RYMAN PREMIER DIVISION
HENDON – 0
SUTTON UNITED – 1 [Ekoku 90]
Considering that Hendon is the home of the Metropolitan Police’s ‘training college’, then the Sutton team should think themselves lucky they didn’t find the local plod feeling their collective collar for commiting a rather nasty bank holiday mugging in nearby Cricklewood.
Another ineffective performance against tidy, if unspectacular opponents, who simply could’nt finish off numerous chances to comfortably claim the 3 points.
An early meet in Sutton turned into a couple of pints whilst I cop some stick from the gang over my busted head & black eye, which I acquired on Sunday morning playing for the supporters team. I’m such a thug. I mean, the way I viciously headbutted that geezers elbow. Refer-REE!! We finally headed for the station at about 12.15. On the platform we found 3 other U’s fans in shirts also on their way to sunny Cricklewood. Unlike us, they must have been in more of a hurry this morning and carried their off-licence take outs onto the train to pass the time! Nice to see some normal independent supporters (See, we’re not the only ones who like a beer away from home!!). Chalmers joins the happy band at Kings Cross and with our facial injuries (his from the unfortunate ‘ruck’ with a scaffold pole last week!), we probably looked like those chair chuckers off the news from Euro2000. Sutton Boot Boys!
We hop off in north London some 40 odd minutes later and head for the only non-diddly diddly pub in the near vacinity, the Wetherspoons. The 3 other drinkers follow our lead and also head in that direction. Our choice of pub is enhanced when we discover Tanglefoot on offer. At £1.59 a pint no less!! Woo Hoo!! We’ll have some of that.
A couple of pints and a bag of chips scoffed in a shop doorway to keep out of the rain that is now drowning this desirable peice of real estate, we head for the ground.
Thankfully ‘The Management’ seemed to see sense and dumped the atrocious 5 at the back nonsense in favour of the far more balanced 4-4-2 with Bolt and Westcott restored to their normal positions out wide (wingbacks I ask you!) obviously hoping to be in & out quick, like. No fuckin’ about!! Our new boy on the ‘manor’ , Michael Mahoney-Johnson (bloody hell, he’s big!) is given a debut up front with Nko (no Salako?) and another new face, Danny Hodges from the real ‘Dons’!, replaces Gwynne in the centre of defence.
The U’s start fairly well enough, and Mo-Jo (If you think I’m writing ‘Mahoney-Johnson’ ten times in a report, you’re mistaken!!) takes advantage of some early uncertainty in the home doormen after only a few seconds. Sadly he’s not too sharp himself and he tamely puts the ball wide with the ‘keeper in close attention. A few minutes later and we’re denied a absolute cert of a goal. A decent ball into the box from Harford is flicked goalwards by Nko around 8 yards out. The debutant home ‘keeper takes a simple catch to his midriff. The problem?? It’s at least a foot over the line! The linesman is up with play, but as is the case with officials at this level (IE. They’re shit) he flatly refuses to even acknowledge this. Have to have a word in his shell-like at half time……
This signals the emergence of the pacy Hendon strikers. One of ’em, Davis Haule, is a particularly big pain in the arse to our back four. But most of their early advances flounder on our offside trap. Then after 28 minutes, the defence parts like the Red Sea and allows Haule to run, unchallenged, onto a ball over the top. Howells must’ve thought “Here we go again…” as he raced of his line to narrow the angle. Haule takes advantage of this and hooks the ball up & over our ‘keeper only to see his lob thump back off the crossbar before being hacked into the playing fields behind the covered terracing down the side by a recovering defender. The Bar saves us again about 5 minutes later when the home team get one of about 8 free-kicks that half around the Sutton box. Clarke hits his effort over the wall and with Howells again beaten, sees it hit the angle of bar and post and then despatched back into the playing fields (I said AAAAAHT!)
Hendon continued to create openings, but the back four holds on and it’s the Hendon ‘keeper who makes the last save of the half, when Ryan Palmer hoiks the ball towards goal from 30 yards or more. Mr Wilmot scrambles back and at full stretch manages to claw the ball from under the bar and onto the inside of the post. Fortuantely for him, the bounce is favourable and there’s not a U’s striker to be seen.
The second half isn’t much better for Sutton as we struggle to create any serious chances. This is compounded by our wasting of several free-kicks and corners. Come on lads, it’s pretty crap when the delivery is so high, even Paul Harford can’t get to ‘em!! Hendon continue to have the upper hand but again, woeful finishing lets the U’s off the hook. One effort is skewed horribly wide from around 10 yards out after a flowing Dons move with about an hour gone.
Sadly our new strikers debut isn’t going too well with most of our balls forwards aimed at Nko. So it’s no surprise when he’s subbed after about 70 minutes for Thompson. Bolt is withdrawn soon after as well for Sears and this seems to give us a bit more steel.
Our best chance of the game comes with about 5 minutes to go. The livewire Thompson wins us a corner. Nko rises to head it past the ‘keeper but somehow a defender on the line next to the post somehow keeps it out with his arse via the crossbar.
Just as we’re beginning to think it’s not quite our lucky day, the so-so ref gives a free-kick to us for some 50-50 shirt pulling about 20 yards out. Dave Harlow steps up and strikes a low shot goalwards that Wilmot can only parry and Nko pounces to stab the ball into the roof of the net. Woo Hoo!!
Hendon only have time to kick off again before the ref blows for time and we scarper back to the pub quick before the old bill turn up from down the road to investigate this particular ‘blag’ on their ‘manor’ (guv!).
Back to the ‘spoons’ and a quick drink with the missus who’s in the area, dropping a mate back at Uni in Hertford. Then back to Wimbledon for a couple more and then home on the tram to Croydon, knowing full well I start my new job the next morning!! Ooooops.
There’s a call for me when I get in. It’s Guy Ritchie! Apparently he wants to do a movie on the game today and he wants me to help write the screenplay (apparently Johnny Bumblepants was busy). I think we’ll call it “Gone in 90 Minutes”
Snappy eh? What’s that Guy?? You want Vinny to play Ekoku? We’ll see mate, we’ll see.
PS. We’re a little bit woooooh, a little bit weeeeehy, a little bit shchshch. We’re geezers, we’ll nick anything.
TOP ‘BOY’ : Ryan ‘Pretty Boy’ Palmer. Good replacement for Laker!
ENTERTAINMENT : 5. But the most amusing robbery since ‘Lock Stock & 2 Smoking Barrels’!!
THE ‘FIRM’ : ‘Handy’ Howells, ‘Pretty Boy’ Palmer, ‘Baby’ Gray, ‘Rocky’ Hodges, ‘Kneecaps’ Walker, ‘Swifty’ Westcott, ‘Dead’ Bolt, ‘Ug’ Harford, ‘Holes’ Harlow, ‘Muscles’ Ekoku, ‘Mo-Jo’ Mahoney-Johnson EXTRAS : ‘Scythe’ Sears, ‘Bullet’ Thompson, ‘The Daddy’ Berry.