump and dump towards long-legged Leon. Nibbling here, nobbling there, and in the shadow of the Frozen Horsebeer Stand, their left-back fearlessly turned to face the lack of crowd. Perhaps blinded by the lack of light, Clark's underhit roll-back rolled towards the floundering Brown. As if by magic Thomas appeared, nipping past the slipping keeper to clip-clippity-clop into the empty net.
Ha, ha, whatcha laughing at? Thirty-eight seconds and Port Vale are in trouble.
Pope, their reduced-fat Rhead, ducked down for a fall. A free kick. Long-legged Leon grazed safely wide from the dinking duck.
Popeye Pope wrapped his fiendishly large forearms around Collins, head-locking our head man. And winning free kicks, of course. Popeye belongs in the Indoor League, not the Football League. More an arm-wrestler than a footballer, the lemon tart of a ref was blind to all Popish devilment and kept arresting Townites for such crimes as walking on the cracks in the pavement, wearing a striped shirt in a built area during the hours of daylight and crossing without due care and attention.
The purple haze are acting funny, I don't know why, they've got the ref on their side.
Moments of human connectivity, movement in those moments. Mariner movement. Niiiiice. A Town corner flat breaded to the near post and Hooper's glance grazed off purple and squiggled inches wide. For another corner, and, well, let's just move on with our lives, shall we?
Why are we feeling calm? It's a question of balance. Hall-Johnson's pace and precision in pinging shored up the formerly ropey right. A block, a scrape sliding schmooze away from a Valiant to set Embleton on a scurrython. Mild peril quelled with a swish of RHJ's boot, volleyed straight onto Hooper's toes to set up a searing counter–attack which went from one half of the pitch to the same half of the pitch. Back onto Jamie Macc's toes.
Now-now-now is the time-time-time to be-be-be aware. Purple possession, and glowing gently from their toes psychic emanations flowed. A pass was steered over the bar from the edge of the penalty area by some bloke or other of indeterminate height and insubstantial weight.
Hendrie persistence, Vernam wiffling pathetically and easily dispossessed. Purple piffle, McKeown scoopling routinely. Vernam snapped a shot; Brown snacked on the pot noodle.
There was the outline of a framework of shape and shapeability through the energetically effective Embleton, Clifton and Hall-Johnson
Even the hard-headed woman and a soft-hearted man sat deep in the Pontoon could see that our speed kings Embleton and Hall-Johnson had been causing trouble since it all began.
A couple of headers wide, a couple of long shots, over and wide and blocked. Free kicks dripping and dropping, but McKeown flipping or purple plopping stopped the doomsday clocks.
It's just the everyday stuff of purple nonsense.
Whoops apocalypse now. Wibbly wobbling down Town's left and Popeye leant back and scraped over the bar from near the penalty spot. Popeye Pope will gladly pay you Tuesday for a hamburger today.
Two minutes were added and Vernam slalomed into his own soup. Vegetable, with a tomato base if you must know. Oh, I say, you cad. Terrier Thomas tickled purple, Hooper delightfully dinked but Vernam overcooked his parsnips. A Town corner, head tennis, Thomas volleyed over.
And don't get me started on those foul purple throws.
Town were comfortably uncomfortable after consuming the house guest's thank-you box of chocolates. Vernam was doing a superb impression of Sam Kelly; Hooper was doing a superb impression of Hooper. Fortunately there was the outline of a framework of shape and shapeability through the energetically effective Embleton, Clifton and Hall-Johnson.
Remember lads, it's a game of two first halves. It's a question of perspective.
Second half: Mr Aspin looks for happiness
The Valers replaced Hardcastle with R-r-r-r-r-r-r-r-r-r-r-icky Miller and moved to 4-4-2, while the Town bent minds and reality, as the scoreboard showed 0-0.
Hustling, bustling Clifton battling through three rumbles and only halted by Big Bad Kay's excavation.
Windy Miller twisty nodded over and around the dithering Whitmore, volleying across the face of the far right post. Jamie Macc looked cool, so hey, you stay cool too. Is everybody cool?
Moments of almostness as Town breaks floundered on flummery, mostly from the eternal butterfly of Vernam and the Hooper, the immortal jellyfish.
Tic-tac-toe, passing and movement through their left. Rose, Vernam, Hooper and Embleton shredded the paper-laced Port Vale defence. Embleton threaded his finest needle, Thomas Reesed a backroll and Hooper side-footed against the inside of the left post. The ball bounded out and Town's almost goal of the season competition is over already.
Moments of almostness as Town breaks floundered... oh, you know the score, you've seen it all before as you catch a glimpse of Hooper's fading shadow on the wall. Don't be concerned, Valiants, he will not harm you.
Town's flighty butterflies swarmed as pretty patterns were weaved on the right. Vernam tickled to Thomas and stood by watching. You're too close lad, move away now! Vernam stood still and Thomas tickled back. A stepover, turn to the bye-line and crackling cross zithered lowly. Brown plunged and missed as Hooper waltzed to the far post and tapped in. Wattoo Wattoo Superbird!
The ice is slowly melting for Hooperman and here comes the sun. Just one look at Hooper and we know it's gonna be a lovely day.
Worrall shot out for a throw-in by their fans; boo-boo-bi-doop.
Town triangles and pleasing teasing. Rose dummied himself then legged up a purpleman as Embleton turned and lamped across Brown and into the net. Oh fiddle-di-dum. The whistle had long blown as Rose blew it with his leg-up. What a dummy.
They shot over the bar at some point. I don't care and neither should you. Port Vale resorted to the patented Mitch Plan for forlorn failing teams: repetitive long chucks on to the opposition centre-back's head. Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery that mediocrity can pay to Mitchness.
Did I tell you about Embleton's sneaky skippy pass curler saved by Mr Brown low to his left? Mmm, I didn't, did I. I hope you feel better for having that in your life.
Purple pressure, in a fashion. Whitmore raged and Whitmore was booked. Shooty-wooty nonsense from them and a corner. Miller sneaked away from his non-marker to graze straight down the middle and straight into McKeown's arms.
Finally, at last and in the end, we have a happy trek to tea
With eight or so minutes left Woolford replaced Hooper. Woolford promptly tripped over his own id. What a swell old day it is. Over there, in the distance, a young man waited.
With three minutes left Akheeeeeem Rose replaced Slim Charles Vernam for a cameo clip of enthusiastic hooks and bundles and a blocked shot. He looked keen, and we were all keen for this rose to bloom.
And then there were four… added minutes, enlivened by a ropey rumble-rama in the Town box as Hall-Johnson finally made a slight error. A cross, a block, you'd better close your eyes, bow your head and wait for the ricochet. Ah, the old man in time, Popeye mis-spindled straight at McKeown from the centre of the centre of the penalty area. Finally, at last and in the end, we have a happy trek to tea.
It was a long, cold lonely September, it feels like years since Town won a game at home.
Town were sufficiently collectively coherent to overcome oddly timid opponents. The defence looked far, far better with Hall-Johnson; in the context of what we've endured this season so far, magnificently competent. His presence provided pace, positional sense and an embryonic partnership with Embleton. Clifton was a tactical terrier and Town had a relatively solid platform to stop and start.
And it always helps when someone gives you a free gift when you walk in the room.
A win is a win by any name. Don't knock it.
And I say, it's alright.