Question of the Week
What should happen to the EFL Trophy next season?
Any Old Iron - Part Two
By: Tony Butcher
Taylor replaced the twittering, ephemeral Sparrow at half time. And Laws seemed to have been awake during the first half, for they attacked live and exclusively down the Town left. You don't think they thought Bull was a weak link, do you?
The game was the still same: midfield macho meanderings punctuated by occasional flashes of attacking adequacy. In Town's case that attacking adequacy is relative, but then the world needs to escape the tyranny of orthodoxy to embrace relativism. Dare to think! But that doesn't include playing centre halves as wing backs, Russ.
Jones injured, hobbling, creaking.
At last, something in the way that chick moves. Taylor gambolled away down their right with Bull flailing, but not ailing. A cross, deep, deep, deep, beyond the far post. Williams shuffled out, reached high to the heavens and finger-tipped the ball away. Whittle wrestled with Torpey as the ball bounced, Williams ambled up and tapped the ball away from Rupert and Gerald, grappling by the fireplace. The Town fans were not so casual or confident in Williams' diffident prodding.
The digitally-enhanced, super surround-sound scoreboard showed 49 minutes had gone.
The next ten minutes were quite cool for Townites, for Scunthorpe were rarely seen near to the Pontoon, contenting themselves in their night-shift job: bouncers on the door at the ankletappers and shunters club. All through the game they confidently clipped Town ankles when possession was lost, barged a monochrome warrior aside without fear of punitive action being taken. The accumulation of incidents began to gall. Better stop sobbing about spilt milk and get back to the game. Macca raided and controlled the ball out of play with a Bullian leaping splits right in front of the Scunthorpe fans. Gritton almost replayed his Meadow Lane magnificence, spinning down the left, twisting past two, but kicking the ball out of play when Butler arrived. There you are, the highlights are Town miss-controlling twice. Oh, and a decent Town move involving Parkinson and Gritton ended when McDermott crossed behind Pinault. Town nearly got inside the Scunny area. We were so impressed.
Macca limping, Ramsden ready to come on. Macca waved away such thoughts: his leg is still attached, be away with you.
Gliddy glub gloopy nibby nabby noopy la la la - lo lo sabba sibbi sabba nooby aba naba lee lee - lo lo tooby ooby wala nooby aba naba early morning singing song. A shot! Some obbly-bobbly nipping and knocking between Kell and Hayes ended with a spin and shot, from outside the area, on their centre left. Looked good, wasn't close.
And from this moment Scunthorpe took charge, forcing Town back with looping curls over the top, behind the wing-backs. Corner after corner, drifting across the face of goal. From their left, over Williams, along the goal line, missing Torpey. From their right, over Williams, over Butler. From their left, bouncing through the six yards box. And again, and again. The game being played on Town's goal line, but the ball sailing over, waving to the prawns below. Town players starting to rattle and roll each other. Williams mugged at every corner, the referee ignoring the back alley confrontations. Williams and Fleming bawling at each other as a corner was being taken. Music and passion was always the fashion at the Copa; they fell in love. Sort it Flemsey!
Hayes off, Rankine on; then McGritton off, O'Reddy on. Twenty minutes left. Still no sign of a Town shot. Pinault briefly alive, for he had an outlet, someone making moves when he had the ball. But Reddy was always offside. Sigh.
The Pontoon was restless, the first cuckoo of this spring day, Scunthorpe relentlessly tapping on the door, demanding entry. Jones legged up Taylor, a free kick 25 yards out, on their right. Williams quaking, the Town fans shaking as a collection of black and white striped straws bent in the wind. Beagrie sidled up and curled the ball at shoulder height straight into the wall. Or ihe would have if the wall had existed in anything but theory. It parted, the ball clipped a Town shoulder and wibbled a foot or so wide of the left hand post. A goalkick was given and the Pontoon was delighted, for we saw, we heard, we knew that it should have been a corner. And with one bound he was free to go home and have a hot bath and cream bun: Beagrie was substituted. Young Sir Macca had dealt with him. He could have a hot bun and cream bath for all we cared.
