RYMAN PREMIER DIVISION
SUTTON UNITED – 2 [Palmer 65. Haworth 76]
ALDERSHOT TOWN – 0
It’s Tuesday night and in a dark alley somewhere in Sutton, two shadowy figures meet. A tall guy in a green top, wearing padded gloves is engaged in a whispered conversation with a shorter gentleman wearing an Amber coloured scarf.
“Do you have it then?” asks Mr Green top. “Certainly Mr H” replies the scarf man, handing over a bulging brown envelope. “A thousand quid and a pack of jumbo smarties as agreed”.
“Nice. I just love jumbo smarties” says Mr Green top.
The scarf man casts a furtive glance, left then right, checking the alley for anyone eavesdropping on their conversation. “Are we clear then?” He says. “Make sure it’s the second half and don’t make it look too obvious ok?”. “Ok….” Replies green top, nodding his head. The two shake hands and turn to go their separate ways.
“One last thing” asks Scarf. “Yeah?” says green top as Scarf man reaches out and hands him a small piece of folded paper. “Here’s a tenner extra. The lads would love it if Mr Watson could hit the corner flag for ‘em tonight. Just for old times sake.” Green top nods and takes the note. “Yeah, no problem.” he says. “Anything for my old employers”. The two men turn and briskly stroll in opposite directions, disappearing into the darkness.
Elsewhere in the fair town of Sutton, possibly around the same time myself and my good lady stroll into the Robin Hood pub. Soon followed by Chalmers. But Bob fails to appear. Which is strange. Unlike him to miss a pre-match bevvy. Oh well!
At twenty past seven, we head for GGL with Chalmers kindly giving us a lift. Unfortunately, as we get to the top of Gander Green Lane, 2 coppers on motorbikes bar our way. Apparently a train has derailed at West Sutton station and no, they don’t know if the game is affected. Thanks a bunch orificer.
A quick detour later and Chalmers still manages to nab his usual jammy parking spot right outside the main turnstile. Which is handy as we arrive in the ground moments before kick-off. Bob is already waiting on the Shoebox for us and looking mightily pleased with himself for some reason.
Aldershot have brought a fair few with ‘em tonight and as a result, GGL looks well populated for a change. The U’s have made only one change with Paul Honey dropping to the bench. Sarah’s first game of the season is a bit strange for her as she recognises more of the opposition players than Suttons! Aldershot use no less than four Ex-U’s tonight. Goalkeeper Howells (who seems to have a large brown envelope sticking out of his gloves bag. How strange!), Paul Harford in midfield and Scott Forrester with Mark Watson up front. Can Watson break his duck of never having scored against the U’s?? Er, probably not.
Things get underway and the game soon settles into a midfield scrap with little in the way of chances. The U’s make plenty of ground, but lack that final touch or ball to seriously cause the visitors any real hassle. Aldershot are better at moving the ball and put our defence under a fair bit of pressure, with Forrester in particular looking quite lively. The ‘Shots’ best chance comes from a deep cross played into the box. Danny Arkwright wins it for the U’s but sadly his toblerone shaped skull sends it flying goalwards and only an acrobatic save by Martini prevents an OG.
Sutton’s best opportunity comes after some good work down the Aldershot left, resulting in a cross into the box. Rob Haworth gets the slightest of flicks with his head and the ball drops behind him to Sam Keevil who’s nipped in on the blind side. He takes a touch and with only Howells to beat, fires a shot across the goal, beyond the ‘keeper but also beyond the far post. Strangely, the so far rather useless ref gives a corner!
Our old mate Mark Watson then shows us how much he’s improved as a player since he left GGL. Collecting the ball on the near touchline, he heads infield. Ghosting past 2 men, he then hooks a shot from fully 30 yards, goalwards. Well, almost. The ghosting past bit was true and I s’pose you COULD say his shot was ‘goalwards’ as it went in that general direction. Sadly for our ex forward, it troubled the far corner flag a whole lot more than Martini’s goal. Cue a chuckle of derision from the assembled U’s fans. Some things never change eh Watso?
Both sides keep plugging away and right on half time, it’s the visitors who come closest to breaking the deadlock. As we wander round for half-time, one of the group notes what a quiet game Mr Watson is having. Almost immediately at the far end of the field, Forrester turns his marker and fires in a shot from outside the box. Martini gets down low and manages to parry the effort, unfortunately Watson is lurking and pounces to slot home from a tight angle. But before we can say “How did you let that useless git score?” the linesman has his flag up. Offside! hehehehe! Never mind eh Mark!!
Some ‘Shots’ fans question the descision. Bollocks! We know him better than you. Believe us, in our experience, he most likely was offside. So half time and a 0-0 scoreline. Most satisfactory.
