RYMAN PREMIER DIVISION
HEYBRIDGE SWIFTS – 1 [Culverhouse 44]
SUTTON UNITED – 3 [Bolt 45. Fowler 65. Bailey 89]
The U’s headed out to the wilds of Essex last night for the first instalment of this double header against those purveyors of quality football and sportsmanship, Heybridge Swifts.
Coo, this is getting exciting innit!
Every time we’ve previously played Heybridge, it’s been on a Saturday. Until Bob and I discussed during the summer just how fortunate we were never having made a midweek trip to the delightful Scraley Road.
We never fucking learn. Naturally, the moment the fixtures came out, there it was. Sticking out like a sore thumb. ‘Heybridge Swifts – Away – Tuesday 25th September’.
And if that wasn’t bad enough, the footballing gods decided to really twist the knife by awarding us a trip back to the fucking place 4 days later in the FA Cup.
Cheers. No really, we appreciate it.
Add to this a tube strike on the Tuesday night and you’ve a recipe for a complete and utter disaster.
Thankfully, our planning was helped by the promise of a lift home from deepest Essex, all we had to do was get there. Which with the tube strike kicking in at 8pm, we should be able to do no problems. Even better, was our lift home collecting us at the station on the way in. Result! (Cheers Bonge!)
So we waltz into the ground just before kick off and grab ourselves a burger. The Sutton side again has only one minor change, Matt Ottley who has performed well in place of the crocked Danny Hodges is suspended for 2 games starting tonight. He’s replaced by Graham Brett, last seen playing for Bangor in the League of Wales. According to our Welsh friends, he comes very highly recommended!
Watson’s hamstring is still giving him gip, so Matt Hanlan keeps his place up front with Matt Fowler.
Things get underway and the home side, as we expect, come out of the blocks quickly. Moving the ball around at pace and putting direct balls over our backline, trying to find space and prise us open. But despite having a lot of posession, the ‘Swifts’ fail to create any serious openings in the first 20 minutes. Their only effort being a deep free-kick from the far touchline that misses everyone in the box, bounces on the edge of the 6 yard box and Pape has to backpedal rapidly to tip the ball over the bar to safety.
After around 20 minutes, the U’s start to come more into the game and there are signs that there are goals to be had. The first chance drops to Matt Hanlan, who tuns onto a little flick through from Fowler, but the angle defeats him and he hooks his shot just wide. He has the U’s other best chance when a Bolt corner picks him out in the box, but his header flashes just wide of the far post.
Some excellent defending snuffs out a rare home threat but just as the half-time whistle looms, once again, that poxy habit we have of giving away bad goals between the 39 and 45 minute mark rears it’s head again. A corner from the Sutton left and Pape comes, but fails to collect. The ball is headed down before being bundled over the line by Dave Culverhouse.
Before we’ve completed the usual round of expletives an cursing that usually accompanies this rather too common event, the boys rally and display another somewhat more pleasing trait thats appeared recently. The immediate response!
A delightful curling 30 yard ball from Corbett picks out Bolt and he nips between 2 defenders, takes the ball on his chest and from around 12 yards, rifles a low shot between Banks and his near post.
Which is nice.
We hit the bar at the break and have a quick butchers at the Man Utd Champions League match before wandering around to the far end for the second half. Upon arrival we notice something different about the ‘keeper. He’s changed! After some thought we work out what the difference is. Banks has not appeared for the second half and with no sub ‘keeper, the home side have had to plonk centr-back and goalscorer Dave Culverhouse between the sticks.
Oooh, this could be fun!
Bolty thinks so too, trying to be a cheeky bastard from the kick-off and attempting to test the stand in ‘keeper with a lob from the half-way line that drops a foot or so over the bar.
Our timely equaliser coupled with the loss of their ‘keeper seems to have knocked the stuffing out of the home side as the U’s find they have a bit more time on the ball than before and start to play some nice football. This presents openings to Hanlan and Fowler, but both fail to apply the ‘killer finish under pressure. Bolt then blows the U’s best chance so far with around an hour to play.
Receiving the ball 30+ yards out, the defence opens up and he goes for goal. Only one defender can get in to make a challenge and with a delightful little shuffle, DB leaves him on his arse, giving him a clear run at goal. He hits the box and as 2 defenders try to recover the situation, Danny drags his effort just wide of the near post when he really should have hit the target at least.
But eventually, the pressure tells on our hosts and the goal finally comes in spectacular circumstances. A lovely flowing move accross the field finds Nick Bailey out on the left of the area. He delivers a pin-point cross just beyond the back post, 10 yards out to an unmarked Matt Fowler. He swivels and with cracks a beautiful volley beyond the half hearted dive of Culverhouse to send the small band of travelling U’s fans wild with delight. It, quite frankly, is a breathtaking strike from the young forward and another one that, at this bloody rate, will make deciding the Gandermonium goal of the season a day long session in the pub on it’s own!
The disciplined, flowing footy from the U’s continues, with Folwer shooting just over after a lovely run and then bulleting a header just over the bar from another laser guided Bolt cross. His movement and running off the ball is causing the home side all sorts of problems as he rips their offside trap to shreds. Another lovely through ball from Bolt is chested down on the edge of the box, he takes a touch and as he shoots, an excellent recovery tackle denies him a certain goal.
The last 15 minutes or so see the home team finally mount some decent pressure, but Pape is largely untroubled apart from taking a couple of routine catches.
Then, with time running out, a swift sweeping counterattack finishes the job and secures the points. Corbett breaks up an attack deep in the Sutton half, plays a 1-2 with Beale before driving deep into the Heybridge half of the field. He slips the ball across to Bolt who holds it for what seems like ages, before feeding the ball into the path of Nick Bailey, steaming in on the left like a small ginger haired train. The young midfielder takes a touch, tee’s himself up and drives number 3 through the legs of Culverhouse to the delight of us lot on the terrace behind.
Soon after, the ref blows for time and after applauding the lads off, we head off to the car park for our tube strike dodging ride home. Via Biggin Hill. To feed some cats.
MAN OF THE MATCH : Matt Fowler. Ran ‘em ragged in the 2nd half and a brilliant strike!
ENTERTAINMENT : 7. Spectacular? No. Effective? Shit yeah!
TEAM : Pape, Brett, Palmer, Hollands, Beale, Gonsalves, Honey, Corbett, Bolt, Hanlan, Fowler.
SUBS : Gray, Timothy, Honey