Football for the jilted generation

Cod Almighty | Match Report

by Tony Butcher

9 May 2016

Braintree Town 0 Grimsby Town 2

Three orange shirts in the distance, let's follow the crowd to Cressing Road. Ah, it's Sainsbury's afternoon shift, not the local lads and lasses with the smiles upon their faces. C'mon Town, let's make the difference. This Is Our Time, This Is Our Time. Well, this is it, whatever.

A broiling stonkingly hot afternoon in some scrubland behind some knocked-up sheds with nearly 800 Townites melting into the concrete. After the bad dream on Thursday night, were we going to lose the fight? OK, let's leave behind our withering slights for an hour or two.

Town lined up in a 4-3-3 formation as follows: McKeown, Tait, Gowling, Nsiala, Robertson, Clay, Disley, Nolan, Pittman, Bogle and Amond. The substitutes were East, Pearson, Marshall, Arnold and Hoban. OK, OK, keep calm. 4-3-3 is going to unfail one day, let this be that day.

It may be a football pitch, but not as we know it. Tufts hiding divots and manholes. Awful. Woeful, like a park pitch. No wonder they don't bother with the ball.

Jeez, it's hot.

First half: Natural born boogie

Town kicked off towards the mild-mannered, idly interested of Essex. The ram battered, our bread barely buttered as Town stuttered and spluttered. Town tapping gently at the window.

Tap. Tap. Tap.

Omar arose and…

Tap. Tap. Tap

Nolan flamblasted waywardly after something nearly happened.

Tap. Tap. Tap.

A diagonal dink and an orange shirt headed back to where King wasn't. Corners. Crosses.

Tap. Tap. Tap.

Amond headed down, King punched up.

Tap. Tap. Tap.

Braintree almost had a shot. Braintree triers almost moved. An orange wall piled high.

Jeez, it's hot.

Second half: Hot and tasty

Neither team made any changes at half time.

Tap. Tap. Tap.

Ooh, cheeky. A shot! McKeown sighed low. There is no more orange to speak of. Rest easy, look to the right side, for the river flowed east. No, don't worry, not East.

The tapping became insistent, endless, ceaseless, a metronome increasing in pace. Onwards, onwards, an endless cycle of pumping and dumping. Brave Braintree hearts and heads: the orange wall impregnable.

Arnold replaced Pittman and Town were a wobbly 4-4-2. Corner, corners, corners. Elevation, elevation, elevation. Time ticking, ticking, ticking. Nolan ticking, flicking and pockets-a-picking.

Twenty minutes left, the end in sight, the five-year mission to boldly end up where Town had been before was nigh. Nigh, nigh, nigh, not the comfy chair. Off sidled Clay and on came Mercurial Marcus Marshall. Here comes the firestarter, the twisted animator. Rangy roaming running and direct action. A corner. Elevation! Nolan elevated and bodies fell to earth. The fickle finger of fate pointed towards the penalty spot and the mass of Marinerdom shook the netting and rattled the posts. Amond calmly mis-hit a bumbler centre right as King sank left and all were engulfed by a wave of Humber happiness.

Braintree drained of life. Almost immobile, dead on their feet. A lightweight boxer, punch drunk and grappling with a heavyweight

All Town, everything, everywhere. Braintree drained of life. Almost immobile, dead on their feet. A lightweight boxer, punch drunk and grappling with a heavyweight. Omar danced and wiggled to woggle a curler against the inside of the left post. Omar arose and headed down and wide, or was that later? Do you care? Amond slapped against shins, Nolan swervled wide.

A King punt flew and Jamie Mack patted down from under the crossbar: that was their effort on goal.

Four minutes were added. Just keep looking east. And in the final minute Phillips ploughed Nolan and out came a second yellow card. Dispirited and down to ten men, they watched Disley head an inch wide.

How are we going to blow this one then?

Both teams headed for the shade and Amond seized the moment, leaping the barriers to surprise half a dozen toilet-based Townites.

Extra time

How many punches can they take? Bang, bang, bang, wallop. Arnold swivelled and King spectacularly punched away a big dipper. Scrapes, blocks and an enormous sock maintained the clarity of parity. One more heave lads, one more heave and the dam will burst.

A foul, a free kick on the right and a lifty loft beyond the far post. King stuttered, Bogle arose alone beyond to cushion a gentle roller into the side of the net. Omar tore off his shirt, raced towards the dug-out, and was engulfed by half the team and half the crowd. Ten minutes left for Town to find a way of failing.

Pah. It ain't going to happen. Orange zombies were no match for Town's untamed wit. Or Marcus Marshall.

And now we can book the double Wembley week. It all turned out fine in the end. Now, where's that humble pie?