Cod Almighty | Match Report
by Tony Butcher
21 September 2012
Grimsby Town 4 Luton Town 1
You get a shiver in the dark when it's raining in Blundell Park on a Friday night. Meantime, down in the Osmond, 120 explorers from the south held their stomachs in. It's always fish on Friday, surely.
Town lined up in a 4-4-2 formation as follows: McKeown, Wood, S Pearson, Pond, Thomas, Colbeck, Disley, Niven, Neilson, Cook, Hannah. The substitutes were Hatton, Miller, Artus, Elding and Southwell. Neilson and Hannah were identical twins, small and bright as bright buttons in the warm up, walloping pot-shots past Fleming while Elding, the deposed sultan of swing, drivelled against seats far and away. Too much competition, too many other places to accommodate the wandering wave machine.
Luton lined up in all orange with that old-fashioned stripe down the left not lining up with the old-fashioned stripes on the shorts. Such sartorial inelegance isn't what we expect from the Barons of the Blue Square. And tuck your shirts into your shorts too.
Shall we dance?
First half: Falling and Laughing
As Town kicked off towards the Pontoon a heavy drizzlestorm dumped itself upon the green, green grass of home. Cor, fastness and stuff. Movement! Tipping, tapping: an orange blur and monochrome stir, cocktail sticks ahoy.
Big Beckwith slammed a sliding swipe near Colbeck and ball, missing all. Colbeck, the conscientious objector, avoided confrontation. And the ball. A minor growl. Luton carried on carrying on tipping and tapping nicely. Very nicely. Oh so nicely and Rendell nicely slivered nicely wide and nicely slow as Fleetwood reversed his polarity near the penalty box. Ooh matron. That was nice.
Town. Weird. Wonderful. Pacey, pacey, very, very pacey, they're very pacey. This isn't what we're used to at all. The jury wishes to confer. Wingers winging, strikers striking. Aswad aswadding to Niven to nibble a slicey cross. Cook dunked on, Hannah peeled away and anticipated the head on to head down. Tyler parried, Cook slid, Colbeck skew-poked into the empty net from ten yards, the ball drifting and spinning in off the left post. The intensity, sir and madam, the intensity.
Neilson pestered crosses. Colbeck flash-volleyed a cross skimming off a Belisha beacon and punched clear to Niven, who volley-slashed widely with a sigh. Good game, good game. Give us a twirl Neilson.
Whoo-ahh, umm. The Chiltern chuggers were purring between the penalty areas. Pass, pass, flick and curl. O'Donnell coiled a dripping curler inches over. Inches are enough. Fleetwood polkaed past Pond to prod pleasingly poorly at McKeown. Another something sometime, probably a header, probably down and over, probably from Kovacs. Definitely not anything Barbra Streisand would sing about at half time.
Luton had the ball a lot. They looked worryingly competent a lot. They should worry that nothing happened unless a Townite slipped. And here's that slip. A deep, deep nothing from their left, deeped deeply into heart of the penalty area. Pond slipped and skimmed, Rendell ducked and dunked firmly goalwards and McKeown swatted the fly away. Deep deep and deep deep yeah, the day trippers didn't have a good feeling.
Thirty minutes of Bedford barn-dancing and not even a peck on the cheek.
Town, now then. The wheel clamping operation was efficiently enforcing local by-laws. It's not all work: sometimes they let their hair down with rakish raking breaks. Speed! Of thought and foot. Neilson was hassled for his dinner money, near the halfway line, under the Findus. As the midland miscreants muttered, Disley tapped quickly to the bedazzling Thomas, who fizzed in a cracking cross. Skimming off Hannah's head, on to Pond's forehead, the ball bonked down off the crossbar and out. Cook slumbled to his knees and the ball bumbled, bombled, sauntered and taunted the prone keeper and slowly-slowly-slowly crossed the line by the left post. Woah-ho.
And still they come, if not over the top then through the murky midfield marshlands in jodhpurs and riding crops. Tally-ho! The tally is 0. A corner headed and threaded, McKeown plucked and Pearson shoved an Orangeman. Handbags and gladrags and electronic tags if they do that again.
