Cod Almighty | Match Report
by Tony Butcher
8 January 2023
"Dusk has dawned, I hear its call,
above the world I’ve watched it fall;
I smell blood and I smell bone,
and I smell fear coated in gold"
Hello Burton, what's brewing?
Fee-fi-fo-fum, here's a cup tie that is most hum-drum. The wind did howl and the rain did tumble, it's getting late, so let's just get ready to grumble.
Town lined up in a 3-4-2-1, sometimes 5-4-1 formation as follows: Crocombe, Efete, Maher, Smith, Clifton, Green, Holohan, Amos, Kiernan, Khan and McAtee. The substitutes were Glennon, Pearson, Morris, Hunt, Khouri, Scannell, Orsi, Simmonds and Richardson. We've run into a little storm, the boat is leakin' and, if you have't guessed, this is an SOS for a new Captain Haddock. Can we cope without Big Luke's big chin and even bigger forehead? Of course we can, it's a day for Harry and the Haddocks.
Shall I tell you a tall story? Burton have spent Christmas pumping iron and sowing magic beans on their training ground. Behold their 26-man roster and its 4-2-3-1 deefense nickel formation with four deeefensive backs, two deeeefensive ends, three linebackers and one free receiver, y'all.
It's football, but not as we know it.
1st half – Battling Tops
The Burtonites kicked off and kicked straight out of play towards the Pontoon. Three down and ten, bring out the scatback. In a side street somewhere in town, little Jonny Smith played chase the lady with Danny Boy. It was underneath your left foot all along, Jonny.
Up'n'under, up and at us. A yellow swarm smothering timid Townites in the brute force of bargeball. A long chuck chucked longly towards Onyango, their lonely loaned lamppost leaning on the corner of the six-yard box. Oh me, oh my, he couldn't be more useless if he tried.
They had a throw, they threw it long. They had a free kick, they kicked it long. A throw, a throw, a throw, a throw, a throw. And for a bit a variation a throw, a throw, a throw. How long can they keep it up? So many days they'll be searching, so many tears they'll be wasting as everything went long, long, long, woah-oh-and gone. Long gone and forgotten even before it happened.
Oynango. Where is he Micheee? Behind you! Hey Dino, why does the brown cow give white milk when it only eats green grass? That's the burning question, what's your suggestion? Does it give you indigestion? You don't know, I don't know, don’t you feel a pass would be in order now and again?
Just colours and noise and so little poise.
A long throw, thrown long. A longer throw, thrown longer. Heads kept arising, balls kept dropping. Einsteinian insanity and such inanity. Kamwa shinned a cross, Crocombe back-flapped finger-tipperly over from under the bar. Oshilaja shot straight through striped legs and straight to Crocombe. Voices off lowered and eyes to the left and right glowered: is this all there is to life in the league above?
Twenty minutes of utter tosh from the East Stafford Chargers. Twenty minutes of standing in a muddy field from the Wolds Panthers. Another busted play and Burton a busted flush. Perhaps it would help if they tried to play Association Football. Perhaps not.
Worms always turn, you know.
We know a man, he comes from our home town. He wears his passion for his shirt like a thorny crown. Yes, I see a shoal of Harrys waving as Little Harry hassled and hustled and a custard tart curdled. Something stirs as Clifton tries and the corner climbed towards the floodlights off a stray striped bonce. A cross, a shot, of sorts, as Big Bren bundled past some B&Q gloss paint swatches masquerading as professional footballers.
McAtee slip-sliding-away as he slipped into soccer superstar mode, Holohan underhitting everything. What a magnificent advert for Saturday afternoon shopping. The revival of the Great British High Street starts here, right here, right now.
What we do is, if we need that extra push over the cliff, you know what we do? We push the volume up to 1.1.
We can't be silent just because they might be giants. Town stopped being afraid of the dark. Nudges were nurdled and shoulders were barged to the grindstone. A free kick snicked shortly and McAtee curled a coiler into the netherest of regions. Efete stretched a poke and Maher collided with the tipple and the ball ballooned over.
Yellow lorries slow and nowhere to go. What a load of drivel in the drizzle.
We're sat here watching this drivel in D minor, which is the saddest of all keys, I find. People sat in front of their tellies in Muscat, Mombasa and Macau weep instantly when they see yet another long throw die a death like a louse in a Russian's beard.
