SUTTON UNITED – 2 [Fowler 55.59]
BRISTOL ROVERS – 2 [Ellington 77. Gall 82]
Ahhh. Another pre-season Saturday. But one with a difference. It’s hot. Fucking hot. In fact I can’t remember the last time I watched a match in such heat. But then again, due to the alcohol consumed during my adult years, even if I had attended such a game at some point in my lifetime, I probably wouldn’t remember it anyway.
Lunch partaken with the missus and then I’m off to the Hood for a pre-game pint with Bob & Mark. Even that’s hard work out in the shade of the beer garden. Which is worrying. If we’re sweating our arses off just sat here supping, imagine what it’s going to be like out on the pitch for the lads, running about. Fuck that.
The Bristol friendly seems to have been arranged around Danny Bolt’s recent trial with the south-west club. At the time it was announced, we were all wondering exactly who Bolty would turn out for on the day. Us or them? Wrong on both counts as it turns out. The answer was Kingstonian. Cheers Dan. Git.
It seems the 3rd division side were apparently fielding the usual mix of ‘possibles’ and 1st teamers you get in these sort of games, so hopefully our lads would at least get a decent competitive workout and not a bloody good hiding.
The 3rd division boys set out their stall early and Martini has to be alert in the first few minutes to push away a stinging free kick. The U’s line up appears to be largely the one we’re probably going to be seeing at Braintree in a couple of weeks time, remaining pretty much the same as against Whyteleafe. One new addition is Gary Drewett, released by the Scummers. Quite what he was doing playing for that shite last season escapes me at this point as he turns in an encouraging performance on the right side of midfield. Maybe he felt sorry for ‘em?
Up front, one surprise is Rob Haworth, who has returned from his recent nuptials and he leads the attack with Matty Fowler. Welcome back big man! Oh and congratulations.
Midway through the half, a drinks break was called. No, not by us! By the ref, stupid! Christ, you lot think we’re alcoholics or summat. Mark meanwhile has become somewhat distracted from the football by a young lady nearby who, shall we say, probably wouldn’t drown in any great hurry. The dirty old perv.
Bristol make most of the early chances, but fail to test Martini again until after the half hour mark when a good cross from the left is met by Bubb(?) but he can only direct his header straight at Morocco’s Number three.
The U’s meanwhile have been toiling away, playing some neat football, but without threatening the visitors goal. Fowler is causing some discomfort to the visitors incredibly tall defence, twisting , turning and running at them whenever he gets the chance. Unfortunately his finishing lets him down and all his efforts end up over the bar. Drewett is making good progress down the right, showing some good touches and looking comfortable on the ball as well. Bloody hell, sign him up JR.
Right on half time, Bristol almost take the lead when a corner picks out one of their huge center halves unmarked about 10 yards out at the back post. His towering header thumps back off the bar at the far post and Danny Brooker appears to block the rebound.
Half time and Mark then discovers that the young lady he’d been slavering over earlier is only just 16. A revelation that almost reduces the old git to tears. Proper wrong’uns we hang about with and no mistake.
The second half sees the visitors make a few changes, including the introduction of their top scorer from last season, Nathan Ellington. He’s soon in the action and firing a sweet volley into the midriff of Martini. Then with 10 minutes of the half gone, Fowler pounces to give Sutton the lead.
A defensive mix up gifts Drewett the ball 25 yards out. He draws the defender in front of him out of position allowing Folwer to nip into the gap. He rolls the ball into the strikers path and he slips the ball between the Bristol ‘keeper and his near post to make it 1-0. woo hoo!
The goal rocks the visitors slightly and they have a wobbly spell for the next few minutes. A spell that the U’s make full use of. A cross from the right finds all 5 foot something of Matt Fowler who outjumps both huge central defenders to glance a header inside the far post. 2-0. Bloody hell!
Gerry Francis is obviously less than impressed with the state of affairs and makes a few more subs. No doubt sneaking a few more first teamers on to even things up. The unsporting bastard.
The visitors fresh legs definitely help as our lot are completely shagged out from running around in the heat. Ellington wastes a free-kick, blasting it into the wall. And then soon after some bloke with a very strange foreign name forces Martini into another good save.
The game enters the last 15 minutes and just as it seems the lads will hold out for a very encouraging win, Rovers finally grab themselves a lifeline.
Ellington advances into the box and rather than play a pass to a completely unmarked colleague to his left, he decides to try a shot. Fortunately for him, his tame effort deflects wildly off the leg of Danny Brooker who is closing him down and bobbles inside the near post with Martini stranded. Oh dear.
With the U’s defence tiring by the minute, the pro side up the tempo slightly and get their reward 8 minutes from time. Dante Aligheri challenges a Rovers player on halfway and the ball clearly deflects out for a Sutton throw. Sadly the ref is a twat and ignores his linesman’s correct descision, awarding it the other way. With Dante way out of position, a quick throw finds Gall in acres of space down the left. Unchallenged, he drives into the box and fires smartly, low inside Martini’s far post.
Buggerbuggerbugger. Looks like that ‘encouraging win’ just became a ‘ever so slightly disappointing but better than losing’ draw. Like I said, bugger.
Unhappy with merely drawing level, Rovers push for a winner to properly put us Non-League shite back in our box. But again they find Martini in decent form. Gall again finds space down the left and his blistering 20 yard shot is acrobatically saved by the U’s ‘keeper. Ellington pounces on the rebound, but puts his shot from a couple of yards out into one of the gardens behind the Securicor terrace rather than the big, gaping onion bag right in front of him.
So, a good result against what appears to have been a fairly strong Rovers side. Disappointing we couldn’t hang on for the win, but that’s the way it goes I s’pose and it’s all about the work out in these games anyway. The side looks to be coming together nicely, playing some good stuff. Fowler is banging ‘em in, Haworth is back and it looks like we’re going to have some good competition for the ‘keeper’s jersey if ol’ Chuck decides to stick around.
We’re getting there.
Martini, Brooker, R Palmer, Taylor, Aligheri, Arkwright, Drewett, Corbett, Boothe, Fowler, Haworth SUBS : Timothy, Gray