RYMAN LEAGUE CUP QUARTER FINAL | Att :
Maidenhead United – 5 Sutton United – 4 [Akrour 6], [M.Watson 26], [Harford 75], [Salako 119]
After Extra Time
United lost their grip on the Isthmian League Cup on Tuesday night, going out at the Quarter-Finals after Extra Time to 1st Division Maidenhead in right old see-saw, ding dong, topsy turvy 5-4 battle.
A look at our hosts league position would have been enough to hearten any visitor, with only 9 wins in Div 1 so far this season. But it appears that the Magpies are clearly a cup side, having dumped the U’s out of the Full Members Cup at the Semi-Final stage 2 seasons ago at York Road, 3-1.
Our line up had been shuffled about slightly from Saturdays 3-0 stroll at Hampton, with Riley at full back (?) and Kevin Espinosa in goal. A surprise greets us as it is discovered Vernon Pratt of Coventry match fame is in the hosts back four. I pray his presence doesn’t trigger a final 20 minutes of ‘How the fuck did that stay out??’ of 1989 Coventryesque proportions at their end.
U’s start strongly and are ahead after only 6 minutes when Naz takes a pass just inside the box, wrong foots the defender with a neat shimmy and crashes the ball into the near top corner of the net. Nice to see our man from France showing he can still do the biz. A couple of minutes later and it should have been 2. The home defence is all over the place as Naz bursts into the box, cuts past a defender and somehow manages to drag the ball a full yard wide from only 6 yards out. Sadly a glorious chance wasted. Next it’s Steve Watsons turn to sod up a right sitter. Mark Watson’s header out to the corner of the box sees the other Watso storm into the box and balloon wide of the far post when it looked easier to score. So with less than 15 minutes played, U’s probably should have been at least 2-0 up, maybe even 3. Game over and a question of how many we’d get surely?
Maidenhead’s reply isn’t long in coming though. From probably the first of their 2077 corners won that night, the ball isn’t cleared and a home midfielder smashes the ball through a crowd of players from about 20-odd yards. Espinosa doesn’t see it until it’s almost past him and his desperate dive is meaningless. So, instead of it being 2 or 3-1 it’s all square. U’s still look the far better side with the Magpies back four looking possibly the dodgiest I’ve seen this season and it appears to be catching, as the home keeper spills an easy catch into his body after 26 minutes and Mark Watson turns the ball home from 8 yards. 2-1. We relax a little, abberation out the way, crushing victory coming up. Errrrrr not really.
A few minutes later and our hosts are level again. Was it the same bloke? Oh who cares…this midfielder, well, just hoiks one from about 35-40 yards that to begin with has the lads on Mir ducking, we smirk, that’s shite that is. Sadly for us, gravity kicks in and the spinning looping curling ball crash lands quicker than a scud missile, which normally end up anywhere but their target. Our variant? Yep, right under the crossbar and into the corner of the net. If Saddam had seen it, the bloke would have a job for life. 2-2
This incident spurs on the home side and they manage a couple of close scares. Mainly from the 265 corners they squeeze in before half-time. Unfortunately Mr Espinosa is suffering from shock. Failing to gather any of these set pieces and is fortunate to see one such flag kick belted off his goal line by Gwynne Berry.
I coax Bob out of a particularly Beer-less ‘Bar’ for the second half by stating “We don’t want to miss any goals now do we?”
We don’t. Just as the pitch heaves into view, Maidenhead’s 908th corner is being directed into our net by none other than that bloke Vernon Pratt. The treasonous bastard. “Sutton Reject, Sutton Reject” chant the home fans. Sarky Bastards. This event triggers all out assault on the opposite end (We even go to three up front!!) How the home defence gets away with some of the the most terrible defending I’ve seen in years is beyond me. Sadly U’s hurry most of their opportunities and therefore waste them.
But with about 15-20 mins to play, their No7 commits his 37th foul of the evening and concedes a free kick on the edge of the box. Dave Harlow plays it a yard to his right and Paul Harford lamps the ball into the top corner. 3-3. U’s onslaught gets worse but the Magpies somehow hold on and reach extra-time.
We start the first extra period rather badly. Corner No 1568 is missed by everyone. Except the bloke arriving like an exocet at the back post. His diving header sneaks inside the post to make it 4-3 to them. This prompts JR to make a change. He replaces Naz and Mark Watson, who have been scaring the back four shitless all night with the deadly partnership of Vines & Salako. Sutton begin to toil now as we at last make their defence look remotely competent as the first extra 15 ends.
Again, crap defending and indecisive ‘keeping kill of Sutton hopes just a minute into the second period. A hopeful punt forward is chased by their lanky forward, but it’s Espinosa’s ball all the way. Except it isn’t, as our Kev fails to jump for the ball under the challenge of the forward and has the ball nicked over his head and into the empty net. 5-3. Game over! Nothing much happens after that until the last 5 minutes, when the home defence relaxes back into keystone cops mode and almost manages to chuck it away. Shots by Barry Laker and Dave Harlow are charged down in the box following corners. Sal silences the far end with a minute to go, taking Vines knock down and planting it in the far corner. Sadly there is no further opportunity for the Magpies to salvage a replay from a dead-cert Semi-Final spot and we go out.
Our evening is improved slightly by the news that Aylesbury have somehow thrown away a 3-1 lead to draw 3-3 at the Scummers. Nice one crappy garden bird types. Guess we might have found some use for you after all?
Man of the Match : Steve Watson. Back to his best (Despite the missed sitter….)
Entertainment Value : 8.5 – Nine goals and we DID play some nice stuff.
APOLOGY : I wish to apologise for the compliment paid to our local rivals in this report. I really, really promise it will NEVER happen again.