FA CUP 2nd QUALIFYING ROUND
LITTLEHAMPTON TOWN – 0
SUTTON UNITED – 5 [Forrester 46. Thompson 47.89. Bolt 70. Sears 83]
Uh oh, it’s one of those cup game things against a side from a much lower division. This could end in tears.
With the Corinthian Casuals debacle still fresh in the memory, the U’s travelled to the south coast on Saturday to try and win a place in the FA Cup 3rd qualifying round by disposing of Unijet Sussex 1st Division side, Littlehampton. As it was by the seaside, we naturally travelled down as well, hoping for a good win, but Bob and I had fears at the back of our minds of a Casuals type disaster. So a draw and a replay would be nice too.
Chalmers is now fully on the road to recovery from his recent illness and joined the party as did Belly and my missus Sarah, who incidentally has not seen the mighty U’s win a match on her 5 previous visits (Like I said earlier. Uh oh…) and supporting a 1st division side, is more used the envrions of the 3rd round of the FA Cup, some 5 rounds later than this.
We arrive on the coast just after opening time and find our way to a pub recommended by Bob. The Crown is a simple 1 room boozer and it does half decent beer. A pint of Bombadier and a coke for the lady later, we’re off in search of another inviting hostelry. We end up in the Spotted Cow where we have a couple more pints and a pool sesh. Next we stumble upon the local Wetherspoons and decide it’s time for a munch. Grubbed up, we head for the ground, not sure what awaits us.
The ground itself is sparse, but tidy with a smart little stand flanked on each side by a nice bit of covered terracing. The other 3 sides being completely open. The bar is also tidy and sells Spitfire, which we’re well pleased with! But enough of beer and stuff, onto the footy…..
The side is shuffled slightly again, as Scotty Forrester returns to partner Thompson up front. Dunn keeps his spot in goal as Howells is still injured. This upsets the other half as she reckons Howells is the only decent player we have!! The back 3 changes again, with god knows who unavailable this week.We line up in the universally acclaimed (well, by JR maybe….) 3-5-2 formation. Thankfully though, the lowly nature of our opponents allows our ‘wingbacks’ more scope to attack as they don’t have much defending to do. Although I doubt it would have mattered who we were playing! Nko in particular has their right back on the hop early on by simply knocking the ball past him and sprinting past after it. Poor sod. How we don’t manage to register a goal from this pressure is down to the resilient defending of our hosts and the poor positioning of our forwards for Nko’s crosses and the inability to play any other way than hoof it 35-40 yards . Littlehamptons ‘keeper in particular is having a good day. He beats out one curling Dave Harlow freekick early on, bravely punches clear a number of Harlow corners and manages to tip one Forrester 30 yarder destined for his near top corner along with a couple of other bread & butter saves.
The home side manage a couple of forays forwards and cause one or two nervy moments, but Dunn isn’t severely tested during the first 45. So, we go in 0-0 at half time, wondering if we’ll ever manage to break this lot down.
We hit the bar for some half times, where Sarah is dismayed to find her beloved Mariners are losing 1-0 to a ‘bunch of Yorkies’. Not happy then my dear? Then it’s off for some more rip snorting FA Cup 2nd Qualifying round action.
No sooner are we outside than the deadlock is broken almost straight from the kick off. The ‘keepers good day, ends as Thompson sets Scotty Forrester free in the box and his angled shot from about 12 yards squirms through the ‘keepers hands and nestles in the bottom corner. About bloody time! About a minute later and it’s 2-0!! A Dave Harlow corner is headed back across the home penalty area by Boothe and Thompson nods the ball into the same corner it had been fished out of shortly before.
From this moment on, the U’s dominate proceedings, but fail to add any further goals until around 20 minutes from time a low cross by Walker appears to strike the hand of a home defender. We all shout ‘penalty’ and the ref duly agrees. Substitute Danny Bolt who’s not touched the ball since he came on less than a minute before, grabs it from Dave Harlow and duly reaccquaints the ball with the right hand bottom corner of the Littlehampton net to make it 3-0 and seal the game. Very shortly after, Dave Harlow has a run and his curling effort pings back off the top of the upright. Harlow is soon back to his normal self though, setting up the home teams only real attack of the half with a poor pass that once again finds an opponent rather than a team mate. Fortunately, Dunn is alert and makes his only really serious save of the afternoon.
The U’s make it 4-0 and then 5-0 in the final 10 minutes as Bolt’s lethal deliveries take their toll. Sears meets one corner at the back post to thump a header into that same spot again and a fast paced, low corner is dispatched with a neat flicked volley by Thompson with almost the last kick of the game.
So after the mild frustration of the 1st half, the 2 goals right at the start of the second 45 really did the trick. It would have been interesting to see how JR would have reacted if we’d still been 0-0 15 minutes in.
We adjourn to the bar for results and a couple more ‘Spitfires’. Sarahs ‘joy’ at seeing her first Sutton win is negated by Grimsbys 2-0 defeat at Barnsley. Although she does find the experience of mingling with the players afterwards a bit strange and is a bit shocked when we get chatting to Paul Harford about how his old man is getting on at Millwall.
We head back into town and stop off in the Crown for another pint, where it seems a band will be appearing. Bob is all up for hanging around to see what they are like. His question is answered when 4 blokes in drag appear and start assembling speakers etc. Then it clicks. We’re in a bit of a woofters pub. Sarah is the only woman present, all the blokes are sat in couples talking quietly and are wearing very bright, tight flowery tops. Pints are swallowed swiftly and we leave. On our way out, one of the band enquires ‘Going so soon boys?’
‘Too fucking right matey!’ I think to myself as we head into the salty night air.
We head for the Wetherspoons for a final swifty, before heading for the train and snoozing all the way back to East Croydon. Wonder who we’ll get in the next round??
MAN OF THE MATCH : Danny Bolt. Only on for 20 minutes but caused bloody havoc.
ENTERTAINMENT : 7. Not a bad game actually.
TEAM : Dunn, Hodges, Boothe, Hammonds, Walker, Ekoku, Sears, Harford, Harlow, Thompson, Forrester SUBS : Berry, Westcott, Bolt