Cod Almighty | Match Report
by Tony Butcher
21 October 2018
Grimsby Town 0 Exeter City 0
Oh my poor rheumatic back. Yes, yes, yes, it's page seven in our autumn almanac. How fast does a Grecian turn?
The sun shone down on 130 devoted Devonian day trippers on a still, calm and balmy afternoon. Is this a day for whines and Roses?
Town lined up in a mighty morphing 4-3-3 when attacking, but 4-4-2 when defending formation as follows: McKeown, Hall-Johnson, Whitmore, Collins, Hendrie, Embleton, Clifton, M Rose, Hooper, Vernam and Thomas. The substitutes were Russell, Famewo, Hessenthaler, Welsh, Pringle, Cook and A Rose. We seem to be implementing a squad rotation system… on the bench.
The fluorescent Devotees ambled into Town loaded up with the offspring of the good and the bad, or possibly the good and the ugly. Tillson and Law: you decide which is which and who is who. Stockley had the Sheringhamesque aura of an old-fashioned striker: tall, strong, mobile and alert. And no silly hair.
Let's get through this in one piece. We don't want to keep our pear shape today.
First half: One more coffee for the road
Exeter kicked off towards the Pontoon. Beyond that there is simply guesswork.
The ground bathed in silence, the startled starlings swooping, latecomers rattling the turnstiles and crisp packets scuttling towards the toilets. Stony faces in a stony ground. Life in a northern town when it's down.
A pass, a cross, a moment of almostness. Embleton cut in and crinkled a dinkle through the corridor of uncertainty to the far post. Hooper deigned to dangle, but didn't dare to believe. A yellow head ducked. A corner.
A corner. Town had many corners. Exeter had many clearances from Town corners.
A pass, much movement, a moment of should-be-ness. The Town right unmanned, Forte flashed, big Boateng sneaked into the near post and knock-kneed wide. A-ha, he's a Londoner, so that's a Cockney knocknee wide. Oh the little things bring us such joy.
Yes, Embleton. Delightfully chipper and chipping. Hooper, undelightfully not arising in an appropriate manner.
Who's the City Slipper? Slapstickery from Holmes, who tripped himself up with one Pouton too many, crawling, face down in the dirt, as the ball rolled slowly out for a goal kick. Right in front of the Singing Ringing Tree corner.
That woke us up.
Evens were Stephened, odds were sodded, Town toe unto Exeter eyeball. Play on, said the referee.
Law lobbed, Forte tickled and teased Whitmore and Holmes arose above Hendrie to smooch a header nicely wide from but four of your English yards out from the goal.
Whither Town? No, Town were not withering, but were surreptitiously wuthering and worrying the Grecians. Moments of nearlyness lost in space and time as nothing came of something. Thomas swizzled on a stick, but the shot was blocked. A corner. I told you about Town's corners, let's just skip on from this shall we.
Mitch Rose was searchin'. He's looking for a pass all the time he can, he's gonna find his man. A spin, a flick, a torpedo, a cheeky mug and blind reverse pass. Mercurial Mitch is pinging not ponging today.
Collins and Whitmore worried the worriers by going for the same ball. Well, they would, wouldn't they. FIFA hasn't introduced multiball yet
Ex-eter. Dum-dum-dum-di-di-dum-dum. Under pressure, this is cracking. A chip, a head away, a corner, headed back, head out. 'Ave it! Woof, hoof, where's my proof? No messin', no window dressin'. Their big number five splashed a little Eau De Lever behind the ears before running out today. Hooper slashed, Hendrie smashed, Thomas tanked as he took down an ICBM and flimbled at Pym.
Why can't we give ourselves one more chance?
Town snuggled up to the fluorescent flouncers and smuggled the ball away. Rose whistled, Hooper was super and Vernam swayed to the rhythm of the night, doing a little bossa nova on the right. An eyebrow raised and a defender hazed, Slim Charles slalomed through their disappearing world, swinging to the centre and scraping back across the slow and low plunging Pym. The ball dribbled agin the inside of the left post and bounded across the goal line, tantalising Thomas. A scrimble, a scrumble and the ball was bumbled away, eventually.
One-two they buckled Town's shoes. Stockley stoically stood still and swizzed a whipper betwixt McKeown and Hall-Johnson. Suddenly there's a shadow hanging over Reece as Law lurked. The ball was lilted back for the unmarked Forte to scrape woefully wide. Oh, no that's not right: he scraped wide woefully. We must be precise about his imprecision.
Sometimes Collins and Whitmore worried the worriers by going for the same ball. Well, they would, wouldn't they. FIFA hasn't introduced multiball yet.
