RYMAN PREMIER DIVISION
SUTTON UNITED – 2 [Bailey 80. Fowler 85]
BISHOPS STORTFORD – 1 [Paul 21]
Following our scraped win over struggling Boreham Wood on Saturday, another side hanging around the lower reaches rolled into town last night and once again, the U’s won through, but once more the manner of the victory was somewhat…er…unconvincing.
I head to the Spoons for a cheap bit of scoff. Oscar wanders in towards the end of my big bowl of pasta. Polishing off, we then take a walk down to the Hood, finding Bob & Gareth already nursing beers. Another swift bevvy and it’s that same old stroll down to the Collingwood Rec turnstile.
The United line up has again only 1 minor adjustment, Hanlan replacing the rested Watson. His hamstring obviously still giving him some jip. The main talking point though is the visitors strip. It’s yellow. All yellow. Which when we wear a largely Amber coloured kit (you know, ‘Amber’, that slightly darker shade of ‘yellow’. Usually comes after red on traffic lights….) causes something of a clash. One that even the most clueless of Ryman refs is going to spot!
What makes this all the more strange, is the fact that for the best part of 30 years, these 2 clubs have been meeting fairly regularly. It’s not as if they’ve never been to GGL before is it?
But, being the wonderfully generous people that we are, we loan them our Green and White quartered away shirts to sort the problem. Well, one things for sure, there can’t be many U’s games where we can say we saw every single pass made in the entire 90 minutes find a man in a Sutton shirt!
After this amusing little aside, the the first half is a dull, lifeless affair, with neither side looking like creating much. The visitors, like Boreham Wood on saturday are working hard, but lack any serious threat up front. The U’s meanwhile are failing to make any impression themselves, with Stortford doing a good job of tying up our two main creators, Bolt & Bailey, in the midfield.
With a goal seeming unlikely, especially from the visitors, we decide to extend our generousity. Having lent them the kit, we throw in a soft goal as a friendly bonus. Cheers lads…….
A high ball into the box around 30 yards out on the Sutton right drops towards the far post. Pape positions himself underneath it and prepares to take a routine catch. But, under minimal pressure from a lurking Stortford attacker, he drops the bastard thing. Before you can say “for fucks sake!”, Trevor Paul strikes, forcing the ball into the net via a desperate defenders challenge.
Pape looks a little edgy and just a few minutes later, comes for a cross, punching weakly to the edge of the box where a Stortford player thumps a shot straight back towards the gaping net. Fortunately for the Saga member in our net, Lewis Gonsalves is on hand to get him out of the shit and clear the danger just in front of the line.
Not a great deal else happens and the closest Sutton get to levelling the match comes from a lovely delivery by Bolt, having finally found a bit of space, which he lifts to the back post finding Matt Gray. But where maybe a first time strike was required, Matty takes a touch and has his close range effort blocked by Desborough at the foot of the post.
We nip off to the bar to warm up and contemplate a really rather poor first half. While we watch the dying moments of the Man Utd game, Gareth ovehears two Bishops Stortford officials talking at the bar. As it happens, the conversation regards the kit cock-up.
Bloke 1 to bloke 2 : “He knew they play in Amber. But between you and me, I don’t think he actually knows what colour Amber actually is!”
Well, it made us chuckle!
Heading out for the 2nd half, we find Hollands has been replaced by Brett in the defence. But, it’s soon plain that the reshuffle hasn’t had much impact. Again, the U’s struggle to make any real impact on the game. Bolt manages to play one great ball through the visitors defence to play in Hanlan, but his low shot is far too close to the ‘keeper and he gathers without too much trouble.
Both sides produce little by the way of quality football for most of the half, but a snap shot on the turn from Bailey brings another good stop out of Desborough, who dives to his left to flick the ball just wide of the post with his fingertips. The last 20 minutes or so though sees more action than the rest of the match put together.
It’s Stortford who show the better chances first, a Pape challenge on a forward who has broken through has the ref looking long and hard before deciding no penalty and well travelled striker, Paul Fewings forcing 2 saves out of Pape. First with a header from 8 yards and then a wicked curling effort which has the veteran ‘keeper scrambling across his goal to push away for a corner.
JR decides we need something and with around 15 to play, he withdraws the sadly ineffective Bolt and Hanlan, bringing on Honey and Timothy. This releases Matt Gray to move up front with Fowler and Nick Bailey to raid forwards in Bolt’s role.
The changes have the desired effect, with Grays pace and Bailey now free to be a total nusiance in front of the Stortford defence. Paul Honey looks lively and slips one pass into Fowler, but once again, Desborough is in the way and saves with his legs. But when it seems it’s not to be our night, the young forward line does its stuff. A ball over the defence is chased down by Gray and his pace gets him there first. His trickery shakes off his marker and he turns to loft a ball to the back post where Nick Bailey outjumps a much bigger defender and guides a header beyond the dive of Desborough and just inside the back post. Woo Hoo!!! Thank christ for that!
Now, deep down, us lot behind the goal on the Collingwood Rec terrace would probably have accepted that as a point gained. It doesn’t stop us hollering “Now bloody wiiiiiin iiiiiiiiiit!!”
And you know what, they bloody well do!!!
It’s fitting that the goal comes from our best move of the match. Just 5 minutes after drawing level and with time running out, Bailey drives forwards from deep in the midfield and takes on 3 or 4 Stortford players, leaving them all in his wake. He lays the ball out to the unmarked Gray on the corner of the 18 yard box. Matty tees it up and thunders in a drive that the ‘keeper can only parry, right into the path of the lurking Folwer and he prods the loose ball over the line prompting wild jumping up and down behind the goal. Fowler races over to recieve the adulation, with Nick Bailey joining in……….”You love it!!!! You fucking love it!!” bellows the little ginger midfielder.
Too fucking right we do my son!!
By the way, does your mother know you use language like that?? (Just kidding!!)
The 2 goal burst takes the wind out of Stortford and they never seem likely to snatch anything at the death. And so, we head off for a celebratory drinky-poos or two in the Hood. We’re not there long before Chalmers is on the blower to an Aldershot supporting mate to find out their result against K’s. Sadly, our hoopy mates have gone down 2-1 to a late goal. And after a moments solemn contemplation, start sniggering like 4 year olds. Title credentials my ARSE!
Even better is that our win moves us to 5th and 6 points clear of K’s. Awwwww diddums…
Naturally, this makes the beer taste just that little bit better!
MAN OF THE MATCH : Matt Gray. Stuck at it all night.
ENTERTAINMENT : 4. Awful game. Nice to get some excitement at the end!
TEAM : Pape, Brooker, Palmer, Gonsalves, Gray, Hollands, Honey, Bailey, Bolt, Hanlan, Fowler
SUBS : Brett, Hanlan, Beale, Timothy, Honey.
THE REFEREE’S………Didn’t really notice him to be honest. Probably a bit whistle happy, but apart from that, no real complaints.