RYMAN PREMIER DIVISION
CANVEY ISLAND – 1 [Tilson p45]
SUTTON UNITED – 1 [Haworth 62]
Going to Canvey late in the season was always marked down as a tough one.
In fact we were kind of hoping that they’d have the title wrapped up before we got anywhere near this little bit of the Thames estuary in the hope they’d go easy on us. Sadly, due to those interfering lot the other side of the water in Gravesend actually making a race of it, we end up travelling to deepest Essex with the home side badly needing a win to keep up their hopes of snatching a place in the Conference next season.
That’ll be us knackered then!
With the distinct lack of any serious drinking opportunities in Canvey itself, or even nearby, Bob and I decided to have a couple of pints in town and watch the Chelsea-Man Utd match on the telly before making a late move for the game. Chalmers has once again opted for watching the poncy overhyped Sky product live and not the nitty gritty real life stuff the Ryman league throws up. Tart.
A couple of beers and the destruction of Chelsea later, we’re heading out of London for our umpteenth but final jaunt into Essex of this season. A cab from Byfleet and we end up at the ground, which is a new one for me. Behind one goal is a sodding great big bit of terrace, which is brand new and impressive. And thats about it. The rest of it is, well, disappointing! Quite how one big fuck off terrace adds up to a Conference grading I don’t know. But there you go.
The U’s make a couple of changes with Tommy Dunn returning from injury, but with his thigh still quite heavily strapped up. Nick Drew also makes way for Stu Hammonds. We’ve also buggered up with the socks again! Today the lads are forced to turn out in yellow socks as Canvey are wearing white. So having never encountered this problem before, we get done twice in 4 days! Strange…….
Early exchanges are as we expected. The home side are looking for an early goal to no doubt settle their nerves and maybe open us up a bit. Tommy is in action inside the first 10 minutes, brilliantly tipping away a blistering free-kick. He produces an equally good stop a few minutes later when the defence fails to clear another free-kick and a Canvey player hammers in a strike from close range.
Then, slowly but surely, the pressure faded and the U’s start to come into things more. Canvey get a little frustrated and Paul Honey, who is getting in amongst the much higher paid and experienced opposition midfielders and matching them, is on the receiving end of a rather nasty foul by the home teams ‘Player of the Season’, Gregory. Their top man earns a booking for his efforts.
Sutton’s first opening comes from a Wingfield corner which Mison is unable to direct the right side of the back post. A couple more flag kicks from the same side cause similar difficulties in the Islanders defence. This lifts our lads confidence a bit more and we start to play a little better.
Eddie takes advantage of a defensive hesitation to nick the ball off a dithering defender and race in on goal. His strong shot across the goal being tipped away by the ‘keeper. A few minuets later and a good bit of play involving Corbett, Timothy and Haworth tee’s Eddie up just inside the box, but again the ‘keeper does well to turn away his half volley.
Then, four minutes into first half injury time (where the fuck did they come from?) and the travelling support encouraged by the sterling display the lads are putting on, a match is once again tipped in the favour of the opposition by a truly fucking dreadful bit of refereeing.
A Canvey attack down the U’s right flank, goes to the byline where ex-U Danny Bolt has his run ended by a strong challenge from Dave Timothy. The ball runs on and is shepherded out of play by Rob Haworth helping out at the back, only for the ref to blow his whistle and point to the spot.
What!?!? A PENALTY?? Are you having a laugh mate? We can only assume he has blown for a ‘foul’ on Bolty. But thanks to Canvey’s efficient groundsman obviously having marked the pitch recently and the bright sunny day, we can clearly see the ‘foul’ occurred a good 2 or 3 yards outside the box! And if we can see that from 100 yards away, how come the days appointed fuckwit can’t from 10-12 yards??? Fucking useless biased homer tosser.
Canvey’s Tilson steps up and sends Tommy the wrong way to give the home side a somewhat undeserved lead. The away end erupts in fury and many rude hand gestures are directed at the wanker in the black. He retreats deep into the Canvey half to restart the match and then blows immediately for half time, waving away the infuriated U’s players. The decision has enraged the Sutton management team as well and Tony Rains heads straight for the ref for an explanation. He doesn’t appear to get one and departs with a point of the finger that says “I’ll see you later”.