With less than 10 minutes to go Scunthorpe tightened the bolt a bit further, with more corners and free kicks. Crosses in, out, Town shaken all about . A corner from the right was bazoomed goalwards by Butler's blue bonce. Williams arched his back and flipped the ball over the bar. Excellent save, but the ball was probably just going to crawl over anyway. Still, why take a chance, take a chance, take a-take a-chan-chance. Honey you'll be free in the summer
Fleming, on the Town left, appalling, clearing the ball through the penalty area directly to a yellowboy, then hanging around at the back, keeping all onside. Then not bothering to turn and chase the ball as it was plopped back over his head. Rankine raddled free, Forbes saved the day with a sublime interception. A minute later another Forbes' sumptuous glide to pick Taylor's pocket.
Look around you, what do you see? Any evidence of Town having a shot? Well, look again, for after years of development Town have unveiled their first effort of the millennium. With just six minutes left Parkinson flickered on the left, snickered infield past two defenders and dribbled a mis-hit shot towards Musselwhite's right hand post. He was almost too embarrassed to pick it up. He's getting paid for this? Feeling better? Town had a shot. If it had gone in it would have been a goal. Can't argue with that, can you.
Wahey, back they come. Crosses galore and Torpey's turn to glance the ball over from the centre of the penalty area. More crosses, more corners, more long throws, more pressure; Town fans getting ratty, nervous, expecting calamity Jane to come through the doors. Foul throw! Foot on the pitch, corner taken from outside the quadrant. My boomerang won't come back. Are you watching linesman?
A funny thing happened on the way to the forum: Town players actually set foot, actually, into the actual penalty area that Musselwhite actually stood in. Parkinson crossed from the left, high, hanging, Macca tippling the ball back in towards the near post. Pinault leapt up and tried an overhead kick. The ball went several yards further wide than this lord was a-leaping. It was a very stylish piece of nonsense though.
Two minutes of added time and more bustling pressure from the rabbits. Blow the whistle, end the game. Stop, that's enough. You can go home now. Oh, Jason Crowe already has, off the pitch quicker than the police horses came on, not even stopping for a perfunctory vague wave at the home support. He used to play for Arsenal, you know.
This was a less dreadful version of the game in November with Town slightly better defensively and the ref not quite so bonkers. Scunny are what they are; nothing fancy, no frills, but at least they know what they are, what they are supposed to be doing. But what's puzzling us is the nature of our game. We might have more sympathy for the Russ if we could work it out. How do we expect to score goals? We haven't see a Town goal at Blundell Park since February 26th.
This season is like Orson Welles' life: starting with flawed genius and ending in cheap sherry and ponchos. Still, there is absolutely nothing left to worry about, though we may end up rooting for the Roots Hall men at this rate. There is only next year now. The gardening beckons.
Nicko's Man of the Match
It's the now usual candidates. Forbes was groundmunchingly imperious again, but the most prominent defender was Rob Jones. Sometimes you do get to be MoM simply for heading the ball a lot. And Whittle was pretty damn fine too.
Markie's UnMan of the Match
Once upon a time there was a black and white Bull, very sad because he was a black and white Bull. Everyday alone in the meadow, he'd find wingers to charge, 'till one day he really imagined, that his horns were large. Then he fell over.
Mr A Bates
I wouldn't like to stay in his motel. He got in the way, literally and metaphorically, and got more in our way than theirs. There were two distinct periods when he decided Town players could not invade the Ironmongers' personal space, let alone touch them. He wibbled slightly on his toadstool by giving some poor decisions on goal-kicks and corners, but generally wasn't pro-Town. He gets a very mediocre 4.978. Oh and another thing - handballs, no idea at all. He even gave one for Town when Parky caught the ball.
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