WOKING – 1 [Akrour 49]
SUTTON UNITED – 2 [Winston (Pen)51, Watson 53]
So, to our umpteenth relegation six-pointer of the season. But with a twist this time. Spoiler alert: We won this one!! A decent performance from the U’s (at last!) got its just reward with an much needed and vital win. It was also the first time we’d met our ex-fave, Nassim Akrour, since his disappointing summer move to Kingfield. Naturally, the French wizard scored. But more of that later.
Bob, Jules and I all meet up in the Prince of Wales pub in Wimbledon for a quick opening time beer or two before heading for deepest Surrey. Having got slightly stitched on our tickets, we arrive in Woking a touch peeved. But that’s soon forgotten as we enter the local Firkin boozer down on the high street for a few more bevvies. We’re then in shock soon after when we’re charged £2.30 for a pint of Old Speckled Hen. Fucking £2.30!!! Can you believe it!! I know we’re a little way out of London, but that’s ridiculous. I actually got a pint of ‘Hen’ in Sweden of all places for bloody 2.50 not long ago! We swiftly decide that we’ll be heading towards the Wetherspoons for our next round.
With the prices over the road a bit more agreeable, the beers flow and Chalmers finally shows up just before 2, so we sup up to start the slog down to the ground. We get about 150 yards before we notice the long line of Cabs doing sod all outside the station. Be a shame to waste such an opportunity, so we commandeer one for the princely sum of 4 quid between us to save our poor tootsies some wear and tear and put some more coin into the local economy into the bargain.
Piling out at Kingfield, Chalmers points towards the old covered terracing, that’s been there like 20 years, in front of us. “Is that their ‘new’ stand?” he enquires. Bob and I exchange glances before replying in unison. “No you muppet, the dirty great thing over there with the white roof is!” and pointing towards the obviously brand new and huge new stand at the far end. Dozy git. We really need to have a word with the lad about his observational skills. That or get him glasses.
Proggies and dogburgers are purchased and we head for the shiny stand to view the first half as the U’s have chosen to boot this way from the off. Thankfully Newhouse returns and the side is back to the line up that shocked Rushden in the Trophy replay up at their gaff. Woo Hoo. Now if we can only play like that today we might be in with a shout. The start isn’t good however, we take a few minutes to settle and get caught early on when Hay rises to plant a header between Howells and his near post. Thankfully, the Lino has his flag up for offside and it’s immediately chalked off. Sighs of relief abound in the Sutton section. However it’s a warning and this seems to wake the lads up though as we start to get into our stride from here on in.
Nko in particular causes havoc and Woking’s defence is having problems containing the huge pacy midfielder. Sammy is also scampering around, making a nuisance of himself. His pace also unsettling the hosts rearguard. Chances start to come but nothing really clear cut is produced. Then we get a free kick some 25 yards out and Dacky lines it up. Oh bugger I think. Hope the people at the back are alert, someone could get hurt here!
Jimmy however lifts the ball up over the wall and with the ‘keeper sprawling, the ball thumps back off the bar. Newhouse is first to the loose ball, but his header lacks power and is just saved by the grounded ‘keeper right on the line. Nko continues to rain crosses in and the midfield is actually feeding Sammy with some decent balls into the channels for a change. One of these has the little forward bearing down on goal, but his powerful angled shot towards the top corner is acrobatically saved. Soon after, another Ekoku cross has Sam hurling himself at the ball. He manages to get a toe on it, but again the ball cracks back off the crossbar with Flahavan stranded. It’s not quite one way traffic though and Woking are creating openings themselves. Hay and Naz are lurking all the time and it’s of course Akrour who has the best chance. A ball into the channel has the Frenchman outpacing his marker. His low shot zips across the face of Howells goal, just wide of the far post and brings another sigh of relief from us.
One final chance goes begging for Sutton before the break. Sammy gets wide with the ball and gets round the full back, but his low centre evades both Newhouse and Ekoku. We then lose Nko for the last couple of minutes of the half as he suffers a head injury. A short bit of treatment later though and he returns to see out the half.
The Half time break reveals that elsewhere, Welling are beating Morcambe. Arse, that is not good news as if that stays the same, it means we simply HAVE to get a win here to stay in touch with the pack. Ho Hum.
The second half starts with Nko having been replaced by Watson, with the big man’s head injury clearly needing stitches. We’re not particularly pleased by this as Nko was one of the bigger thorns in their side first half, so losing him is quite a blow. Only time will tell.
The new half is only 4 minutes old when Naz breaks the deadlock, displayng perfectly what made us fall head over heels for in the first place and also what we subsequently gave away for fuck all. A loose ball bounces to him some 30 yards out and he lashes a dipping volley on the turn past Howells and into the back of the net. It’s quite simply a screamer. The large group of Woking fans who have stayed at our end understandably go mad. Fucking typical that, largely dominate the game, miss chances and go behind to a complete corker of a goal. Story of our season so far really!
