Sunday, 14 August 2011

Workington AFC 1 Boston United 2

Sometimes you want to love the fixture computer. When it delivers a festive period of local derbies or four consecutive away trips when your student loan has just been paid in, you just wish you could kiss it on its shiny chrome noggin and seductively feed data into its almighty processors. You learn to adore the little whirs and bleeps, and the randomness of the multi-coloured flashing lights on the front. The free-spirited minx. 
And then when you think you’ve found the one, it comes up, after those magical nano-seconds of sequencing and concocting, with an opening day of Workington (away). The lust drains away from your eyes, the bloody ceaseless noises suddenly start to get on your nerves and you want to rip out its tapes and dent its microchips with a lead pipe, or ‘accidentally’ spill some Ribena on it.  
230 miles there and 230 miles back again, the trip to Workington is the season’s longest game of ‘Are we there yet?‘ It makes Palin’s Pole to Pole look like he just popped out to the corner shop for a paper. Thankfully it’s usually worth it when we go up there and Saturday was no exception. 
Jambo had spent the week on tour with the cricket club and needed a detox, so I was adopted by his family for the day and took his place in the car next to a mountain of chocolate, crisps and Tuborg. He assured me on the phone that three matches of cricket had been played when drinking wasn’t taking place but wouldn’t let on how many runs had been scored. Probably three fuzzy ducks. 
My view that it didn’t somehow seem right to miss the opening game of the campaign was shared by about a hundred other travelling Pilgrims but the rusty structures and steep, open-air terraces of Borough Park whipped by the bracing Irish Sea winds, weren’t really conducive to a rocking atmosphere and we were all quite subdued. It was good to see that the pitch had been replaced and looked bowling green smooth, a real contrast to my last visit in February when it genuinely looked as if the tide had just gone out. It was also great to see all the bridges rebuilt after the terrible floods a couple of years back and the local community getting back on its feet. 
Mikel Suarez started the game but had clearly picked up a knock in the warm-up (or his long legs had seized up on the epic journey) and was quickly replaced by Julian Joachim. Nobody expected a repeat of the eight-goal thriller from last season, when Boston surged back from 3-2 down to win in the last ten minutes, and Workington is the kind of game where you stick a target man up top, get your boot underneath the ball and hope you’re not hacked to bits. Therefore, losing Suarez wasn’t ideal and we essentially admitted this wasn’t the time or place for pretty, passing football when Jockey was shifted out wide and Newsham installed as the human leaping salmon. 
This didn’t mean the veteran Joachim was ineffective and he won us a penalty just before half-time when Kyle May handled. Nobody in the Boston support saw the incident clearly but the linesman was convinced and flung his flag across his chest. Kevin Holsgrove stroked home a confident penalty. 
Justice was served in the eyes of the home fans when Holsgrove felled Lee Andrews with about 20 minutes left. Another penalty, and Gareth Arnison fired past Paul Bastock to equalise. The troubles continued when Joachim limped off three minutes later, leaving Newsham as our only fully fit striker. The gaffer stuck Tom Ward, the centre half, up front by virtue that he was the tallest of the substitutes and he ruffled the home defence sufficiently to allow Holsgrove time and space to jinx in from the right and unleash a shot in stoppage time. I’m not sure whom it deflected off, or what part of the body it hit, but from shivering at the top of the terrace, the next moment I was climbing on the advertising hoardings in mental celebration. Workington had been mugged once again. 

Such was the surge of euphoria, I could have walked home. What a start to the season!
Next Match: At home to Histon on Tuesday night 

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