NATIONWIDE CONFERENCE | Att: 1056
Dover Athletic – 1 [Some Geezer 75] Sutton United – 1 [Winston 79]
So it’s off to the South coast we go after our footballing lesson dealt out by Rushden just 48 hours earlier on Saturday. Despite the now officially declared ‘crappy start to the season’, our away support seems to be swelling as we took 2 cars loaded up for this one! Clearly some people either have nowt better to do with their time or retain levels of optimism previously thought impossible.
Making a day of it as per, the first stop is of course Canterbury and a beer in the charming little town square whilst grinning stupidly at all the tourists doing the rounds, admiring the architecture and whatnot. Next it’s onto Dover itself (sadly Kent’s a bit crap as far as our beloved Firkins go it seems) and after negotiating the by now standard shitty town centre one way system, we settle down for beer, some grub and mucho pool in an accommodating local hole. Fully refreshed it’s then it’s off to do battle with our two ex-Jedi Hynes and Joffa, who found the dark side far more rewarding when it came to the folding and legged it to more lucrative opportunities a while back.
The side stays pretty much as it had Saturday (apparently) with Dacky back, Sal returning to the bench and Watso replacing Simpson up front from the start to partner Sammy in attack. We kick off and it’s soon apparent that our oppo aren’t that brilliant. Which is encouraging, as nor are we and it means we could get summat here! Both sides take time to settle and sod all happens for the first 20 minutes or so. Then we suddenly get battered with the shitty stick that seems to have accompanied our start to the season so far. A U’s attack breaks down and in attempt to win the ball back, Paul Harford catches the Dover no8 a touch high as he tries to break. The ref blows for the free-kick, but the no8 isn’t happy and starts chucking his toys out of his pram at the tackle.
The whistle happy ref takes this as a reason to stamp out such naughtiness and books Harford for the challenge. Ok, fair ’nuff, silly challenge and all that, take the card, move on and settle down. Sadly our big midfielder doesn’t heed this slap on the wrist though and barely more than a minute later dives into another 50-50. Naturally a second yellow is followed swiftly by a red and Harf’s off to the bar to get the beers in early doors. Fucking brilliant. Just the 28 minutes gone and we’re down to 10 men. Fucks sake.
This means that for the last 15 minutes or so of the half we get to watch the United boys bravely hanging on for the break and a chance for JR to get things reorganized. Thankfully we manage this task without too much bother, mainly as Dover look as limited as we do so far and get into half time goalless.
Our own half time chat decides that given the disparity in player numbers, a point would be a satisfactory outcome and that the burgers here at Crabble are crap. A couple of us commenting that we’re fully expecting to be experiencing them again at some point in the near future, albeit from which end is uncertain.
Second half sees the emergence of Nko in the place of Gwynne. Obviously to give us a little more balance to the line up and also to add a little more drive and muscle on the counter. From the start, Mr Ekoku’s strength and pace causes the Dover defenders problems and they deal with it in the customary manner by simply kicking the big man to bits. Naturally, given the earlier events, not fucking one of these draws the attention of the previously Yellow card waving ref. Yeah, cheers mate. Sammy keeps chasing everything up top and the midfield are doing an ok job trying to halt the flow of the home side’s attacks. One particularly nasty foul on Nko sees the defender obviously upset that he hasn’t caused any lasting damage and starts trying to beat our midfielder senseless.
At this point the ref finally steps in and gives Ekoku a stern talking to for not only failing to be seriously injured by the constant fouling, but for then getting his arms in the way of the Dover defenders fists. The home player of course once again gets off scott free here, which given the assault is even more confusing. Where’s this utter twat from again? Did you say Ashford?? Fucking hell. That’s like us having a lad from fucking Croydon. We thought this was a National League? Can’t they get a ref from more than 10 minutes away??
Just as we forget this little altercation, we win a free kick on the left and Dack delivers it to the heart of the box. Nko jumps with the ‘keeper and the ‘keeper goes down like a sack of potatoes. Nko looks on surprised as he’s made little or no contact. A couple of Dover players get upset and charge in. The ref again intercepts, but this appears to be a clever diversion as the moment the ref turns his back, the ‘keeper leaps to his feet looking for a ruck. Nko and the twat stand face to face for a good few secs until the clueless homer bastard, er sorry, referee, twigs whats going on and stands there blowing his whistle. Very authoritative. U’s players intervene and drag Nko away, but the ‘keeper just won’t let it lie and turns his attentions to Mark Watson and after more nose to nose action he calls Watso “A plucking Runt” or something similar. Our frontman shows his feelings have been well and truly hurt by laughing in the geezer’s face.
The clueless homer bastard, ooops sorry, referee then calls Nko to one side and then proceeds inevitably to book him. We assume for simply existing. Or being too tall. We’re not sure. We of course voice our displeasure from the terraces as the ‘keeper looks on whilst having his mascara reapplied. Mr Hyde, you are a cheating bastard and we shall be looking for you at GGL later this season, mark my fucking words.
The game finally continues and the incident along with all the other one eyed bollocks going on seems to fire the lads up, but Dover’s attempts on our goal are getting nearer and more threatening and only a superb stop by Howells from ex-U Vansittart keeps us in it. Then it happens. Another bullshit decision from Mr Homer B. Astard gives the home side a free kick some 30 yards out. It’s taken quickly and knocked into the right hand channel. The cross is delivered to the back post and their No8 rises unchallenged to give the 12 men the lead. We sigh heavily, believing that the game might now be beyond us.
But that’s not the case, as the boys storm forward, appearing even more pissed off with the ref’s treatment and the home side’s shithousery and keep searching for the goal they frankly need. And just 4 minutes after going behind, our persistence pays off and we actually get it. A bloody goal!! A Dave Harlow corner is flicked on by Nko and is met at the back post by Sammy Winston and despite the desperate attempts of wanker Hyde to keep the ball out of his net, Sammy’s header sneaks in and we frankly loose or minds in delirium on the terraces. Sam meanwhile goes on a 10 mile celebratory run. Hey, we’ve not scored many this season, fuck off!
The rest of the game sees the U’s scrapping to hang onto our precious point like there’s no tomorrow and we largely manage to keep Dover at bay without too much fuss. Thus the the final whistle is greeted with a loud cheer from the travelling fans and after cheering the boys off we head to the bit of grass next to where we’ve parked to listen to the footy results and have a kick about as we wind down from the match. It’s during this little scratch game that we discover our much maligned 2-Man corner routine does actually work, not only that, it works twice in a row. Maybe we should do a couple of sessions Thursday night to demonstrate? Lads? LADS?
Admittedly there are no 6 foot, brick shithouse defenders to disturb our efforts and we’re using a 99p Brighton Pier ball that’s seen better days (99% Air 1% Shite as Col decribes it) and we’re a bit beered up, but hey we’ve shown it can work. We’ve proven the theory is sound. And that’s the main thing.
On the way home, the journey of course takes a brief adjournment to Chatham for a couple of medicinal point on the road pints of the beer variety before we again make tracks back to civilisation and as always finish off the night at home base back in Sutton and more of those pinty things.
Ok, we know it’s only a point, but it’s a start!
MAN OF THE MATCH : Gareth Howells. Several Great Stops Kept us in It.
ENTERTAINMENT : 7. Still really haven’t seen a crap game.
TEAM : Howells, Berry, Mackie, Laker, Skelly, Harford (S/Off 28), Harlow, Dack, Winston, Watson SUBS : Rowlands, Ekoku, Little, Simpson