A free kick tricked shortly, McAtee drooped a scoop, and Maher awaited. Burton scattered some more magic beans in the penalty area and up popped Onyango to block the volley.
One minute was added. Why oh why oh why oh why will the windows continue to mock us? And the walls.
What an embarrassment that was to non-League football.
2nd half – Kerplunk
Burton replaced Omnishambles Onyango with Carayol. There will be no need to mention either of these two humanoids ever again.
Town emerged with briskness, zipping and zapping, snipping at yellow ankles and snapping into tackles. A cross not crossed and a free kick dripped. Smith arose, the ball plopped and flopped dead in the six-yard box. There's something lacking, what we need's a darn good thwacking! Holohan's slasher squivvered off some cheese and corner followed corner, as drip followed drop. Amissah rabbit punched and was a rabbit in the floodlights as an Amos drooper dropped towards his eyebrows.
Tap-tap-tapping, knock-knock-knocking. Can we come in please, like Burton, it's getting a bit wet?
Swishes and swipes, and golden retrievals. Shoot! He shot though the label said not. Green smirkled overly over. Burton crushed into yellow mush, barely a presence beyond the half way line. A jink, a dink and McAtee released beyond and behind, twisting, turning and screwing himself into a divot. Khan this, Amos that, mugging, chugging and McAtee passing the buck when he should have just tried his luck. Big Bren powderpuffed a perambulating piddler, the sort only Premiership keepers let in. Amissah didn't miss it.
Handbags at thirty paces! Kamwa volleyed Michee's shins as Efete arose to head by the tunnel. Hoos were haaahed, argies were bargied. Will it wake them up?
Nah, they are a lost cause. Yellow skews were whiffed and another ball lost up on the roof of the Findus. All their careful plans just drift right up into space. There is only one question, no, not now high are the clouds, but how can Town avoid scoring?
Rotations and retrievals, the game set in a permanent loop. Left and right, right and left, up and down, up and down, here we go again. Green screened and Khan reversed his polarity into the path of the lurking Kiernan on the left. Big Bren took a touch and draggled across Amissah. The ball glided across the face of goal and micro-inchlets past the farthest post.
With 20 minutes left we entered the twilight zone: subbing by them, subbing by us as on came Richardson for Kiernan. You want to know about their substitutes? Why? They are not an actor in this game, Burton are an irrelevance.
A chip, a chase, and Amissah slashed upfieldish as McAtee approached. Slashed upfield straight back to stripes. OK, let's go again. Left, right, up and down and crossfield traffic onto Clifton's chest. Michee mooched and caressed back to Little Harry, right in the mud patch. Clifton took a touch and swangled a cracker goalwards. Amissah was non-plussed by a thin edge down the leg side off the hands of the spinning Richardson and the ball spun into the bottom left corner.
Under the Frozen Horsebeeer Stand Holohlan slapsticked backwards losing possession, and dredging it back from a disheartened mumbler, megged some sorry, soggy nuts and rolled along the bye-line. He looked up and espied the unmanned Khan, whose shot was blocked back to McAtee. Big John's disco dance squirtled through the yellow straight and low and into the keeper's midriff.
With five or so minutes left Orsi and Morris replaced Khan and McAtee.
A chip, a chase, and Amissah slid out to clasp the ball and roll it back inside the penalty area. To cover up his embarrassment the referee booked Orsi and Amissah for…for what exactly? Ah, yes, the referee.
There's still no sign of life in Burton. Richardson collected some milk bottle tops and set off on a mazy, crazy journey run from the half way line, down the left and into the penalty area. With stripes ahoy he pinged a perfect pass to Morris, who was promptly wiped out by a hit and run driver coming out of the side streets without looking, no lights, probably no insurance either. One word against the other? No sir, we have it all on CCTV.
Ah, no, the referee. What a coward.
And finally the dreadful daytrippers had a shot. Little Jonny Smith jinkled and janked and shankled onto the Osmond roof. That, dear reader, is that.
Despite that being that, four minutes were added and that is all there is to it.
As against Plymouth, once Town conquered their fear of bigger boys they ground down and overran their theoretical betters. Burton were satisfyingly appalling, woeful no-trick ponies without any plan other than being big and long chucks towards their tallest player.
What a horrible division the third must be, everything is bigger but nothing is better.
What more do you need to know? Town worked hard, stayed calm and long live VARless football.