I DON’T like bananas.I never have done. Just the smell of them makes me feel unwell. Screw the potassium I’m missing out on. I won’t touch them.
I’m not that fond of banana skins either. In terms of physics, they may not be as perilous as slapstick comedy through the ages would have you believe, but their metaphorical properties are suitably frightening.
Ten seconds into our game at Dorchester in the FA Cup first round, Joe Lennox fell over.
I’m not saying it was because of a skin of the notorious yellow fruit that had been launched onto the playing surface. It was simply a by-product of Lennox’s quick feet failing to gain sufficient traction on the treacherous surface.
But as metaphors go, it was a corker. More so than even the bright yellow of our garish away kit. The Banana Skin Effect (BSE) was about to take effect.
Speaking of BSE, madness was about to ensue.
Conor Hourihane, to be fair, could have done without going into the referee’s book with less than 200 seconds on the clock. Playing 86+ minutes in central midfield on a bad pitch whilst on a caution isn’t an ideal situation, but he deserved it. It was a naughty one.
But to be sent off for taking a free-kick too quickly…….maybe Paul Wotton, sitting this game out, injured, can console his fellow midfielder. Wottsy was infamously dismissed at Oldham a few seasons back, in the worst afternoon of the entire 2003/4 season. The Argyle promotion push came temporarily off the rails at Boundary Park, partially thank to referee Mr Cowburn’s decision to walk Wottsy for having the temerity to take a kick a little prematurely.
After the game, Carl Fletcher said Conor heard a whistle. The gaffer was backed up by some of the lads. They felt it was a genuine mistake. No time was wasted, no player was put in danger. There was not even a shirt removed and an advertiser getting a sneaky moment in the sun. Just a place kick taken a little early.
And so, rightly or wrongly, it was eleven v ten. Having to play a team with 90.90% of the workforce for 90% of the game is going to be difficult whomever you are. And so it proved.
Apart from the ongoing saga of the referee’s ubiquitous yellow card, the first half was nothing to write home about. A header from Clough hit an Argyle post, while Oni Bhasera shook the side-netting on the wrong side.
Apart from that, shots were more likely to endanger those parking their Volvo in the parent and child bays in the adjacent Tesco than the goalkeepers.
The only exception, perhaps, was Lowry, whose more famous namesake may well have handed down his initials to the Argyle midfielder. Laurence Stephen becomes Long Shot Lowry. Only our one is a tough midfielder. No matchstalk man is he.
With second to the break, the stadium announcer proclaimed to the assembled that the stadium bars would be closed at half time.
This was a frustration to many, who fancied a late Sunday afternoon tipple to warm the soul, but probably good news for the Argyle bench, who may have been in the mood for a few scotches by then, but would have been unwise to partake.
In the same amount of time it took Conor to get booked in the first half, it took the home side to notch a goal in the second.
Jake Gosling, at Argyle for a cup of coffee as a kid, and is now employed by a side in red and white 45 miles up the road. They, in turn, have given the Magpies a lend of him, and he gleefully accepted a chance to please both his permanent and temporary employers by blasting a shot past Gilmartin from ten yards.
It was a very tidy goal, and the home crowd understandably lapped it up. The more paranoid and perhaps persecuted Argyle fan despaired – and considered that maybe the left back, Smeeton, was offside before he crossed the ball in.
You don’t have to be Bill Oddie to know that Magpies have long tails, and these ones were most certainly up. The black and white men, all eleven of them, some of them having the biggest moment of their career, were in control.
For the first fifteen minutes of the second half kept them ball at their own end, far from the maddened Argyle crowd.
The hardy souls, over a thousand of them and taking up nearly half the ground, had little to shout about for some time. Then Argyle, rallying, made changes. Young for Lennox, who in truth had looked dangerous at times, then Feeney for Lowry and finally Cowan-Hall for Griffiths.
Each alteration gave Argyle a quick sugar rush, like a long-distance trucker munching on his Yorkie bar, but ultimately the tachograph hit its limit before the cargo could be delivered.
Bhasera, Argyle’s best player, forced Jason Matthews to tip a shot over, and multiple corners ensued. The quality of delivery varied, the level of panic in the Dorchester ranks fluctuated, but the score remained.
Dorchester were jubilant, and deserved their moment. We wish them well in round two. We have a weekend off at the start of December which none of us wanted.
Black and white and red all over, the glowing faces of the home side’s joyous fans. Mainly yellow and tinged with green, the bilious air of an Argyle fan sickened by losing to Blue Square South opposition again.
Or perhaps, the yellow and green of an unripened banana. Or at least the skin, which formerly lay at the entrance of the Green King IPA Avenue Stadium, but now takes pride of place in the trophy cabinet.
Yeah, I hate bananas.