RYMAN PREMIER DIVISION
HITCHIN TOWN – 3 [Nolan 50.86. Parker 78]
SUTTON UNITED – 0
Remember what I wrote after Tuesdays game?? Where I requested that our currently under-performing heroes start actually playing for the full 90 minutes and not 45?? Well, it looks like they weren’t paying the slightest bit of attention.
Bob and I meet up at Kings Cross, Chalmers isn’t in attendance as he was getting falling down drunk and blowing loads of cash on knackered old gee gee’s at Kempton Park today instead. Sensible bloke.
We ambled into Hitchin town centre looking for beer. We had to have some. Having been stone cold
sodding sober on Tuesday night wasn’t nice. Watching Sutton recently has been a bit of a strain, so the anaesthetic of at the very least a pint dulls the pain a little. Sadly most of the good pubs we remember round these parts have either been changed in to fizzy lager-only ponce holes or just simply don’t do any beer. Arse. We finally find a small pub in a back street selling a fine pint of Spitfire, we smash a couple back and tab over to the ground.
On the way over, we re-discover a small pub we vaguely recall from back in the day. The Sunrunner. It looks like an antique shop from the front, but on peering through the window, we curse loudly. There’s 6 weird beers lined up on the bar! That’ll be one for afterwards on the way home then. With the way we’re going at the moment, sorrows may need to be drowned.
Arriving at Top Field, I approach a bloke and attempt to buy the customary programme. Now, matchday programmes should be around A5 in size, so they can be tucked out of the way in the back pocket of your jeans or in an inside jacket pocket. Not Hitchin’s, oh no. Its fucking huge! Quite why a club feels it necessary to produce a matchday publication similar in size to a broadsheet paper is beyond me. I just want something to flick through at half time, not the fucking Telegraph. Although it also takes great pleasure in mentioning our shit recent form when I do eventually have a read. Yeah, thanks lads.
Another surprise is their pitch. It’s got grass on it!! And no snow. Makes a change.
Things don’t look good for us when the tannoy bloke (sounding like he was recruited from Jazz FM. Niiiiice…) announces our line up. Howells and 3 of the regular back 4 are missing. Oh bugger. Craig Howard gets his debut and Aaron Smith makes his first league appearance. Dunn goes between the sticks. We could be in for a long afternoon.
But to our surprise, the boys take the game to our hosts, forcing them back from the whistle. We play some decent footy, knocking the ball around fairly well. Nko is handling his defensive duties fairly well and is off on a couple of those murderous runs so familiar from a couple of seasons ago. Bolty is everywhere, moving the ball about, looking for a killer pass. Even Harlow is doing alright.
Despite a lot of possession, we don’t test the home ‘keeper too much. Whitmarsh latches onto one through ball, only to shoot weakly into the ‘keeper’s body. In fact, it’s the home side who come closest to opening the scoring. Our defence dozes off for a sec and a Hitchin player finds himself in front of goal, unmarked. Thankfully his 10 yard effort thumps back off the bar. We manage a couple more efforts, the best being Danny Bolt’s 25 yard drive that is tipped over and an excellent move involving a number of passes sees a chipped cross from out wide just touched off Haworth’s head by the ‘keeper, who then gathers at the second attempt.
So, an encouraging 1st half, but still goalless. Yeah, that’s what we said on Tuesday too.
The U’s hardly have time to carry on where they left off at the start of the second half though. Just 5 minutes in, we self destruct and gift the oppo a goal. Now there’s summat you don’t see often! Nko receives a cross field pass and under pressure, rather than try to retain possession, he just knocks a completely hopeless ball into the middle of the pitch to no one. As most opposition teams now seem to do, Hitchin pounce on this and race away with the ball. A pass is played into their No11, who has time to slip the ball under Dunn and we’re 1 down. Ah bllocks.
The goal destroys any momentum we may have had and gives the home side a big boost. A couple of minutes later, they’ve got the ball in the net as a low left wing cross is powerfully converted at the near post. It’s a relief that the lino’s flag is up and it won’t count. We now find it harder to string together any really coherent attacking moves. Whitmarsh and Haworth both get sights of goal, but elect to try and beat that last man when a shot would probably have been better. Our best chance of the half comes when Bolt fires in a low cross that zips across the 6 yard box, evading both Whitmarsh and Haworth. Nko is also unable to convert at the back post.
A few minutes later and it’s all over. Harlow and Baker fanny about with the ball, are dispossessed and another lightning counter attack ends up being buried at the near post. The Sunrunner is now looking a very good post-game bet! The second goal causes heads to drop and for the rest of the half we’re desperately trying to keep the score down. On some occasions we manage, on others, the oppositions frankly crap finishing saves us. They miss, by our count, no less than 6 very good opportunities when through on goal, all being fired wide of the target. Composure is not something they coach up here to the North of the smoke it seems.
We do get a glimmer of hope with around 15 to play when sub Matt Gray spins away from his marker, bursts into the box only to be clearly hauled back. Surely a penalty! Er, not a fucking chance. The ref ignores all our protests and then promptly gives a free kick for a challenge EXACTLY the same 30 yards further up the pitch moments later. Fucking twat. I hate crap refs, but I hate crap inconsistent refs who’ve had sod all to do and then bottle their first big decision. We’re not the only ones unhappy at this moment, as we can clearly hear Dave Harlow loudly questioning the call (as well as other things related to the ref) from the other end.
Hitchin then add a final insult with around 5 minutes to play. A free kick is badly defended and is headed home at the back post. At this point we wander round to the far end to make a quick exit to the bar when a another U’s fan makes a comment about us fielding a load of reserves. Something about developing our young players. “Only one thing being developed here…” I offer, “…is a fucking aneurysm”.
Hitchin spend the last couple of minutes literally queueing up to score. No less than 5 times is the ball in or around our box only for their players to either fall over themselves trying to score or missing the target completely somehow.
So 3-0. Another very poor result. It might look bad, but it could have been a lot worse. Hitchin aren’t a great side (sorry lads!) and if we’d been playing someone with a decent bloody striker, we’d have got absolutely murdered as they filled their boots.
A quick check on the the results in the bar show the Scummers have sadly won. Rats cocks! But as a fillip I find Oldham have won. Woo Hoo! Bob’s also pleased to see West Ham have picked up 3 points in Bradford. Right, we’re off to the Sunrunner to not so much drown our sorrows, but attach concrete boots to ‘em and dump ‘em into the deepest body of water we can find.
We wander into the pub and decide that in light of our recent performances it’s best to start with a pint of ‘Shambles’. Which is very nice. But not as nice as the ‘Spring Ale’ on offer. Which is not only a lovely beer, but it’s bright green in colour! It’s over 2-3 of these that I ‘persuade’ Bob to do the Dulwich report next Saturday.
Thank christ I’m missing that one. Although I bet we fucking win that one.
Ho hum, Chesham on Tuesday. You just know that Watson’s going to score…
MAN OF THE MATCH – Rob Haworth. Again. They guy is flogging himself to death up there.
ENTERTAINMENT – 5. Good first half. Crap 2nd.
TEAM – Dunn, Howard, Baker, Palmer, Ekoku, Williams, Smith, Harlow, Bolt, Whitmarsh, Haworth SUBS – Gray, Seal