Cod Almighty | Match Report
by Tony Butcher
2 January 2019
Grimsby Town 0 Mansfield Town 1
A clear blue sky and blue sky thinking outside the box in the land that time forgot, the land of make believe, the land of our forefathers. That's fore, not four. This isn't south Lincolnshire.
A new year, a new conundrum for our cerebral coach. How to bake a defensive cake when you only have three eggs and no flour and the oven is broken?
Town lined up in a more or less 4-4-1-1 formation as follows: McKeown, M Rose, Hendrie, Hall-Johnson, Fox, Cardwell, Clifton, Hessenthaler, Pringle, Embleton and Thomas. The substitutes were Russell, Pollock, Welsh, Vernam, Woolford, Cook and A Rose. Without any centre-backs the Jolley japester opted for the two right-backs at centre-half and Mitch Rose as right-back. Luckily Mansfield didn't have any tall strikers. Maybe they won't notice that we've pasted wallpaper over the hole in our sea wall.
What more's to know? Seb Ring? The Humber gives its oil slicks to the sea, but somewhere an international clearance form awaits unseen. Tomorrow will belong to him.
Today? We're ahead of the curve now, so let's just grin and bear it, and try and get out of this with dignity, and what's left of the defence, intact.
Now? It's showtime, baby.
First half: Something's coming
Town kicked off towards the Osmond.
Oh look, the once-a-yearers have turned up, ready to grumble at imperfection. The sun will rise and the moon will set, they'll have to learn how to settle for what they get. It will all go on whether they're here or not.
A wiggle and waggle and Embleton crimpled over the bar from afar. That's about par for the course. Yellow divers, yellow divers: it's in their blood, they're on the mud.
Wandering and dreaming, the sunlight gleaming through the open corners. Thoughts and passes drifting. A welly upfield, Cardwell flicked on and Thomas slipped in and slipped over the head of a tiger skin behind the floundering flaccid foolery. Logan leapt over the bumbling ball and Preston accidentally stumbled into its path. Dinner for One?
Mitch started to twitch, Fox looked at the clocks and Embleton was thrown to the ground by Bishop at a throw-in. The Hess wafted waywardly after the throw-in was thrown in.
A bright start on a bright day as Mansfield weren't very bright in their approach.
It doesn't take a mastermind to work out who the approaching menace would be. Swishing, swaying and a cracking cross from Walker skipped through the penalty area and skipped past yellow toes. Walker this, Walker that. Walker.
Zigzags from the Stags, Mitch slip-sliding away, one day they're gonna make us pay. Town pressed back, their Rose struck a pose as his shot struck the post holding the roof up. Home weakness and meekness, yellow gliding, Pringle hiding. Walker sashayed and played a perfect pass twixt Hendrie and Fox. Hamilton thundered into the void; McKeown raced out to duvet and underthigh the ball aside.
The corner drooped from their right. Big men moved towards McKeown. Bishop shuffled and stooped alone just beyond the penalty spot to guide a thumper into the centre-left of the goal, bisecting Jamie Macc's fingers and some striped bonceage.
A crowd may have gathered in black and white but the newspapers will say it's 1-0 to Mansfield. It's true, for all is now quiet on new year's day.
Could have been worse, might have been better. It was what it was, but at least Town's soggy centre was holding firm
Town's left ailing, with Pringle and Fox failing. Broadway Danny Rose got his toes twinkling and Hall-Johnson slid in from Louth to magically transform impending doom into a humdrum, long forgotten corner in a Grimsby field. Pringle sold himself as a dummy under the Police Box and a cross loomed farly. A yellowman nodded back into the emptiness by the penalty spot and Walker steered carefully wide under the challenge of Rose. Danny Rose.
A bit of this, a lot of that as Town buzzed like a buzzy thing. Little Harry sneaked around the rearage on the right and volleyed into the side netting. Hey, it was a thing you may as well know. Does no harm.
Teasing triangles as Town tiptoed up the left with Fox near the box. Thomas emerged at the near post and Logan swooped to slap away. The corner was half cleared and Little Harry headed goalwards. The ball boompled down off stray yellow, handily and happily for the unsighted vaguely confused Lucky Logan, as it plopped at his feet, blocked.
