So it was a big day for TheBoroWalk. Back in November we'd navigated our way up that bastard concrete corridor of motorway madness to Dunstable to enable us to deliver our first ever away match write up. We'd made up exactly 2.33% of the 86 crowd that night, witnessed a Reg wonder goal (which somehow didn't make the goal of the season shortlist!?!) and come away with a 3-1 win to keep us on the coattails of those plucky Roystonions.
Fast forward 11 months and it was destination Creasey Spoon cafe Park once again, but this time to take on literally the best team in the whole of Dunstable... well if you pardon the fact AFC had beaten them on pens in some tinpot cup the week before. Speaking of tinpot cups, we were still reeling from the shit storm of Wednesday night where we were taken out for dinner by the tango bunch from Hartley Wintney who, rather rudely, spiked our drinks and then finger blasted our bumholes round the back of Asda. 6-1. 6 bleedin' 1! Never mind though, our overlord couldn't hide his delight in the post match interview so I guess it was a good result for us right? Never mind the fact we'd all had to pay a tenner to get in... and don't get me started on the fosters.
But it's okay. It was non-league day! Yes, that national holiday of jolly where non-league football is wheeled out to the sky felating arse clowns of the '92 for them to patronise the living shit out of us because England are off in the deep recesses of the Baltics being shitter then Piers Morgan.
Alright, maybe I'm being a tad harsh on it (NLD, not Piers Morgan)... but you'll see why by the end of this report. It just fits in with the narrative better.
A fucking hectic Saturday had meant that, by the time we headed off in the Boro-Mobile mkII, a customary M25 meltdown had pushed our ETA out to 2.57. This lead to a bout of early onset squeaky bum time, normally reserved for anytime between 3 and 4.50. The customary "been there, won there, x played there" analysis of all the towns we were passing was abruptly interrupted when we came across the reason our journey was taking fucking forever. A Toyota had ploughed straight into the back of a static caravan on the back of a Jeep. If ever there was a metaphor for our recent form, maybe that was it. Still, we rolled into the creasey car park and parked up next to a speed boat as the players were coming out, nearly got hit in the face by a football and then got hit on by an old man talking about Ethan Allen. It was clearly going to be a surreal afternoon.
Pay what you want was the home sides non-league day gimmick. This was a good thing as I'd stupidly forgotten to take any money out. Obviously I'm not a complete fuckwit though, so handed over approximately £6.47, from which the ceremonial emptying of my pocket had thrown up. Free cup of chips too apparently. Scenes.
Team news. "Fister" Southam was back from his ban and Curo was back in the 11. No Clintons, as he was off quaffing weinerschnitzels in his over sized lederhosen on a stag do in Germany. No"Good" Evans either. "Chilli con" Cairney was still off with the army somewhere so "ankles" Upward continued to deputise. It didn't really matter though... we were playing Dunstable ffs. They've won as much as Wild e coyote this season. Walk in the park, right? Of course. This is Farnborough. Everything always runs smoothly.
A breeze stiffer then the inhabitants of a morgue greeted kick off. A Bill Nighy look-a-like walked up to me and made a joke about the pitch being a lot flatter then St.Albans. Still reeling from the car park incident I laughed along. He found it extremely funny. Maybe you had to be there... oh, I was there. I don't know. Anyway, the important thing was that Boro had started the first few minutes pretty sprightly. Well, anything was more sprightly then Wednesday so probably a relatively invalid piece of analysis, but there you go. The C-unit of Curo, "Mustard" Calcutt and "The Hoffen" Coles all looked hungry to make their mark on what should have been a 'gimme' of an afternoon for their bed post scoring chart thingys.
The afternoon tone was set as Boro's first chance came from a corner. "the Hoffen" bent one in like a porn star with a genitalia disfigurement and "Hightower" Saville mounted the human pyramid, nodding the ball into the ball bag stanchion. Just a matter of time, early doors, it'll be okay.
Not too long to wait before the next opportunity. No, I'm not talking about on the pitch. I'm talking about another old man accosting me. This time it was an old man meandering round deciding to tell me that he used to be in Doctor Who and was still doing comedy gigs when he could. He asked me to give him any topic for him to make a joke about. Obviously I resisted the temptation to say "Spencer Day" as all of those jokes have been done, so I opted for "a Morris Minor". I can't repeat the joke he told me. Let's just say the 70s called and they want you(tree) back. Jesus wept.
Boro continued to control the majority of the territory like a constipated lion with a paranoia complex (same as their mascot ironically). "The Hoffen" was doing his usual act of chasing round like a demented ferret on speed. "Richlist" Forbes even managed to string together a few pieces of interplay and bring the ball forward. Maybe this would be the day that everything came together.... ummmmm, Nah!!
