Fluid in Clwyd

Cod Almighty | Match Report

by Tony Butcher

12 October 2014

Wrexham 0 Grimsby Town 1

Happy birthday to you, happy birth-day. I'm sure you would agree, it couldn't fit more perfectly, than to celebrate with the 360 merry Mariners happily huddled under the loitering pigeons in the old Moldy Road Stand.

There's men in kilts, men on stilts, a massive massed male voice choir, damp squibs and torrents of rain. Have you got your Mike Brolly handy? Their roof leaks, literally. Ours only leaks metaphorically, of course.

Town lined up in a 4-1-4-1 formation as follows: McKeown, Magnay, Pearson, Nsiala, Thomas, Parslow, Mackreth, Clay, Brown, Neilson and Mr John-Lewis. The substitutes were Arnold, Disley, McLaughlin, Hannah and Oates. So we've reached level 4, module 3 of the pro-licence course – the old holding midfielder routine with Percy Parslow playing the Michael Caine role in the Caxton Players stage musical version of Escape to the Country. No, that's an afternoon TV space-filler, isn't it. Flog It! No, that's what we want to do to Mr Snippy this week. Escape to Victory, that's it. Ah but that leaves Lennie alone, John-Lewis not in partnership.

Oh, I didn't realise it was a fancy dress party. Wrexham came as Dennis the Menace, while Town came as the Blue Meanies.

Hands up who wants to play a game. We can have your cake later.

First half: In another land

Dennis the Menace kicked off into the fireworked void as Toto tottered and tittered out for a corner. McKeown flap-punched from under the crossbar, the ball weirdly wafting over the crossbar and far, far away into another land where the grass grew high and feathers floated by.

Mildly frantic, moderately frenetic, the Wreckers were all excited. Hey, they're tense and nervous and they can't relax. Our dogged little Scotty's just run, run, run, run, run, run away with the ball.

We're party poopers.

The Wreckers' balls were snaffled by Blue Meanies. Percy Parslow patrolled the space between the ears, sweeping the carpet clean; Brown and Clay clamped down hard on any playground nonsense like particularly stern dinner ladies. Poor old Dean Keates was told to go and face the wall during the morning break. Blue studs slid, red legs begged for mercy. D' yer ken Louis Moult? His shorts fit the best.

Moments. Neilson buck-a-rooed tantalisingly as the midfield clampers kept mugging.

I can hear the sound of violins. Moult swayed smoothly, swayed lowly and wowed straight at McKeown from the edge of the area. Look, it is their party, they are supposed to be the centre of attention. As perfectly polite people Town let 'em think they were having a good time. An isolated moment to keep the locals interested; we don't want the dancefloor emptying immediately.

Clay crossed and crumpled as a red leg connected with a blue leg. He carried on regardless. Then he didn't, off he hobbled, and on came The Dizzer.

Town breaks of nearlyness, foundering on a lack of manpower and a refusal to poop the party too early. The double pressing squeeze box was playing a jaunty sea shanty. Neilson jigged, Mackreth jagged a slice. Brown surged and splurged wide slowly, Brown flipped a free kick high and holy. Neilson turn, turn turned and Magnay walloped a galloping walloping cross-shot that slithererererered into the keeper's bosom. Town having a break, Town having a kickabout.

The map said "There be Dragons", but all we see is a fluffy white rabbit. Ouch, it has fangs. Little fangs. It's always the little fangs that are important. A redster tumbled, Keates carefully clacked a drooper inches past the left post with Jamie Mack doing an impression of Al Jolson.

One-nil, John-Lewis (pen). Dip your bread of heaven in that fishy sauce

The wheel clampers were out in force and the local workforce were all being fined. That's fine by us. Percy Parslow clouded out the light in Wrexham's life by casually intercepting Keates' attempt at a little draught of sunshine. A quick one-two and the even slimmer charmer scuttled away, roistering up to the edge of their penalty area. Neilson waltzed and waited, and baited the trap with a slinky reverse pass into the path of the rampaging Thomas. Aswad waited and along came a little pat on the back. Down he plunged and slowly, slowly out came the black hand to point his fickle finger towards the penalty spot.

Lennie waited. Lennie took two strides. With just one shot at love, LJL coolly rolled lowly and rightly past the fingertips of Coughlin. One-nil, John-Lewis (pen).

Dip your bread of heaven in that fishy sauce.

Shall we get out the duvet again and smother the little lambs? Brown and Disley snapped and snarled, Parslow filled the holes like liquid mercury. Wrexham looked like a dispirited Nuneaton. Aswad dozed, Clarke za-zoomed towards dangerland. Pearson stood tall, dipped his shoulder and upended the red menace three and three quarter inches outside the penalty area.

