RYMAN PREMIER DIVISION
SUTTON UNITED – 1 [OG 29]
CANVEY ISLAND – 4 [Boylan 71. Vaughan 77.79. Knight 88]
Now, when you’ve played as badly as the U’s have in the last couple of weeks and hardly managed an effort on goal, the last thing you need is a visit from the team topping the table and unbeaten in 16 games. Sadly, we don’t get to make the fixtures so this is exactly what we’re getting today. Bummer.
I genuinely feared for us in this one. Canvey have hit 5 goals on 2 or 3 occasions already this season and what with our creaky defence and misfiring forwards a genuinely competitive encounter was not expected. The visitors had also been in the national press over the last couple of days after capturing the signature of ex-West Ham and Liverpool hard man and part time defender, Julian Dicks who goes by the cheery nickname of ‘the Terminator’. But lets face it, he could have been known as ‘Mr Big fluffywuffycuddlypinkhandbags’ and he’d probably still scare the shit out of our mob right now.
Mr Dicks has spent his time since retiring from the professional ranks trying to become a professional golfer on the European Tour. Which is ironic. ‘Cos he’s probably exerted himself more on the practice greens than our lot have on the footy field all season.
The U’s are still without Jon Palmer tonight and the visitors also make 3 or 4 changes. Possibly one eye on their FA Cup encounter with Wigan on Saturday I guess?? No matter, they could have both eyes on the cup game if they wanted and probably still turn us over.
As expected the visitors make most of the early running with some incisive forward thrusts. Martini has to be alert when Vaughan forces him to acrobatically palm away one fierce effort and gets down to block a low strike at his near post after the Islanders had forced an opening down the right. The U’s struggled to get into the game, but when they did get forwards, they at least made the well marshalled Canvey defence work for their money. Twice after tricky work by Haworth and Akuamouah the ball is fired in from the left and the ‘keeper has to dive headlong out to save at the feet of Dave Timothy.
Then just on the half hour, a rare U’s raid wins a corner. Honey swings it into the box and Dicks gets up to head over his outcoming ‘keeper and inside his own far post. 1-0! Where the fuck did that come from??? Well, not from us, that’s for sure….
This proves to be a bit of a shock and upsets the visitors shape and momentum for a while and the U’s start to compete a bit more. Which after the last couple of games, makes a welcome change. A few more raids are launched and with the help of Canvey’s dodgy offside trap and a seemingly blind linesman failing to spot several incursions by Matt Fowler, we cause a few problems for our visitors. Which is nice.
Despite his earlier error, Mr Dicks is having a solid if unspectacular game at left back. He’s not looking too pacy, but his reading of the game and positioning does the job as you’d expect for a geezer with so many top division games under his belt. I found it disappointing that we didn’t put more pressure on him though. Why didn’t we attack him more? Run at him?? It really amazes me when bods like us who have a had a few continue to spot glaring weaknesses in the opposition and our management can’t. I mean come on, it doesn’t take a rocket scientist to work out that Mr Dicks hasn’t played for 2 years and has a dodgy knee. Make him work!
“Hello? UEFA? Yeah, it’s us again. Er, we’ve just spotted another tactical error by our management team. Can we have those Class A coaching badges now?? No? Oh. Well how about a Class B, we don’t want to seem greedy? Hello? Hello?…”
Martini scares the life out of us by missing 3 crosses near the end of the half, one of which he drops right onto the toe of a Canvey player, but before he can almost certainly register, the ref spots a foul somewhere and blows up.
So at the break we go in 1 up. Probably a bit fortunately, but at least we’re giving it a go this time. Which makes a lovely change.
The second half sees the Essex boys step up a gear and they bombard our goal looking for an equaliser. Again, Martini’s handling is suspect and several balls in fly into the box with him flailing about. Quite how they fail to score in this spell amazes us. Dicks comes closest to breaking their duck with a 25 yard free-kick which clips the crossbar. Haworth replies soon after, as Sutton again spring the visitors offside trap. Fowler plays the ball onto the big striker and his rising effort is palmed over the bar.
