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There's no-one quite like Garner: Lincoln (a) report
26 December 2011
Lincoln City 1 Grimsby Town 2
On a balmy Boxing Day in the Olde Worlde we looked around in wonderment and knew that the iron law of Town would apply: when one thousand or more are gathered together the atmosphere shall be cracking until the game kicks off. When 1,700 are gathered together there shall be an even silenter silence, for disappointment is guaranteed on the never-ending tragical history tour.
Town lined up in blue in a 4-4-2 formation as follows: McKeown, Wood, Pearson, I'Anson, Townsend, Coulson, Panther, Disley, McCarthy, Elding, Hearn. The substitutes were Garner, Artus, Duffy, Brunt and HTHanoj. Hang on a minute, woah, woah, woah, let's just back up the Morris Minor here and get your Auntie Eileen out before we start any Christmas fun. The scoreboard insisted we had a new Welsh centre-half, Llanson, as well as the mysterious final two substitutes. Now where's my Enigma machine? How do they get from Brunt to Makofo? Is this Only Connect?
Woah, woah, we still haven't got Auntie Eileen out of the car yet. Oh dear! No Antwi, no chance.
Lincoln wore a sort of Doppler effect, perhaps chosen by an eight-year-old in a colouring competition, with a brace of Gallic shruggery and Typhoon Thompson, the unthinking woman's Manny Panther. Thompson, surely you remember him as the human bucking bronco agin Darlington? And joshing about Josh Gowling's hair is like shooting fish in a barrel. Mungo Jerry are long overdue a renaissance.
In the summertime this will be just another day that went by. Foolish pride is all we have left so let's walk on by.
First half: Parade of the Wooden Soldiers
Lincoln kicked off away from cathedral, towards the overflow car park of Townites, with a chip and chase down their left. Town looked dopey, the Impies scuttled and shuttled, tipping and tapping, with wingers winging and blokes bloking. I'Anson collied with someone, Power clattered into the Wood door frame, Disley dinked away and was clobbered. A minute gone, two Townites on the floor clutching bones and squeaking. I'Anson writhed and hobbled and could hardly walk. He carried on regardless: perhaps the only Carry On film not shown on ITV 3 on Christmas Day.
The red harrows tilled the soil in straight lines. Laurent was beyond a pest, a hulking contortionist wiggling and wriggling around rusty old gates, causing crowd pandemonium that the police couldn't control. Yoiks! Yikes! Laurent rolled a pass through the six-yard box, Wood forward to take his bow.
Town were nothing, anywhere. How did we get a corner? By accident through local ineptitude. Coulson coiled long and droopily, Farman flapped and the ball bounded past the far post like an enthusiastic puppy chasing a rubber banana. Hmm, very interesting, but stupid.
Rolling, rolling, riding along the touch and bye-lines. All bound for Grimsby's goal, but will they score? No way. A huffing up, puffing down, a cross of some sort dropped in a huddle of muddling feet near the penalty spot. Laurent volleyed low, the ball za-zoombled towards the bottom left corner and McKeown superbly slipped away from his captors to tipple aside. Cor! Football.
Sheridan shook around Wood, Platt rubbed around Townsend, Laurent rolled and rolled and rolled like a cheese as the ball sauntered near, by, across, but never towards goal. Laurent polymorphed past Pearson as Wood calmly speared away. Laurent rolled again and again and I'Anson was taken off after 20 limping minutes of agony. On came a lad they claimed is called Scott Garner.
Their moments started to diminish. A Coulson corner plonked itself onto the free head of The Panther who roared as he dunked it high and wide and wide and high yuckily. Town existed merely as walls off which the ball occasionally bounced, yet still Lincoln managed to panic when Town didn't have the ball near their goal.
The irritating poserthon Platt did some tricksy-wicksy hoo-haaing to finagle himself into the Town penalty area. His shot swung away from McKeown, away from the post and away from the stewards behind the goal. Away from the photographers, away from the programme sellers and just avoided going out for a throw-in. It was that close. Oooooooooooooooooh, as the locals pantomimed, it was almost behind you.
Nothing was happening nowhere for a lot of time. The ball was headed up and back and back and up somewhere near the centre circle. A red boot tapped and Platt started to shuffle forward. The bluebottoms shuffled backwards. He carried on. And on. And on. Disley, Pearson and Townsend clamped as he entered the 'D', smothering him in a blue duvet as the ball rolled on. Let's play musical statues! All three Townites stopped dead still. Platt carried on running in a straight line. And, hey presto, there the ball was, right in front of him, right in front of goal. Platt poked, McKeown groped and the ball rolled effortlessly in. He did nothing but run in a straight line.
They had some pressure, they had some crosses, they didn't have any shots on goal. Or if they did, I have forgotten it, so as to protect the identity of the guilty parties. Ridicule is nothing to be scared of, but Lincoln's shooting wasn't that charming or harming.
And, with five minutes left of the half, Town strung several onions together and Lincoln started to cry. Hearn slapped a cross-shot betwixt Coulson and Pearson. He chased and twisted Gowling into a tiny pink bow before slashing a cross towards Elding at the near post. Farman flapped away, Panther's hook-volley skimpling off a red bottom. Three passes! Coulson finally alighted from his golden carriage to tinkle Elding free. He cross-shot and Hearn passed into the empty net, but a flag was flapping in the breeze. Elding offside? No way was he more than a yard offside. No way, are you blind?
