SURREY SENIOR CUP 5th ROUND
SUTTON UNITED – 0
TOOTING & MITCHAM UNITED – 3 [Onochie 7. Webb 87. Kane 90]
And lo, for the 3rd frigging season running, the U’s nosedive out of the Surrey Senior cup to a team from a division below us. Thus killing stone dead any further interest this season.
First it was Croydon, then Whyteleafe and now Tooting. Who’s next in line? Banstead? Epsom? Leatherhead Brownies 3rd XI?
Now losing is part of the game, I accept that, but I what I can’t accept is the fact that on each of these occasions we’ve simply been outfought and out-thought. And tonight was no exception.
If you regularly read my ramblings, you’ll be well aware of my (and pretty much everyone elses) frustration with our managers continuing facination with the 352/532/wingbacks system of play. After a brief (and successful!) return to 442 we’ve recently reverted back to this dire formation and after delivering a couple of rare wins, it’s reverted to type, seeming to suit our opponents far better than us!
One very noticeable flaw is the fact that despite playing with this allegedly more ‘stable’ style, every game bar Bedford away, we’ve conceded a poxy early goal and ended up chasing the game. Thankfully in the case of Basingstoke and Maidenhead, the lads stuck at it and we managed to grind out 2 wins. But I feel that’s more down to the players themselves rather than the system.
Sadly the only ‘grinding’ tonight was of teeth amongst the pissed off U’s support.
Once again, due to the marvellous efficiency of the rail services between Epsom & Sutton, yours truly is reduced to just a half before the game. Which is not a good start to the evening. The team welcomes back skipper Mike Mison and also Matt Gray, who starts on the right in place of Williams. Matt Fowler reverts to the bench.
Tooting, in a similar league position as ourselves, are clearly ‘up’ for tonight, hoping to keep alive some interest in their solid 1st season back in the 1st division. The U’s meanwhile make their usual lethargic start.
The visitors are attacking like fucking loons from the word go. The front two of Webb and Onochie are running around at a thousand miles an hour, harrying our dozy defence. Their pressure and tenacity earns them 3 reasonable chances inside the first 5 minutes. Onochie forcing Dunn to block a 1 on 1 with his legs.
But they keep on coming and with just 7 minutes on the clock, a Tooting midfielder catches one of our lot in possession 30 yards out. His fierce tackle forces the ball into the path of Onochie who leaves Palmer trailing and rips a low angled drive beyond Dunn and into the far bottom corner.
Marvellous start lads. Nice one.
With their tails up, the visitors continue to play at a tempo that is way above anything my good self has witnessed in a Ryman Premier match for bloody donkeys. The U’s struggle to come to terms with this and are finding it difficult to clear their lines. When the ball does get near our front two, the Tooting defenders are sticking to them glue. Akuamouah being singled out for some early ‘notice’ that his marker wasn’t going to be easily shaken off.
Dunn is forced to make two more desperate stops as our plodding rearguard is caught out again before Sutton finally register an effort on target.
Akuamouah finally gets a decent ball and manages to turn his man only to be hauled back on the corner of the area. Corbett and Wingfield stand over the free-kick before Scotty swings an effort towards the far corner, which Webb pushes away for a corner.
The U’s manage one further effort not too long after, a corner drops into the penalty area and Mison’s hooked effort from close range is blocked on the line. Apart from this, there’s very little to cheer us stood on the terraces. Matt Gray does make 2 very good runs and supplies 2 decent crosses that are cut out. On every other occasion, he finds himself shut out by the attentions of 2 Tooting defenders.
Only once in the first 45 minutes do we actually manage to unhinge the visitors back line. A ball into the channel results in a race between Corbett and the ‘keeper. Scott wins, just, toeing the ball past Webb only to have his path blocked by the portly bald bloke. It’s definitely inside the area, but as the ref see’s this as obstruction, we only get an indirect free-kick.
Half time and my own dark mood is further deepened by Sky’s joyful announcement that Oldham are trying to piss away their play-off ambitions by trailing 1-0 at Bury. Arse.
We force ourselves out of the warm bar and back out into the cold night to see if our lot can actually manage to get their arses in gear.
The answer is yes. Sort of. Sutton start the 2nd half in a more determined mood and for the first few minutes put a lot of pressure on the Tooting defence. Rob Haworth has the best opening when the ball reaches him in the box 8-10 yards out but he hurries the shot and completely scuffs it.
One through ball finds Eddie Akuamouah and he gets away from his marker only to be denied at the last moment by the ‘keeper sprinting off his line. Another similar move soon after ends with Akuamouah denied by a last ditch tackle. “Why the fuck can’t we defend like that?” asks Bob. Murmours of agreement follow from the rest of us.
As the half progresses, Tooting manage to get back into their own pattern and again start to hassle the life out of our defence. Again Dunn has to be alert to make 2 good saves and sees a couple of other efforts fly narrowly off target after defenders allow opposition players to run into good positions with the ball, either unable or unwilling to put a challenge in.
The visitors almost extend their lead when Gonsalves loses his man and the resulting cross is fired, on the volley, from point blank range, right into the midriff of a grateful Tommy Dunn.
Phil Wingfield is replaced with Fowler in an attempt to give us more options. And for 10 minutes of so, the ex-Carshalton man does little again to convince. But at least he’s making a nuisance of himself. And with time running out, it’s his persistence that throws the U’s an unlikely lifeline.
Gonsalves and Akuamouah combine on the left and the pass into the box picks out Fowler 6 yards out by the near post. He controls the ball and turns his man to face goal. With only Webb to beat, he is clearly dragged back just as he’s about to shoot. Penalty!
The Tooting defenders surround the ref to protest, but it seems to be more in frustration that they might just have blown it rather than a bad decision by the official.
Akuamouah takes, but his unconvincing effort is easily parried by the Tooting goalkeeper. It’s at this moment our lot realise they’re fucked as not one chases the loose ball down, allowing Webb to gather unhindered.
5 minutes later and we’re really fucked. Tooting bring on 38 year old ex-Scummer, Conrad Kane. The defence allows him to run and he makes it to the byeline pulling it back for the no.10 Webb to get in front of his marker and fire past Dunn and inside the near post from 6 yards out.
Sutton manage one final response with time running out, Mison goes on a foray forwards and feeds Fowler inside the area, 8 yards out. But he finds the angle and Webb combination too much and can only win a corner.
We wander round towards the GGL end exit, ready to jump into Chalmers motor and hit the pub when again the U’s defence lets Kane run at them. This time a nice gap opens up and he lamps a dipping effort beyond Dunn into the top far corner.
Not long after, the whistle goes to signal the end of the match and our sodding season.
Then, just to really irk me, I waste Chalmers parking position by leaving my bag on the terrace at the far end of the ground. End result? We have to queue up with all the other motors to crawl the 10 yards out onto GGL.
Would the last person to leave our season please turn off the lights?
MAN OF THE MATCH : You pick one!
ENTERTAINMENT : 3. Really quite bad.