Milk Stout at £2.35 brought back memories of lunch with Violet Carson (a pint & I’ll tell you the tale; 2 pints & I’ll keep quiet…) then a walk most of the way to the old Springfield Park until we veered off under another railway & over the canal to the modern, shared stadium with one stand named “Boston” after the Wigan RL winger.
A start for Jalal, also Tubbs, Hughes & McQuoid. Frank Demouge was on the bench with 5 subs & SupaFletch. Our end was crowded; the other – empty. The home support was most vocal in the stand to our left, at the end nearer our end. Both side stands were patchy in population terms. Boscombe k.o. to our end; Daniels went through to the by-line but hit it to the keeper at the near post. A Boscombe clearance led very soon to Jalal having to make a low catch. But the away side was controlled, passing a little better than the supposed superiors who had 8-9 changes in both position and personnel from the usual 18 of our Div.1 favourite side. Pugh went down; quick free, Daniels in low but Tubbs had it under his feet and the danger passed. Boscombe had 2 corners in quick succession. Pugh & O’Kane both looked as if they could fit the Martinez profile for his home squad… Pugh was sandwiched on coming into the area from wide – penalty! No – yellow for diving. Hmmmmm… Pugh was furious.
Arter won the ball brilliantly in the centre circle – but was penalised. The ref. was testing our patience, his whistle sounding more and more flatulent. Tubbs was not as effective up front as Pitman or Grabban, but to be fair he had a better marker. McQuoid’s control – and concentration? – let him down too often. An away corner led to a scramble but was cleared, and soon Jalal had to collect low down. Up the field, in from the right, out, pass to O’Kane at inside-left. He let the ball run across his body, advanced to the corner of the “D”, and unleashed a left-footed scorcher across the keeper. You gorgeous sweet beauty! 0-1, 41!!! Massive applause at the interval.
The new kid on loan from ManU appeared on the restart. Both sides did lots of pass & move, but poor final balls by both made it almost like the 6-tackle rule in rugby league, giving it back to opponents. The new kid headed onto the top of the bar; Wigan seemed quicker now but conceded more free kicks. McQuoid came more into the centre, and on one foray hit it over the bar. Hughes was warned for a series of fouls. Too many away clearances were coming straight back, as there wasn’t an out ball – Tubbs was way back into his own half. Cook, as steady so far as Elphick, had to head for a corner. The left-back, Figueroa, hit one of his left-footed specials onto the bar. With Tubbs having decreasing impact, he was replaced by Fogden on 66, with McQuoid staying central thus the right-side was strengthened defensively. He released Pugh whose cross-shot was grabbed low down, easy. Elphick had to shin for a corner.
The afore-mentioned Figueroa scooped over from 5 yards; suddenly the ref. blew for a penalty. TV replays showed Francis had pulled his shirt, else he’d have stayed up and scored. But no home player appealed – strange. As the away fans couldn’t in the main see the cause, the ref. by now was collecting their ire like an aumilder collecting taxes in C18th Ceylon. Once all was settled, it seemed that McQuoid had received a yellow, perhaps for complaining (or perhaps he was the felon). Gomez stepped up, Jalal beat it out, Gomez tapped it in. 1-1, 70. In response, Fogden cut in but the shot was saved and cleared. Francis kept it in well, high up the field; over, but Arter hit it over. Fogden fed Pugh who won a corner. Arter was given, and made, space, but again cleared the bar. The away side had the temerity to take the game back to Wigan – excellent spirit.
Cook went down but soon recovered. O’Kane found Fogden wide left, leading to Pugh winning another corner. Jalal had to make a difficult catch, eventually grabbing it on the ground in a heap of players. Fogden was felled wide – at last a free! McQuoid had done his bit; Pitman came on at the 88 mark. He was felled wide, but it was a poor follow-up from Boscombe to the free. Just after 4 minutes extra had been indicated, a clash of heads led to Hughes being led from the field, replaced by Partington. The other guy seemed worse, but all 3 home subs had been used. So Boscombe ran down the clock.
An excellent performance against what some would describe as Wigan’s 4th side (after the rugby league team, its reserves, and the Latics’ main team). Some observers beyond the away fans felt both penalty decisions were wrong, so 0-2 might’ve been the outcome. Effort, organisation and skill was little different between the 2 teams. Not perfect; perhaps better ball control and concentration, and a better final ball, might’ve seen Boscombe shade it, and Arter really must learn not to chase after the ref. to complain (perhaps MacDonald’s way back into the team is when Arter is suspended for too many yellow cards). One lesson is that every pass must count against higher-level opposition. Pitman (albeit briefly) & Tubbs didn’t look good enough to do a decent job in the replay; Grabban might as he’s high on confidence even though ability is not at Div.1 standard. Replay - looks like it’ll end up with penalties, the winners going to Macclesfield. Good to see Partington having a moment of pitch-time, given his name is so similar to that wonderful midfielder Boscombe took from Wigan & sold to Everton – Joe Parkinson, who’s currently involved with the home club’s kids.
A rapid walk back through the scrap-yard area of the town, and later on for the first time in years I joined the card school on the train home. Back in John Bond’s day, we won 2-3 @ Cobblers, Phil Boyer being knocked out as he scored (the winner?) with a diving header. That day I won most of the tricks going; on this return journey, I won the biggest pot. All in all, a very satisfying day.
Hughes was so influential in organising, tidying up, keeping everyone calm; no-one had a poor game and application was superb. Again Cook & Elphick were outstanding. But for being so stylish, available, mobile, looking like he’d walk into the home team, and that goal, it goes (in this reporter’s estimation) to O’Kane.
Boscombe (4-1-4-1): Jalal; Francis, Elphick, Cook, Daniels; Hughes; McQuoid, Arter, O’Kane, Pugh; Tubbs
Subs: James, McDermott, Demouge, Fletcher, Fogden (for Tubbs, 66 mins), Pitman (for McQuoid, 88 mins), Partington (for Hughes, 92 mins)
Peter Wicks, Bulford