And finally Elding softly noodled a header across the face of goal as Hearn almost lurked. All Town's moments had been in the last five minutes and all were identical: stretch them right, hit it left behind their right-back. Lincoln really didn't have a defence, just four young men queuing at the bar of the Millers Arms for apple and mango J2Os.
Town were too timid, frit of the wayward waggling wrigglers. Town weren't treating this as a game but a seasonal obligation to be endured for as little time as possible. Lincoln were powered by Power. Town just needed to pull the plug out.
Second half: I saw Elding missing Santa Claus
Artus replaced McCarthy at half time. McCarthy had been the timidest of the timid, a waste of a shirt. Frankie wasn't.
The record was flipped over and the B side was much more to our liking. A good beat, some fine harmonies and backing singing, with a couple of lovely solos. It's a hit!
Garner and Pearson hugged stray Imps, Panther sat on Power's lap and nobody is gonna move with a panther on their knees, eh? Manny mauled, Manny passed, Townsend overlapped and overlooked Coulson to pull a pass back to Wood, way out on the right. Wood panted forward and slabbered an indeterminately little bit wide. It got everyone going. Noise from the fans and poise from players as Town started to tick.
Out of nothing in particular a corner emerged from the mists and shadows. Artus and Coulson messed up a short corner song and dance routine, as Frankie wanted to waltz, while Coulson pined for a polka. Let's count them in again. After three. One, two, three... wahey! Coulson clipped towards the achingly vacant near post. Garner arced around the slumbering shoppers to smackle a thrumping header into the top left corner.
The keeper chased after the referee while the whole Town team chased after Garner. Look what Santa brought little Scotty for Christmas: a game of football.
And there was a game, with Town in the ascendancy and the homesters reduced to a walk-on part in their own pantomime. They humped it long, it accidentally fell to Gowling, and he volleyed against Garner's derriere. That's pinball, not football. They were chancers, no longer dancers. Forget them for a while: it's all about us.
Roared on, Town roamed at will. Elding was moving, Hearn chasing and Coulson surging. Garner crawled a free header over the bar from a Coulson free kick. Other things nearly happened, almost as crosses crossed, cornered cornered and accidents will happen. Pressure, pressure, pressure: Coulson tidied a clearance, Panther ticked on, Disley snicked and Hearn snuck free on the centre-left. Farman crawled, the stadium hushed, Hearn waited, waited, waited and tickled through the keeper's legs. A little bit of Lincolnshire bounced.
And there was more, as wave upon wave of Town attacks lapped up to Farman's shoreline.
"Get your cuffs out for the lads." Some teenagers from the local wastelands got very agitated, almost crying as the chief nincompoop was carted off by the medium-sized arm of the law.
It's three! It's not, it's Elding! Clunk-click, the ball ticked on by Hearn. Elding was free, inside the area, the keeper clawing at the futility of his existence. The ball bounced, Elding opened up his body and carefully shinned into the ether. The ball hit a divot? How rude. A bobble, you say. Perhaps, but Elding is a human bobble. He exuded bobbleyness as he prepared to miss. It's a question of perspective and, if Duffy and Spencer are the men under the perspex, Elding's light shines brightly in our evening sky.
Lincoln, ah yes, they are still around. You would like to know Town finally reduced Laurent, and he hobbled away, bringing on old Perry, the Tamworth porker. As the ball broke arbitrarily in favour of an Impie on the edge of the area, Pearson swept man and ball away. Man cried, ball squirtled to another Impie, who fell under a Disley suggestion. Porker Perry got in a confected tizz and tried to get Pearson sent off for kicking the ball. Pearson and Perry were booked, Power aligned himself with the moon rising in Perry's Uranus and curled the free kick over and around the wall. McKeown played peek-a-boo, flung up his left hand at the very last and parried aside.
All Town, all Town.
A corner dropped; Elding arose and lightly looped a header back across goal. Plink! The ball winked against the face of the crossbar. Altogether now: "argh!" Triangles, triangles, try to see it from my angle. Panther dinked, Elding chased, Farman stuttered and Coulson smuggled around the keeper, a large defender blocking his path right on the bye-line. Trigonometric Towntastic, swoon, swoop, swoosh and Hearn spun around to crackle a low shot across the keeper, across the face of goal. Elding, a yard out, cleared for an offside goal kick.
Who needs to know about Disley's volley-chip, a whoops of a shot after some sublimery on Town's right? Who needs to know about Power's lacquered shot straight at McKeown from way out? Lincoln had spells of pressure, oodles of crosses, but absolutely no chances. Nothing, zilcho. McKeown hardly had a save to make, nor a cross to catch. Garner and Pearson stood upon the non-burning bridge, steering and clearing with plumbread for tea.
There were five minutes of added time. These minutes passed with the illusion of urgency and fight from the tamed Imps. There was always something old, something borrowed and above all something blue in the way.
And we had a nice little sing-song with the bluesmen. At least it won't be us waking up with the fish and chip derby blues.
All it took was for Town to lose their shyness and introduce themselves to their dance partners. Lincoln were like most teams in this division: fine if you allow them to play as they want, but they don't have a plan B. Once Town woke up and started to pass to each other, Lincoln were exposed, especially on the right. From half time there was an inevitability about the outcome. Weirdness continues.
The mood is right, the spirit's up: that's enough. We're simply having a wonderful Christmas time.