Until recently, I was doing so well this season. Boscombe hadn’t lost any of the first nine matches I saw, two at home and seven away, culminating in that great performance at Crewe. Then I went to Stoke, and now this. What has changed?
Don’t expect me to answer that. The team varied in only two positions from that famous night, Cummings making a welcome return to the club at left back, and Broadhurst resuming his central partnership with Tindall. But it wasn’t the defence that let us down tonight as much as the unchanged midfield and attack.
SOD’s post-match comments were a little hard to take. Having already called Kidderminster boring after the 0-0 draw at Dean Court, he now complained that Kidderminster “wouldn’t let us play our passing game, and forced us to do things we didn’t want to do.” Well, to me that sounds like a compliment to the Harriers, which they well deserved on the night, but I don’t have the impression that Sean means it that way. I think he saw what we saw, which was a home team more coherent, more determined, more organised. And yes, they didn’t let us play our game, just as we hadn’t let Crewe play theirs.
From the start, Harriers had looked the more impressive team, with Bennett giving Cummings a testing debut, and Bishop the best forward afield, giving Tardif lots of early work to do with some good shots as well as putting a header just wide. Boscombe could not get it together, their first shot on target coming after 27 minutes from Hayter, giving elderly debutant Digby an easy save. Five minutes later I saw big Steve calmly take the ball down on his chest, control it, and put in a respectable shot which went just wide. Or perhaps I dreamt it?
Our best spell came early in the second half. Cummings managed to get forward to set up Hayter, whose shot needed a good save from Digby. Then Elliott curled one from the right, which just missed the far post. But the grip of the locals was tightening. Their name says it all, in fact. They harried us out of the game, never letting anyone settle on the ball for a second. It seemed a very effective way to play, and was allied to no little skill.
I thought they had made a mistake in 75 when they took off their best forward, Bishop, but their dominance was unaffected. In 82 came the killer goal. I think it was Henriksen who played a fine diagonal pass out to Bennett on the right, and his cross was of equal quality. Henriksen was now one of three Kidderminster players in the goalmouth melee, and all he had to do was bump into the ball to score.
The referee obligingly extended the announced two minutes of added time to four and three-quarter minutes on my watch, but there was to be no Boston revival. We were sunk, and deservedly so.
I was surprised to read on the Harriers fans’ website that some ass couldn’t hear a sound from the away end. Sitting in the middle of the main stand, I was in the best position to judge, and I can assure you that the 200 Boscombe fans were far from outshouted by the 2000 home fans. It was some consolation.
AFCB: Tardif; Cummings, Tindall, Broadhurst (Foyewa 85), Purches, Elliott, Stock, O’Connor, Thomas (Eribenne 78): Hayter (Holmes 84), S. Fletcher.
Subs not used: Stewart, Buxton
Robin Stieber, Fulham