Cod Almighty | Match Report
by Tony Butcher
1 September 2019
Walsall 1 Grimsby Town 3
As the mizzle flies on a cold and grey Walsall mornin' a poor little sausage is fried on Mr Sizzle's griddle (on the griddle). On the griddle in the middle of the market place here in beautiful downtown Walsall life goes on. Do you want some fun? And here comes the sun.
And I say, it's all right. Ah, such trusting stewards. The magic words to get you through security unmolested are "corned beef AND pickle".
Town lined up in the modern boilerplate 4-3-3 formation as follows McKeown, Hewitt, Waterfall, Öhman, Hendrie, Whitehouse, Hessenthaler, Cook, Green, Hanson, Ogbu. The substitutes were Russell, Ring, Gibson, Pollock, Vernam, Cardwell, Wright. So, everyone had finally dried out after the Plagues of Egypt and Ludvig for medium Harry is the only change from the fun in the sun agin Poor Vale.
Walsall and Town: two peas with chips in a shared shoulder pod. We share Sir Alan of Buckley, and a long history of condescension from the glitterati. We have a Rusty Ring, they have a Prancing Pring. All the children sing!
Is this the day when Town aren't awful in the ghetto and we like 'em.
First half – Long, long, long
Town kicked off away from near 800 travelling Townites after a fashionable false start.
Pushing, pulling, fizzing, whizzing, Whitehouse felled, the Hess hung up a high, high free kick way beyond the far post, into the valley of the trolls. Ludvig leapt and headed down and Ogbu stroke-poked wifflily in front of the keeper, who scooped up without even a flick of his fringe.
Red scuttling, monochrome bustling. A break, a hoik, and Green arose to head highly.
After five minutes of push-me pull-me Town's cardigan was unthreaded. Red whingers hugged their touchline, forcing full-backs to abandon the centre. The bellows wheezed, a sinkhole emerged twixt Hewitt and Waterfall. A redster sped, pursued by The Hess. A cross was passed, Adebeyo diverted at the near post half a dozen yards out. Jamie Mack plunged left to beat aside but Hendrie dithered and dawdled, allowing Lavery to take a touch and clip lowly through legs.
First attack, first goal, a tactical triumph for Shorty 2.
Town, Town, Town, back and back and back again, banging their heads against the Thin Red Line. One-touch triangles, teasing across and up and a cross! Hewitt swingled, Obgu arose to glance. The ball bumbled out for a throw–in that never arrived as a redster kept it in play and gave it back. Back Town came: repeat action. Hewitt crossed, Big Jim bonked down inchlets past the near post with Mr Roberts scrimbling.
Big Jim headed highly, Hendrie swung his pants and the Greenfly flew. Mr Roberts spectacularly parried up and over as Green's header headed towards the top left corner. Flicking and tricking, whipping and dipping, Moses marauded, Hanson steered straight at the keeper. The Hess dripped a big dipper free kick from far out left to far out right. A big black and white head arose to noddle back and Whitehouse looped a headchip just over the bar.
Oh, the locals. Every few minutes they did a little display for the village pageant - an interpretive dance symbolising the decline of heavy metal as an industry and a music genre. Oh their sad wings of destiny were going nowhere prettily.
And then Town were oh so pretty vacant down the left as Walsall tried the old fiddle about on one side and sneak down the other routine. Hendrie was turned into a sock puppet by wriggly Hardy, who carefully opened up his body and caressed the ball over the bar from near, not far, from goal. Town stretched like hot pants and Öhman was booked for a swiping shovel just outside the area on the left. A red man stood waiting, watching, espying movement, carefully calculating the wind direction, the ambient temperature and the impact of the shrinking ice shelves in Greenland. He then carefully coiled the free kick beyond the stars.
Biffing, barging, the Hess swivel-swept a tackle, surged upfield and tickled Green free. The keeper came, the keeper was rounded, the goal was a-gaping. And then eventually everyone noticed the flag waving. Sit down, shut up. Shut down, sit up.
A Town surge, a Town corner on the left. The Hess flat-batted to the near post, Mr Roberts flapped like a floozy in a speakeasy and Whitehouse, near the penalty spot, headed straight down the middle and where it wound up is no riddle. It went straight down the middle far away and Town fans had quite a lot to say.
Walsall with the ball is not something which we'd call for. Slick and quick, Hendrie felt sick and a pass across the face of goal, Adebeyo, alone six yards out, carefully, precisely, prat-falled over the ball as Hewitt man-slid across his path and McKeown flew low and right. The ball eventually, sometime after half time, apologised into Jamie Mack's hands. Now that's what I call missing.
