WHYTELEAFE – 1 [Tall Person 82]
SUTTON UNITED – 4 [Folwer 15.28. Gray 75. Arkwright 89]
After the delights of the 2 opening friendlies against league oppo, we move onto a fixture more becoming of us. Yep, it’s our annual pre-season saunter down to Church Road, Whyteleafe.
A game more likely to show us what our lot are capable of, rather than being run ragged by a bunch of highly paid, very bored professionals. We’ll, that’s the theory anyway.
A quick pint of Pride is had at the pub by the station. Bob follows in shortly after. We then toddle off down to the road to the ground.
The U’s line up is much like saturdays, except for Chuck Martini (probably off ‘guesting’ for someone else tonight!) and one of our subs. A certain Danny Bolt. If you didn’t already know, Bolty was reported to have played for K’s on saturday. That’s fine by us, it just sadly shows that Mr Bolt has incredibly poor fucking taste. Still, we’ll see if ol’ Danny still feels the same way about the Hoopy ones come Christmas when their seemingly annual “Don’t pay the players for several weeks” period comes round. We somehow doubt it.
Rob Haworth is apparently still on honeymoon. “I hope he hasn’t gone to Sri Lanka” comments Bob. “He might be a bit late back”.
The match starts at a brisk pace with the home side attacking almost from the whistle. They have the better of things whist our lot settle and if they’d had anything close to a decent striker, they may just have notched a goal or to. But sadly, they don’t and a series of decent attacking positions are completely wasted by first touches that make Mark Watson look calm & assured on the ball.
The U’s manage one early foray forwards, with Ryan Palmer sending a blistering volley inches wide of the far upright.
Then with quarter of an hour gone, the U’s edge in front. Nko Ekoku goes on one of his bulldozing runs, which takes him to the hearty of the ‘Leafe penalty box. Then, just as he’s about to shoot a last ditch challenge makes him scuff his shot horribly accross the 6 yard box. Fortunately, Matt Fowler pops up and with everyone completely wrong footed by Nko’s ‘shot’ he takes a touch and bangs the ball into the empty net from a few inches out.
A brief burst of U’s pressure then follows and we proceede to waste several chances of our own. The best of which is from a corner, which finds a really rather tall and utterly unmarked Craig Brown (no, not THAT one……) 6 yards out. He spurns the chance by heading way way over the bar.
‘leafe hit back thanks to their ex-centre back Danny Arkwright losing possession around our area on 2 occasions. Both chances end up wide of the mark. Not quite used to the change in shirts yet eh Dan?
Sutton double their lead just before the half-hour. Danny Brooker and Ryan Palmer combine down the right and Brooker swings an excellent ball to the back post from the touchline. Matt Fowler nips in slightly ahead of Massey and from a couple of yards out, hooks the ball beyond Rose in the ‘leafe goal and into the far corner.
Both sides have a couple more near misses before the break, but the U’s go in 2 up at the break.
The home side make changes at the break whilst we retain our line up from the 1st 45. The second half proves to be less interesting than the first, but it’s the U’s who create the better chances with Fowler, Gray and Corbett all missing good opportunities.
The U’s bring on their 3 subs around the hour mark. Nick Williams, Aaron Smith and er……one other bloke getting a run out.
Williams slots in down the right and shows some of that promise we saw in his first couple of games last season. It’s from the young midfielder that the even younger Matty Gray makes it 3-0 with just under 20 minutes to play. Williams beats his man out wide, but rather than whip the ball into the box picks out Gray with a low pass and Matty slides the ball first time inside the far post.
Whyteleafe hit back and press for a goal. Just when it seems that our lads are going to hang of for a rare clean sheet, the home side score. I didn’t really see their goal to be honest as we were by this stage a tad bored with proceedings and were talking shite at the other end of the ground. I think it was a cross from the right either headed/kicked past Dunn at the back post. I think. Maybe…………oh all right, I don’t know ok!!! Happy now?
Matt Gray then goes on a solo run from just in side the ‘leafe half and as he’s about to tee up a shot in the box he’s met wth what could be laughingly described as a ‘challenge’. Needless to say, Mr Ref bloke points to the spot. Fowler grabs the ball and the chance of his first hat-trick in a Sutton shirt. Let’s hope it’s better than his effort against Wimbledon eh? (We’re still debating whether it crossed the line or not!)
On a sliding scale, this effort is somewhat better than his last one, in that it leaves the framework of the goal totally unmarked. And would have flown into the corner if that bastard keeper (all 4ft 5in of him) hadn’t got in the fucking way to push it out for a corner.
Memo to John Rains : Never, ever, let Mr M Folwer take another penalty again. He’s arse at it. 0.5 out of 2 isn’t a great strike rate ok?
Saving penalties he may be good at. Claiming crosses he ain’t. Several times the ‘leafe ‘keeper comes for crosses/corners and fails miserably. It’s from one of these dodgy moments that ex-‘leafe man Danny Arkwright pounces to bury a loose ball and restore our 3 goal cushion with a couple of minutes to play.
So, a good solid win. Although the back four wasn’t exactly what I’d call steady, they got the job done. Midfield looks stronger than it has for ages, although again, unspectacular.
Still, with only one side going down this year, I’m feeling confident already.
And that doesn’t happen often!
TEAM : Dunn, Arkwright, Aligheri, Taylor, Brooker, R Palmer, Corbett, Panter, Fowler, Gray, Ekoku. SUBS : Williams, Smith, Riley