I took up my usual position when I attend the RayMac (Raymond McEnhill Stadium); on the W side, between the tuck shop & the N end. Diagonally across, in a small covered seating area, were many Cherries fans; ditto at the South (City) end.
This was a tale of 2 clubs having come through economic trials & tribulations: the home side having to reconstitute into a new legal entity, thus did not play last season & now starts in the Wessex Premier under Boscombe reject Steve Claridge. The away outfit nearly went the same way, but we know now the outcome – a glorious entry into the highest level of English football. 6 years ago, Boscombe included a certain Charlie Austin for this same fixture; he reached Div. 1 first, but 3 promotions in 6 years for Boscombe is pretty amazing in the circumstances.
The teams came out to “Kashmir” – a great stirring track but perhaps a little clichéd? Nice touch: Eddie Howe led out the away side, showing his commitment to all levels of the club, not just the first team. He remembers his roots, his history. Of course, it was the development squad, but 5 of the starting 11 had seen first-team action over the last 5 years. One wonders if Ward is set for a role in bringing forward the kids, or whether this was to ensure he’s fit enough for the subs bench v. Villa on Aug.8.
Salisbury k.o. to the City end; Wakefield (wearing 8) was captain, solid in midfield alongside Butcher. Ward & Zubar marshalled the defence; the 2 full-backs were speedy going forward. Ironically, the game 6 years ago had a Costa for Boscombe – Andre, on the left side also. Up front, the 2 wingers were quick & tricky; Green at 2nd striker was mobile & always looking for a in on goal, & Cornick played centre-forward but with a winger’s sensibility. The patchy grass didn’t help the passing, but both sides looked to be lively & progressive. Cornick went forward well but was dispossessed; Costa was penalised for sliding in studs-first. This was the 4th friendly for Salisbury – some reasonable quality. Most of the side had been recruited from within the Wessex, so I guess I’d seen some on my travels these last 3-4 years.
Cornick won a corner after some good play on the right, then hit a cross-shot wide. Walsh came in from the left (just in front of me) but sliced a right-footer way across goal. Butcher hit a poor attempt at goal, so at least there was plenty of forward thrust, but it was all a bit inconsequential, with Salisbury forwards having little impact. Boscombe played with the movement & a shape similar to the first team, understandably. Costa had a great run & put in a low centre – Cornick so nearly connected; Costa was definitely better attacking than defending. Nonny started up “Red Army” from the far corner. Then half-way though the half, Cornick gained (rather than won) the ball in forward central midfield, out-sped his marker, & once in the area calmly planted it right-footed. 0-1.
Salisbury no.10 strode away in the centre circle; Butcher tackled from behind but, apart from the free-kick, the ref. gave him only a chat. Green was body-checked by the Salisbury 6; the home 5 & 6 were as tall as their away oppos. Boscombe queued up again, but the ball never quite fell for a clean attempt, & Salisbury defenders went into last-ditch mode effectively. Matthews was just wide with a cross-shot. Then Salisbury had a free just inside the far corner flag; after some pinball, it went over the bar for a goal kick. A feature of this period was a series of lung-busting runs by Wakefield in support of attacks which, regrettably, came to nowt. He then smacked one hard goal-wards but the keeper saved well & then went walkabout á la Boruc. Zubar jarred a knee coming away with the ball, but saw out the 90. Both left-wingers were pulled back for offside; evidently Costa & Walsh were trying to develop a Daniels/Pugh understanding. HT: 0-1.
Costa began with a good tackle back, but I doubt he’s an early contender for a sub for Daniels or Mings. The Salisbury 11 burst down the left wing (i.e. in front of me) & Zubar had to slice the ball over the bar. This presaged things to come. The corner led to pinball & a hook off the line; Salisbury definitely had the bit between the teeth. Matthews was tricky, but Salisbury evidently quicker & more up for it. As one home fan behind me pointed out, Boscombe forwards were trying to walk it into the net – always looking for the perfect opportunity.
Substitutions started: Butcher & Walsh replaced by Josh Chamberlain & one with an unnumbered shirt (triallist? Looked unprofessional.) Salisbury did similar, & also swapped the goalie. Salisbury had a free which saw forwards queuing up on the 6-yard line. Simple header, 1-1, about 65. Salisbury commitment was matching Boscombe quality, & with the 2 Joshes in midfield the defensive work was suffering, leaving Ward & Zubar exposed. Boscombe even looked complacent – or running out of steam; Allsop did a couple of walk-abouts also. Suddenly, the 12 was unmarked 5 yards out; 2-1, 79. Much appreciation from home fans – rather more than polite hand-clapping…
Salisbury made another substitution, Boscombe attacked well with a decent centre from the right & a good save. The ref. wasn’t interested in time added. FT: 2-1.
A fitness exercise for the away side, also learning to play the AFCB way, but defeated ultimately by the extra commitment of the home outfit – i.e. Salisbury wanted it more, whereas Boscombe looked for pure play a little too much. Your correspondent is always glad to see clubs rise from the “dead” – Accrington, Aldershot & Newport are other examples - & wishes the home club every success.
MoM: Home sponsors went for Brandon Mundy (ex-Frome Town, Forest Green Rovers); for Boscombe I’d suggest Cornick of a modest bunch – at least he scored.
AFCB: (4-4-2): Allsop; Muleba, Ward, Zubar, Costa; Matthews, Wakefield, Butcher, Walsh; Cornick, Green
Subs: McCarthy, Carmichael, Buckley, Quigley & 2-3 others.
Peter Wicks, Bulford
22 July 2015