RYMAN PREMIER DIVISION
HAYES – 2 [Warner 9. Hodges 24]
SUTTON UNITED – 2 [Bailey 68. Folwer 90]
Following on from tuesday’s FA Cup exit, todays trip to in form Hayes would be a toughie. Unbeaten in their last 5 matches, including a 3-0 thumping of early title challengers, St Albans told us all we needed to know!
So I staggered out onto the concourse at Paddington and may my way upstairs to the Fullers pub for an early pick-me-up pint. Just inside the door, I find Gareth nursing a hangover. His first UK based one since he returned from his 11 month around-the-world jaunt. I chuckle at the thought that a round he’d bought the night before would have bought enough booze to put him in a coma in somewhere like Fiji! Welcoming him back to the real world, I head to the bar and once again catch Bob in the act of buying a round.
Unlucky. Mines a pint mate.
Settled in, our globtrotting fellow U then produces a wedge of photos from his stay in Oz. Yes we know holiday photos are normally very dull and of little interest to your average pisshead unless they contain lots of images of nubile, scantily clad females.
Fortunately, Gareth’s pics meet this criteria spectacularly. Which is no surprise as they were taken at a ‘Miss Bikini’ contest in Surfers Paradise! Good work that man.
Having drooled over the pics, we decide it’s time to hit the platform and head to delightful Hayes.
Soon after, we’re on the local High Street and heading for what appears to be pretty much the only boozer in town. The local Wetherspoons. Our suspicions are confirmed as we take our seats. The U’s really serious beerhunters are in as well. That means as far as Hayes goes. This is it pub wise.
A couple more beers later and as we’re preparing to leave, I get a text message. Oldham have drawn West Ham in the Worthless Cup. That’ll cheer Bob up!
Then its the stroll down to Church Lane for the match.
The U’s line up again sees changes made, with Timothy replacing Beale on the right. Gonsalves moves back into the middle and Hollands returns to the left.
The match eventually gets under way after a member of the Hayes staff has produced a shovel to remove what is described as ‘fox shit’. Now thats different I guess! Neither side starts particularly well, although Matt Ottley really should have done better with his header from a Bolt free-kick. His effort clearing the bar. Then around 10 minutes in, a ball into the U’s right-back position plays in Warner. With Timothy nowhere to be seen, he has ages to control the ball before despatching an excellently taken low shot to Pape’s left to put the Missioners 1 up. Arse!
As the half wears on, Sutton struggle to make an impression on proceedings, with the Hayes midfield controlling matters, Fowler and Watson are getting little support. And when they do get the ball, the home defence give them little time to settle on the ball. Although Fowler does look more likely to make something of any chances coming his way.
Hayes are on top, but with all the posession, they create very few chances. But with 25 minutes gone, Sutton concede a corner on the left. The ball is flung in and Pape hesitates for a moment. Its a crucial mistake as the defence fail to clear the danger and Hodge pounces to force the ball past Pape and the U’s are 2-0 down. Disappointingly, they’ve hardly got going themselves and been caught out by Hayes only 2 real chances of the half so far.
The U’s continue to stumble around for the rest of the half and are lucky to to be killed off right on half time when Hodge wastes a good chance and the Sutton defence manages to hustle the ball clear.
As the teams wander towards the tunnel at the break, we’re treated to some moronic ‘hard man’ posturing by some home fans in the covered terracing to our left. They’d obviously taken offence to our barracking after they’d booed the refs decision to halt play for a head injury. Naturally I inform them (loudly!) that we’ll go the other way round ta very much as thats where the tea bar is!
The exchange lasts right round to the other side of the ground before we head for a cuppa. Well, at least the people on our side of the ground were amused by it all! hehe!
We take our places at the far end and hope that the lads will launch some kind of fightback. We get an inkling that the team are getting a bit of a bollocking when they run out a good few minutes after the home team.
Sutton start the half and it’s soon apparent we’re certainly going to make more of a fight of the match as Corbett and Bailey start to get stuck into their midfield opponents and the Watson/Fowler partnership starts to put themselves about with a bit more purpose, making like a little more uncomfortable for the previously assured looking Hayes defence. Bolt causes problems with a couple of free kicks, one that Bailey is unluck not to keep on target.
Corbett then limps off following a bad challenge and is replaced with Paul Honey. With Matt Gray coming on for Ottley in an attempt to give us more bite down the flank. Both are soon inviolved in the action, with Honey in particular giving no quarter in the tackle.
Just as we’re getting the feeling if we could just nick a goal, we’d be in with a shout, the lads do exactly that. Approaching the last 20 minutes, a throw in on the right is laid back to Timothy who whips a cross into the box. The diminutive Bailey out jumps the much bigger number 5 to power a header beyond Bossu in the Missioners goal and into the far corner. At bloody last! Come on lads, get into ‘em!
But the game becomes rather bitty as a few tasty contests emerge all over the pitch. Especially the one between Watson and Hayes big centre-back Jarvis. Dunno what it is about those big bastards, they just love giving poor ol’ Watso a hard time! He gives as good as he gets and ends up involved in a bit of a barney on the far side, that despite involving several players from each side only results in the Sutton striker picking up a caution.
Neither side has caused much threat to either ‘keeper, but Hayes have a couple of efforts over Pape’s goal. Straight after Watsons altercation, a smart move down the U’s right results in a cross right onto the boot of Warner, but seeming certain to score, Pape makes a brilliant one handed save to his left to keep his teamates in the match.
But with time running out, some concerted U’s pressure finally comes together. With the 90 minutes up Bolt is fouled out on the right. His free-kick lacks penetration and is nodded clear by a defender. The ball drops to Bailey 20 yards out, but he shins his effort through a crowd of players……right to the feet of Matt Fowler all on his own, right on the edge of the 6 yard box.
Thankfully, he controls his amazement, controls the ball and as the Hayes defence look on in horror, slips the ball past the exposed Bossu and into the back of the net.
At that moment, in a completely unrelated incident behind the goal, a number of people in funny coloured quartered shirts jump around like lunatics, punch the air and made rude hand gestures to the covered terracing area. Oh dear!
It’s not quite over and the U’s flood forward looking for a winner, but Matt Gray unfortunately drops a looping shot over the bar from the corner of the area with the last kick of the game.
The final whistle goes and we head, somewhat happily, to the bar for some results and a quick snifter before motoring back into town for another beer and then home to the Wetherspoons to finish off.
Sometimes, these last minute equalisers are almost as good as winning!
MAN OF THE MATCH : Nick Bailey. Fantastic 2nd half and another goal.
ENTERTAINMENT : 6. Crap 1st half. Much better 2nd.
TEAM : Pape, Timothy, Gonsalves, Hollands, Palmer, Ottley, Bailey, Bolt, Corbett, Fowler, Watson
SUBS : Gray, Beale, Dunn, Brett, Honey