Cod Almighty | Match Report
by Tony Butcher
27 August 2023
Let's take it nice and easy, relax and don't you worry. Let's make a stop on the way for a pie and a pint of orange juice. Mmm, gravy boats, let's take our time, to rush would be a crime.
Here we are again in beautiful downtown Walsall for the Buckley Derby. He's our legend! No, he's our legend. Well he lives in Waltham now, so nur-nur-nur, he loves us more.
Or maybe the house prices are lower.
The Grimsby White Sox lined up in a 4-1-4-1 formation as follows: Eastwood, Mullarkey, Rodgers, Maher, Amos, Conteh, Vernam, Holohan Clifton, Eisa, Vernam and Rose. The substitutes were Cart-Wright, Efete, Waterfall, Hunt, Khouri, Gnahoua and Pyke. Who among us is shocked…shocked to find some dissembling rambling going on in that interview with Matt Dean. Maher? Maher? Never heard of him.
And who should catwalk by but the boy in the peach suit. Brown shoes? Dear boy, a gentleman never wears brown near Town.
I thought it was supposed to rain?
1st half – What's the point?
Town kicked off away from the 675 merry Mariners, utterly dominating the whole of the first six seconds. They just couldn't live with the pace of those first six seconds. OK, I admit an egregious exaggeration: Town dominated most of the first six seconds.
Here we go...
No, hang on, before we or they go anywhere let's get one thing straight. At no point during this match did Walsall not egregiously throw in most foully. Shocking, positively shocking.
Anyway, here we go…
Town's back line held their head high as a deeply dippy chip sailed beyond. Tierney scuttled and back-headed on the penalty spot. Eastwood ached right then flew left as the ball considered snickling past.
Fizzing, whizzing and a dizzying display of deep shuttles as their young heart of midfield is running free. Pyke's on the bench so don't panic, don't panic. Oh, they're panicking.
Gordon's alive! The left-wingback flew past the Wolds Panther tickling to Tierney the tiny terror. Maher lunged, Amos plunged, Eastwood swept out and Tierney dinked. Fear not, dear reader, for Rodgers raced around and wrenched away. Ping-pong, red socks on song. A criss-cross pass just behind the stumbling, swiping Tierney, a wallop flopped aside by the firm fists of Jakery. Stirk chipped into the netherworld betwixt keeper and the Mariner's Maginot Line. Tierney snuck beyond, arising as Eastwood's knuckles rose. The blond redhead arrived first as Jake's fists punched where the ball would have been if it was. But it wasn't, it was arcing slowly past the left post.
And in the ninth minute they did not have a shot. Onwards brave Hawkmen!
Town were thinking of linking, just for fun.
I have a question. With all that new technology will they find Charles Vernam in Loch Ness?
A slipshod holey mess in the middle, a muddle, totally befuddled by the red shifters taking it in turns to run past and through the rickety picket fence. Repeat ad nauseum. And then do it again. Wheels turnin' 'round and 'round, you'll be on your knees tomorrow.
A clash of heads and Maher plastered. A break in play, Walsall's hypnotic spell broken. Town no longer on the ropes, now it's just two lightweights sparring soullessly in the middle. Vernam crossed behind Eisa, Mullarkey crossed near Eisa, Eisa leapt over some barbed wire. Holohan and Clifton triangulated with passing and with movement. A cross scraped away. That was the weak that was for Town. It's over, let it go.
And Sadler's Saddlers did swarm again. A mis-cross flipped over from under the bar and on to the back of the top of the bar by the flying fingers of Eastwood. A bedraggle, a barumble, a bar of chocolate please if you're going to the kiosk. A corner, a corner, a corner, a corner, perhaps another corner, maybe. A header, a block and a frantic sock or two.
Harvey hauled down Draper on the right edge of the penalty area. A booking, a free kick, a Knowles coil and Joltin' Jake jauntily parry-punched away from the bottom right corner. Saving spectacularly in the last minute of the half? It's that thing he does.
Four minutes were added. Things did happen. These things were Walsall corners. And why did they have a succession of corners? Because Town were faffing about at the back, snail mailing their intentions as Maher overhit a pass to Amos. Red robbers ran off and Maher sliced over the bar at the near post as danger lurked unmolested behind.