Fortunately the lads don’t let their heads drop and battle back. And once more it’s down to Sammy Winston to heave our arses back into the contest. Another storming run down the flank sees him skin the full back in the box. Sadly, Mr Fullback then lunges in and cuts Sam down in full flow. It’s a blatant penalty and the ref thankfully agrees with the loud appeals of us Sutton lot behind the goal and points to the spot.
Now, after the debacle of the previous 3 penalties we’ve won away from home, Sam is in no mood to fuck about and grabs the ball, electing to take it himself. Fairy muff. It’s a good shout on his part as he steps up and sends Flahavan the wrong way to level the scores, thumping the ball into the corner. We go mad behind the goal, much to the irritation of the Woking fans next to us. A small group at the front start snarling and giving it the biggun. We deal with it in typical Drunkard style. We laugh! Grow up you wankers. If you don’t want away fans in amongst you, fuck off up the other end or segregate,
Now level, the boys tear into our hosts from the restart and just 2 minutes later the turnaround is complete. Sammy zips down the opposite flank, slaughters the full back and pulls the ball back across the 6 yard box from the byeline for sub Mark Watson arriving unmarked at the back post to slam the ball home and send the U’s fans behind the goal wild with delight. Naturally, this really pisses off the twats to our right. Cue more ‘Come and ave a go if you think yer ard enuff’ bollocks. The fat, baldy steward in front of us isn’t impressed either. But sadly, not with the dickheads next to us, oh no, the fact we’re in front now has caused all the offence it seems and he stares intently at the crowd of away fans looking for ‘trouble’ to make his day worthwhile whilst unfortunately ignoring the antics of the home mob. We ignore him and his shitgibbon mates and return nothing but a sea of beaming smiles. Twat.
Woking are rocked by this double whammy and Sutton are now well on top. Sammy’s runs and some penetrating passing from midfield has the home side all over the shop. A neat interchange on the edge of the box has Sam into the area again and once more he pulls the ball back. Newhouse arrives but his finish lacks power and Flahavan just scrambles to his right to push the ball onto the upright. The third time we’ve connected with the woodwork today. It’s only a matter of time we feel until we properly finish ‘em off. Then, as per usual with the Conference, sadly the ref intervenes and almost completely fucks everything up for us.
Harford tussles for the ball with Hay and the big forward loses his footing and goes down. The ball bounces up in front of Harford and he draws his size 10 back to bloot the ball into Woking territory when Hay suddenly pops his head up and Paul connects half with the ball and half with the forwards bonce. It’s accidental, just one of those things, but the ref completely overreacts. He calls the big midfielder over and immediately produces a red card, to the delight of the knobs next to us. Harford understandably is rather pissed off with the decision and leaves the field after directing a few choice words at the ref.
Understandably, the hosts sense a way back in and the game now becomes a rearguard action for the U’s. All backs to the wall to try and preserve the precious points we have in our grasp. Watson the sub is subbed for Broderick to bolster the defences and we dig in for the battle to come. Woking bombard us relentlessly, winning numerous corners but they’re all dealt with comfortably enough by the Sutton backline. The only actual stop Howells really has to make is form a downward header at the near post from one of those many corners. He saves smartly and then smothers the ball to prevent any further danger. Sammy has by this time taken a knock and is subbed for new signing Damien Barclay. And no, I have absolutely no idea where we got him from, so no questions please!! We’re trying to concentrate!
The new man however does an admirable job up top on his tod chasing down and holding the ball up where he can to take pressure off the lads at the back and to help run down the clock. And thankfully this means we actually spend the last 5 minutes deep in the Woking half rather than, as we ‘d feared, hanging on for our lives before the Ref calls time and signals Sutton’s first league win for 3 months! Yep, our last 3 points were won at Forest Green, way back in December. Christ it’s been a slog I don’t mind telling you..
Having greeted the lads and waved them off with a deserved ovation, we then manage to blag a lift back into the town from Paul’s bro Alan, again saving our plates some wear and tear. As a bonus, whilst queueing to get out of the car park, we get to listen to GLR commentary of our winner today on the wireless in his motor! Which is fun. The crowd roar for the goal is picked up nicely too.
Back in Woking, we return to the Wetherspoons for a couple of cheap celebratory beers and then it’s on the train back to Sutton post haste and down to our usual haunt the Fielder for more alcohol than is advisable and a fine evenings entertainment from our favourite pub band, The Dirty Dogs. Not a bad Saturday at all that I think you’ll agree.
For a change!
MAN OF THE MATCH : Sammy Winston. Scored one and set the other up.
ENTERTAINMENT : 8. Good performance from the lads. At least we’re showing some fight.
TEAM : Howells, Riley, Laker, Brooker,Skelly, Harford, Dack, Harlow, Newhouse, Ekoku, Winston SUBS : Barclay, Watson, Broderick, Hutchinson