NATIONWIDE CONFERENCE | Att: 1097
Sutton United – 1 [Watson 20] Doncaster Rovers – 0
After the mildy pleasing denial of 3 points to the annoyingly smug K’s on Tuesday evening thanks to Sammy’s late intervention, we awaited the invasion of Ex-League club Doncaster, the club with arguably the biggest support in the Conference. As such, the Fielder is full of broad Yorkshire accents when I arrive around 1. The Donny boys have been on the piss all day it seems (good effort chaps) and have visited some 21 boozers along the way, which is quite some going even by our standards! Although they admit to not having had a drink in all of ‘em as some were described as “Fookin’ shite” (That’ll be the Isobar and All Bar One then lads?).
A few of the travelling hoard are also England regulars and of course a couple recognise Colin and also Bob fairly quickly, which keeps everyone happy and gives us common ground to natter about. It also keeps the guv of the pub’s blood pressure in check as he’s a bit nervy having so many away ‘lads’ in the gaff at one time! Few quick pints in and it’s the quick zip to the ground and we’re on the Shoebox for the action out on the pitch.
Mackie’s knee is still dodgy it seems, so he’s replaced by Riley today and with Dacky banned, Sears comes in his position. We also discover we’ve made a new signing!! Joe Baker, apparently released by Leyton Orient is sitting on the bench. It’s also confirmed that Mr Clive Walker most probably won’t be joining us due to us not being able to meet his personal terms. Now there’s a shocker! Still, I’m guessing that despite being older than my gran, his goal scoring abilities don’t come cheap. Thankfully there’s no sign of Mike Newell or recently signed Peter Beardsley (yes, that one!) for the visitors.
The U’s start brightly and it’s also soon apparent that our visitors really are rather poor, which is surprising give it’s their second season down here after a calamitous arrival, so you’d think they’d be more at it this early in the campaign. They’re alledgedly missing a few players today, but that’s really not much of an excuse for a side of full time professionals. We have a couple of half chances whilst Donny toil away, vainly trying to get organised. Then after 20 minutes, the best move of the match gives us the lead. A barrelling Sammy Winston run, sees him pull the ball back to Mark Watson some 6-7 yards out. Thankfully his shovel connects sweetly with the cows arse on this occasion as he picks his spot and finishes into the corner.
To be fair, Watson is having a decent all round game. His touch, for once, is not failing him and he’s actually holding the ball up well and bringing other people into the game. He’s also managing to run with the ball without falling over like a new born baby deer after a few yards, which is nice. It’s a reminder he’s actually not a bad footballer at all when everything works. Elsewhere, the back four is coping admirably with the few attacks the visitors can muster with Riley and Laker standing out in particular.
After a few more nervy moments around their goal, the visitors hold on until the break and go in just the 1 behind. At the break, news reaches me that apparently Oldham are winning at Chesterfield. Bloody hell, has Christmas come early? A cuppa from Rose and a hot dog sets me up a treat and when the second half starts is sees Donny come out with a bit more purpose (they couldn’t be that shit again, clearly), whilst we go in search of a (hopefully) killer second goal.
The visitors threaten our goal a lot more in the second period. The closest they come to registering though is a Barry Laker hook off the line with Howells beaten and a good last ditch challenge by Berry allows Howells to gather after a good run by the impressive No.3 has him bearing down on goal. In time, Watson and Winston are replaced by Forrester and Ekoku, both having given their all grafting for the team up top. This gives us a little more pace if not a steadier frontline! One break sees Forrester take up a good position only for the pass to be delayed and the youngster flagged offside. Nko’s powerful running meanwhile is causing concern as the last thing you want after a tough afternoon as a defender is a 6ft 4 brick shithouse running at you at great speed. Only a last ditch challenge prevents the big man getting a strike on goal in the box.
The visitors meanwhile bring on Ian Snodin, brother of manager Glyn, who’s main contribution is to immediately get himself booked for a clumsy lunge on Nko. As a spectacle the game dies a death before the end as they run out of ideas and we kind of run out of steam a little. And despite a nervy last 10 minutes where Doncaster’s professional fitness levels start to show more, the U’s hang on for a vital and well earned win.
It wasn’t a classic, but a it was at least a good team performance with only Sears and Harlow really disappointing over the 90. Still, 3 points is 3 points and as it turns out it gets us back out of the bottom 3. Whoopee! With a spring in our step that only a win can provide, we soon find ourselves back in the Fielder for a couple again surrounded by Donny’s finest, most of whom are pretty decent and magnanimous about the result, with Mark Watson’s shift up top coming in for particular praise.
Later that evening with our visitors long departed, it seems that the landlord has been somewhat put out by our fraternising and seems under the impression we were the reason that all these very large hoolie looking lads were in before and after. The dopey sod. We largely ignore the sulk and continue putting money over the bar for his ale.
We’ve a win to celebrate after all!
MAN OF THE MATCH : Errrr, oh go on then. Mark Watson. For the goal!
ENTERTAINMENT : 6. By no means a classic, but we did enough for the 3 points.
TEAM : Howells, Brooker, Riley, Laker, Berry, Skelly, Sears, Harlow, Harford, Winston, Watson
SUBS : Rowlands, Baker, Little, Ekoku, Forrester