RYMAN PREMIER DIVISION
BASINGSTOKE TOWN – 1 [McCallister 70]
SUTTON UNITED – 0
Until 2 seasons ago, the U’s had a enviable record at Basingstoke. Never having lost at the Camrose.
But it all changed on our return to the Ryman. A dreadfully dull encounter which saw the home side nick the win in the last minute with their only effort of the match. Then last season saw one of the worst Sutton performances in recent memory. Going down 3-0 in a match where we’d have played better if the players had laid their shirts out on the pitch and spent the 90 minutes in the bar.
Back to the present and after the great start made to to the season, things appear to be slipping. Since Hodges injury, we still haven’t found a settled defensive unit and with the bad news during the week that midfield terrier, Nick Bailey will be out for 6 weeks with a broken foot sustained in the 3-2 loss to Hendon.
So, slightly apprehensive, we meet up in the Wimbledon Hogshead for a few pre-train pints. Bob & Gareth are already there when I roll in just after 11.30. No Chalmers, as he’s being forced to work again. And it seems no Oscar who’d expressed interest in the trip during the week. Ho hum.
Then it’s off to the pastie place for some beer food and off to the fair town of Basingstoke.
Another bevvy to wet the whistle before a cab is hailed and we’re off through the maze of roundabouts surrounding the town that leads to the home of their footy club.
Sutton’s line up changes for the umpteenth time again. A far cry from those first half dozen games where not even the subs changed! No Ottley or Brett in the defence, with Beale coming in on the right of what seems to be a four man line. Timothy moves to right-mid and Honey replaces the missing Bailey. Mark Watson is also missing through injury and once again, we go for Matt Hanlan as Fowler’s partner, rather than make use of Matt Gray. Oh dear……
Sutton start brightly enough, but fail to make much impact on the ‘Stoke back four. Fowler looks lively, but sadly lacks a decent ball to open up the defence for him. Both sides then toil away, before with a few minutes gone, a strong long range effort is punched, ‘Football Italia’ style, by Pape.
Slowly, the ideas dry up for the U’s and several times possession is wasted with silly balls. Mike Hollands being the main culprit, swinging in 3 or 4 crosses from deep on the left, over the heads of everyone and into the ‘keepers hands. The home side have a few moments at the other end, but seem to lack something to make the promising approach play count. Sutton’s best opportunity of the half comes from a Danny Bolt cross from the right which just evades Fowler at the back post.
After 45 fairly boring minutes, we head into the bar for some half-times.
We force ourselves back outside for the second half, in the hope that things will liven up a little. Which they do, but only if you viewed this match from a Basingstoke perspective!
The home side up the tempo and go looking for a breakthrough. The U’s seem unable to respond in kind, making hard work of their approach play. Basingstoke meanwhile are beginning to create plenty of openings.
First a good move down the Sutton left is volleyed over by a well placed forward, before another effort goes begging from an angle, the forward shooting over. They go on to spurn several other chances, the best of which follows the best move of the match, but once again, when well placed the effort goes begging. Screwed horribly wide from 8 yards.
But as it seems that the U’s will escape unscathed, Basingstoke finally make a breakthrough with 20 minteus to play. The lacklustre midfield allows a deep run by Ewins. He lays the ball in behind Hollands and the player out wide skips away from his challenge before firing a low ball across the 6 yard box to pick out McCallister at the back post to slide in from close range.
Sutton’s response is muted. Again finding it hard work to create any meaningful chances.
One of the few moments of any decisive play comes shortly after Basingstoke go ahead. A good ball from midfield for once splits the home defence and Matt Hanlan beats the chasing defender to the ball, and clips the ball past Tarr and inside the post. But before we can celebrate an unlikely equaliser, we notice the linesman has his flag up for offside. Hmmmm. Looked a bit dodgy to me and as the U’s fans on the far side are having a pop, I’d say he was onside.
Our doubts are made a little more firm when the linesman displays his precise and unfailing knowledge of the offside law. Not long after the ‘goal’, a long goal kick from Pape drops into open field out on the left. Fowler catches his marker unawares and latches onto the ball. As he controls it on the touchline, he’s astounded to see the linesman raise his flag for offside.
Why? Well, just re-read the last paragraph…………………….got it? If not, I’ll explain. And I’ll put it in big capital letters in case the dozy twat with the flag is reading this. YOU CANNOT BE OFFSIDE FROM A GOAL KICK. (Please see the new section at the end for comments…..)
The match dies a death follwing these few minutes of incident, with few chances for either side. The U’s introduce Matt Gray and Sam Hewitt (making his debut) for Timothy and Bolt.
The young midfielders only real contribution though, is a monster throw in. Sadly, the only people who seem aware of this ability are a few supporters behind the goal, Sam himself and Matt Gray. This fact is bourne out by Mr Hewitt’s one big effort, aimed at the near post. Matt Gray makes a great run, catching out the defence totally. And sadly every other U’s player, as his flick on drops into loads of space and goes begging. Arse. Perhaps a little more communication next time eh lads??
And so, another defeat.
We head back Sutton-wards, ending the night with a fair few drinkies in the ‘Spoons. Oh well, win or lose, there’s always alcohol!
MAN OF THE MATCH : Errrr, at a push? Lewis Gonsalves. Solid.
ENTERTAINMENT : 4. A really very dull match.
TEAM : Pape, Palmer, Gonsalves, Timothy, Beale, Hollands, Honey, Corbett, Bolt, Hanlan, Fowler
SUBS : Hewitt, Howard, Gray
THE REFEREE’S A………Half decent official for once! Law of averages I guess……..As for the linesman, you’d have thought knowing something as basic as the fucking offside law would be useful in his position.