RYMAN PREMIER DIVISION – Sat 2nd Jan 1999 – Att : 995
Sutton United – 3 [Brooker 50], [Salako 74], [M.Watson 77]
Dagenham & Redbridge – 1 [Cobb 5]
Good news! Our intrepid heroes managed to return to winning ways after the bank holiday debacle at…..well, you know where, with an, in the end, resounding win over one of last seasons challengers for the title. Which was nice.
The two games against D&R last season were both crackers with plenty of action & Naz in particular a serious annoyance to the Essex side. This match was also a bit special, as it heralded the return of crowd favourite Jimmy Dack from Aldershot, where he probably got bored of playing in front of 2000+ every week & getting paid twice as much. Understandable really.
The game started badly for the U’s with the Daggers obviously looking to prevent a repeat of last season. Paul Cobb is being particularly annoying in the way he ran the Sutton defence ragged early on and his perseverance brought him early reward. One of his back line shredding dashes seemed to have been brought to a halt about 2 yards into the Sutton box, when the peroxide terror retrieved the ball for the divot that had halted his progress (What, you didn’t honestly think one of our defenders had……..Oh never mind) he turned & planted the ball neatly in the far bottom corner of the net. Five minutes gone & if this carried on much longer our visitors would get ample revenge for last year. Un-nervingly, it did carry on. Time & again Mr Cobb & his mate Danny Shipp up front caused the boys at the back no end of trouble. But we dug in and somehow further damage to the scoreline was avoided and the first half ended with the 11 blokes in Yellow & Brown finishing the stronger side, playing some decent stuff on a frankly awful surface. Sadly we’re just unable to apply the killer touch to our pretty football and get back on terms.
Into the second half and thankfully the lads carried on where they left off, going close a couple of times from corners with Paul Gothard (allegedly one of the best keepers in the league we’re told) flapping with marvellous consistency at most things aimed his way. Finally the breakthrough came. Another corner has Gothard finally making contact with an inswinger, unfortunately for him his punch is crap and goes about 10 yards, dropping on the edge of the area where Danny Brooker is nicely placed to hammer the ball hard & low, straight back into the Daggers net. Yeeeeesssssssss…… 1-1. Nice one boys, still plenty of time to get the winner. The equaliser now spurred on the home side as Dagenham struggled to contain the yellow attacking waves, but again it seemed as if frustration rather than goals would be the order of the day.
The bench decided that a change was needed & Mark Watson replaced Colin Simpson with about 20 minutes to go. The change helped immediately with Dagenham now having to deal with a pacy sub in sticky conditions rather than a big immobile lump. Eventually, another corner was the visitors undoing. Again our pal Mr Gothard fails to deal with the situation and the ball falls to Andy Salako about 10 yards out at the back stick. His low strike takes a very slight deflection, which is enough to beat the recovering ‘keeper at the foot of his post and it squirms in just out of reach. 2-1! From the restart it’s fairly clear from Dagenham’s body language that they no longer fancy it and it’s only a question if Sutton could add to their tally. We don’t have to wait long.
A couple of minutes later, a Mark Watson flick on holds up in a boggy corner of the pitch. Steve Talboys gets to the loose ball first and drops the ball straight onto the head of the aforementioned Watson, now in acres of space in the box. The returning forward makes no mistake, planting his header strongly past the ‘keeper to make it 3-1. Game Over. Dagenham toil on looking for a way back into the game, but they only really succeed in giving U’s more space to counter attack. Sadly this doesn’t materialise into more goals and the 7 minutes of injury time (yep, no idea where that lot came from to be honest) just seems to drag out the inevitable.
All in all a pleasing result, although questions have got to be asked. If we can raise our game in the second half against Dagenham, why can’t we manage it in a local derby against one of the poorest Scummer sides in years? C’mon lads, consistency!
Man of the Match : Steve Watson. Ran his arse off again & didn’t deserve to be subbed.
Entertainment Value : 8 (Not quite last years standard, but entertaining enough)