RYMAN PREMIER DIVISION
ENFIELD – 1 [Armstrong 25]
SUTTON UNITED – 4 [Gonsalves 23. Corbett 45. Bolt p60. Watson 77]
The U’s bounced back from their disappointing home defeat to St Albans with a 4-1 away win at Enfield. An unusual event in itself as we rarely get sod all against our old North London rivals.
Even in the last few years where it could be said, they’ve been…er….less than competitive!
Arranging our usual meet in Farringdon for a trip on the Thameslink, things go slightly awry for your author. Rolling over in bed, through bleary eyes, I spy the time on my alarm clock. 11.30.
Hmmm, that time seems somewhat familiar.
Ah, yes, that’ll be the time I was actually meant to be in Farringdon for. About 3 hours after I was due to be falling out of my pit! Oh fuck it. Looks like I’ve overslept a tadge!
Running around like a lunatic, I stagger out of home 30 minutes later and head for the bus. I get a lucky break and one arrives inside a couple of minutes. Once in Croydon, I leg it down onto the platform with my travelcard and lucky break number 2 soon appears. A Thameslink train! Woo hoo! At this rate, I’ll be in Farringdon for before 1 and I’ll get to have a couple of pints!!
Lucky break number 2 is actually a complete fraud as having sat on said train for close to 10 minutes, it’s retired from service due to a fault. Oh arse! I end up going the long way round and rolling into the pub at 1.20. Not baaaaad. Only a little under 2 hours late! Bob is on his tod as Gareth has also woken up late, after a pissup in Sutton the night before. I dunno, these youngsters!! *ahem*
A swift pint and its off to the wonderfully grey town of Elstree & Borehamwood. Still the home of Enfield, while they search for a new home of their own. At the ground, one hot dog later and we find a still-hungover Gareth. Chalmers rolls in a few minutes later, bag of chips in hand.
The U’s line up sees the welcome return of 2 absentees. Danny Brooker is back in the picture after 2 injury ridden years and starts in the defence. Also back, with a spot on the bench and much to our surprise is Nick Bailey. Obviously his busted foot wasn’t as busted as we thought it was! Another surprise is the kick off being delayed 15 minutes. Not due to crowd congestion!! But because a linesman hasn’t shown. Oh well, it gives Mr Chalmers time to count the crowd. 119 is his final figure!
Maybe due to the delayed start, the match fails to spark into life for the first 20 minutes, with neither side doing much of note. Enfield manage two efforts comfortably dealt with by Pape before the U’s start to exert some decent pressure on the home goal. First a delightful pass from Bolt finds Fowler on the edge of the area, his clever first touch though is a little too heavy and Enfields ex-Sunderland ‘keeper Lionel Perez is off his line quickly to snuff out the threat. A Danny Bolt piledriver from around 18 yards looks to test Perez, but a defender hurls himself at the shot, bulletting a header inches wide of the near post.
Sutton begin to play some neat close football, mainly down our right flank. Bolt and Gray putting 2 or 3 dangerous balls into the box. But it’s from the unlikely source of Danny Brooker that we go closest. A clearance finds him a good 30 yards out. And he returns the ball immediately, with Perez back tracking to tip the looping effort over the bar.
The resulting corner from Bolt finds Palmer in acres of open space at the back post. He nods the ball back into the danger area. Folwer tries a fancy backheel which doesn’t quite come off, but with the E’s defence standing still, the ball drops to Lewis Gonsalves 6 yards out and he lashes the ball into the back of the net.
In true U’s fashion, the lead only lasts around 2 minutes. A Sutton attack breaks down on the left, and the ball is played swiftly forwards over the head of Gonsalves who has got a little too far forwards and Armstrong races into the space left behind. Lewis chases hard, but can’t prevent the striker from dispatching a smart 20yard effort low past Pape and into the far corner.
The home side reply with a short spell of their own with a fierce 20 odd yard piledriver that Pape goes full stretch to keep out. But Sutton hit back, with some good midfield play setting up Fowler, but his snap shot catches the heels of a desperate defender and despite spinning away from Perez, it bounces back off the base of the post.
Both sides continue to press, but the u’s always look most likely to score. And with the break approaching, the U’s win a corner out on the right. Bolt plays it short to Gray, who returns the ball to the midfielder. Bolty swings a left foot cross towards the near post that catches out Perez. The ball looks to bhe heading straight in but both Gonsalves and Corbett get there ahead of the french ‘keeper. The shorter Gonsalves just fails to connect, but Corbett makes sure, bundling the ball over the line.
We wander into the bar for some half times. And Chalmers ain’t happy. His footy bet, which is looking to net him over 1100 quid if it comes in, is currently being let down by one team. Oldham. Ooooops! Sorry Judith ol’ boy! Ahem, ooh look, is that the time??? I’ll get my coat…
The second half gets underway and the home side set about trying to pull themselves level again. With their number 10 being an especially big pain in the arse. The Sutton defence looks a little less than convincing, with the Enfield attackers getting behind our rearguard on several occasions. Fortunately, the majority are all aimed straight at Pape. The closest they get comes just before the hour. Some more unconvincing defending allows the Enfield no2 a sight of goal. His effort is deflected across goal and Owusu finishes at the back post, but his joy is short lived as the lino has his flag up for offside.
Meanwhile, we all breathe a sigh of relief at the other end.
Within a couple of minutes though, Sutton get a breakthrough that puts them in command of proceedings. A ball in from the right is aimed at Watson just inside the edge of the box. But E’s defender Waldron is in close attendance and both he and Watson challenge heavily for the ball. Neither really wins out and as the ball breaks clear, Watson gets to his feet, only for Waldron to kick out at the U’s striker. Unfortunately for the so far impressive defender, the ref chooses this moment to look right at the pair and being no more than 10 yards away has no hesitation in pointing to the spot with the ball already yards away!
Bloody hell! A Ryman ref?? Making a big decision??? Surely not!
But we’re not mistaken, he has given a penalty! And after consulting his linesmen, just to be sure, shows the Enfield defender the red card. Nurse! The screens! I feel all faint.
Bolty places the ball and there’s no re-run of his weak Hitchin effort. It’s a trademark left foot job, rifled into the corner. 3-1! Come on!!!!
Enfield don’t lie down wasily and try to continue pressing, but again, most of their build up is wasted when all their crosses or passes into the box are overhit or straight into the arms of Pape. Eventually, the U’s begin to make the extra man count and with some patient footy. With 77 minutes played, Watson’s continued battling pays off and he lays the ball off to Corbett who cuts inside. His low shot is smartly saved by Perez, but spills loose and Watson is on hand to sweep it home.
Near the end, Bolt gets in on the overlap and forces a great save from the Frenchman, who beats away the midfielders fierce shot one handed whilst diving the wrong way! I’m further cheered up by Oldhams recovery to snatch a point, but thankfully it’s Cardiffs defeat that sends Chalmers 1100 quid down the pan. Phew!
A quick pint after in the manky local Wetherspoons and then the loooong train ride on the Thamesling back to Sutton for more celebratory beers.
MAN OF THE MATCH : Danny Brooker. Good to see Mr Dependable back!!
ENTERTAINMENT : 6. Not a bad game at all, but we didnt defend that well…….
TEAM : Pape, Brooker, Palmer, Gonsalves, Gray, Hollands, Honey, Corbett, Bolt, Watson, Fowler
SUBS : Bailey, Hanlan, Beale
THE REFEREE’S A………fairly decent one for once! Christ! Had to happen eventually I s’pose! And he made a big decision to give the penalty, then send their bloke off. 99% of the idiots at this level would have bottled it completely.