The free kick? No need to worry your pretty little head about that. There's nothing to see, please move along, you'll be causing a traffic jam outside Steve's Sizzler. There'll be no sizzling inside the ground.

There's a way to bore the opposition without boring us. This was the way. Passing, movement and an inkling of an idea of how to punch the suckers. It would be nice to have a shot now and again, but let's not be greedy.

Tactically cute Town were fluid in Clwyd as 4-1-4-1 morphed seamlessly into a 4-3-3.

Carry on, just don't lose your head.

John Tondeur's celebrity lav-chat

"I stood next to Howard Webb and he said it's like a rugby tackle."
"I'd have got to the pub but some men were picking up litter near Stoke."

Second half: An odd ode to autumn

Neither team made any changes at half time.

The Wreckers started to run around faster. Town sat back and waited for the air raid. And waited. The sun was out, but the fireworks were wet. Then, after ten minutes of spluttering, the change it had to come. Ah, poor Dean Keates in the autumn mode of his career. Hugged by Town's spider-press, the home crowd, with an impatient look, were watching his last oozings.

The wailful choir barely mourned Keates' removal, cheering the arrival of Durrell.

They simply got stuck in as Town sauntered and rested up on the presumed structural perfection. Yeah, Town hung around and waited for the battering ram. Durrell was that battering ram – pesky, perky and perpetually crossing. Corners and crosses, heads and tails. Toto grazed away, Pearson blazed away. Nsiala shrugged off a sliding moaner as the home crowd demanded a reciprocal penalty for plunging.

Crosses from the left, crosses from the right, half cleared, returned, crossed again, blue heads nodding, blue legs wafting vaguely upfield. Back it came, repeat, repeat; in, out, in, out and dropping to Durrell a dozen or so yards out. Pearson and Parslow swarmed and smothered with a big blue block of brawn. A corner. Wasted. Another corner. Wasted.

Town camped inside their own penalty box, watching, waiting. Toto slept as the ball was caressed. York prepared for glory but Magnay squeezed his pips to sweep around and sweep up the mess with McDermottesque defending without tackling, six yards out. Magnayificent.

Neilson dripped a non-curler feet wide from yards outside the penalty area. A fleeting visit to the Wrexham Steppes. It's cold and lonely in the void.

Back they came with hurtling and harem-scareming. A long welly down Town's left was scoop-twisty-dragged around the plunging Pearson by Moult. The old Bishop was unmarked, a pawn lurked, but Moult the errant knight stretched and poked weakly straight at McKeown.

McKeown waited for the Wreckers to waste the free kick. They did. High it was, or maybe wallied straight into the wall. Or did it go shopping at the Dunelm store around the corner? Who cares?

Fill in the gaps with them crossing furiously and the home fans furious at their ineptness and Town's comforting game of head tennis and the rollerball disco afterwards.

Whoops, it's nearly an apocalypse as Town were discombobulated by a long welly. McKeown slinked out to clutch at a cross. Jamie Mack flapped and York barged him aside. The ball bombled out towards the edge of the area. McKeown waited for the ball to leave the forbidden zone and simply legged him up. It's the way of things. Out came a yellow card: back wandered McKeown towards his line with a cheeky grin and waited for the Wreckers to waste the free kick. They did. High it was, or maybe wallied straight into the wall. Or did it go shopping at the Dunelm store around the corner? Who cares?

Neilson was replaced by the lesser spotted Arnold. It happened sometime, not in the summertime. We thought the lesser spotted Arnold was a migratory songbird. Beautiful plumage.

Arnold had a shot. That was Town's other attempt at goal in the second half. It was hardly worth mentioning. Why did I bother? Well, sightings of the LSA are rare, so we need a record for scientists to do some science. Perhaps we should stuff our LSA and put it in the trophy cabinet. One day it can be cloned and a future generation will be able to marvel at this fragile yet magnificent beast.

Them. Corners. Crosses. Blah, blah, blah.

And finally on came Connor Jennings, replacing the old Bishop of Wrexham. And then Moult stood on the Dizzer. Apparently. Off he went, obviously. The Wreckers huffed and fluffed yet more crosses and corner. Jennings showed us the cold-eyed killer instinct he brought to Blundell Park: he dinked and the ball slinked nowhere,

Let's have one more Parslow/Nsiala double smother for the lads. Yeah, lovely. Who needs to see goals when you have the smother brothers.

There were four minutes of added time, most of which were spent near the corner flag in front of the great void. Really, there's nothing to get hung up about. You can catch the 17:03 to Chester now; do at least stay and clap 'em.

Negatively competent in the extreme. Town never looked like scoring in open play, but never looked like conceding in open play. They can do the hard bits.