FA TROPHY QUARTER FINAL
Sutton United – 1 [Winston 12]
Rushden & Diamonds – 1 [Rodwell 13]
What a shit draw eh? The ONE side we said we DIDN’T want in this FA Trophy Quarter Final was Conference champions elect and massive moneybags, Rushden. So, who do we get. Rushden of course! Arse.
This is not good for the U’s considering our 2 previous meetings with Mr Griggs expensively assembled team had resulted in our heroes being somewhat outclassed and soundly beaten like unruly step-children. A 4-0 gubbing at GGL in the league and a 4-1 tonking at their lovely Nene Park stadium in the FA Cup.
Needless to say, we all cried and wanted our mummies when this one was picked out of the hat by the FA.
Pre game talk amongst us drunkards seemed to point to another rather good hiding at the hands of the Northants boys. How wrong we were, as our good Trophy form again came to the fore and we managed to make a game of it. Which was nice.
JR opted to give Nko a start for a change and kept Newhouse in the holding role. Us? Attack? Naaah!
The first few minutes sees the boys attack the visitors and look for the early breakthrough. Sammy has one run down the flank, getting round behind the full back. But as per normal this season, there’s no bugger there to convert his low centre. It’s a precursor to what comes a few minutes later. A long ball downfield is collected by a Rushden centre-back. Obviously Rushdens expensive team has a few pricey defenders as well and natrually they are unlike the uncultured hoof merchants we have, they like to stroke the ball about a bit, build smooth one touch passing moves from the back that sort of thing. So natrually, rather than hoof it he looks to calmly stroke it to the full back on his left.
Sadly he proceeds to fall over the ball with Nko bearing down on him. The big winger nips in, steals the ball and hares towards the byeline. Visiting ‘keeper, Turley, is drawn to the near post and Nko then squares the ball for the unmarked Winston to poke it home at the back post. Woo Hoo! We’ve scored! Bloody hell, it’s not looking too bad.
Unfortunately, the U’s continue their habit of pissing away any sort of good work by conceding a soft equaliser just 60 seconds later. A corner is weakly punched away by Howells and immediately lofted straight back into the danger area from the edge of the box. There does’nt seem to be any real danger, but Rodwell stretches and gets a slight touch on the ball with his head. Howells can only look on, stranded, as the ball bounces on the line and nestles in the corner of the net. Bollocks, Feck, Arse and other naughty words.
U’s continue to push up and the so far impressive Ekoku has a blistering 25 yard volley acrobatically beaten out by the particularly expensive Turley. This is the U’s last real opportunity of the half. The visitors then have a few threatening moments of their own. Most notably when Collins finds himself completely alone out wide, with only Riley between him and the goal. He outpaces the ageing centre back and fires across the face of goal, but apart from this, Gareth really doesn’t have a serious save to make.
At the break, we hear all the other games are level, apart from Bishop Auckland, who are 2-0 up at Kettering. Much to the amusement of the 700 or so travelling fans! Apart from that, the rest of the news isn’t good. Welling are winning and FRG are drawing, dropping us further in the shit as far as league matters go. At least Woking are losing at home to Hayes
At the start of the second half, the boys again attack the visitors. Sammy and Nko are again the main irritant. Nko’s running natrually has defenders on the back foot and Sammy’s pace and tenacity are also causing problems. Sam has one of his characteristic sprints down the flank, cuts inside the defender and fires a powerful shot a shade over Turley’s crossbar.
We’re surprised by the apparent lack of drive in the Rushden performance. Are they playing for a draw we ponder? Silly really when they’re battling for the league title. Surely the last thing they need is another match! Their frontmen, De Souza and Collins create problems with their clever running, but no real chances are carved out.
The last 20 minutes are played out mainly in the visitors half, but without Sutton looking likely to break through. We have a few corners, but they’re either solidly defended of straight down the ‘keepers throat. Quite why the bench don’t introduce any fresh legs in an attempt to try and trn the game is strange. I’m sure that Scotty Forrester would have liked the opportunity to have a run at their back four.
So, we head for a pint of Pride at the Plough afterwards a little disappointed that we hadn’t forced the issue that little bit more. Oh well, off to Nene Park (again) on Tuesday. But I can’t help but think we’ve blown our best chance. Who knows? Maybe they’ll be more concerned with hammering the shit out of us in the league game on the following Saturday instead?
MAN OF THE MATCH : Nko Ekoku. Good solid performance from the big man.
ENTERTAINMENT : 7. Not a bad game actually. Second half could have been better though.
TEAM : Howells, Riley, Laker, Brooker, Skelly, Harlow, Harford, Dack, Ekoku, Winston, Newhouse SUBS : Hutchinson, Sears, Berry, Forrester, Rowlands