There was a real danger that this post would become strewn with irrelevant legal titbits from the massive hysteria-inducing media law exam I took yesterday, so I’ve postponed the writing of it until today. Also, after all the evidence has been considered, it needs to be sectioned in the ‘best quickly forgotten’ file.
The only joy at York Street on Saturday was from the small, merry band of cider-swigging, birthday-celebrating, Olbas-oil sniffing Gloucester fans who bounced around in the away stand as though they had reached Wembley itself. And why not; their team arrived with a gameplan for the occasion and the quagmire of a pitch, executed it brilliantly by frustrating Boston’s superior attack and were worthy of their narrow progress to an away tie at Luton Town in round three.
They were certainly much-improved from last week and gained a very swift retribution. It was like watching Boston’s inspired 1-0 win at York City in the last round in reverse. United, affected by a full treatment room of injuries at the back, were poor throughout and the good work in the league over the last week was undone. Those who predicted an easy win when the draw came out were left as red-faced as Gloucester’s portly goalkeeper on a foray to the edge of his box.
Newstead had already played in the FA Trophy for Hinckley, so James McKeown returned for another curtain call. Not sure how this happened exactly – maybe his ferry to his new club in Rotterdam got delayed or he lost a bet with Neil kempster or something – but it was reassuring to see him between the sticks again, especially with Pearson, Ashton, Murphy, Nyoni and Jellyman all missing at the back.
There was nerves immediately – Rory Coleman blatantly handballed in the area when Darren Edwards headed goalwards. The Town End, some 100 + yards from the incident, saw the infringement to a man, woman, child and flag, gasping collectively in horror. Mercifully, referee Matthew McLaughlin and his assistant, a matter of five yards away, saw absolutely nothing untoward.
As they had down at Cheltenham, United dominated possession and created all the chances, though there was often sluggishness in returning the ball forward, which belied the fact the back line were not too familiar with one another. Mikel Suarez had the best chance, but his downward header got stuck in an area of goalmouth mud resembling a particularly septic and sandy alcove of the Lincolnshire Riviera, and keeper Sawyer defied his bulk and the general laws of physics to get down and snaffle the ball off the post.
The second-half took ages to get going and by this point there was a crushing inevitability that Gloucester would score. You just sort of know. And true to form, when McKeown’s clearance got caught in the blustery wind, the ball fell to Darren Mullings, who megged the keeper to score probably the greatest goal in Gloucester’s recent history.
The Town End, again sparsely populated, tried to rally the troops – ‘We’ll win the league, we’ll win the cup’ we sang on a constant loop, knowing that it might have to be quickly revised. By league, we mean we might get into the play-offs and then, after negotiating what will doubtless be a tricky two legged semi-final against one of those bastard teams to beat like Telford, Guiseley or Nuneaton, we’ll face some equally redoubtable side in the final. By cup, we now mean Lincolnshire Senior Shield. Again. Sigh.
The Pilgrims bombarded the Westcountry side for the last ten minutes, but fortune had deserted us. Nobody fancied a 300-mile midweek trip for the replay anyway, though it seemed like a remarkably attractive proposition when Coleman rattled the crossbar and, in stoppage time with Macca racing forward, there were about 16 handball shouts in a goalmouth scramble which culminated with Danny Sleath twatting the ball over.
Concentrate on the league then....
Next Match: Back in Sheffield now, so Boston United vs. Guiseley will be missed. Looking at Sheffield United against Norwich, but tempted to go to Stockport and cheer them on against Lincoln.