Boulevard suffer inevitable drop
Boulevard 1 Somerset Eagles 1
Boulevard's relegation from the Premier Division was confirmed despite a spirited 1-1 draw against fellow strugglers Somerset Eagles at Goose Gosling Field yesterday.
Heading into the encounter rooted to the foot of the table and 12 points adrift of safety, with just four matches remaining, Boulevard knew only a victory would extend their stay of execution, with survival only possible on goal difference.
The magnitude of their improbable task became ever greater after Teniko Eve broke the deadlock for Eagles and despite a second-half display full of heart in which Khiry Easton levelled, the final whistle signalled not only the end of the match, but the end of Boulevard's hopes of retaining their top-flight status.
“Throughout the season, we've had no stability and no consistency,” said player-coach Ian Coke, who reflected on relegation as a chance to rejuvenate the club as they target an immediate return.
“To get a team to gel together has been difficult and that's been a frustration when we know we are capable and we could have done more.
“Dropping down a division is a chance for us to start over with a clean slate. The aim is definitely to bounce straight back up. There's no reason we can't do that.”
Eagles, who are fighting their own relegation battle, broke the deadlock in spectacular style after 20 minutes as Nathan Rego picked out Eve 25 yards out from goal, who took a touch out of his feet before unleashing an unstoppable strike, via the crossbar, despite the best efforts of Jahhi Shakir.
Rego then spurned a good chance to double the advantage curling an effort wide of the far post from the left-hand side, while at the other end, Dunn-Ya Taylor came close to equalising, almost catching out Eagles goalkeeper Lorenzo Lambert with a first-time lobbed effort.
Eagles finished the half strongly with Rego being brilliantly denied by Shakir with the resulting corner being narrowly headed over the bar by Ethan Fubler.
With no margin for error, Boulevard came firing out of the blocks after the restart and took the game to Eagles.
Both Zaire Burchall and Coke both fired narrowly over before the latter spurned a golden opportunity on the hour mark, wildly lashing over from 12 yards after being picked out by substitute Taiquan Davis.
However, Coke made amends seven minutes later as he played a key role in getting Boulevard back on terms. After getting picked out with a deep ball, Coke cushioned the ball across the goalmouth with a first-time volley into the path of Easton who slotted past Lorenzo Lambert via the crossbar.
With Boulevard pouring forward, Eagles went close again with Anwar Telford denied by Shakir, while three late scrambles inside the home side's area failed to result in a goal as both side's were forced to reluctantly settle for a share of the spoils, much to the annoyance of Eagles coach Jensen Rogers.
“Hats to Boulevard they came out with energy and never gave up the fight,” he said. “The frustrating thing is it's another week where we've missed a big opportunity. If we want to get out of trouble then we have to be winning games like this.
“I just hope at the end of the season we aren't looking back at games like this as the reason we've gone down.
“Important games you have to take all three points and we didn't do that. Mathematically, safety is still in our hands and while that's the case we'll keep up the fight.”
Somerset Eagles Eve, 20
Boulevard Blazers (4-1-4-1): J Shakir — A Famous, Z Stovell, T Stovell, N Eversley — N Smith — K Easton, Z Burchall, D Taylor (sub: T Davis, 59min, Y Darrell, 71), T Walker — I Coke. Substitutes not used: G Darrell, A Harvey.
Somerset Eagles (4-3-3): L Lambert — M Iris-Simmons, S Lambert, L Burch, T Eve — C Smith (sub: J Ratteray, 31), G Smith, A Telford — T Wade (sub: M Thomas, 71), N Rego, E Fubler (sub: D Simmons, 72). Substitutes not used: J Rumley, C Medeiros, K Evans, R Trott.
Referee: L Cann.