Canvey make a sub just after the hour and 5 minutes later, the new man has of course squared things up. A Sutton attack sees Boothe dispossessed about 30 yards inside the Canvey half. A sweeping move started by a great pass by Dicks ends up with the U’s defence carved open and Boylan slotting home from 6 yards out. Uh oh, I think we’re in trouble now.
Already on the back foot after losing the lead, things get decidedly worse for the U’s a couple of minutes later. Dave Timothy challenges late on the touchline in front of the stand and receives a yellow card for his troubles. The problem is, for us and for him, is that it’s his second of the night and the set is completed when he’s shown the inevitable red. Oh bugger, now we’re definitely fucked.
Barely 5 minutes later and the visitors having smelt blood make the extra man count. Another flowing move from halfway tears Sutton apart at the back. A last ditch attempt to block the ball by Ryan Palmer only helps the ball onto Vaughan and he lashes it past Martini from just inside the box. 2-1
Another couple of minutes elapses and with us a little rattled, things start to get ridiculous as is usually the case with us. Vaughan is played in down the right but is forced wide to the byeline. Running out of pitch to play with he hooks the ball across from almost by the corner flag into the box. From our vantage point and from Martini’s reaction, we think it’s swung out of play and gone out for a goal kick. Er, chance would be a fine thing. Chuck stands staring, following the flight of the ball as it loops miles above him and drops inside his far post. It’s an utterly poxy goal to concede. And why does stupid freak bollocks like that always happen to us? It’s all one way! I can’t remember the last time a wild cross or hugely overhit free kick drifted into an opponents net for us. It’s not bloody fair I tell you. I guess when you’re on it, it all falls your way.
Our last effort of the match is courtesy of Chris Boothe who connects with a Paul Honey cross at the back post, but his looping header is well saved by the ‘keeper.
With his erratic performance so far tonight, it’s only fitting that Chuck (by name & nature) Martini does a ‘Barthez’ that even the Frenchman himself would be proud of.
The Morrocan runs out to challenge a Canvey forward. He wins the tackle, but chases after the loose ball rather than, you know, guard his goal. Again he just wins the challenge on the edge of his box, but again the ball runs loose. This time his luck runs out and he’s well beaten by Kennedy, who sidesteps Chuck easily leaving him on his arse. before then picking out the unmarked Knight at the back post and he shoots into the empty net past a recovering Palmer.
The match ends (thankfully) a couple of minutes later without any further increase in the visitors tally and the team trudge off to some booing from the far side of the ground. Another day, another defeat then. Shame really as there was a bit in there early on that was promising.
Beer in the pub after does little to lift the spirits. We may have played better than previous weeks but that surely had more to do with Canvey being a more footballing side. When it comes down to scrapping against sides in the mid to lower reaches, we can’t cope as we don’t get the same amount of time to play and we get duffed up physically. I also doubt the Timothy red card actually played a major part in the result. Sure, they exploited the man advantage to the full, but they’d just equalised and were already all over us like a rash anyway. It surely would only have been a matter of time before the second goal came and the end result, a defeat, being the same. Anyone who thinks our defence would have held out in the face of that onslaught needs their head seeing to.
Well, at least we’ve got a day off on Saturday. I’ve managed to talk Chalmers and Bob into heading north and visiting Boundary Park for the Oldham-Barrow FA Cup match on Saturday for a change of scenery.
MAN OF THE MATCH : Dave Timothy. Kept going ‘til he was sent off!
ENTERTAINMENT : 6. Some decent footy. Canvey are the best we’ve seen so far.
TEAM : Martini, R Palmer, Arkwright, Mison, Brooker, Honey, Timothy, Booth, Fowler, Haworth, Akuamoah SUBS : Howard, Williams, Berry