Sunday, 24 February 2013

Solihull Moors 1 Boston United 0

Tweet from me at about 9am on Saturday morning: “@adamjshergold: hoping @bostonunited can deliver three points on a ground where we always seem to lose 1-0.”

Text to my friend Mark at 11.40am: “Just hope we get something instead of losing 1-0 as always happens at Solihull!” 

Tweet from me at 5pm: “FT: Solihull 1 Boston 0 - Gone exactly as predicted. We’ve had six good chances and not taken one #bufc” 

I didn’t have to be the next Russell Grant to foresee our 1-0 defeat at Solihull Moors on Saturday, it was a result as predictable as night following day. 

As in the last two seasons, we came to this Brummie suburb, watched the planes rattling overhead from the nearby airport, saw Boston take the game to their opponents and create six or seven very scorable opportunities... and then succumb to a single goal. 

To be fair to Solihull, they did create a number of good chances themselves but I feel a point would have been the fairest result. But football is seldom fair and as I set out for the trek back to Solihull station on this bitingly cold teatime, I couldn’t help but smile at the inevitability of the afternoon’s events. 

Having done the walk plenty of times before, I wasn’t going to bother with this fixture but, through what I’m guessing was some malfunction on the National Rail website, I got a £9 return train ticket and thought it would be rude not to. 

I’d also had an excellent week, going to Istanbul on a press trip to watch the Euroleague basketball match between Fenerbahce and Barcelona. Sleepy suburban Solihull was certainly a comedown from the pan-continental Turkish city, which is like London on heat. 

Despite playing well, I can’t help but have a few complaints about the way Boston set about their task. The unexpected departure of Gareth Jellyman during the week left us shorn of a familiar face and meant more changes in the back line. 

I feel we should be playing with the same regular back-line where possible and was dismayed to see Tom Ward sitting on the bench. His partnership with Nathan Stainsfield earlier in the season was often rock solid and I still feel it should be our first choice, even though Paul Lister looks a decent stand-in. 

Up front too, it baffles me why we persist with lumping forward long balls to Spencer Weir-Daley. He did well against the much taller and stronger Solihull centre-back and, one in every three or four, he’ll be able to hold up the ball and find a teammate. But the defender consistently got the ball off him as SWD tired in the second half. The only attacking player who won any headers was Jordan Smith when he came on with 20 minutes to play - and he's not a striker. 

We no longer have any width either. When we were doing well in this league, we often thrived because of the fast wing attack and deliveries of Ryan Semple and Jamie Yates. Since their departure, we haven’t even tried to find replacements. The result is a resort to Route One from the outset - when it is well proven that we do better with the ball on the ground - and the sight of Weir-Daley and his trike partners growing more and more frustrated as the defender wins the ball over and over again. 

Another frustration of going to Solihull is their really good goalkeeper, Jas Singh, and he again showed his class by saving from SWD in the first half, while the same player got through and then uncharacteristically dragged the ball wide. Marc Newsham, who looked his usual dangerous self, clipped the crossbar too. 

Dan Haystead was busy too at the opposite end, but the keeper could do little about Mayo’s unfortunate own goal which settled the game on the stroke of half-time. It was a shot from the brilliantly-named Omar Bogle which caused consternation and Mayo deflected it in without knowing much about it. 

It somehow summed up the bad fortune we always have here.

United came out strongly after the interval, with Ian Ross starting to have an effect. Anton Foster sent a glorious volley on goal which was destined for the bottom corner until Singh miraculously clambered across and saved it. 

Newsham also had the ball in the back of the net from five yards out, but was flagged offside. I don’t think it was actually offside. Singh then produced an even better save from a Newsham header and then jumped Swansea ballboy-like on Mayo’s follow-up. 

And so our curse continues at Solihull...

Next Match: Working next weekend so hoping to make up for that with a midweek local game.