NORTHWICH VICTORIA – 2 [Cooke 50, Owen 67]
SUTTON UNITED – 0
Well, that’s it folks. We’re back in the Ryman. Official.
Another under par performance condemned Sutton to the delights of Purfleet, Gravesend, Basingstoke, Hitchin and other wonderful places as Woking shocked champions elect Kiddy, Forest Green snatched a late winner at home to Donny and Welling bagged 3 points at Hereford. And boy we just can’t wait!
Shite traffic on the M40 & M6 left us running a bit behind schedule, but we managed to track down the Firkin at our pre-match stop in Macclesfield without too much trouble. Here a pint and a watch of the last 10 minutes of the Man Utd-Watford game. The locals then provide us with the location of a chippy and nosh is secured.
On then to Northwich, where our Conference future would be decided. We knew at least a draw for 4th Bottom Woking would send us down and we were’nt too confident of our lot getting a win to stave off the inevitable. The side was missing Laker (injured) and Ed Hutchinson (Surrey Youth Duty), so Berry dropped into the defence alongside Riley. Harford returned to midfield and Aidan Newhouse returns to the side. I dunno if the ‘storming out’ incident reported was in fact true or not, but the reason given for his abscence was a ‘foot injury’. Yeah, ok. Either that’s true or he’s grovelled back to JR and the ‘foot injury’ was stated to stop the ex-pro from looking like a petulant twat.
From the off it’s clear why both sides are in the shit. Neither looks any good! Although the home side settle quicker and start making threatening raids down both U’s flanks. A couple of useful crosses flash across our box with no Vics player there to apply the finishing touch. Most of the U‘s forays break down due to offsides or our midfield holding up play and then passing sideways rather than forwards.
One offside against Nko is a little dubious. A good ball into the box from Harlow see’s Nko get the slightest of touches. The ‘keeper does enough to block the ball, but before Nko can manage to prod the loose ball home, the ref blows up for offside. Arse. Other decent openings are wasted when both Newhouse and Harlow find themselves with a sight of goal from outside the box, yet elect to try and pass rather than have a pop at goal. Most frustrating.
Northwich create a couple of half chances before the break, but lack the final killer touch. Then Sutton almost take the lead. A rare corner is won and it’s swung into the near post. Brodrick flicks the ball goalwards but it’s headed from under the bar by a defender and the chance is gone.
Half time brings bad news. Woking and Welling are winning, whilst FGR are drawing 0-0. That’s it, we’re down already!
The rug is well and truly yanked from under us 5 minutes after the restart. A cross to the far post is headed back across his own box by Harford. It only reaches the near post where the statuesque Brodrick is outjumped by the troublesome Cooke and his soft header drops inside the base of the post past Howells outstretched dive. Naturally Berry & Co berate the linesman as per normal. A sure sign it’s their fuck up rather than the official. It’s a goal typical of the type the U’s have conceded all season long and it’s one of many reasons we’re heading back whence we came.
The goal triggers a return to the clueless, aimless Sutton we’ve come to know this season. Beforehand our midfield had been slightly better than usual, with passes actually finding their intended recipients! But that’s all out of the window once we’re behind and Harford, Harlow and Newhouse revert to finding anything OTHER than Choc ‘n’ Amber with a wonderful range of raking passes.
This allows the 2 Vics wingers to become even more annoying than the first half and our awful ‘zonal’ marking system is exposed time and again as Skelly and Brooker are stripped time after time. Yet again, only wayward finishing keeps the score at 1-0.
After 67 minutes, our Conference exsistance is extinguished once and for all. Another cross from Brookers side finds the impressive Owen unmarked 8 yards out and his smart volley crashes into the net. Looks like I’ll be re-newing that Network Card at my earliest convienience…..
Our play becomes more ragged, with even Sammy getting it wrong. The few balls he does chase to the byeline are lost for goalkicks due to an awful touch.
Nko limps off to be replaced by Watson. Northwich continue to look like adding to their tally but fail to add the final touch to some good attacks.
Our vocal calls for someone in a Sutton shirt to actually have a shot are heeded just seconds from the end. Yet again, the defence opens up in front of Newhouse, but rather than pass as every time before he sizes up the target and lets fly from about 25 yards. The ball crashes back off the bar and is hacked clear by a defender. We stand, arms outstretched in a sort of “Why the fuck did’nt we try that before??” type gesture. The look on Aidans face seems to indicate he gets the message.
Moments later and the whistle is blown on our second spell in the Conference. Relegation in ‘91 was worse. It was’nt really expected. This we saw a long way off. I personally thought we were screwed around Christmas!
We toddle off insearch of beer to dull the annoyance of our drop. Nipping over the Welsh border, we visit Wrexham for a Firkin the boys missed on an early season trip to Southport. A pint here and we’re wondering what to do next. A quick discussion and we decide to take advantage of the lovely weather and head along the coast to Bangor (Don’t ask!). It’s the perfect day to enjoy the picturesque landscape of North Taffyland. Footy loving, beer guzzling yobs we may be, but we’re just suckers for a cracking view.
A pint in Bangor and a quick squizz at Bangor City FC’s ground just up the road (Very depressing. Looked just like a lot of places we’ll be visiting next season!) we take a short trip over the Menai Bridge for another quick pint and some prpoer fish and chips before heading back homewards.
Well, we’re back in the Isthmian after just one season. Great. I really can’t wait for cold December nights watching Purfleet-Sutton with 200 other nutters.
MAN OF THE MATCH : No one really……
ENTERTAINMENT : 5. Not what you’d call a classic….
TEAM : Howells, Riley, Berry, Brodrick, Skelly, Brooker, Harford, Harlow, Ekoku, Newhouse, Winston SUBS : Rowlands, Forrester, Sears, Watson, Barclay