Two minutes were added. Two added minutes ended.
Parity was the least Town deserved and the most Walsall deserved. For all their fancy footwork and top tactics the homesters were a house of straw. All Town need to do is huff and puff and avoid anything with bricks.
Second half – You’ve got another thing comin’
Neither team made any changes at half time.
Them, pressure, pressure, pressure as Town couldnae clear. Like a door that keeps revolving in a half forgotten dream, or the ripples from a pebble someone tosses in a stream. Round and round and round and up we go again. Let's twist again. Ah yes, but what have they to show for all this windmilling? A header over, sometime, somewhere over there.
Moses messed up in the middle, dispossessed by a street urchin. A triple, a tickle and Adebeyo was free. Öhman magnificently slid across to slip away and Scarr dipped his head and headed over from the resulting corner.
They huffed and they puffed but Town's house is made of bricks this year. Not by the hairs on your chinny-chin-chin shall ye pass. Especially you, Catweazle.
Not even the flimsiest of Town's umbrellas turned inside out, upside down, round and round, and this light breeze swept away down the M6, the Bescot becalmed in the late summer sun.
In the middle of the middle the ball did bimble. Big Jim dug a trench for some communication cable and the ball flew high and across to a stray Townite far out right. As Town manoeuvred, Big Jim remained prostrate rubbing thighs, or perhaps sneaking an emergency cow pie nibble.
Matt Green shimmied and shied, floating a flat bread into the oven. Half-cleared, Cook retrieved, spun and laid the ball back out to Green, who crossed again into the deepest recesses of the Walsall area. Behold he has arisen from his grave! It shall be so, there is no doubt in our minds. When we saw his face we were believers. Hanson artfully ambled into a void and stonked downward under and through Mr Roberts. No messin', no missin'.
And you thought goal-scoring Town centre-forwards were only true in fairy tales?
Wright immediately replaced Cook as Town moved to a 4-4-2 formation, with Wright and Ogbu winging it.
A red cross fizzed through to no-one, nowhere. Keep on moving, keep on truckin'. Keep right on to the end of the road.
Bouncy-bouncy - stilettos are a no-no, Elliot. Whitehouse leapt head high to hi-karate Catweazle just outside the penalty area. Reds swarmed, a wall was formed, the referee counted out 100 yards and the shot crawled over the crossbar with Jamie Mack feigning disinterest.
A red corner on their right, flat flipped lowly, a red sub flicked and McKeown magnificently clawed away from the near post with a flying Scooby Doo monster swoop. If it wasn't for our pesky keeper they'd have gotten away with it.
Gibson replaced Ogbu and finally there was a left foot on the left side of pitch, if not the sunny side of the street.
Hendrie, Waterfall, someone. Whoever, whatever, does it matter? Groans and moans as the ball was cranked flatly from Town left to the deepest right. Wright and Green chased, the full-back flaked and flannelled the ball back down the channel, straight to Hewitt. The useful utilitarian tapped the ball forward and we had Max Wright to Max Effect. The full-back Pring pranged our electric speedster, shoulder nudging Wright as he sailed on by. The ref pointed appropriately and Hanson casually plopped down the middle as the keeper excitedly headed towards the Bull Ring.
Ah-ha, we can see you streaming out and we can see Town move to 5-3-2 as Man-Boy Pollock replaced Green. Alas, we shall never see Ring and Pring on the pitch together.
Gibson clattered and a red free kick stammered to the far post. The unmarked Adebeyo steered straight into Jamie Mack's awaiting hands, allowing him enough time to smell the glove. And Gibson slap-sliced wildly when Hanson teed him up. No need to dress that up in fine words, it was what it was. Nothing in the end.
And in the end four minutes were added, during which Adebeyo rolled nicely to McKeown and Darrell Clarke became more dishevelled by the dug outs. Tuck your shirt and your full-backs in, man.
They stuck two players on the opposite wing to expose the basic flaw in 4-3-3, but rarely pinged passes accurately, or made the necessary shimmies between the trees.
Well now, no Grimbarian has sniffed the sweet smell of victory in these parts since Victorian days. Truly this was historic, truly this is a very different Town. Goals, and mental and physical strength.
There were periods of distress as the tactical squeezebox was played, but in the end Town's heavy metal thunder trampled the accordion underfoot.
Desire, determination, destiny. What the heck is going on?