Outside the wall

Cod Almighty | Match Report

by Tony Butcher

7 May 2016

…we came in.

Grimsby Town 0 Braintree Town 1

Ah, was it just five years ago that Neil Woods was replaced to ensure we didn't waste the opportunity to get promoted? There is so little patience in football these days.

Welcome to the recurring dream, the nightmare off Neville Street, in series four of the Game of Drones. Gotta keep us shape and keep the faith in times of trouble. Positive vibes and c'mon baby do the jukebox jive, the promotion dream is still alive! And far away in a corner of Grimsby that is forever empty, a white vanful of Essexers sunbathed. Warm and sunny with a softly spoken wind flicking feather cuts and ginger nuts.

Town lined up in a 4-4-2 formation as follows: McKeown, Tait, Gowling, Nsiala, Horwood, Arnold, Nolan, Disley, Monkhouse, Amond and Bogle. The substitutes were East, Pearson, Henderson, Pittman and Hoban. And who can complain about that starting XI? But have we enough full-backs on the bench?

Braintree sauntered around in day-glo orange. Braintree. Is that all that stands between Town and destiny?

First half: The grand old duke of York

Braintree kicked off towards the Pontoon.

Monkhouse caressed a clearance from under the Police Box and seven years later Woodyard arrived. Nolan was scrunched far away in the Orange Corner and the referee ran back the full length of the pitch to ask Woodyard how he was feeling. Something didn't happen at the free kick and Horwood's shot was blocked by socks.

Err, things, now and again. Fast-paced nothing and fascinating facts in a mysterious world of men colliding.

And the broken-down coach finally made it to Blundell Avenue, the boulevard of broken dreams, and in swarmed the multitudes. There were now 82 away supporters. You have to feel sorry for Town. How can we possibly compete with clubs this size?

This really is top-notch kabaddi.

Orange corners and crises at crosses. Shots high and low, it's too orangey for crows. Bungling and tumbling from a Braintree corner. The ball befalling and orange crinkling as McKeown's legs snapped shut and the ball slunk through, spinning to a stop on the line. Off walked a striped crusader. Nothing to look at here, move along please.

Ah, that's where the switch is. Vroom, vroom as the Brainerds almost shivered in the light Grimsby wind. Town upped the pace and intensity, ditching the dinks and crisply passing. Moments of almostness almost leading to moments. Omar was upended when almost through. One-two-three as Town tongue-twisted down the right. Amond poke-flicked and King plucked. Try saying that backwards. Nolan swept a free kick from left to right and King slap-parried onto a striped lap. Monkhouse flat-slapped and Amond headed wildly wide. Bogle headed a corner softly and Monkhouse headed back to the keeper. Softly, softly, catchee Monkhouse.

And you may ask yourself: is there too much Monkhouse business?

There's clarity in parity. It was clear that this was just a fast version of two weeks ago.

Second half: Humpty Dumpties

Neither team made any changes at half time.

Off Town flew with pace, with passion, in a fashion and Amond swung his chariot through the traffic and poked a prod which spun off King's gloves into the path of Mr Nobody. Bogle beseeched with arms akimbo.

See that door? I see a jar, not a door. A fine fellow felled and Nolan dripped a delightful drooper into the centre of the penalty area. Monkhouse arose to stoop and glance, for it was a chance. No need to dance.

Nothing going on nowhere. Arnold feebled by the dugouts and Akinole went on a sponsored swerve-a-thon, bumping on tiny Townites and flying down to Rio. Gowling awaited on the edge of the penalty area, swishing to swat the flyman. Orange hit green. Was it in? Was it out? Where there is doubt may we bring faith in the man in black. A little peep… and silence. Where is that finger pointing? Oh dear. Oh dear, oh dear, oh dear. As a petition was started Davis calmly rolled the ball centre-left as Jamie Macc sprawled rightwards, wrongly.

Panic. Frenzy. Dumping dinks to the centre-backs. Frantic football in a cauldron of calamity. Bogle bundled and the ball rolled gently inside the six-yard box. Amond schlepped and slapped. What about the Orange, John? A trio of tremendous triers clamped and the ball hit day-glo sockage. Dinking dumps from the Town chumps. Pass it! They passed it. Nolan and Monkhouse teased and pleased to lift a loft behind and beyond King. The ball dropped a couple of yards out, next to Amond who was drowned in orange juice, the shot deflected as the goal opened then shut.

Approaching the Parslow point, Omar tumbled and started to clutch his strapped thigh. Bogle hobbled off and Town were hobbled by the arrival of Hoban.

There really is no need to paint the picture – you can join the dots. Where there is despair let us bring on the hopeless.

Arnold. Who? In need of some pep and vim? Let's bring on another full-back: East replaced the invisible man. During the post-Omar fog of failure Gowling swiped over and Monkhouse softly grazed wide and eyes glazed over.

Four minutes of added time just shortened the queues for tickets to the second leg. Town've been mugged again. So just where are those Operation Promotion mugs?

We've seen this game before. We've seen this season before. We've seen it all before, for it's déjà vu all over again. And when Hurst's Town tenure dies you will find Braintree carved on his heart.

I'm angry John, I'm seething. And do you know what I'm angry about? That this was exactly what we expected to see. The game panned out to their plan, and we knew exactly what that was. Do we ever learn?

After all, it's not easy banging your heads against some mad bugger's wall.

Isn't this where…