Not a shot and not a lot to hang your hat on. Unless you count the double Widdowflap by Slim Charles as some scary red monsters ran by. Never count on Widdowflapping to get you out of a tight spot.
2nd half – He's done it again
Neither team made any changes at half time and no change here. Here we go again. Daniels drop-kicked from the half way line, the ball drifting at the last past the left post. Nah, Jake was there all the time. A hump and dump and a Dolly Draper drive was battered aside by Eastwood. Eisa tunefully tackled to tipple away from the tip-toeing Knowles.
What did we say about nothing changing?
Town snapping, snipping and whipping away. An easing by Eisa. Ah, no left foot, duck down there in row D. Holohan. Yes, Holohan. Being a pest. Rodgers swiped, Holohan turned, Little Harry hurtled and the Irish rover roamed and rattled local cages. A corner shortened, tapped along and…Eisa. You know the score, you've seen it all before. Salford. Mansfield. Walsall. Bish-bash-bosh. He scores the same goal every game. He scores the same goal every game. He scores the same goal every game.
He's got everybody in the stands in his hands. He's Abo Eisa and he's good. How many more times must we say it?
Intensity, pace, precision passing. Perfect. A chuck-in on the left, swaying hips and Eisa tripped. The free kick tapped and Eisa coiled a dipper against the top of the bar, the crossbar, not the tea bar or supporter's car.
Possession is nine tenths of the law. We are the law around here now. Left to right via the re-emerged Conteh, Mullarkey caressed a cross, Rose arose and headed straight at Owen. A trip down the left led to a Vernam whip. Eisa awaited beyond, leant back and volley-steered back across the keeper, hitting a desperate red plunger. Rose sneak-hounded Owen into squawking a corner. Elevation Mr Vernam. He elevated, Toby mis-grazed. Have more eggs for breakfast, Mr Mullarkey. Another corner, another mis-grazing as the Maher, the Balletic Bandage, raised his eyebrows and glanced awfully wide.
Vernam. What a waste. I see men in stripes waving as Slim Charles was wafting into the car park. They were not hitchin' a ride.
Oh, you want to know about them do you? I don't know why, there's nothing to say. Isolated moments of almostness, where they approached the point of nearly getting towards the mid-point of the Town half. Danny Johnstone? The DJ had long packed up his record collection and headed home as no-one was dancing on his floor. This DJ was long hung out to dry and replaced by the flying Oteh. Now he was a big teaser.
Ah, we didn't even know we were on the slippery slope on the way to the Grim Grotto. A series of unfortunate events in the middle. A ducking stool, a lean and nudge, a wallop and clod. Each one could have led to a free kick this way, that way, nowhere important. But the whistler was unusually silent. A pump and dump, Maher mis-nodded as his midriff was menaced by a munchkin. The Saddlemen swept on and the ball was tapped back to Riley, whose rollershot coincided with Stirk's turkey trot into the Town penalty area. An accidental double shin-control squintled perfectly between Rodger and Maher into his flightpath and Stirk turned and whelped past Eastwood from but half a dozen yards out.
Oh, now we can hear you the caged birds sing.
Much Mullarking in the darkness down by the toilets. Infiltrations, deliberations, crosses and passes. Nothing to report but his endeavour to persevere. With a couple of minutes left Khouri replaced Vernam. He's a neat lad, very Hurstian. Does a job without frills. No, I'm not talking about The Wolds Panther.
Six minutes were added and Jamille Matt came on the pitch. The crumbly old stick of Blackpool Rock hasn't changed a bit. Marvellous.
Toby on the charge! Hussey unethically cleansed Mullarkey. Off with his head! All Town are we? We are. Helter-skeltering, up and at 'em with red blocks, chips and chases, corners follow corners following panic in the streets of Walsall. Out, back and Conteh espying an unguarded space at the nearest post, dragged lowly but widely with Owen unsighted and just wishing and hoping and praying.
As the sixth extra minute arrived Holohan trotted off and Pyke came on. I am sure his bank manager will be pleased. Here we are, finally at our destination. The end.
It was just like last year. Except we didn't win.
Walsall ran out of mental puff after about half an hour, Town only started playing after half time. Town should have been hammered. Town should have won. An equitable outcome overall, but who cares about fairness in football?