RYMAN PREMIER DIVISION
SUTTON UNITED – 2 [Wingfield 16. Haworth p41]
BILLERICAY TOWN – 2 [Woolsey 11. Opinel 59]
After last weeks annihilation of Harrow, this game was always going to be a bit tougher.
Billericay were one of the few sides to impress your incredibly cynical author this season. Their brand of fast paced attacking footy made the game at New Lodge the easiest to swallow in that incredibly crap first couple of months.
But lately, things haven’t been quite so rosy for ‘Ricay. A run of defeats including a 6-4 mauling by Hendon at home and a couple of other comprehensive reverses had seen manager Gary Calder placing his entire team on the list. Yeah, even Joe Baker! So, todays encounter could go either way for the U’s. It could be a continuation of last weeks rampage or a humbling defeat at the hands of a fired up team stung by their recent bad run.
The now ritual pre-match pint in the Hood is attended by just Bob & myself. Chalmers, the part time Chelsea fan, has gone swanning off to Bolton’s Reebok stadium today to take in 90 minutes of Ranieri’s finest. Or not-so-finest depending what mood whinging overpaid tossers like Petit and Le Saux are in today. Bah, the boy doesn’t know what he’s missing.
The side is, for the third game running, completely unchanged. Amazing! We decide not to make our beer damaged brains try and dredge up the last time that happened. Thinking is generally not an accepted part of our Saturday match-day experience.
The early exchanges between the two sides are fairly evenly matched. But the visitors show enough to convince us that we’ve got a game on our hands. The U’s create the first real opportunity with about 10 minutes gone. A nice bit of play from midfield sends Matt Gray free down the right. He takes the ball towards the byeline and knocks an excellent low ball across the 6 yard box. Phil Wingfield arrives, sliding in at the back post, but he can’t get a solid touch on the ball and it bobbles the wrong side of the post with the ‘Ricay ‘keeper stranded.
A minute or so later, we rue the missed sitter as the visitors go ahead. A corner is delivered from the left and the U’s defence reacts slowly. Woolsey has plenty of time to control and hook a shot past the helpless Dunn. Muttering, we sincerely hope that the ‘Ricay defence repays the favour soon.
Encouragingly, unlike back in August where we would have folded up, the U’s come back strongly in search of an equaliser. And just 5 minutes after falling behind, the scores are level again. A patient build up on the right flank is rewarded when Timothy swings a wicked cross into the visitors area and Wingfield makes up for his earlier miss by nipping between 2 defenders and ahead of Eddie Akuamouah to nod into the bottom near corner of the net.
Both sides then proceed to exchange end to end attacks, with the U’s probably just shading matters, creating some dangerous moments for the Billericay defence and their ‘keeper Adam Hart in particular. At least 3 times his defenders leave him with back passes that he has to hurriedly hack directly into touch. Two of these hasty clearances are made with Rob Haworth in close attendance looking to charge them down. Billericay, probably mindful of their recent form, seem quite happy to put their foot into most challenges conceding loads of free-kicks. I can understand why, trying to prevent us from building up any momentum, bu that doesn’t make it any prettier or less frustrating to watch! Then with about 5 minutes to half time, Sutton win a corner. It’s met by the head of a Billericay defender at the near post, looping up and dropping just the wrong side of the crossbar.
The follow up corner drops into the area and causes havoc. Mison latches onto the loose ball and plays it to the edge of the box a fraction of a second before he’s chopped down from behind. That’ll be a dead cert penalty kick then Mr Referee??
Haworth steps up and hammers the spot kick high into Hart’s net to put the U’s ahead.
Billericay hit back and right on the whistle, go very very close with a cross producing a close range header just wide of the post.
The half-time scores reveal that our great friends in Kingston are, barring a big fightback, on their way out of the FA Trophy. 2-0 down at Woking. The scummers meanwhile draw a few utterings of ‘Bollocks’ when we discover that they’re holding Farnborough 0-0.
Sutton start the second half brightly and a foray by Matt Gray and Dave Timothy wins a corner. Mison rises unmarked in the centre to power a header goalwards but it’s hooked off the line by a defender guarding the back post. This is sadly the U’s last real chance of the match as the visitors dig in and start to control proceedings.
With Honey and Corbett struggling to control the midfield and space being denied to Wingfield and Gray on the wings, the U’s attacking options dry up. Joe ‘not good enough for us’ Baker has his best spell of the game, prompting and probing from midfield and testing the defence with his tricky running.
It’s through Baker that the visitors go closest to equalizing. Taking on 3 or 4 Amber shirts, he goes on a mazy run into the penalty area. But having done the hard part and with the goal at his mercy and only Dunn to beat, he screws his shot a good 3-4 yards horribly wide.
But with the attacks increasing in frequency and the U’s unable to relieve the pressure, it only seems a matter of time before the Essex side equalise. Then around the hour mark a penetrating run down the left sees a cross deflected to the far corner of the 18 yard box where Opinel despatches a smart low drive beyond Dunn to make it 2-2. The visitors then with their tails up push forwards for a winner and Dunn has to be alert to beat out one close range effort in the last 10 minutes.
But with our guests pushing up, the U’s finally exert some pressure of thier own with Honey and Corbett both shooting straight at Hart. The best chance falls to sub Matt Fowler near the end when Wingfield breaks free and his low shot from 20 yards is parried by Hart and both he and the U’s striker dive in for the ball. Hart wins, just. Only to cop a boot in the mush from Fowler. Sadly, their No5 decides to act like a twat and take revenge. An act that really should see him in the book. The ball was loose mate, that makes it a 50-50 as far as I’m concerned you twat.
The match runs it’s course with the only other ivncident of any note being the inexplicable decision of the ref not to take any action at the Billericay No6’s badly timed lunge at Mison. A bookable challenge if ever we’ve seen one and as it’s his second of the afternoon really should see him in the dressing rooms a few minutes earlier than his team mates. Unfortunately, another inconsistent Ryman official decides a talking to is all that’s required. Bloody typical.
So, all in all a draw probably the fairest result. We depart to the Hood for a few bevvies and here I discover that Oldham have pissed away a 2 goal lead at Chesterfield to lose 4-2. Bastards.
Still, I manage to take solace in the incredibly strong beer being served in the Wetherspoons later that night and blot out my troubles in an alcoholic haze. Saturdays eh? What fun!
MAN OF THE MATCH : Paul Honey. Absolutely bloody everywhere!
ENTERTAINMENT : 7. End to end if not a great defensive exhibition!
TEAM : Dunn, Timothy, R Palmer, Mison, Gonsalves, Gray, Wingfield, Honey, Corbett, Haworth, Akuamouah. SUBS : Fowler, J Palmer, Brown