Which cloud are we on now? The ball breaks, the defence aches and all our words of kindness mean nothing as Neilson curved delightfully, de-lovely-ly around the lumpy Beckwith. Hannah burned past the statue and poked past the advancing Tyler, the ball rolling, rolling, rolling in off the left post. We like that post. It's our kind of post.
Thomas crossed, Pond slowly hook-twisted and Tyler spectacularly fell upon the sighing ball. Is this a swagger I see before me?
Phwoar. What was that? Not half bad. So four to draw then. Always look on the bright side.
Second half: Poor Old Soul
Luton finally did something. Essam replaced Kovacs at half time.
Neilson, schmeilson. We're happy with a little bit of Neilson on the left. Surging, splurging and schmershing over. Town sat in those comforting banks of four, soaking up the love and waiting for the ball to arrive back at their feet. Luton, Luton, Luton. Corner and corners and Disley's thigh. Corners and Rendell's shins. McKeown magnificently stretched and flipped away at the foot of the far post.
Luton, Luton, Luton. Passing and passing and passing and going nowhere. Around the hour they took off Henry and then Fleetwood and played four up top. Yeah, whatever. Who do you think we are? Lincoln or sumpfink?
Town just sat and soaked, safe in the raincoat of discipline and organisation. And Neilson ran off from area to area, tipping Colbeck, whose slap was saved and squirtled inches from the Cookie Monster. Hannah spin-shot off a toe. Moments, dangerous moments when needed and necessary.
Sure, sure kid, the Sad Hatters got a glimpse or two of Jamie Mack's stockings, but Town defend now. Thomas sliding from a parallel universe to block sleepy Shaw. I can hear the piano tinkle... Luton. Possession, just moments.
Incision and intensity. Tonight's Grimsby was brought to you by the letter 'I'. Colbeck chunked a free kick or corner or, you know to be fair to the lad, something in from the right. Cook arose and a-thunked and the ball a-bounced off crossbar and near Hannah.
What more could we want from this feast of Friday fun? A comedy own goal? Oh yes please, I'd love a comedy own goal. Would you like a comedy own goal? Then our dear chums shall sprinkle tragic-dust upon their floodlit fumblings. New set piece king Bradley Wood did. His free kick thunked subtly down the middle, where Beckwith panicked as Pearson lurked vaguely near, about a dozen yards out. The ball a-looped pleasingly and pleasingly slowly over Tyler into the top right corner and Beckwith was filled with sad thoughts of a fishless and chipless coach trip. If you misbehave on your daytrip to the seaside you won't get your treat.
With 20 minutes of noodles to fry, Town became a bit lazy, standing off these oranginas. Howells skippled infield as Wood admired the meteor showers, scraping a bog-standard dribbler to McKeown. The blue-boy had visions of Gainsborough Trinity and spundled the ball aside. Rendell strolled and tapped in from a few yards.
One can only sigh. It was like an unnoticed speckle of cream had escaped from the spoon. It'll wipe away, no damage done. Just don't do it again. We can't afford too much dry cleaning.
And the Lutonites carried on prettying their way upfield and around the edge of the Town box. Town sank and shuffled in embarrassment as a ricochet rumbled to Rendell on the penalty spot. Don't worry: McKeown sprang out of his hiding place to spread his wings and fly the ball away. They had some shots too. Way wide, or way high, or a Town body in the way. You see, Town's defending was more than simply standing in designated areas. Bodies were thrown in the way of bullets.
Did I tell you Mad Frankie Artus came on for Neilson? I have now.
A Wood free kick bumped high, Pearson thumped a header down and Hannah was near as an orange boot hooked away from near the goal line. Colbeck greedily shot averagely on a swift counterattack and Southwell steamed past the slow stopper to Luton Airport after Artus turned and scraped a delightful touchline punt. Out came Tyler and Colbeck slipped as the block ballooned near. Ah yes, Southwell had replaced Hannah.
So who cares if Luton had more moments of almostness? They took a touch and that was that. Pond and Disley and Thomas and all smothered these blankets. Moments, just fleeting glimpses out of the corner of their eye, that's all our fine former Football League friends had.
Barbra Streisand'll be singing now.
Town added verve to the defensive nerve and looked like a very complete team. They dealt ruthlessly and efficiently with a very good team: Luton looked blunt and flabby because of Town. That was mighty impressive indeed.