Festive Fluster…

RYMAN PREMIER DIVISION | Att: 1200

Carshalton Athletic – 1  [Battams  40]

Sutton United – 0

God, I swear if I ever see another game of ‘football’ as bad as this, I think I’ll take up golf or something (I use the phrase football, but my solicitors are currently looking into this with regard to a violation of the Trades Description Act).

Yet again mine and a few other’s Christmas is largely ruined by eleven blokes in bright yellow shirts. Forget Christmas Eve, Christmas Day etc etc. That Goodwill to all men bollocks ceases around Boxing Day when these two Sutton Borough titans lock horns in the far less nice half and as per normal it’s the bloody maroon & white part of the borough that’s left rather pleased with itself as they munch on leftover turkey, as too many times in recent years, another U’s side nipped over to Colston Avenue, had a go for 20 minutes before giving away a goal at a crucial time and then promptly disappearing without trace.

Our heroes, amusingly sporting the best away record in the league going into this contest & who were  currently lying 2nd in the table met a strangely in form Robins (currently unbeaten in seven) who despite this were lying way down in their usual relegation themed 19th spot. I say strangely because only a month ago this side had been firmly rooted to the bottom of the Ryman Premier and lost 2-1 at home to Heybridge ‘probably the worst ‘football’ side this decade’ Swifts. Needless to say, with our relative placings, I and may others headed down Coldsore Ave looking forward to a possible repeat of last years 5-1 mauling of our neighbours, but it wasn’t to be as again the Mighty U’s meekly surrendered deep in enemy territory in our own little South West London “Old Firm” clash.

The game itself started slowly, if not scrappily, with the home defenders/midfielders kicking & harrying anything in an Amber/Choclate shirt as per normal. It quickly became apparent that our amiable hosts were going to try and contain our title chasing boys and hit on the break. Well, they tried to do the latter, but the Sutton rearguard dealt with most threats comfortably. With the Scummers initial forays breaking down, the game set itself into a predictable midfield slog, with U’s central pairing of Steve Watson & Dave Harlow eventually gaining the upper hand. Slowly but surely Sutton began to create chances, mainly through ex-Bobbin Andy Salako out wide.

Sadly for us, Colin Simpson (6 Foot odd) up top was having great difficulty in actually putting head to ball. Three times the man on loan from Orient failed to make any sort of contact with decent crosses, which with the home keeper flapping, any sort of contact on would have surely buried our neighbours nice and early. But no, with the Sutton attacks becoming more & more frequent & it seeming only a matter of time before the ball was in the back of their net, disaster of course stikes. One of the few Carshalton attacks to breach the Sutton backline produces a corner, their first of the contest no less, 5 minutes to the break. Shit. I nudge Oscar to impart some sage like wisdom. “Watch this. Back post, free header, BANG”. Oscar chuckles. Nervously.

What happens? The corner is drifted to the back post, Scummer, number 5 shirt, unmarked, header. 1-0, thank you very much. God I fucking hate being right sometimes. Cue the usual mass hysterical celebration form the 11 blokes in Maroon/White that greets a goal against us. Our boys look on utterly bemused as they always seem to do after going behind in a game they’d pretty much bloody dominated. Suddenly before we know it, the half is over. All the play again, with nothing to show for it. Again.

General consensus at half time is to get the ineffective Simpson off & put Mark Watson on. What happened next was a shock to all. WE ACTUALLY MADE A SUBSTITUTE AT HALF-TIME!!! Simpson off. Watson on. (Jimmy Hill? Alan Hansen? PAH!) Bloody Hell! We might actually be going for it. The second half starts, but it soon becomes apparent that we aren’t really ‘going for it’ at all. The U’s suddenly can’t string together two simple 5 yard passes and any set pieces are woefully wasted by either being too short, too long or straight to the grateful keeper. Despite this Watson manages to cause some problems to the Robins defence, but with his penchant for falling over at crucial times, this largely cancels him out as a serious goal threat. Tallboys on the left manages to disappear completely. Only to reappear and play a starring role in buggering up probably our best chance of the match.

The ball works it’s way into the area and finds Mr Tallboys on the left about 8 yards out, keeper nowhere. All he has to do is just stroke it firmly into the net. 1-1 Ta very much. Nope, not one of our boys, it is Christmas after all! He squares it for an onrushing Naz (just nipping in to tuck away any unlikely loose ends) who is as shocked as us to see the ball coming towards him as we are. With the keeper quickly recovering his composure & closing in our favourite Frenchman, Naz does the only thing he can & nicks the ball back to Tallboys who hesitates for a second before he’s buried by a last ditch Neil Robson challenge. And that’s all she wrote folks.

Sutton make more changes in the shape of Vines and Harper, but it’s now quite apparent that the boys simply aren’t up for a scrap and plod around hoping something will go our way. It doesn’t. As the remaining minutes ebb away, Carshalton seem to be spending more & more time either scrapping it out in midfield or in our half, rather than desperately defending their own goal as you’d expect a team in 19th leading a team in 2nd to be doing this late in a match. The game ends with the Robins getting 2 more free headers from corners, but failing to make them count and U’s winning the “See who can look more like the relegation candidates” contest for the neutrals in the crowd.

So. Another poxy Christmas defeat to those bastards, who yet again showed that this fixture and winning it means that little bit more to them. It also poses serious questions again about the U’s ability to win scrappy games like this in what is becoming an increasingly poor division. The next test is Dagenham at home, I only hope it’s as good as the 2 meetings last year.

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