US Open Cup: An Evening With The Wild Fenland Rovers

As is frequently my custom at away matches, I joined our supporters’ club, the Wild Fenland Rovers, in the terraces for our second round tie against Ballybofey United.  Much like the Holy Roman Empire, the Rovers’ name is inaccurate in all particulars:  they are a reasonably well-behaved bunch, located in NYC (which is entirely bereft of fens) and not especially given to travel far afield.  Instead, like the fans of the English club from whom we’ve cribbed our name, the Rovers were mostly respectable adults, muffled against the winter’s day with club scarves and performance fleeces; a phelgmatic, shuffling, stamping lot, gray men and women who handed over $30 to cram close to other gray men and women, huddling under a gray sky in a gray landscape on their gray way to retirement and Florida.  Here, lost in the throng, they had bought another identity for ninety minutes.  They bellowed disbelief at incompetence, cried scornfully to the gray heavens in godlike despair, clamored angrily for revenge.  For $30 they did all this and were not held to account.

In any event, for the first 60 minutes of the match, the bellowing of our fans progressed from melancholy to despair as a cagey, scoreless first half gave way to disaster right after the break as the inexperienced Luis Aldair Misariscabame was pressured into a terrible giveaway in his own end, which Ballybofey midfielder Enrico Presta calmly slotted home to put his side up 1-0.

There matters stood until the 58th minute, when a solo foray by Denzell Koszarek  brought Wanderers level, causing our support to erupt with shouts of cautious optimism.  From there, it was all SSW.  The imperious Leslaw Malolepszy, our man of the match, capitalized on a defensive error to put us ahead in the 67th minute and, ten minutes later, Terry King put the finishing touches on a 3-1 win.

Matters get no easier for the Wanderers in the 3rd round, as we host fourth-division FC Keto 17 at the Lane next week.  There’s the ghost of a chance, as the newly-promoted Keto may need to focus on the league, but the odds are clearly against any further progress. Still, the Rovers will be out in force to bellow, cry and clamor.  Thankfully, I will not be among them, instead tending to my responsibilities from the nice, warm Owner’s Box.

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