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24/04 Stockport Part 2

By: Tony Butcher
Date: 26/04/2004

ANDERSON kicked his heels 10 yards inside the Stockport half then sprinted up to the area as Barnard rolled the ball out towards him.

Home > 2003-2004 Season > Reports > Stockport (a)

Edgeley Park

Stockport County 2 Grimsby Town 1
24 Apr 2004, Nationwide League Division 2

The ball bumbled and rumbled along the silicon enhanced mud, with Anderson tipping it sideways and slapping a cross shot against the shins of the third defender, near the penalty spot. Stockport hacked clear with Daly peeling way form the centre to their right. The ball was lofted over the top for him to chase with Crane in tepid pursuit. Big Bird made no attempt to get the ball, merely diving across Daly and hauling him down about 10 or so yards inside the Town half. It must have been all those rugby lines on the pitch, addling his brain.

Stockport tried to do exactly the same free kick as the one they scored from at Blundell Park. The centre half, Clare, ran down the right and the ball was dinked in a straight line towards him. The Town defence were mostly alert this time and the ball was half cleared, half cleared again and half cleared yet again. The Town defence ran out as Cartwright, about 25 yards out, dinked the ball back into the centre. Crane loitered without any intent on the edge of the 6 yards box, a yard or so behind Wilbraham. Big Aaron nodded the ball across goal to the unmarked DALY, just beyond the post, who thwacked a low shot across Fettis and into the bottom right hand corner. Crane immediately appealed for offside against Daly, but he wasn’t, and all because the lady loves Milk Tray. As all the Town defence ran out, Crane remained behind, keeping the snoozing Hatters onside. What a stupid goal. Five minutes, one attack, one down.

Stockport nibbled on the crumbly candy bar: lumping, lofting, running, harem scarem tactics against the body of a weak and feeble women, with only one heart of oak at the rear. Five minutes of nonsense was ended with a second shot of the game from Stockport. Crowe and Crane flapped like convalescing Victorian ladies as the ball hibbled and bibbled about their knees. Rrrrrrrrrrrrrickeeeeeee Lambert strode forward on their left and passed the ball forward to Wilbraham, about eight yards out and well wide of goal. Crane allowed the long, lanky not quite Lancastrian to turn and slap a low shot across Fettis from a narrow angle. The hapless Hullite blocked the shot, with the ball rolling across goal. Two unmarked Stockportians were almost sharing his shorts, but he got up and half blocked again. JACKMAN shinned the ball in from about a yard out. Ten minutes, two shots, two down.

Now, what was the reaction of the multitude of massed Mariners? Displeasure was voiced, harsh words were chosen and flung towards some deserving backsides. Were they fit enough to wear the shirt? Were some too fat to wear the shirt? What was going on? Passion? Isn’t that something smelly you can buy in Boots? Tactics? What tactics? Stockport were a confident and organised side. Nothing else: nothing scary, nothing clever. Town were a hotchpotch of sulkers, shirkers and saddened triers. The midfield was too far away from the defence to help, and too distant from the attackers to assist. Caught in a nether land, a void, a carnival of lost souls somewhere between the living and the dead. Style? Wit? What? The ball was hoofed forward towards two unhappy strikers, who spent the first half running after the ball as it wobbled away down the beach, caught on a non-existent sea breeze. Whenever Stockport cleared the ball it went straight to their strikers, who simply laid it into space between defence and midfield, confident that a team mate would run into it. They did, of course.

Craneyellow card


Warhurst78 mins
Hocklessgoal66 mins


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Naff all happened for another five minutes. Then Crane crumpled when clearing inside the Town penalty area. The rest of the defence ran out as the ball was sent up to Mansaram, five yards inside the Town half. The Dazzling Dashing Doncastrian looked up and laid a perfect pass back to a Stockport player 30 yards out. Daly, on their left, noticed the prostrate Crane and slipped into the 10 yards between defence and the big bottomed boy from Bootle. Onside, free, a goal surely. He stepped inside a challenged and, about a dozen yards out, attempted to curl the ball across Fettis, who saved superbly. The ball rolled across the face of goal to Wilbraham, about half a dozen yard out, who took careful aim and smacked it against the bar. Fifteen minutes, three shots, should have been three down.

