SUTTON UNITED – 0
LEICESTER CITY – 4 [Rogers 42. Oakes p63. Stevenson 68. Dickov 85]
After the AFC Wimbledon party last week, it was back to the pre-season norm for the U’s tonight against 1st Division Leicester City. A sparse crowd watching our lot pretty much outclassed against a very strong professional line up.
With the Foxes off to Finland for a pre-season jolly the following day, we were presumably the final training session!
Bob and I meet up for the usual pre-match pint in the Hood, joined by Oscar shortly after. Chalmers then contacts me to say he wont be out tonite as he’s fallen down the stairs at work! Wally. Bob suggests adding a feature to the site based on Mr Chalmers excuses for not turning up at matches.
Hmmm, not a bad idea fellow beer drinking bloke!
The U’s line up was fairly familiar, but with one or two new faces. Triallist striker, Kevin Cooper starts up front with Matt Fowler and Craig Brown, who had a decent loan spell with us last year from Orient, starts on the right. I fail to recognise any of the back 4 except for Gonsalves and I later twig that another is Nick Drew.
The visitors included names such as Matt Elliot, Trevor Sinclair, Andy Impey, Ian Walker and of course, the cabbies favourite, Dennis Wise with Ex-England ‘keeper Tim Flowers warming the bench!
Predictably, the early exchanges are less than enthralling. With the pro boys knocking it about patiently without doing too much. Their first real threat comes after about 20 minutes or so with a free-kick on the edge of the area taken quickly, Dunn has to scramble across his goal and palm it round the post for a corner.
The U’s come into the game more and move the ball neatly, but with little penetration. Although triallist Cooper looks useful, showing some nice touches.
Sutton do almost break through midway through the half when Cooper and Fowler combine on the edge of the box. With Fowler skipping past the experienced and rather scary looking Matt Elliot. But as the young forward is trying to tee up a shot, Elliot’s experience shows and he makes it back to nick the ball off Fowlers toe.
The only other events of any note all come from people in blue shirts, with one effort just wide of Dunn’s post, Elliot heading over twice from corners when well placed and Tommy pulling off one smart stop from a close range effort.
With 5 minutes to the break, Drew is subbed for Eddie Saunders. Yes, we did say Eddie Saunders. As in, Eddie ‘2 own goals in the Surrey Senior Cup Semi final, toblerone headed walking disaster area’ Saunders.
A defender who has been only marginally less crap than Heybridge Swifts sadly departed Colin Wall. He’s so good, even Carshalton didn’t want him back.
As per usual, just as it seems the half will finish goalless, our overriding sense of sportsmanship and fair play ensures that it doesn’t.
A deep cross from the far side by the otherwise quiet Dennis Wise picks out Rogers at the far post and with the defenders trailing, he controls the pass and fires into the net off the arse of a desperately diving Tommy Dunn.
The second half sees the visitors withdraw most of their first string and replace them with squad players. This has the effect of upping the tempo as they intend to prove their worthiness to the Leicester management. Which is very bad for us.
The U’s fail to make much headway and early in the half, the Foxes edge further ahead. A shot from 20 yards flies at a pair of U’s players and rebounds out. The ref instantly points to the spot for handball. The culprit? You guessed it, Eddie Saunders.
Oakes steps up and despite Tommy guessing correctly, he can’t get near the Leicester mans well taken spot kick.
Poor defending gifts the visitors a few more chances with one finally leading to a 3rd goal. A throw in deep in our own half is miscontrolled by Mison and a lurking forward nips in to pinch it off his foot. He scampers into the box and with the defence backpedalling once more, squares it for the unmarked Stevenson to sweep past the exposed Dunn.
The U’s manage a short spell of pressure after this with Matt Hanlan holding the ball up well. It’s his lay off to Matt Gray on the edge of the box that brings the only save of the night out of either Leicester ‘keeper. Grays stinging effort from 20 yards is well tipped over by Tim Flowers.
Sub Nick Bailey has an opportunity after a mazy little run near the end, but is overwhelmed by chasing defenders before he can shoot.
Paul Dickov then completes the scoring wth a couple of minutes remaining, taking a quick free kick from out on the Sutton right and drifting it inside the far post.
Right, back to the pub!
Sutton United: Dunn, Howard, Hollands, Drew, Gonsalves, Brown, Gray, Corbett, Fowler, Cooper, Honey SUBS : Saunders, De Kruijf