Playing With The Big Boys Now

NATIONWIDE CONFERENCE

Att: 1038



Sutton United – 0

Rushden & Diamonds – 4  [Collins 20,39 West 76 McElhatton 85]

Wasn’t too sure about missing this one, but a commitment made under the influence of alcohol a few weeks back meant I couldn’t worm my way out of it without at the least incurring the wrath of a scorned woman or at worse losing bits of my anatomy I’m fairly fond of. And yes, I know, what sort of stupid bastard gets married 3 weeks into the footy season anyway?? What’s the world coming to?

Fellow Shoebox member, ‘Judith’ Chalmers was tasked with keeping me up to speed with events at GGL via the magic of mobile phones and text messages. Annoyingly, we entered the chapel just before kick off at 3pm, so it’s not like I’ve had any news to tide me over with until this is all done. Moments later, I’ve already had a quick squiz at my watch, at which point the young lady I’m accompanying rewards me with a sharp dig in the ribs for my indiscretion. Which is hardly fair to be honest as she’s a fellow Sutton sufferer and is missing the game too! Double standards that.

I’ll tell you what, there’s something to be said for non-Church based nuptials. After what feels like five minutes and a quick ‘I do’, it’s all over. Done. Dusted. Blimey, that was quick! Hang on, if we make a move right now, we can get back catch the second half! No? Why not? Oh sod the recept….eh? Free Bar?? As in, you don’t have to pay free? Oh go on then you’ve twisted me arm. Let’s just hope Ol’ Judith’s on the ball with the updates.

We’re out in the gardens of the weddingy place watching the happy couple get their pics taken and the first update comes through from my source at the match. It simply says 0-1. Rats cocks. Quick check of the watch. 20-odd minutes played. Fuckfuckfuck. Oh bollocks to manners, I slip away quickly to call my man up for a bit more detail.

“We’re Playing shit” is his verdict. Oh Great.

Twenty minutes later and we’re still outside in the sunshine as the myriad of pics continue to be taken. Aunties, Uncles, Autnties cat’s neighbours, Best Man’s adopted cousins twice removed etc etc. By now, I’m properly aiting for the bar to open. ‘Beep Beep’ goes the mobile, signalling the latest update from GGL no doubt. Paul’s minimalist style once more shines thorough in his message. “0-2” is all the detail I get. AAAGGGGHHHH!! I check my watch and realise it’s not far from half time. Get that bloody bar open! I need a beer! A few minutes later, Paul calls me with a proper half time rundown. It ain’t pretty. The only good news is that he’s taken it upon himself to knock up a report for me for the site. Good lad, still at least at this rate he won’t have to put too much thought into it and it should be fairly short from a football perspective.

And the Bar STILL isn’t open!! Talk about fucking torture. I’m all dressed up in a suit (a bloody suit!), missing football and I can’t even get a fucking beer. Fuck your photos, you’ve had enough. Some of us are two down and need a half time pint!

FINALLY the bar opens and several older guests, sorry Auntie Flo, are maimed by my no prisoners approach to obtaining alcohol. Couple of cans of ale later and I’m feeling a bit better about life, but in a “we’re 2-0 down but at least I’ve had a bevvy” way. Then the phone bleeps again. “3-0 mate” is the message along with something about a Howells mistake. Sigh.

Another visit to the bar at what should be pretty much full time brings a final. 4-0 at the death. The comprehensive stuffing I’ve been sort of dreading since the opening game has finally happened. My mood is not improved by reports of us only having 14 available players on the day and the less than impressive formation we’ve played. Cheers Paul, I think I’ll go sob uncontrollably in a corner somewhere.

Normally after occasions such as this, it is of course standard practice for most football fans the world over to go get completely nutted and forget about the football. Another visit to the bar and I abandon any plans to do just this. All they have is poncey bottled fizzy shite for all the people without taste buds and some warm cans of Boddies for me. Yes, I quite like the creamy Manchester Ale sometimes, but due to it’s lowish alcohol content and my northern bloodlines, I can drink the stuff till doomsday and still be 100% coherent, which is not what you want when you wish to be completely wankered at the end of the evening. Still, it means I at least don’t go making a complete wanker out of myself in polite company, so swings and roundabouts innit.

More sober than I’d like, I check the teletext for the league table when I get home a few hours later. Second to bottom. Oh well, think we can safely say that warm glow of “We might stay up!” optimism from the first couple of games is firmly done with.

So, off to Dover on Monday. Surely it can’t get any worse. Can it?? Now, over to Mr Chalmers with the actual report of what occurred….

Well the best non-league club (In a financial sense anyway!) came to GGL for the first time and don’t we bloody know it! From kick-off we’d have been happy with a draw and in the first 15 minutes, we weren’t outclassed, although Rushden looked very Stevenage and managed a couple of efforts on goal, but nothing to cause due concern. The visitors made a breakthrough after 20 minutes. A cross whipped in from the right is flicked on at the near post cutting out all 3 of our defenders and Collins at the back post couldn’t miss from 8 yards. U’s went forward looking for an equaliser but lacked that killer touch in the final third, something we’ve been saying about a couple of our oppo so far! U’s defensive frailties were exsposed again after 39 minutes, ex-U Paul Underwood delivering a cross from the left and Collins rose unmarked again to beat Howells.

The second half team talk must have consisted of a sound bollocking from JR, as the U’s came out fighting, knocking the ball around well and Winston having a chance saved by the impressive Turley early doors. Sammy kept running, Harlow and Harford trying to stem the tide in midfield. A bit of a change to 3-5-2 saw Skelly shift to midfield with Sal & Nko moving out wide, Laker stepping in at the back. The visitors front 2 caused constant problems though with their pace & movement with Rushden’s full time status shining through much like Stevenage’s did last week. The visitors inevitable 3rd came from another left wing cross that Howells made a rare mess of and dropped onto sub Colin West’s toes to tap in. Stick a fork in us.

Mark Watson replaced the ineffective Simpson and had an opportunity from a corner but again failed to convert. McElhatton finished the job with a couple of minutes left, being allowed a free run on goal and slotting the ball through the advancing Howells legs.

So 4-0. It’s quite plain that at times it was men against boys. Their full time status and fitness was a telling factor, but so was their finishing and the fact that we defended so poorly at times. Our own failure to convert chances needs to be addressed quickly to prevent heads from dropping as this was our third game on the bounce with no goals scored, a couple of new signings to inject some competition for places is also needed as we looked a bit thin in places today.

TEAM – Howells, Laker, Skelly, Berry, Mackie, Harford, Salako, Harlow, Winston, Simpson, Ekoku. SUBS- Watson, Rowlands, Brooker, Little.

– Chalmers

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