FA TROPHY SEMI-FINAL 1st Leg
Sutton United – 1 [Winston 4]
Kingstonian – 1 [Harris 78]
Well, we’d waited all week for it and when it arrived, we spent most of it shitting ourselves. We’re a strange bunch eh?
I for one wasn’t confident how this one would go. Some felt confident we’d get a half decent advantage to take to Kingsmeadow, others went for the draw and then there were the ones like me who had stood through the home leg of this tie in ‘94 and watched our heroes freeze before crashing to a devastating 4-0 defeat.
Thankfully it didn’t quite turn out like that.
Late arrival into Sutton meant the young lady and I missed the planned pre-game drinky poos. Unsurprisingly to much abuse from the pissheads who’d been in the Fielder since god knows when. Well, I s’pose that’s what you get for sitting around watching footy focus in your jim-jams. Most importantly of all, my opportunity to get a much needed beverage to calm my nerves was gone. Bugger, I’d have to watch this one completely sober! Not a good state of affairs at all!
One problem I had to overcome before the game was quite how to get into the game when all I had were 2 £50 notes on me (You know, those big red ones). Even if I paid for me and Sarah, they probably still wouldn’t have enough change. Ok. So I offer to pay for Mark and his young lady as well. Col and his missus are added to this ‘group booking’ by the time we actually reach the turnstiles and moi ends up with 2 quid change from his Bullseye. So much for ‘em not having enough change!
The side was pretty much unchanged. We stick with our strange 4-3-1-1-1 type formation. It’s weird I know, but it seems to work for us (some of the time, mostly in the Trophy) so who am I to complain K’s field a fairly full strength side, with ex-French international Amara Simba leading their attack in place of the crocked Leworthy.
The game gets underway and the U’s take the game to the visitors. An early flurry produces a couple of corners before our FA Trophy goal specialist, aka Sammy Winston, pops up to continue his run of a goal in every round. Nko Ekoku flicks on a long ball forwards and Sam nips in, controls and lobs the ball over the advancing ‘keeper. WOO HOO!! Just the start we needed. This seems to catch K’s out slightly and Sutton try to make the shock count as we press for a second. Naturally this leaves us a little open to counters and the skilful Simba fails to make his own lob count 15 minutes later. Howells plucking the ball out of the air.
The lads are unlucky not to double the advantage ten minutes later when some great work down the flank involving Sammy and Jimmy Dack sees the midfielder pick out Ekoku with a pinpoint cross. His header is somehow saved at point blank range and turned around the post. It’s to prove our last really dangerous moment of the match as the visitors finally find 1st gear and start to get into the game more.
Just before the break, a raid by the non-stop K’s midfield sees No8 Geoff Pitcher hit the post from 12 yards and the rebound is cleared off the line at the opposite post by Richard Skelly. So half time and 1-0. Not bad, but we’re definitely chasing the game more now. If we can get at ‘em early on in the second half, like we did in the first, we may be able to increase the aggregate score for the second leg.
We do pick up somewhat at the start of the second half, but we’re still not looking likely to break through again. It’s still the visitors who threaten most, but without carving out any clear cut chances. The most dangerous moment comes when some nice play on the edge of the U’s box sends Akamouha in 1 on 1 with Howells. As with many times this season, our stopper comes up trumps and saves with his legs. Apart from this, our guests are restricted to mainly long range strikes, most of which are straight at Gareth and dealt with easily.
Most of our attacks are dying on K’s offside trap or rather the appalling linesmans impression of one. Most of the time he’s flagging for offside when there are clearly defenders in front of our strikers. The ref is a bit of a tosser as well. He seems content to ignore the constant leaning in and niggly fouls by the Hoopy ones, but blows for the slightest offence committed against Chapples, cheating, whining overpaid prima-donnas. Their No4 having been booked for diving in the first half!
Just as it seems it’ll be our day and we’ll manage to hang onto our slim advantage, we naturally fuck it up and gift the oppo a goal. A free-kick is delivered to the back post, where Howells comes to punch clear. He appears to be impeded slightly by sub Harris and the ball bounces towards our goal. Harris steadies himself before bundling the ball into the net off his left shoulder. A truly classic strike.
Bollocks. Naturally this spurs the small band of away supporters into much happiness and about their 3rd song of the day.
The U’s now switch their attention to holding onto the draw for the last 10 minutes rather than trying to grab a late winner. Fortunately, we manage to hold out and take the slightly disappointing 1-1 result to the banks of the Thames in 2 weeks in an attempt to reach the FA Trophy Final. Someone better get Kingston General’s cardiac unit on standby. I fear a few tickers might not last the afternoon.
We head for the Fielder for a few drinks to calm oursleves down and plan the rest of the night. Sadly our favourite boozer decides to run out of any type of beer whilst we ponder this. Arse. An alternative plan is hatched and we all scatter for some grub, arranging to meet up at the cheaper and more beer laden surroundings of the Wetherspoons at the top of the high street. This we do and here Sarah is corrupted by Col’s missus, who introduces her to the delights of double Tia-Maria’s with a dash of coke. This I’m personally disappointed at, as the young lady is a University student and is therefore duty bound to try all known forms of alcohol. Tut-tut!!! What will Mr Blair say when he hears how the movers and shakers that will shape the future of our great country are letting the side down!!! (Apparently Sarah reckons I’m a bastard for putting that last bit. I don’t care, I’m just after the laughs).
Ho Hum, after all this excitement it’s back to the desperate struggle for Conference survival on Tuesday night.
All go innit.
MAN OF THE MATCH : Aidan Newhouse. Didn’t get the goal his play deserved.
ENTERTAINMENT : 8 for the first 4 minutes! and 6 for the next 86 !!!!!
TEAM : Howells, Laker, Riley, Skelly, Brooker, Harford, Harlow, Dack, Ekoku, Newhouse, Winston
SUBS : Iga, Sears, Hutchinson, Forrester, Watson