RYMAN LEAGUE CUP 1st ROUND
SUTTON UNITED – 5 [Haworth 43.119. Palmer 49. Gonsalves 54. Akuamouah 96]
DULWICH HAMLET – 3 [Richards 20. Perkins 53. Allen 78]
AFTER EXTRA TIME
The Ryman League cup. Not exactly the Champions League is it?
No awful operatic ‘anthem’ played at ear shattering volume when the teams come out (although we don’t even bother with the usual Sham69 number tonight), no group of local street urchins in tracksuits waggling a large circular bit of material in the centre circle and certainly no crowd.
Dont’cha just love non-league footy?
Now I know what we all think of the League cup and it’s recently deceased cousin the Full-Members. We all call it a ‘Mickey Mouse’ competition and you tend to find a lot of the better clubs in the earlier rounds treat it with the same amount of seriousness that Mr Wenger & Ferguson do with that pot sponsored by the shite-yorkshire-beer company. IE- None. In fact we’re so immersed in the wonder of the RLC that no one actually knows exactly what happens if it’s a draw tonight. Is it a replay? Extra-Time and then a replay?? Or extra-time and then penalties? Oh never mind. One final thing, I’m watching this sober. Stupid stupid stupid.
Still, it could have been worse I s’pose. We could have been drawn against Heybridge. Away.
The U’s make a couple of changes from saturday with Danny Arkwright returning (oh goody. We’re soooo pleased…..) along with Jon Palmer (Yay! We sponsor him. Had I mentioned that??). Lewis Gonsalves keeps his right-back spot after his solid debut and Matt Gray is once more on the bench. We decide to let JR off on that one as young Matt played for the youths at Kidderminster last night. Matt Fowler is also relegated to the bench with Akuamouah partnering Rob Haworth up front.
Sutton get straight at the visitors with Jon Palmer and Paul Honey testing the ‘keeper with well hit long range efforts. Unfortunately, he’s equal to both. Dulwich hit back and Dunn has to be off his line quickly to thwart one attack. The U’s have slightly the better of the early exchanges but it’s Dulwich who take the lead after about 20 minutes. A free kick is placed onto the penalty spot and Richards gets in front of his man to flick a header wide of Dunn and inside the far post.
Both sides continue to press but with the visitors now slightly on top and our forwards finding it hard going to breach the Dulwich defence. Both sides then lose players to injuries. With Danny Brooker limping off and replaced by Matt Gray. It’s only once the 18 year old appears that Sutton actually start to look seriously threatening.
Some more long range efforts from the U’s (all wide) are all we have to show as we start our customary stroll round to the bar for half time. We watch the last couple of minutes from by the tunnel and Sutton produce a real burst of attacking activity. Gray receives the ball outside the box, twists & turns but can’t find an opening. But then he spots the run of Rob Haworth to his right and threads the ball through. Haworth challenges for the ball with a Dulwich defender, the ball loops up over the ‘keeper and despite the attention of another defender sneaks over the line at the far post.
We spend the last couple of moments tearing into a rocking Hamlet rearguard with Jon Palmer, Akuamouah and Haworth all having sights of goal. But none come to anything and we go in level at the whistle.
The second half starts brightly for Sutton and again it’s Gray who plays a major part. Playing slightly wide, he’s able to run at defenders and one such burst produces our second goal. Dragging the ball and his marker accross the edge of the box he fires in a curling low drive that the ‘keeper does well to parry, both Haworth and Jon Plamer are lurking at the back post. Haworth steps aside and the Gandermonium sponsored man blasts in from a tight angle.
Again we have another short burst of activity after the goal and Akuamouah wastes a good chance to make it 3-1 when he pressures a defender into a slip, robs him of the ball and races clear. But his low shot is blocked by the ‘keepers legs. Not long after and the Pink lot are level. The U’s defence for the umpteenth time this season allow the opposition to run at them and Perkins brushes aside two utterly soft arsed ‘challenges’ (tackle? What’s a tackle?) before sliding the ball past Dunn into the far corner.
