RYMAN PREMIER DIVISION
SUTTON UNITED – 2 [Haworth 6. Bolt p43]
CROYDON – 1 [McDonnel 67]
Last time we met Croydon was last season in the Surrey Senior Cup at their place. With the U’s at probably their lowest ebb, the ‘Trams’ recorded a 2-0 win on their way to the final. Then they gave us Darren Broderick. The sick bastards.
Naturally we wanted revenge! And after the recent free scoring at Billericay and Staines, we were hoping to knock a few past our friends from up the road who are struggling to find their feet back in the Premier.
With it being our first home game for about 6 weeks, I took advantage of not having to get up at some shit hour to travel to some smeghole somewhere and go on the piss. Nope, instead I had a lie in. Besides, there was the Wetherspoons Halloween beerfest to attend that night..
Walking up to GGL at 20 to 3 is a nightmare. There’s a force 8 gale blowing and its rather nippy. Plus it’s been pissing down so much I’m amazed the pitch is playable. Staggering thru the turnstile, it’s time for a pasty and a cuppa to warm the bones.
The team has’nt changed much for the third straight game. Haworth and Thompson lead the line and Bolt’s still there. The minor tweaks see Palmer into midfield as Harford’s ban has started and a new signing from Farnborough, (makes a change from seeing ‘em go the other way!) Richard Horner, appearing in one of the full back spots.
The U’s set about the visitors from the off, obviously going for a Billericay type start with a quick goal. Quite how we don’t score in the first 10 minutes is beyond me as shots rain down on the Croydon goal. The best of the bunch a sidefoot volley from Thompson touched over by Croydon’s (overweight) Barthez lookalike ‘keeper (Fatty Barthez??). Rob Haworth is turning in another solid performance. Winning everything in the air and working his arse off in the final third of the pitch. We have’nt had a target man like him since Joff left and on these two displays, we’d be sodding mad to let Dagenham have him back!
The goal does finally arrive after about a quarter of an hour, when a wicked curling free kick from Bolt is despatched by a low diving header from the aforementioned Mr Haworth.
Strangely, rather than hammer home this advantage and try to extinguish our visitors challenge, we go to sleep. This allows Croydon to at least settle a little and mount some attacks of their own. They have 2 or 3 shots from around the box, all straight at Howells. Their best chance comes with a shot from an angle after a rapid forward movement. Howells stops it but the ball rolls loose. Thankfully no Croydon player is lurking to snatch up the opportunity.
The majority of the last 20 minutes of the half are pretty dull, with neither side really controlling the game. Then, almost on half time a ball forwards is touched on by Thompson. Haworth muscles past the defender, zips past the ‘keeper and as we start to wonder if he’s going to run out of pitch before sticking the ball away, he’s bundled over by the Croydon No2. Penalty! And being the last man, the ref has little option other than to send off the offending player. Bolty steps up and places the penalty past old Fatty Barthez to make it 2-0.
As we stroll round at half time, it starts to rain. The shower turns into a bloody mosoon which is to last until we hit the Robin Hood after the game. The fact that the force 8 gale I mentioned earlier is still going, makes for rather unpleasant viewing conditions. Now I’m cold and wet. Arse……..
As per normal, the U’s take absolutely no notice of the fact that they have a man extra and make bloody hard work of the second half. To be fair, the weather probably did’nt help, but then with the howling gale, why try and hoof it??
Croydon work their socks off without causing too many problems until just after the hour when a free-kick from almost half way finds McDonnel unmarked. He leaps to try and get some contact on the ball. He does. It skids off his noggin, catching Gareth by surprise and creeps inside the far post. Bugger. And theres more than 20 minutes to go. Double bugger.
At least this has the effect of giving the U’s a kick up the arse. As does the appearance of Alan Taylor from the dugout telling ‘em to ‘sort their lives out’ (or something). Both Haworth and Thompson then have shots drift agonisingly wide of the far post within a couple of minutes of each other after excellent work by Nko down the flank. Thompson is then withdrawn for Panter, but we make little headway.
And entering into the Halloween spirit, the boys scare the shit out of us by allowing Croydon one final throw of the dice with a couple of minutes to go. A cross from the right skids accross the box and finds a visiting striker unmarked about 5 yards out. He must score!
Thank fuck he didn’t.
So, 3 points is 3 points. And we dash through the rain to the Robin Hood to catch the scores and the FA Cup 1st round draw. I’m not impressed when Oldham draw either Billericay or Hednesford away. Arse. As a bonus we find out that the Scummers have lost at Heybridge to what turns out to be a last minute goal. Nice!
Then it’s off to the Wetherspoons for pints of ‘Bat Soup’ and other assorted guest scrunges whilst bickering over the best way to launch our drinking assault on Weymouth next saturday. Right, where’s me bucket & spade?
MAN OF THE MATCH : Rob Haworth. Won everything in the air and worked hard all afternoon.
ENTERTAINMENT : 5. Started well, but died badly. We’ll blame the weather for a change eh?
TEAM : Howells, Horner, Hammonds, Boothe, Brooker, Palmer, Harlow, Bolt, Ekoku, Thompson, Haworth SUBS: Forrester, Panter, Sears