One minute was added. Stand easy, they plaited pretty patterns upon the turf for some fantastic drone photo art. Limited edition prints of course, available from their club shop next week.
Town had slightly the better of a decent half of football. Isolated Exeter entries into the Town half hinted at a deeper danger, for they were sneaky and quick, always a moment in time ahead of Townites when lacing their daisy chains. Ah, but Town had potential potency too, with Embleton and Vernam causing mild peril with some driving runs, while Rose was blooming before our very eyes, playmates.
Not bad, not bad at all.
Second half: One more pond for the toad
Neither team made any changes at half time as Town came out a full half an hour before the long-distance day trippers.
Rose kicked off, rolling straight back to McKeown who took a touch as Forte advanced towards him. And another touch. And slipped.
From tangerine nightmare to almost a tangerine dream. The saving swipe launched the ball upfield and in a trice Vernam was dazzling with his dancing feet again. Do you wonder what we'll find with Charles Vernam stepping out on their right? We'll find Thomas and Hooper standing and staring at each other, wondering why neither of them anticipated the sweeping majesty of the cross.
Town had worked on that fake tan in training this week, obvs.
Exeter. We didn't call for that. They upped their intensity, increased the pace, stood closer to stripes and suddenly they were the choreographers and Town were just the hoofers in the chorus line.
Blinded on the right by triangulation, Town were in a right tizz. Yellows swarmed and Forte leant back to scrimple up against McKeown's left post before monochrome movement. One-two-three on Town's left and McKeown lay down and suckered the punch as Boateng's shot slivered against shiny shinpads.
Town were slowly, slowly, then quickly-quickly pulled apart by some City slickers.
McKeown hopped around and pointed to his left. Sweeney swept low and Jamie Macc swooped low and left to magnificently divert disappointment
Tishing and toshing, flicking and fluorescent flocking through striped holes. As yellows perilled, Hall-Johnson strangled an invasive pest. The quiet man in turquoise pointed spots-ward. Well, it had been coming, we all knew it, we'd been waiting for them to score.
Sweeney waited with an exaggerated step or three to his left, looking and pointing to Jamie Macc's left. McKeown hopped around and pointed to his left. The referee turned around and pointed to McKeown's left. Sweeney swept low and Jamie Macc swooped low and left to magnificently divert disappointment and cause an eruption of peace, love and understanding. The corner za-zoomed and Sweeney arose alone to powder a plonk milli-inchlets over.
And still these Exetarian pisctarians munched at Town's toes, having fun, fun, fun in the sun, sun, sun.
Waves of sorrow, tears of joy are drifting through Town's opening defence as these cool City cats toyed with our balls of wool. One-two Law coiled around the post. One-two pass and move, over, wide, over and wide, left and right, right and left.
As Town were receding, Cook replaced Vernam to add some heft and aggression. And all Town got was a bloke bundling around in confusion.
Foul throw, foul throw, foul throw and finally a foul throw. All by Townites and the referee noticed too.
Bang-bang. A free kick and Town deckchairs collapsed inside the Exeter area. Hendrie's return header caused a very mild sneezing attack, and off they went. Roaming and homing in on our over-exposed Orangeman, a flick and Boateng slashed. This and that, corners, shots, pressure. Under pressure.
Hooper won a header! Thomas swayed past a very static caravan and carefully curled yards around the right post.
Bundling intensity through Town's disintegrating bales of hay, Stockley back-heeled against a surprised red sock, pinball wizardry and the ball accidentally stuck under the Hendrie's foot. Slap-stick sanctuary.
Isolated moments of occasionalness from Town; unable to retain possession, unable to pass, and generally unable to do anything but get in the way. Wahay. Some passing, some movement, Hooper laid the ball back for Cook to disturb some washing in Blundell Avenue. Hooper dribbled delightfully, then diffidently dunked widely and highly. Hooper. He makes the diffidence for Town.
More waves of yellow, more messing and missing and that's fine by us.
Hessenthaler replaced the enervated Embleton and a tackle was made. Just the one, mind. Exeter, X-ray spexeter. Stockley tickled Taylor through and brought joy and laughter to the land by slashing wildly over into the germ-free adolescents in the Osmond when staring at the whites of McKeown's gloves.
Akheeeem Rose came on for two minutes of energetic bundling, replacing tired Thomas the tank engine. He did touch the ball, which is nice.
Three minutes were added during which Sweeney's head hurt and more seconds were added for Mitch to chuck in a couple of short long throws.
And there we have it.
What's the point of this game? A point saved and a point gained through McKeown's stubbornness, Exeter's profligacy and a collective will to survive. Town had the better of the first half, but were swept aside in the second. Slowly, slowly things continue to get less worse.