Thankfully, the U’s hit back again and about a minute later edge back in front. Another bit of trickery from Matt Gray opens up Hamlet down their left. Nutmegging a defender on the edge of the box, he goes for the byeline and cuts the ball back into the box. Akuamouah has it taken off his toe by a defender, but it deflects to Lewis Gonsalves on the edge of the box who in full flight powers the ball via the ‘keepers left hand into the net. A great move and probably one of the best goals I’ve seen from our lot all bloody season!
This leads to a dominating 20 minute spell from Sutton and during which, several excellent chances are wasted. First another Matt Gray pass finds Ryan Palmer who’s square ball along the 6 yard box finds Rob Haworth sliding in. But his half volley produces a brilliant one handed, point blank save from Mercer in the Dulwich goal. Soon after, a corner is knocked down and Akuamouah, from no more than 5 yards out, smashes a volley against the crossbar. A couple of other efforts are bloked by Mercer before Akuamouah rattles the Dulwich woodwork again with a fierce curling effort from 10 yards thudding back off the far upright. But once again some more bad defending lets in the visitors and levels the tie for the third time.
A quick break from midfield and a slide rule ball is played through the Sutton centre backs. With no pace to call on, they’re left for dead by Allen and he draws out Dunn before firing past him to make it 3-3. This now makes the game swing back in the visitors favour.
They have some threatening moments and a good save by Dunn keeps the U’s level. One particular moment has us shaking our heads in disbelief when again Dunn is exposed to a 1 on 1 situation and he does well to get down and flick the ball off the toe of the forward. There then follows a comical couple of seconds with Dunn scrambling around, chasing the ball with the striker with another Pink n Blue shirted bloke stood a few feet away screaming for the ball. Finally Tommy drops on the ball and we all start to breathe again. Then with just a couple of minutes remaining, the Pink mob blow a great chance to nick it. Another ball through our not-even-remotely-pacy centre of defence sends Perkins steaming clear. Again Dunn comes off his line, but slips slightly. For some reason, rather than just ping the ball over our now ever so slightly up shit creek ‘keeper, he shoots straight at him and the ball runs away for a corner.
And so to extra-time. Which is when we discover that if it’s still all level after another half a freezing frigging hour, we’ll get to go to Champion Hill and do it all again! Joy!
Sutton go close in the opening moments of the first period with Akuamouah again forcing a mistake from a defender. He races into the box and slides his shot agonisingly wide of the far post with Haworth arriving just too late to apply a finishing touch. We needn’t have worried as midway throught the first 15 cold minutes, Jon Palmer puts a cross in from the left which Mercer seems certain to claim. He doesn’t, fumbling it onto the boot of Eddie Akuamouah who gratefully accepts the gift and lashes the ball into the net.
The tie dies a little after this with raids on both goals being kept to a minimum. One Dulwich attack ending in a cracking shot that Dunn does well to acrobatically palm away. The second extra period finds the U’s on top and lpaying a little bit of keep ball by the corner flag. Chris Boothe being the man showing off his little tricks and frustrating the harrassing defender so much he kicks out, conceding a silly free-kick.
Which is then fired into the box, where Rob Haworth stretches to get in front of his marker and guide a header beyond Mercer and finally kill the tie off.
Thank christ for that! Moments later, the ref brings matters to a close. Poxy extra-time, there’s hardly any time for a beer now!! Which is bollocks.
Besides, I’m cold. Can I go home now??
MAN OF THE MATCH : Matt Gray. Had a great game. Bloody start him JR!
ENTERTAINMENT : 8. A piss poor crowd, but I certainly got my 7 quids worth.
TEAM : Dunn, Gonsalves, Mison, Arkwright, Brooker, R Palmer, J Palmer, Boothe, Honey, Akuamouah, Haworth. SUBS : Gray, Fowler, Berry