Question of the Week
Do you support Cleethorpes Town?
12/02 Shrewsbury 2nd Half
By: Tony Butcher
WHERE are we? Cleethorpes, still only in Cleethorpes. Some day this seasonâ€™s gonna end.
Grimsby Town 0 Shrewsbury Town 1
The game is drifting, drifting, drifting, things happen, but they are just moments, no-one looked like scoring. The ball was starting to bob along the crest of a wave, briefly glimpsed at the peak, disappearing into the trough more often. About 30 yards out, the ball rolling, Bull and Moss yards away, poles apart, both lunging and stretching. Moss sliding with one leg, Bull leaping with two. Crack. Horrible, awful tackle, Moss in a heap, motionless. A yellow card for Bull: lucky, lucky boy. Moss stretchered off: unlucky boy.
Back came Town, with passing! Hello Monsieur Pinault. The ball dibbling around the edge of the area. In, out, Reddy flick, Hockless tap, a Fleming shin through to Gritton on the left, fifteen yards out. Out came the â€˜keeper, over came Walton and Gritton carefully rolled the ball across the face of goal. The Pontoon rose, the ball trumbled along the obbly-bobbly pitch towards the bottom left hand corner. In, in, itâ€™s surely in. It wasnâ€™t, millimetres wide, possibly even grazing the post on its way out for a goal kick. Much running of hands through hair, even by the tonsorially challenged. Yes, it was that close.
More flicking and tricking around the area, but no way through the red wall of Shropshire. By the way, itâ€™s a myth, you canâ€™t see it from space. At last, at last, some passing at pace, with Pinault pushing and pulling the levers of power. Down the right, wonderful one-touch triangles. Pinault to Macca to Pinault to Macca to Hockless to Pinault to Hockless to Fleming. And the pellet with the poison's in the vessel with the pestle; the chalice from the palace has the brew that is true . A footballing poem laddie. Nah, Fleming passed to Parkinson. He could yawn and be withdrawn and watch the world go by. What a waste, what a waste, but we do mind.
Roll up, roll up to Uncle Russâ€™s Great Grimsby Circus, itâ€™s the greatest circus on the whole of planet earth! We have tumblers (Reddy), fumblers (Williams), lion tamers (Coldicott), oh sorry heâ€™s not on today, so instead with have a troupe of clowns, led by Coco Bull. Gasp as he waddles forward onto a Parkinson pass, free inside their penalty area. Titter as he tackles himself, blocking his own cross with a sliding, jumping lunge. And misses too! It takes years of practice to get that comic timing. Whatâ€™s the secret of great comedy? Err, being funny? Heâ€™s pulling all the tricks from his bag now. Marvel at the acrobatic physical humour. A spectacular tricycle kick clearance from near the half way line, with no Shrew within a decade of his red nose. Fall to your knees in awe at those jumping sliding tackles. He shouldnâ€™t have stayed on the pitch for oh so many reasons.
Shrews return from mid-game hibernation. A Tinson free kick from 25 yards on their centre left curled over the wall on to the chin of the cross bar. A goal kick given to the consternation of many a Shropshire lad behind the goal. Yoikes, Shrews break from a Town corner, Rodgers plundering ground, on and on and on and on. Forbes, Macca and Fleming straining every sinew to get back, finally, as the Obi Wan of the Severn pulled back his boot, Forbes made a magnificent tackle. Main Stand, Smiths/Stones/Findus, and Pontoon are the quietest places under the sun.
Ticking away, Town waiting for someone else to show them the way. Gritton looking injured, Reddy playing in bursts, Pinault fitful, Hockless occasional, Fleming horrible, Parkinson unbelievable. Change, Mr Slade; it isnâ€™t something you find in your pocket. Meandering to misery, nothing. The wind it plied the corner flags double, it blew so hard Town soon will be gone.
Reddy ducked when charging down a Howie fly kick. Now, if only heâ€™d stood up he might have got a fluky goal. And lost his teeth but, hey, heâ€™s a professional. You donâ€™t use your teeth in football, unless you are celebrating a Reyes goal. No Spanish practices here.
And still no substitutions, no changes. Slade stood up, arms crossed, glowering and glaring.
