Tuesday, 23 April 2013

Histon 1 Boston United 1

Has the summer arrived? Is it really all over already? Yes, I’m afraid so. For me, another season of following Boston United has come to an end and on the evidence of this lacklustre showing, not a minute before time.

This final away day was, as with so many others in the past, a very pleasant afternoon out marred only by what was offered on the pitch. This was an absolute snore-fest from United, played with all the pace and passion of the first pre-season friendly. 

In the two minutes - the first two minutes - Boston actually bothered, they scored through Greg Mills. The remaining 88, in which relegation-threatened Histon dominated, can be consigned to the dust bin like this season in general. 

I know it’s hard for players to motivate themselves when they’re safely ensconced in mid-table - not going up and not going down - but what was alarming was that so many of the starting line-up still haven’t yet had their contracts renewed. If this is playing for their livelihoods, then they don’t deserve to be footballers. 

On the train home, sweaty and absolutely packed because the main route to London was out of action, I mentally went through those who had featured for Boston and could only say about three or four with any certainly that I would want them at York Street next season on that display.

The mood of the two hundred or so travelling fans in Cambridgeshire summed up this occasion perfectly. In the first half, particularly after the early goal, we were engaged and noisy, taking advantage of some good acoustics in the small stands. 

After the interval, all life had been sucked out of us. It was like we’d been collectively pricked and the air had flowed out. I spend most of the second period leant lazily against the barrier, not especially interested in anything that was going on. Fans chatted about other subjects, rousing themselves to focus again on the turf when someone in amber and black came within the vicinity. That didn’t happen too often. 

There was more on offer in the village green cricket match happening next door, more on offer from the batting order of the team we saw skittled for 63 before the football started. It might come across a bit tinpot, but the truth is Histon are a village side who have punched well above their weight for a number of years, even reaching the Conference play-offs (three matches from the Football League) and humiliating Leeds in the FA Cup. 

Sadly for them, the slide, once it began, appears terminal and they’re gradually slipping to the kind of level that befits their modest facilities and local catchment. I really like Histon, it’s a lively village and a short bus ride away from a splendid city in Cambridge. Aside from one New Year’s Day watching us play Cambridge United in 2005, I’d never been, which is quite shameful really. 

Once the tail-enders had been sent packing to the pavilion (well, row of chairs), me and Hallgarth went inside and were just taking up a position behind the goal when Tom Ward picked out Mills, who cut inside and fired an exact shot past keeper Calum Kitscha from 20 yards. A lot of our fans missed it, as it happened so soon after kick-off, and I was lucky that I just turned round in time to see Mills let fly. 

Of course, given such early gains, we anticipated a rout against a side severely lacking in confidence. It didn’t happen and on the quarter-hour they equalised when Danny Fitzsimons jumped unmarked to power in a header. An infuriating goal to concede and one that made you wonder why Dennis Greene had stuck Ward at right-back against his former employers.

From then on, Histon looked the more dangerous going forward. While they had a greater motivation to kick on and play some decent football, it was still infuriating to watch us so easily torn apart. The lack of pace at the back is extremely alarming and there needs to be reinforcements all over the park. 

A new keeper, centre-half, left-back, central midfielder, two wingers and a striker should do it. As easy as that. Let’s hope Greene has a good contacts book. Roll on next season, roll on the good times again. 

Next Match: I’m off work again this Saturday but am moving flats so who knows if I’ll get to a match.