Cue more mawing from the Mariners. The defence, that terrible defence; two playing offside, two not. Edwards timing his movements perfectly, only for Crane to retreat when the ball was pumped forward. Barnard carelessly chipping the ball up the pitch in the vague direction of Rankin and Mansaram. Jevons, the angel of the north, the feet of cod? Oh dear, back to his bad old first division days of strutting and strolling Barbara-Ann. A rather pathetic series of self- indulgent flicks and barely noticeable "tackles" brought some serious jeering his way.

At last: Town players get near Stockport goal. Send a telegram, the nation shall rejoice. A pass, then another, Anderson to Rankin, turn, turn, turn, bundle, rumble, tumble. A corner. From the right, flipped high to the centre, a block, Edwards stretching, the ball rebounding to Crane. Crane moved one leg, then was cynically felled from behind by a stray tuft of grass. How unlucky can you get, eh? A couple of minutes later Rankin, on the right, twisted, muscled and curled a shot across the face of goal. It was a little bit high, a little bit wide, a little bit interesting.

There then followed ten minutes of such drudge and dread that the Town fans started to contemplate peripheral matters, and notice peripheral things. Like the young, bookish steward standing right in front of us. When we find ourselves in times of trouble, latent wit comes out of us. "There’s only one Harry Potter" and "Harry, Harry cast us a spell" being the more genial renditions. He did well to hold back a cheeky smile. Somewhere in this lost time Crowe was told off for taking a throw in from the wrong place and Crane may have had a header towards goal. Or he may not have done. Mansaram definitely went on a windy-winding jaunt down the left and thrashed a something way over the angle of crossbar and post. Rankin looked displeased, standing unmarked beyond the far post.

Tedious, but infuriating. Town strolling towards relegation. Is it time for Law to take a long holiday and let the children play?

There was a long injury break and Law was seen making gestures, giving instructions. That’s finally seen giving instructions. But he was wearing a gleaming white shirt, the sort you’d see on a Saturday night down Gullivers in 1987, like some kind of rogue Rick Astley fan. Out of time, out of place. He don’t know what’s going on, he’s been ‘round for far too long already.

With less than ten minutes to half time Campbell had a shot from outside the penalty area. It dipped safely over the bar, it caused the man with binoculars to avert his gaze from the Aer Lingus 737 wobbling its way to Manchester Airport. Around this time the linesman in front of the Town fans finally gave an offside, for which he received the biggest ovation of the day. On and on it went; raucous, joyous and tinged with multilayered irony.

Somewhere near the end Wilbraham tried to do a fancy-dan back-heel flick at the near post. The ball arched slowly over the bar, no worries, no troubles, no fear. I think one of their midfielders had a long shot as well, which dented one of the plastic seats about 10 yards wide of Fettis’ left hand post. The Town fans were still obsessed with Harry Potter at this stage.

Half time: Stockport County 2 Grimsby Town 0

And then the half was over.

There wasn’t anything to be proud of, to get behind, to support. Eleven men in striped shirts moving at random. Stockport were admirable in spirit, but hardly frightening. They were comfortable in their play to the point of embarrassment. Town looked completely clueless and without any collective desire The fans were aching just like a woman, but the team were crying like a little girl.

Stu's Half Time Toilet Talk

"I’m lucky, I’ve got wax in my ear."
"There’s more passion in a bin bag."
"Is Law wearing a straightjacket? If not, why not?"
"We’ll have 46 of these next season"
"Tonight we’ll have some hot Scrabble action."

The report continues in the Second Half.

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