One minute was added. So what?
Could have been worse, might have been better. It was what it was, but at least Town's soggy centre was holding firm.
Second half: Yours is no disgrace
Woolford replaced Fox at half time to the consternation of the nation. Of course, we did not know the facts then, and where there is an information gap assumption and presumption passed through the filter of emotion and prejudice. And so now Town have just two defenders left, both right-backs.
Town upped the intensity and had a go from the restart. Clifton clattered and lofted to the left, Pringle passed infield and Embleton jinked his jink to wobble goalwards. Lumpy Logan leapt up, raised an arm and parry-flipped aside, the ball ballooning up and bouncing past the post with Thomas lurking. Trousers were pressed, Woolford crimped and Embleton danced past some lurching lemons. Logan parried aside the wallop from the near post.
There we are. They had a go, didn't they?
Mansfield adjusted their codpieces and started to tumble, stumble, mumble and grumble. Town's flow disrupted, Town's mojo flustered. Mitch miscontrolled for a throw-in by the dug-outs, kicked the ground in frustration and Mellis rolled over, fluttering a fan and calling for the smelling salts. Bishop cried for the moon after some bog standard tackling from Little Harry.
Arm wrestling and a game of boules. Petanque to you. Walker-based fizzery and whizzery, and Hamilton lofted the skiddy whirler wayly over from beyond the far post.
Let's have some cosmic balance: one Rose off, one Rose on. On the hour they took Mitch's brother off and Town brought Ahkeem on for the ephemeral Pringle.
Hall-Johnson, that magnificent man is a flying machine. With yellows swarming, RHJ again slammed the lid down on their fingers with a burgler's block for a corner. One of them big defenders of theirs arose at the far post to glide a header wide as stripes ducked below decks.
Hall-Johnson, that magnificent man is a flying machine. With yellows swarming, RHJ again slammed the lid down on their fingers with a burgler's block for a corner
More blocks, more shocks. Cardwell cleared a yellow corner, Ahkeem cleared oooh ahhh a little bit more. A Staggerman headed back into the centre, Walker sniggled behind and Jamie Mack flew out to high-hand-swipe the reverse sweep away.
Town held a high line and clearances bounded beyond, into the wastelands. McKeown tackled Walker twicely. TK Maxx Elsnik managed to steer wide after Town were flailed down the left.
Moments, occasional moments of things that hardly happened.
With ten minutes left Vernam replaced Cardwell as Town moved to a 4-4-2 formation, with Rose and the visibly wilting Thomas atop together. Striped pressure, but they had our measure. Embleton winked a free kick deeply; Hendrie arrived at the back post to fly backwards and a minor scramblette resulted in, well, nothing. Little Harry tickled Thomas free and the tank engine chugged his last chug down the right and along the bye-line. Logan plucked the ball up off the muddiness as Ahkeem arrived at the near post.
Vernam cha-cha-cha-ed on the touchline near the halfway line, sending his marker a telegram on the way past. Off he zoomed towards the penalty area, pursued by a bear. Slim Charles stepped inside Preston, who rubbed his back on the way past. Vernam reached the penalty area and then remembered his earliest physics lessons. Gravity. But is it real or is it fake? Always best to find out for yourself, eh? Vernam fell to this Earth after the pushing had stopped.
Some you get, some you don't. Town didn't today.
Long ball head-on. Woolford missed; Hamilton swayed across the face of the penalty area and slapped lowly back across McKeown. Huh, like that would ever go in. You still don't know who you're dealing with, do you? Jamie Mac sank low and Hall-Johnson noodled away before any yellowman could pounce.
Is that it? Not yet.
Four minutes were added as the self-proclaimed diehards tried hard to beat the traffic. It's over now.
Objectively 1-0 to Mansfield was the 'right' result. Two would have flattered them. But this is all about context, and in context this was almost like a win. No-one hid, no-one cried, no-one lied, they all tried in their own way. Things fall apart when the centre cannot hold, when anarchy would be loosed upon our world. Town's centre was heroically adequate, especially the two emergency centre-backs. There was no anarchy, there was no panic, they tried to find a solution to a problem, and they didn't quite succeed. No damage done.
There's spirit and pluck in the squad. It's just that there's a temporary manpower shortage.