So we trudge round to the small bar to get some half times. During which, we fail to find one home supporter who can give us a reason for the penalty. We’re not surprised.
One rather nice hot dog later and as the teams run out for the second half, a brief chat with a Sutton official reveals that Mr Rains point of the finger meant exactly what we’d guessed and he’d cornered a certain incompetent twat in the dressing rooms area for a somewhat ‘frank’ chat. Apparently the volume and…ahem….use of colourful language forced the home officials to shut an adjoining door to save the ears of their guests in the directors bar! Nice one TR. Lets hope that chat included the words “useless”, “cheating”, “homer”, “fucking”, “tosser” and “blind”.
The second half gets underway and thankfully the injustice of a few minutes ago hasn’t shaken our lads out of their stride. Again we stand steady in the face of intense pressure from the home side, getting men behind the ball and breaking out whenever possible. Paul Honey hobbles out of the action 5 minutes in and is replaced by Matt Gray. This gives us a bit of width and starts to stretch the Canvey defence a bit more. Again, we come into the match more and start to give ‘em something to worry about!
Just after the hour and the boys hard work pays off. Gray recieves the ball on the right, teases the defender and skips away from him before firing a low cross into the 6 yard box. The ball evades a defender and the ‘keeper at the near post and Rob Haworth arrives unmarked to thump the ball into the roof of the net from a couple of yards out to register our second goal in 8 games. Wooo Hoo!!!
But before the joy has subsided, we of course go right up the other end and try our level best to unravel all that hard work. A high ball is misjudged by Mison and rather than play saftey first, he dithers allowing a Canvey striker to nip in. He panics and shoves the bloke off the ball.
Unfortunately, he does this a couple of yards inside the box and our mate the ref is immediately pointing to the spot again. Arse.
Tilson again steps up, but this time his effort is a tadge, well how can I put this?
Crap? Yeah, that’ll do.
Tommy guesses right and pushes away the weak effort. Yesssssss! Still in it lads!
The last 20 minutes or so are the most absorbing part of any game for bloody ages. As both sides have good chances to snatch all 3 points. Canvey have most of the possession and pile on plenty of pressure, but barring one missed header and Mison putting a bullet header over his own bar, most of their efforts are from range.
A cheer from the far end with 15 minutes to go and a chorus of “1-0 to the Boreham Wood” seems to signal that their rivals Gravesend are also struggling to get 3 points. The nerves and tension of the home fans starts to rub off on us and we find ourselves desperately wanting the lads to hang on in there as if it was us going for the title!! The Islanders give us a helping hand and scare the shit out of thier nervy fans when a Dave Timothy cross is met by a defender who proceeds to nod it goalwards over the shoulder of his oncoming ‘keeper. Both can only stand and watch as it trickles only inches wide of the post for a corner.
With time running out and the home side pushing right up for a winner, there’s acres of room left behind them. Something Matt Gray tries his hardest to exploit. Twice he nips onto big hoofs into Canvey territory and very nearly snatches a winner. First he lays the ball accross the edge of the area for Akuamouah who is chopped down and another where he goes it alone with no support and brings a good save out of the ‘keeper. The ball then runs across the area to the arriving Dave Timothy. But rather than just stroke the ball into the empty net he tries to take a touch, gets tangled up and the chance is gone.
After a few nervous minutes of injury time, the ref blows up (I wish!) and the U’s have earned a hard fought point.
Pleasantly pleased, Bob and I depart for the bar to call a cab and catch some results before heading for home and a few pints. Here we find that Gravesend have indeed lost 1-0 at home to Boreham Wood. Meaning that the title will be decided on the last day.
Oooooh. Exciting innit!
MAN OF THE MATCH : Paul Honey. Excellent until injury forced him off.
ENTERTAINMENT : 8. Best game in ages! Decent footy, dickhead ref, tension etc etc………
TEAM : Dunn, Mison, Hammonds, Palmer, Gonsalves, Timothy, Honey, Corbett, Wingfield, Haworth, Akuamouah SUBS : Gray, Fowler, Bailey