SUTTON UNITED – 3 [Bolt. Haworth. Whitmarsh]
CHELSEA XI – 3 [Parkin. Pitt 2]
You know the saying that the break between the end and beginning of footy seasons is getting shorter all the time? Well…
Actually this was more of a post-season friendly if we’re really honest about it. (Which we rarely are!). A match organised to try and raise as much wedge as poss so we can afford nice shiny new floodlights. Definitely a good idea as we’re apparently a bit short of cash after the disasterous weather we’ve had this season. And when you’re a bit skint, the last thing you want to be doing is coughing up a small fortune for some new sodding lights.
The Blues sent a side consisting mainly of youngsters around the ages of 18-19, a tadge disappointing, but with their final Premier League game still to be played and a UEFA cup spot at stake, they’d have been a little short of nuts to send Zola and the boys down to GGL for this.
The Chelsea side did include a few less well known names with league experience. Sam Parkin up front had appeared for Milwall and Oldham on loan recently and his partner up front tonight, an incredibly short bloke by the name of Leon Knight, has also been at QPR this season. Our own line up is much the same as the one that saw out the season recently. Dunn retains his spot in goal, which to me points towards the departure of Gareth Howells this summer. Which would be a bit of a bastard. Danny Bolt is also restored to the starting line up. On the bench we have the amusingly named reserve ‘keeper, Chuck Martini. Which sounds like something Tara Palmer-Tompkinson does after a heavy night out rather than a Non-League ‘keeper! He’s got to be worth signing just for that name alone.
Jules, myself, Bob and Oscar assembled in the beer garden of the Robin Hood for a couple of pre-match pints and to make the most of the warm evening sunshine and the Hood’s new batch of ‘Waggledance’ scrunge. Eventually we wander down to the ground and are told at the gate we can use our season tickets to gain entry. Quite what the point is in allowing season tickets to be used when this is meant to be a fundraiser is beyond me!! Natrually, Bob and I cough the 7 quid. That’s one bulb paid for then.
Quite a few Chelsea fans have come down to swell the crowd despite the lack of any serious ‘names’ in their side, which is good news. Besides, it makes a bloody change to see some sort of crowd in GGL for the first time in ages.
The match gets underway and the U’s settle quicker and set about the Premier League teams Creche eleven. Bolty buzzes around in midfield, just behind the front two. With Honey and Harlow doing the donkey work in the centre. Sutton create a couple of early openings, with Haworth played into the box, but his intended lob is disturbed by the prescence of a Chelsea defender and he puts it into the gardens behind the Securicor terrace. Whitmarsh has a similar chance soon after, but is denied by a good tackle.
Chelsea meanwhile move the ball around well, but create little in the way of chances. After about 20 minutes, the U’s go in front. Bolt combines with Brooker on the near side and from the corner of the box unleashes one of those vicious left footers. It’s definitely on target, but the deflection off the arse of a Chelsea defender wrong foots the ‘keeper and the ball flies in. Woo Hoo!
The goal fires Chelsea into life and they create a couple of very good chances. The little bloke up front (Bollocks, I wish I could remember his name!), you know, the guy who was at QPR, is causing problems with his pace. Boy is he quick! Twice Dunn has to be off his line quickly to smother the ball at his feet as he bursts through. Tommy also makes an excellent one handed save from a shot across his goal soon after.
But the lead naturally doesn’t last and even more naturally for us, it’s a complete fucking gift. Andy Riley, who’s come out of retirement for the 263rd time this season to fill in at the back for us (Do we keep him in a case in the dressing rooms with ‘In Dire Emergency Break Glass’ written on it or something??), cuts out a through ball intended for Parkin. He must have felt sorry for the young striker as 2 seconds later, his piss poor clearance goes straight to him, leaving a free run on goal. He then proceeds to waltz past Dunn and roll the ball into the empty net.
Nice to see the 2 week break has made all the difference to the completely shoddy defending.
Both sides then have chances to go 2-1 up, but good defending by Chelsea and another good stop by Dunn, followed by a Palmer header off the line keeps the scores level. Then right on half time, the U’s retake the lead. Honey wins the ball in midfield and feeds Bolt who races into the box, leaving the blue shirts trailing. He slips the ball across the 6 yard box and Rob Haworth tucks the ball into the corner. Bloody hell, why didn’t we play like this after Xmas?
Not much else happens and we go in at the break 2-1 up.
The visitors make a couple of changes at the break and this upsets their rythm a tadge as soon after the restart, the U’s edge 3-1 in front with a brilliant goal. Naturally, Danny Bolt is involved.
Bolty gets the ball around halfway and heads upfield, skips the challenge of a Chelsea player and ghosts past another. This gives him a pretty free run to the edge of the penalty area, where 2 defenders stand between him and the goal, but he just keeps going towards the byeline, taking the 2 defenders with him. He gets to the line, drags the ball back past one defender and then skips past the other. He then draws the ‘keeper beyond his near post before rolling the ball back to the edge of the 6 yard box for Whitmarsh to bury the ball in the bottom near corner. An absolute cracker! Now would somebody please tell Bolty that Zola has signed a new contract and they’re not looking for a cheap replacement.
This sparks a Chelsea fightback and the visitors steadily assume control of the game. With some excellent attacking runs down the stand side by their No17. Almost straight after, Dunn is replaced by the wonderfully named Chuck Martini in goal and Matt Gray (sponsored by Gandermonium!) is also brought on. Eh? Awww, c’mon! It’s the last report, I had to get the sponsorship thing in one more time.
Just 5 minutes after the goal, we do our usual and try to gift the oppo a way back into the game. The No17 has another good run, cuts in and is felled just inside the box. Penalty. Rats Cocks!
Chelsea bloke steps up and puts his kick too close to our cocktail man between the posts and it’s saved.
Woohoo! Definately not shaken or stirred!
Eh? They missed it?? Right, we’re not having that lads. Now get out there and really gift ‘em one!!
Another 2 minutes later and Mr 17 is causing havoc again. He gets down the line and puts a low ball into the box which Palmer does well to nick off the toe of a Parkin. Unfortunately, the ball runs across goal beyond the reach of Martini and another Sub (No16) pops up at the back post to drive the ball home into the empty net. Ooops.
Chances for the U’s are few and far between from this moment on, but Matty Gray has a cracking low drive beat the ‘keeper but shave the outside of the post from 20 yards.
Some amusement is provided by the Chelsea and Sutton care in the Community groups engaging is some singing. What is especially funny is when the Chelsea kiddies try to spell ‘Chelsea’ in one song, but forget to add the ‘A’ at the end!
The Blues dominanace of the latter stages pays off when our poor tired ickle soldiers collapse under the weight of one assault and No16 pops up again at the back post to fire past Martini after an excellent flowing Chelsea move.
Toss. 3-1 up, drew 3-3. Haven’t seen that in oooh, a couple of weeks or so!
All in all an excellent game. Good value for 7 quid! Which is probably what most of the visiting Chelsea lot are used to coughing up for a sausage roll and a coffee at half time down at Stamford Bridge on a saturday.
We head off back to the Robin Hood for more beer (mmmm Waggledance!) before heading up to the Wetherspoons for a few more. Ahhhhh, only 58 days to go before we start this shit all over again…
MAN OF THE MATCH : Danny Bolt. Excellent.
ENTERTAINMENT : 8. Some good footy and 6 goals into the deal. Bargain!
TEAM : Dunn, Palmer, Brooker, Riley, Baker, Aligheri, Honey, Harlow, Bolt, Whitmarsh, Haworth
SUBS : Martini, Gray.