The second half sees the injured Berry replaced by Paul Honey. This allows Boothe to go into the defence and gives our midfield a more positive outlook.
The change does help a hell of a lot as the U’s midfield starts to become more competitive, the passing improves greatly and we start to cause a few problems for the visitors defence. The first opportunity falls to Akuamouah, who collects the ball on the far side and tears across the field towards the Aldershot goal. He leaves two defenders trailing before the last man forces him a bit wider than he’d have liked and off balance, his shot sails a good few feet wide. Honey and Keevil both also have runs from deep and both are halted with a last ditch tackle in the box when they really could have taken the opportunity to shoot earlier.
Aldershot’s response sees them again come very very close. A swift flowing move down the U’s left side ends in a throw in by the corner flag. The throw is disastrously ‘flicked on’ by Sutton defender, Mison and Grant Payne latches onto the loose ball. From 10 yards, he sizes up the target and shoots. Martini is helpless as he watches the fierce shot thump off his cross bar and fly over. Shortly after an Aldershot attack is blocked out on the left side of the Sutton area after a bit of a scramble that draws a huge shout for handball from the massed ‘Shots’ fans behind the goal.
Sutton keep going though and just after the hour, they go in front with an absolute cracker of a goal. The ball finds Jon Palmer out on the left and in a bit of space. He sets off towards the box and cuts inside the full back, along the edge of the box, past another defender and launches a rising, curling drive beyond the dive of Howells and into the top corner. Wooooo Hoo……………what a corker!
The goal stings the visitors into life and for several minutes, they’re camped in our half, winning a string of corners. Thankfully, all are cleared or even more amazingly, Martini claims them.
Aldershot’s efforts to pull the goal back inevitably leaves gaps at the back and the U’s start to exploit them with increasing frequency. The main danger is coming from Akuamoah, who almost every time he’s getting the ball is taking the chance to charge at the ‘Shots’ defence. Arkwright blows a glorious chance from a Paul Honey corner kick. He rises totally unmarked and from 6 yards out heads horribly wide. Ol’ toblerone head strikes again!! Then with around 15 to play, Sutton finally scratch out some breathing room. A good, quick attack down the right sees a ball played into Keevil in the box. At full stretch, he manages to wrap his leg round the defender and get a boot to the ball but can only put it out for a goalkick. Or so we think!! Yet again, Mr Cluelesstwat the ref awards a corner. Much to our amusement!
Honey swings it to the near post, where the slightest of flicks helps it onto Haworth at the back post and bullet of a diving header sneaks past Howells to make it 2-0. Bloody hell! Rob runs over to the rather happy U’s fans behind the goal to celebrate. “Fucking come on!!!” he shouts. We couldn’t agree more mate!
This doesn’t kill off the visitors though. Not by a long way. Borg throws Stafford Browne on to try and bolster his attack. The best chance the ‘Shots’ carve out falls to the sub. An excellent ball in from the left finds him in space at the back post, but he drills his first time volley into the ground and it bounces up into Martini’s midriff.
Akuamouah has a glorious chance to bury the match with a few minutes remaining, again he runs from deep, twisting & turning, taking on players. He worms his way into the box and fires a shot back across goal. The shot beats Howells, but agonsingly bounces back off the inside of the post and a defender clears off the line with Haworth in close attendance. Another surging run by Eddie a minute or so later again ends in a shot from inside the box, but this time he takes it a touch too far and the defender forces him to shoot wide of the near post.
Aldershot keep going and their last decent chance falls to none other than our ol’ mate, Mark Watson. A cross in from the left picks him out at the near post and from less than 6 yards out, he directs his header the wrong side of the upright. Oh and he’s offside as well!! Never mind Watso. There’s always saturday!!
We nip back to the Wetherspoons for a couple of pints, where the missus sits awaiting the outcome of the Grimsby – Liverpool Worthy cup tie at Anfield. The minutes tick away and the tie goes to extra-time. Then news. McCallister has put the scousers in front. Aw, poor Sarah! But the fishy boys ain’t beaten and an equaliser puts a smile back on her face. Then with moments to go, the stripey fishing people manage a winner, much to the other half’s delight.
So if you were in the Sutton Wetherspoons at about 10.30 on tuesday and saw a short blonde girl in a black & white striped shirt jumping around near the bar and wondered what the hell was going on. Now you know.
MAN OF THE MATCH : Eddie Akuamouah. Excellent. Ran all night and deserved a goal.
ENTERTAINMENT : 8. A decent game and a bloody good result!
TEAM : Martini, Berry, Arkwright, Mison, J Palmer, R Palmer, Timothy, Boothe, Keevil, Haworth, Akuamouah SUBS : Honey, Panter, Taylor