As the last ten minutes wearily trudged on the Town fansâ€™ seething boredom turned into vocal disenchantment. You canâ€™t argue with facts and Grease isnâ€™t the word; rubbish is, though. A stream of hoofed clearances saw balls disappear over the horizon as quickly as belief in Town. An old silver-haired steward rose form his post to caress a perfectly weighted pass to Hockless. Sign him up, of course; only half in jest. Williams raced out of his box to shepherd the ball over the line. Except it didnâ€™t reach the bye-line and Rodgers harried him into lying on top of the ball and rolling over the line for a corner.
With three or four minutes left Reddy was resurgent, chasing a dibble over the top on the left. He barundled the defender away, surged on, cut inside one, drifted past another defender inside the area, glided across the turf and, about a dozen yards out, carefully passed the ball to Howie. Last chance? No. A minute later Pinault steered a shot low to the â€˜keeperâ€™s left from the edge of the penalty area. Last chance? No, more Town pressure, rather desperate, lumping into the box, bodies everywhere, the ball pinging and ponging around, always falling to Fleming, darn it. One, two, three half chances to shoot lost with terrible control and indecisiveness. The final one lost when he chose to chip the â€˜keeper rather than blasting through a huge mass of humanity between him and goal. "Chip" is a benevolent description: spooned back pass is more accurate. Last chance? NO, how many times do I need to tell you. There were four minutes of added time and in the last of â€˜em Town had a series of corners and crosses, the last of which was hit by Hockless into the middle of the area. Two defenders missed it, the ball floated out of the area. Gritton chased after the ball, turned and hoiked it back in to the box. Forbes challenged, defenders swamped him, the ball bibbled about in a bout of head tennis, eventually Howie punching the ball away, right down the middle. The ball looped over Fleming, who back-pedalled and stumbled as Pinault, 20 yards out, volleyed low through the emerging humanity. Silence. No-one moved. Everyone in the arena of angst stood and watched, the wind dropped, the ball shimmered and bounced off the foot of the right hand post. And that was the end.
Did anyone deserve to win. Probably not, a draw would have been fair. Shrewsbury looked better organised, more committed, more of a team. Hang on, didnâ€™t I write that last time? So we finally got 4-4-2 and it was awful. Hockless was by no means the worst player; he was ok, a couple of good things, a few bad things. He was only interested when he had the ball; defensively, especially in the first half, he was a liability, allowing crosses with not even the veneer of a challenge. He did enough not to be lambasted. Parkinson was the opposite, he was barely noticeable. He would have felt comfortable in last yearâ€™s team. The front two huffed and puffed but blew their own houses down. There was little cohesion, and no dynamism. They played like it was April and they had nothing to play for but their holidays. I could go on, but itâ€™s the same sentiments, different words.
Ultimately thereâ€™s no collective fight, thereâ€™s too many shrugging shoulders. The excuses had been flagged up all week, and not many failed to be seduced on to the rocks. Itâ€™s February and weâ€™re waiting for next season already?
Nickoâ€™s Man of the Match
The best anyone performed was "not bad". Reddy did things in the second half, Macca tried, but was, by his standards, struggling against their big winger. Fleming tried, but was hopeless in every respect. He wasnâ€™t playing football, he was doing a 10km cross country run. Who was the least inadequate throughout? Erm, well, Terrell Forbes, didnâ€™t seem to make any mistakes. His clearances went far enough away, he covered for Ramsden a lot, he was awake. So, for not being asleep and not doing anything wrong, itâ€™s him.
Markieâ€™s UnMan of the Match
Ramsden doesnâ€™t do marking. He looked flustered today. Fleming gets away with it because he tried so hard. Bull and Parkinson donâ€™t: they didnâ€™t earn their wages. Bull was just bonkers. Parkinson must have gone shopping, he just wasnâ€™t seen. And when he was, you wished heâ€™d gone shopping. Time is up for the favoured son of Slade.
Mr A Atkinson. He was excellent, one or two small decisions you could quibble with, but overall he kept the game moving, his judgement on when there was an advantage was superb. If I was a Shrewsbury supporter I wouldnâ€™t forgive him for only booking Bull though. So from a Town perspective he gets 8.761. A neutral would probably knock a couple of points off for his leniency, but this is no neutral zone.
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