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|Toner: Missed Chance|
Northampton Part 2
By: Tony Butcher
NEITHER team made any changes at half time, though Whittle was stalked by a cameraman, who whizzed around him like Scorcese on acid. The way Justin sees it everyone takes a beating some of the time.
Town gave the ball away from the kick off and nothing had changed: Northampton still dictated, tapping out their own rhythm, less Latin this time and more Bavarian. A bit oompah-oompah. When the Crowe came calling Kalala stuck the ball up his jumper: weâ€™d eventually found the safety latch.
The second half was a faded photocopy of the first. You could just about see the same things, but there were far less of them. The Northampton court jesters buzzed and sawed away at the Town tree trunk, but they didnâ€™t have the technique to fell the giant deadwood. Every so often they had a go at one of the smaller branches, but a bit of twig-snapping was all they achieved.
About ten minutes in they had an attack. Of course it was them, you didnâ€™t think it would be Town, did you? One of them flew down the right, or left, and crossed for Mendes to head over. There you are, the basic details, please feel free to embellish as you wish. Perhaps adding in a reference to Level 42, or maybe an allusion to Lionel Blair. Oh, the Wildean wit possible from the thinnest of threads.
After 57 minutes 42 seconds Reddy replaced Andrew, which pleased the Reddy lovers no end. Nice to see Wallace and Gromit back together upfront, perhaps Gritton will uncurl from his rocking chair now. Oh what a great tackle: Cohen, tracking back with Low, scraped the ball away with a huge hooking, sliding wheelie-bin of a tackle, just inside the area. Marvellous.
I knew I should have brought a newspaper in. The game was dulling down into a supermarket own-brand-value-range shepherdâ€™s pie that is Townâ€™s breakfast, dinner and tea. Just think of the artificial flavouring. We know it isnâ€™t good for us, but we still buy them. Johnson burst down their left wing, and piddled a cross into the centre. Mendes headed over again; or McGleish headed over, one of them anyway. It wasnâ€™t me, I know that for sure. A corner form their right was swung into the near post and McGleish leant back and stroked a glancing header across the face of goal. Ah, yes, I know this one, it WAS McGleish that time.
They arenâ€™t going to score, are they. We arenâ€™t either. Shall we go home now and call it quits?
Northampton kept piling on the pillows, swamping Townâ€™s bed, but for what purpose? Jones headed everything away, Town just blocked everything on the ground with as many parts of their body as they could find at such short notice. Oops. Mendes broke away from McDermott after a Town corner was cleared, swivelling infield from the right corner of the Town area and slapping a low shot across Mildenhall, who clutched the ball as Jones and a striker lunged across him.
Some Town fans started chucking a stuffed monkey around, so bored were they by the on-field inactivities. Spinning and twisting along the massed Mariners, the cheeky monkey threatened Harper more than Town.
With twenty minutes left Cohen and Gritton were replaced by Jones the Lump and Barwick. Town changed formation to one where Kalala stayed in front of the back four, with Bolland, Barwick and Toner wedged in front of him. The Lump was closer to Reddy than ever seen before. In fact one sometimes wonders if Lumpy has ever seen Reddy before. How would you describe that: 4-1-3-2? Or was that the winning Cobblersâ€™ lottery number?
Townâ€™s change momentarily flummoxed Northampton. Reddy, on the right, eyebrowed a long ball and the Lump charged in to the penalty area. Iâ€™m surprised you didnâ€™t feel the tremors back home in Freshney Place. Bojic quivered as the Lumposaurus roared. Up went a foot and the ball was toe-ended to the unmarked Toner, near the penalty spot. When I say unmarked, I mean there wasnâ€™t anyone in the same restaurant. Toner picked up the menu, considered the chefâ€™s special on the blackboard above the fireplace, ordered a little aperitif with a glass of chilled chardonnay, and shinned a half-volley two feet wide of the left-hand post. A shockingly shocking miss of great shockiness. Ironically Toner played quite well in the second half. Irony doesnâ€™t get three points though.
That was it, that was Townâ€™s effort of the day, singular. The monkey spinning resumed.
They brought on Kirk for Johnson, Yes, they substituted the substitute, presumably because they realised Town were not attacking, so why have any defenders. The metronome continued to tap out the beat, incessant; the pressure constant, but yielding little. Sure, sure kid, McGleish rose above Macca and steered a header just over the bar from quite close in, but Town could have gone home yesterday and they still wouldnâ€™t have scored. Are you sure the Town players hadnâ€™t stayed in Grimsby?
Crowe continued his one-man mission to go boldly where heâ€™d never been before, but Bolland, then Newey, then Jones the Stick showed him the door. Crosses hurtled in, headers flicked the ball back out of the area. Repeat action three more times, then sigh. Youâ€™ve just recreated that Cobblersâ€™ fan feeling at quarter to five on Saturday 29 October 2005.
I missed out a Town corner where there was a scramble and a couple of blocked shots. It happened sometime, it seemed important, but as the hours pass you realise it has even less significance than a Grimsby Telegraph editorial. Though with better grammar.
Right at the end, as the fans prepared for the Wacky Races rush for the car parks, they cobbled together one last attack. Twisting, turning, gripping, gurning: Kirk rolled around Jones on the centre edge of the penalty area and scruffed a low shot back across Mildenhall. The ball trundled along, a low rumble was heard in the distance...then silence. Breathes were held as the ball rolled past Mildenhallâ€™s outstretched right hand and...inches past the post.
There were three minutes of added time during which they made another substitution and the monkey twisted one final time.
The whistle blew and the Town fans ran to the hills. We didnâ€™t want to get stuck in the usual nine hour traffic jam, some of us had cat litter to buy, others exclusive dinner parties to attend. Town were just awful again, lacking in everything but fortune. I wonâ€™t dignify it with anything approaching analysis or summary. Please, please erase this day from you mind. Itâ€™s for your own good.
Nickoâ€™s Man of the Match
The bar is set at ankle level here, for there was little to cheer. Itâ€™s either Mildenhallâ€™s tonsils or Bollandâ€™s heart. For just about welding the cage together before the shark attacked itâ€™s Paul Bolland, the happy, scrappy hero pup.
Robâ€™s rant of the day
The Northampton supporters were a strange lot, thinking chanting "Shearer, Shearer" at us would send us to the nearest poultry farm. Can anyone work this out -"You couldnâ€™t tell your chickens". Dear Cobblers, we wouldnâ€™t want to, some things are best left unsaid.
Mr P Miller. Annoyed the homeys a bit with his non-rubbishness, and annoyed us when he gave in to their moaning and booked Kalala. On the whole, at the end of the day, when the boat comes in, when you walk through a storm, hold your head up high, donâ€™t be afraid of the larch: he was alright and by fourth division standards he was good. And though itâ€™s just a line to you, for me itâ€™s true, it never seemed so right before - 7.989 Did you ever get the feeling heâ€™d do something stupid?
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