Gwynne Berry Testimonial
SUTTON UNITED – 1 [Fowler 7]
CRYSTAL PALACE – 5 [Kabba. Evans 2. Martini 2]
At last, just the 2 seasons after it was originally announced, Gwynne Berry’s testimonial finally comes around.
The match was first announced back in pre-season for 1999-2000, but apparently the’Eagles’ had too much on their plate at the time. Something about being 2 weeks from going out of business.
Crap excuse if you ask us. Right up there with that old chestnut “But our ground has burned down” and “All our team has been eaten by Alligators”. Pah. What d’you want? Sympathy??
The evenings festivities started earlier than normal, with a Veterans game between a Chelsea XI and a Palace XI. The Chelsea line up included such names as Mickey Droy and Clive Walker, whilst current Palace boss, Steve Bruce lined up for the Eagles old boys. A slow paced but enjoyable game kept the early arrivals entertained, with Clive Walker showing what a class act he still is by thumping a 25 yard, top corner equaliser for Chelsea near the end.
Then onto the main event. Despite having a game at Fulham the following evening, Steve Bruce fields a strong line up in the first half. Berry’s boys consist mainly of the U’s first team squad. As against Wimbledon, the visitors are on the attack from the whistle, but it’s the U’s who take a shock lead after just 7 minutes.
Tommy Dunn launches a goal kick deep into Palace territory which bounces on the edge of the visitors box. It catches their defence flat footed and Matt Fowler nips in to shoot past the ‘keeper. We chcukle as the highly paid professionals of the Palace back four raise their arms and look half heartedly at the linesman for offside. You’ve got to be kidding!
This proves to be a small hiccup in proceedings as the 1st Division side are soon controlling proceedings again. One man in particular causing the U’s problems is one Chris Sharpling, who had a rather prolific spell with Woking last year. He and his colleagues are defied for around 15 minutes by some desperate defending and brilliant goalkeeping from Dunn.
But after 20 minutes or so, a slightly dodgy penalty is awarded. Sharpling and Berry tussle for the ball outside the box and this continues until just inside the area when Sharpling goes down in a heap. The ref falls for this complete load of old bollocks and points to the spot. Rubbish! How can a frail, old, slow bloke like Berry possibly foul a young fit professional like Sharpling?? I ask you…
Justice is done when Black drills the spot kick down the middle only for Dunn to save with his legs. The unfortunate penalty taker then manages to hook the rebound yards over with the goal at his mercy.
Not that it matters, as only a couple of minutes later, Palace finally draw level. A cross in from the right isn’t cleared properly and is knocked back into around the penalty spot. Dunn flies off his line, but Evans gets there first and toes the ball past Dunn and the ball finds it’s way over the line via the inside of the far post.
5 minutes later and it’s 2-1. Evans leaves our testimonial man for dead out wide. Again Dunn comes flying off his line only to have Evans skip past him on the edge of the box. Tommy’s dilemma worsens a second later when he crashes into the trailing Gwynne Berry! Evans fires a shot across goal from a tight angle and Kabba slides in at the near post to force the ball over the line.
Palace continue to control proceedings until right on half time when Evans sneaks in again ahead of Dunn and once more finishes with a shot off the inside of an upright.
The second half takes on a slightly less serious approach with the entire U’s side being switched for reserves, triallists and fringe players. Only Berry himself remains from the first half. Palace also make a few changes and this leads to a drop in tempo.
Very little else happens except Palace increase their lead with 2 more simple goals. Substitute, Martin, puts away 2 tap-ins to increase the visitors advantage to 5-1. The U’s make a couple more changes with Clive Walker making a surprise appearance for the last 10 minutes and Tony Rains replaces the testimonial man Berry.
Then, with time almost up, the U’s rag-tag XI with the assistance of Mr Walker carve out an opening for Matt Gray. Matty bursts into the box and is hauled down on the edge of the 6 yard box as he’s about to shoot. Penalty!
John Rains, er, ‘persuades’ Gwynne to go back on and take the spot kick. He doesn’t look too sure about it when he places the ball on the spot and to be honest we’re not surprised. This is Gwynne Berry after all! The man who managed just 1 goal for Sutton in over 350 games. And that was in a friendly at Yeading last season!
Gwynne’s fears prove well founded, as he sends the ‘keeper the wrong way but his firmly struck kick belts the crossbar, flies up into the air and back down into the grateful ‘keepers arms.
Cheers Gwynne. Good luck with Dulwich mate and make sure you take 6 points of those Robin bastards next season eh?