Wednesday, 25 August 2010

Boston United 1 Nuneaton Town Borough 2

It had to come and this was it. The reality check, the crash back down to earth, the end of the honeymoon and the return to football’s equivalent of the daily grind with the duty free clinking in an overstretched plastic bag. I suppose after the 9-0, the only way was down and this was like being plonked under an Arctic cold shower after a Saturday night skinful.

Nuneaton Town (they seem to have lost their Borough status – bit embarrassing for them) had the kind of negative tactics last seen on Sunday afternoons on Channel Four circa 1998 but how effective it proved. Time wasting and petulance were the order of the day, like Lecce or Chievo defending an early lead in the San Siro back in those good old Football Italia days, and how it riled us up.

Assuming our accustomed vantage point at the back of the Town End at Mecca, you couldn’t escape a feeling of being a little bit old. There were kids everywhere, like a local scout group had booked out the terrace for a jamboree or the youth centres of all the surrounding villages had been emptied for the night or the Pied Piper has started supporting Boston. It was like the scene from The Inbetweeners when Jay, Will and the others walk into the under-16s disco. I would like to believe it was a well-merited treat after gaining their five A*-C GCSEs but you could tell just by looking at some of the faces it simply wasn’t.

And then they emerged. Sheepishly at first until they could hide their shame no longer, lining up in the requisite Champions League-style line for the Fair Play handshakes (we’re still waiting for the official Conference North anthem). Nuneaton were sporting the most unashamedly pink kit you will ever see. Not a pastel shade, not fuchsia, not even Dulux salmon. Not like that Juventus away kit or Palermo who can pull it off because they’re Italian and innately stylish. This was full-on fluorescent, high-vis, road safety pink as though the manager’s highlighter pen had got into the club’s laundry. The substitutes refused to wear it. There were howls of laughter from the tolerant Boston public. It was bloody hilarious.

Sadly, Nuneaton’s weak grasp of all things sartorial just made it all the more humiliating when they did a job on us. United had dominated the first-half but, aside from a few glimpses (notably when Jamie Yates dispatched a daisy-cutter a couple of inches past the upright) they struggled against a well-drilled visiting defence. And when Lee Moore headed home from close range on 12 minutes, you sensed it would be one of those nights for the majority of the healthy 1681 crowd.

United huffed and puffed, occasionally blowing their top when the pink shirts would shepherd the ball into the corner or just lash it into the car park to eek away another few precious seconds. Goalkeeper Danny Alcock had an indecisive strain and his lengthy deliberations about where to aim goal kicks became a real focus of anger for the home fans (I mean just close your eyes and aim). Their second was dead jammy; a cross from the left pinballed in front of James McKeown’s goal before ricocheting off Guy Hadland’s arse into the net. Miles Hunter’s late reply was just too little, too late.

Boston don’t take defeat well - perhaps we’ve been spoilt too much lately - and promises were aired to ‘take a big mob to their place on Easter Monday and show ‘em what a proper following looks like.’ I bet they’re bricking it already, building up their fences, locking up their daughters. When the initial disappointment subsides, however, we must realise that is our first home defeat since last December (you could say it has been a fortress here at York Street but that’s probably hyperbole when you’re playing Ossett, Durham and generic shit northern FC) and that’s a half-decent record in anyone’s book.

Next Match: Harrogate Town vs. Boston United (Saturday 28th August)

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