We had a few various offerings where the ball bag was threatened, but it was safe to say that things weren't quite clicking again. It took a good 35 minutes for us to make the stickman work. Some neat build up play resulted in "mustard" finding himself on the shoulder of the defender, heading it back across the stickman who saved well down to his right. Ironically it turns out this was a brand new teenage keeper making his debut. Quite why we weren't peppering his goal with waves of potshots was beyond me, especially early on.
A couple of minutes before HT and Dunstable worked themselves into a position which should probably should have resulted in the opening goal. Boro's backline undone and a mighty fine block from, who else but, "Reg" saved us the embarrassment of going in behind. HT 0-0
It was not a half for the purist. Boro had huffed and puffed but not been able to undo a nervous Dunstable backline. Curo got caught offside too many times, "Mustard" was clearly being targeted as the supply route which needed cutting off and "fister" Southam.... well.... let's just say he'd performed his usual 10/10 performance... for shouting and talking out of his arse at everyone constantly. That said, we were getting into the final third, but we just needed the bit of luck to get the car running. Most probably 1 would lead to more. Just don't concede. Just don't, alright??
Into the second half and...Oh, Bill Nighy was back again... asking me about our trip to Boreham Wood next week. "I'M NOT FROM FUCKING ST. ALBANS YOU SENILE OLD GOAT". I have a yellow scarf on... look at the pitch... we play in yellow. Maybe I'm from Norwich or Brazil. Don't be such a regional racist. Anyway, he then decided he'd take it on himself to be the 18th person of the day to tell me that Dunstable were amateur and didn't get paid for playing. Fine, I get it... we're shit. I really don't need that validating, have you seen our results lately?!
Anyway, couple of minutes in and the nails in the coffin were starting to shine in the glare from Reg's head. "Mustard" limped off and was replaced by the out of form "truncheon" Hutchings. Left back for a striker probably not what the doctor ordered but Spencer evidently didn't have the confidence to throw on the youth lad this early on. The biggest issue was that our hold up player was gone. With our tendency to resort to lumping it, and no natural width with "clintons" being absent and Walker having long departed, I think we all started to feel the squeaks in our posteriors.
That said, "the Salmon" Huggins continued in his quest to miss as many chances as was humanly possible, from corners, in a game of football. Maybe I should have called for a representative from the Guinness book of records, as opposed to the pint of Guinness I'd generously treated myself to from their fine & friendly, yet annoyingly understaffed clubhouse. Good burger and chips though.
We still weren't working the keeper enough from open play. "Reg" had obviously figured this out as it was he who launched a couple of grenades from just outside the area. One agonisingly wide and one needing the young ball bagger at his best to tip it round his pole.
"Hightower" picked up a booking for a clumsy foul and then it was time for things to move to "unravelling shit-storm" level as a completely innocuous throw in was wafted long back in the direction of "ankles" who took a touch, lost control, ballsed it up, bent over and served it up on a plate for the onrushing forward, who suddenly found himself running into the area with nothing but fresh air standing in his way of the goal mouth. 20 mins to go, we were 1 down to Dunstable fucking Town. 0-1
I wouldn't say we particularly moved up any gears or anything at that point. As expected, Dunstable obviously began to sit deeper as they tried to work out how and why they were winning and what the hell you had to do to win a game of football. This invited us on but again we were looking bereft of poise and penetration from the midfield and lacking any width to get in behind. The main chances were all coming from set pieces, "the salmon" was up to goal effort 17,431 and firing blanks like an Oscar Pistorius case for the defence.
Curo spurned a couple of good chances and was replaced by the young lad Roberts for the last 10. Maybe it'd be one of those fairytale story type jobs which would result in him "doing a Rashford" and lifting us from the depths of this massive toilet we were wedged in. Well, he got booked for chatting back at the ref at least. Quite how the ref called that when he hadn't picked "fister" up on it all game is beyond me. Maybe he was just a fuckwit.
There was still time for "the hoffen" to craft a great chance after some sloppy defending, he half rounded the keeper and, pushed slightly wide, leathered his shot across the goal... unfortunately finding one of their heroic centre backs putting his head where others probably wouldn't.
With Boro throwing bodies forward like a madame tussauds clearout, it was inevitable that the Dunst would carve out another opportunity, on the break, to kill it off. "Ankles" able to tip it just over the bar. Back up the other end and "the Hoffen" earned a free kick just outside of the box. Another chance to grab something.... but we wasted it and that was it... and then the rain started. FT 0-1
It's becoming abundantly clear that some of this team is coasting.
It's becoming abundantly clear that there are large question marks over the tactics/formations we're adopting.
It's becoming abundantly clear that we're all getting rather fucked off.
Come on lads. You wear the shirt, take some pride in it and indeed for us fans who thrash our guts out to travel to places like Dunstable to watch you. This has been a shit week and with, at the time of writing, an in from Weymouth in the week... it's time to step up or shit out. This tide needs to be stemmed fast, especially with Hereford and Royston on the horizon.
Spencer. Sort it.