They built this village on vegan rolls

Cod Almighty | Match Report

by Chris Beeley

22 November 2023

A damp and grey day in darkest Gloucestershire, just doesn’t feel like a "proper" away day does it?

Friendly barman in The George – "so you've come from Grimsby then?" I wasn't wearing any colours so I must be readily identifiable as vaguely Northern – "We've got plenty of sausage rolls" - my kind of place.

After a pleasant hour including a chat to four Forest Green fans commiserating with each other about our respective league positions (in their case it seems due to a long injury list), I headed up to the ground, using crampons and a sherpa guide, to where a band was banging out cover versions – Sweet Child of Mine, Mr Brightside, and then a little incongruously Uptown Funk. At the end of that, the assembled band of Townites, feeling perhaps they should reciprocate, gave a brief rendition of Maa-rin-ers, leaving the lead singer of the band slightly nonplussed.

Anyhoo, enough of all this, it's time for the weekly torture, sorry entertainment.

Town lined up in the blue and off-white number as follows: Cartwright, Mullarkey, Rodgers, Maher, Glennon, Green, Holohan, Andrews, Gnahoua, Rose and Pyke. The subs were Eastwood, Amos, Waterfall, Conteh, Hunt, Wilson and Ainley.

Early signs were okay – Forest Green's goalie started wasting time after approximately three minutes, Arthur skinned their full-back a couple of times, and Pyke somehow managed to stop us scoring with a brilliant off the line clearance for them.

Then the trouble started. The ref booked Rose for having the temerity to put in a fairly unremarkable challenge, then one of their players for something and nothing, and the game became a non-contact sport for the rest of the first half. Town stood off them.

Their number 7 hit the bar from about 20 yards out when he was in acres of space. Then panic stations in our box, everyone scared to make a tackle, Maher adjudged to have brushed the toecap of a Forester who made the most of it and the inevitable fourth division ref penalty was given. 0-1.

Foresters' tails up, but don't worry Pyke is going to do it all on his own!! Hang on, no he isn't. A mazy run followed by the weakest of efforts straight at timewaster in the Forest Green goal.

Then Greeny lost the ball exactly where he shouldn’t have done, Roy Rodgers couldn't ride to the rescue, and their number 7 looped in his second over the despairing head of Mullarkey.

0-2 at half time, oh dear, Foresters high fiving and congratulating each other as they left the field as though they had already won, which I feared they may well have done.

Conteh replaced Green at half time.

The Foresters now looking to what is euphemistically these days called "seeing out the game" or "game management" - more accurately, ambling about being annoying and wasting time.

Town started to build up a little bit of steam but weren't really making much impression, though I felt Andrews and Conteh playing together gave us a bit more going forward than Green with Andrews. Wilson was introduced for Pyke about half way through the second half, and almost immediately we scored from Ringo's corner. Was it Don? Was it Gav? Who cares, let's go.

The blue and now dirty browns getting the upper hand now, though still the odd panic at the back as caution went to the blustery wind.

Then with ten minutes left, Wilson somehow (I'm not really sure how – more luck than judgment really) found himself through on goal and scuffed a dribbler into the far corner. The 441 breathed a sigh of relief – can we win it? After all, we specialise in 3-2s these days don't we?

Ah, no, not that kind of 3-2! Dabo skinned Ringo and put in a cross, here it comes… but wait, well done young Harvey, well done sir. He even stole a chorus of the "he's one of our own" from the absent Harry.

Eventually the referee got bored and blew the final whistle.

Honours even, I should have come away delighted with salvaging a point from the jaws of disaster, but it all felt, well, a bit meh. I know I am an old curmudgeon but my opinion is that it was a case of two poor teams doing the decent thing by agreeing not to beat each other.

Now, torch-lit downhill slalom back to the car – see you for Sutton!