Wednesday, 7 September 2011

Stalybridge, Boston and Workington.


The odds have been against me posting anything Town this past month and a bit. Following the Mansfield game I set off from Calderdale to Land's End on my bike, before setting off to Seattle for two weeks (depressing), and now my internet's started functioning properly, here I am.

Watching Town in the Conference North is an improvement. Not that I've seen us put 100% in yet, but I know from these three games that even when it's dross, it's better than watching Worksop players in shelf-stacker shirts falling about like babbies in the midwinter night. The worry is, when will we attain the pace that we've found is necessary to challenge in the Conference North?

The first game is Stalybridge Celtic at home, and my lift is so late that I miss their first goal. It was a penalty conceded by Scott McManus again (Slapp MyMissus), and prolific Stalyvegas striker Phil Marsh put it away. Stalyvegas brought 120 or so over who made a bit of noise and initially, we competed quite well with that. But when James Dean squared it in, Lee Gregory beat the 'keeper to smack the ball in at the other side before too long. It's good to be back, and the Shaymen were putting in a good case for themselves against the table leaders, who had already won their first four games. It wasn't too long after however, that Slapp MyMissus this time failed to take down his opposition as Hogan gave away the ball, and as Eastwood failed to catch the ball, Stalyvegas' Jennings placed the ball in. MyMissus was then, thankfully, substituted.

In the second half, tedium set in. Oh, that second half really was a pain. Much possession from defense to attack, but as soon as we got within 25 yards of the net we became hopeless, without ideas and worried to commit to any ball into the box, let alone shot. On the other side, Stalyfuse hadn't bothered to put the game away for themselves as the tempo of the game slowed and slowed. So in the 91st minute what happened? Aaron 'Ardy was taken down in the box, Town were immediately rewarded a penalty, and what does Baker do? He tucks it in. 2–2 at full-time; Stalyfuse's perfect points tally is no more. The Shaymen are mid-table, but they can silence a full-time Stalyfuse outfit who really were getting rowdy.

A loss, a win and three draws preceded Bank Holiday Monday's game at Boston United. Not so good then, but just two points off where we were last year when we, of course, pissed that tinpot league. Arriving in the Fens I was surprised at how pleasant it looked compared to so much of the crap I'd seen the week before in America, despite as being as flat as a pancake. My lift was late and I missed the first 15 minutes. It appeared we'd already scored this time, but it was just the atmosphere! After the past three seasons you're not used to an away game where the two sides' fans are chanting, but today we were being told by the Boston ultras that we were "just a small town in Goiseley." We reiterated that they were "just a small town in Poland," and that was the best part of the first half.

Boston fans were as unsettled as us with their start to the season: fairly unsettled. Part of their team had left for a better life at Grimsby Town, who also now have Boston's manager and assistant manager. Where were Grimsby as a result? In the relegation zone, and with a viral YouTube sensation:

The Pilgrims' main forward right now is, apparently, a Lincolnshire League stalwart. Their attacks were admittedly blunt, but I could easily see the touchline terrace at York St. explode with joy as one of their attacks actually brought some joy. Luckily, even the close efforts were stopped by Simon Eastwood. Meanwhile, attacking towards a terrace of 320 Shaymen, we got closer still. We were alright, followed by good, followed by very unlucky not to get a goal. The closest chances in a tense wait for the one goal that would get us those three points were from Aaron Hardy, whose free header weaved itself above and then left of the goalposts, then Danny Lowe, who was through but couldn't find a trajectory Boston's 42-year-old 'keeper hadn't got covered.

This begged the question, why was it our defenders who got closest to the goal? Why not our strikers? Of course, Jamie Vardy, now one of the non-league's biggest names, is our squad's long-gone number 7. His pace beat the back line countless times and he was a stark joy to watch, a progressively greater pleasure before becoming a forbidden one, leaving for full-time pay at Fleetwood. But he wasn't the only one who brought us this far down the pitch last season, so our remaining strike force shouldn't be this lumpen. With ten minutes to go the goal seemed imminent, but it didn't end up coming and we were left to be philosophical over a 0–0 draw. One of those fairly entertaining 0–0 draws.

Three points had to come at home to Workington Town, and it did. My lift was late and I missed Wukky's first goal. But again we came back, and again it was Lee Gregory who found a close position to finish it. And like a repeat, Tom Baker scored a penalty. Then in the second half, a corner ball came to Tommy again from 20 yards out, which he blasted through the centre, avoiding all bodies in the box and clumsily going through the Wukky 'keeper. I'd divulge further but to make no bones about it, it was a dull match not worth describing in detail both because I already have with others, because these reports are starting to add up in word count as it is, and of course, I'm not being paid to do this. We won 3–1, we won it at a boring ol' canter, and it's encouraging we can still do that.


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