Sutton United – 0
Stevenage Borough – 2 [Samuels 42, 81]
When we got the fixtures (eventually!) for this season, I looked at our first 6 games and declared we’d do well to take 6 points from ‘em, littered as they were with solid Conference names who’ve been around on this particular block for a little while.
As it turned out, he previous 3 had been nothing if not eventful and we were a bit unlucky not to already have 4 of those points in the bag by tonight. (Cheers Forest Green you bastards!) Unfortunately due to the Great Nailsworth Blackout, this meant we actually only have the single point to show for our efforts prior to the arrival of Stevenage at GGL. Who just so happen to be 100% at the top of the League with 3 wins out of 3 and no goals conceded. Ah shit.
As we’ve seen before, we go out and battle bravely. But unlike a the other sides we’ve met so far in the early exchanges, these guys have a definite cutting edge up front in Carl Alford and Tony Samuels. Definite in the fact that even Isthmian fodder like us have heard of them. Alford was last seasons top scorer in the Conference and is rumoured to get a grand a week for his efforts in Hertfordshire. So not at all crap then? Mr Samuels? Well he used to torment the hell out of us when he played for Boreham Wood in the division below for fucks sake, so you just know he’ll be a right pain in the arse now he’s training full time and surrounded with better players.
Naturally his pace and Alford’s experience are causing us probs from early on. Still, we front up, keep going and stick to the task, but they’re well organised and despite our endeavour, our visitors never look in too much discomfort. Howells is forced to make a couple of great saves fairly early, again his first real tests of the season. First a 1 on 1 with Samuels, whose shot he turns away with his legs, then he beats out a fierce drive from the edge of the box minutes later.
Just as it seems we’re going to hang on gamely until the break, Boro get the goal they’ve been threatening. Gallingly it comes moments after our own best chance of the half so far. A brilliant run by Richard Skelly takes him to the edge of their penalty area. He slips the ball to his left for Jimmy Dack and Dacky’s solid sidefoot drive from about 10 yards is beaten away full stretch by the ‘keeper. The visitors subsequent long clearance forwards starts a race between Berry and Samuels and we know there’s only going to be one winner there. And sadly it doesn’t involve a bloke with a permed mullet. The pacy forward takes an excellent first touch, frankly leaving Gwynne for dead and his snappy first time shot goes inside the far post with Gareth helpless. A seconds delay and the fact that they’ve scored registers with the travelling fans at the opposite end. Up goes the roar.
Given we’re looking a little outmatched for the first time this season, the half Time discussions on the Shoebox aren’t all that optimistic. For the first time this season we’re looking maybe a little out of our depth, but then again if we can just get a little bit of fortune, who knows? It’s football after all. I mean, fuck me, we’ve beaten Football League sides before. That shouldn’t happen, should it?
The visitors come out for the second period and really start to look like a side who are going to be challenging for honours come the end of the season. Their football is quick, direct and very very effective. The boys keep going in the hope of some kind of reward, but it’s mostly a rearguard action and we do little to cause them any serious problems. Some people behind the goal start calling for Mark Watson, like he’s some sort of messiah who’ll lift us to glory. We shake our heads mournfully. Fools. We doubt Pele could save us right now. But soon after, they get their wish and Simpson, who’s again worked himself into the ground for little reward, is replaced with last seasons top scorer. And fuck me if within a minute he doesn’t have the opportunity to maybe rescue a point.
Sammy finally gets away into some space down the flank and away from his marker. He delivers a low pass to the edge of the six yard box where Watson is waiting to receive it. Watso’s done the hard part at this point and got goalside of his marker, all he has to do is sweep the ball into the net. Yeah Right. Just at this moment, his cows arse-banjo interface malfunctions and he instead falls over. I look to the heavens and mutter some obcenity related to the female anatomy. Fucks sake. That’s the different ladies and gents. If that was Alford or Samuels, the only bloke on his arse would have been the defender andor the keeper. Ball in the net.
Within a couple of minutes it’s game over for the U’s with about 10 left. A Boro corner is swung into the heart of the box and it looks like Gareth is going to gather without a problem, but like our defence, we’ve failed to spot Mr Samuels nipping in unmarked. He leaps in front of Howells and directs his header into the far corner to make it 2-0. Bugger. The boys heads go down a bit at this point and Stevenage go looking for more to put a bit of shine on things. We do almost manage to salvage a smidgin of pride late on but sub Ekoku fails to connect with a good Dack free kick into the box and the chance is gone.
So, after that early optimism, it’s not looking quite so good at the moment. With one of the other expected challengers this season, Rushden, due on Saturday, we really need an amazing performance to lift the boys and to get us going. But my head is overruling my heart and I seriously fear for U’s at the weekend.
Fortunately or unfortunately, I won’t be there, a wedding in Essex requires my unmissable presence, so the report on that one will have to be handled by someone else.
Right. Where’s Chalmers got to??