RYMAN PREMIER DIVISION
HAMPTON & RICHMOND BOROUGH – 1 [Thompson 33]
SUTTON UNITED – 3 [Watson 18. Akuamouah 61. Gray 77]
Our recent run of matches against struggling sides came to an end on Saturday with the short trip to Hampton.
A side with only 2 wins to their name all season, they’ve struggling to find form and haul themselves away from the foot of the table. We meanwhile are on a somewhat better run with 6 straight wins, which have hauled our own carcasses into the frighteningly high reaches of 4th.
Little did we know, by the end of the day, we’d be at an even more staggering height!
Arranging to meet Bob in Hampton for about 12ish as he wants to be in a boozer to watch the West Ham-Man Utd game. Well, that’s the plan anyway.
Leaving my place a little later than planned, just after 11, I’m still hopeful of being in Hampton in good time. Deciding that sitting on the 213 from Sutton in Crimbo traffic is a big fuck off no-no, I think that a train to Clapham and then down to Kingston would be the better idea. Arse.
As it turns out, Clapham proves a little difficult to reach and I have to go all the way to Victoria and come back. I then spend ages waiting for a train into Kingston due to other problems on the lines. God I hate our transport system. Having just spent 4 days experiencing the teutonic efficiency of Vienna’s trains and Tube, this is like the fucking dark ages! In fact, my journey takes close to 2 and a half hours. 30 minutes more than it took me to fly between Vienna and London on Thursday. To make matters worse, I’ve forgotten my little notepad I bought last week. DOH! So no match notes for me today! Looks like the ol’ brain will have to do for just one more game then!
I manage to catch the last 10 minutes of the game in the boozer with Bob & Gareth, along with a very swift pint. Then it’s off to The Beveree, home of Hampton & Richmond Borough.
On arrival we mope about, looking for our Chairman. Our aim is to find out the score regarding our return trip to Chesham in the Bryco cup on Tuesday night. (That reminds me. Did I thank the Ryman League for that one?? No?? Good. The twats). He also confirms that it’s unlikely we’ll get any concession in the entry price. Now there’s a bloody surprise!
That’ll be me staying in Tuesday night then.
The U’s side welcomes back Mark Watson from injury, with Matt Gray switching back to the right in place of Darren Beale. Hopefully Watso is back to stay after his niggling lay off!
The U’s tear into their lowly hosts from the off and it’s clear straight away that their back four is going to struggle. The immediate pressure has the home side rocking and their ‘keeper Andy Iga makes a terrible hash of a back-pass, slicing it barely 20 yards out to Watson. With a defender closing, he rushes his shot and scuffs it against the legs of the Hampton man. Fortunately the ball breaks out wide to a completely unmarked Fowler who races in and lifts the ball over Iga and into the net. But the strikers celebrations are cut short by the lino’s flag. Hmmm, looked bloody well on to me and whatever happend to that FIFA shite about ‘giving the forward the benefit of the doubt’ eh???
Load of old bollocks.
Undeterred, the U’s continue to pile forwards and for the first 15 minutes or so, it looks bad for Hampton as they struggle to deal with the attacks. Matt Gray flashes a header just winde of the near post and then Bailey strikes an effort just a little too high after some lovely play involving Bolt & Fowler. We then amuse ourselves with the terrible control and clearances of the brick shit-house No4 the home side are employing in their defence today. At least 6 times in 5 minuets he hoofs the ball over the stand to our left.
After 18 minutes though, the U’s make the break through. A Bolt corner from the left flies in and Watson takes advantage of some somewhat lacklustre marking to simply nod the ball down and past the woefully exposed Iga. Right! That’ll do for starters lads! Now if we can just find the lever that opens these bloody floodgates…
Sadly, the lads take the search for the floodgate opening mechanism a little too seriously and promptly stop playing. This allows Hampton vital breathing space to steady themselves and come back into the match. Twice in quick succession, simple balls through the heart of the Sutton defence have to be hastily cleared. But within 5 minutes of going ahead, another ex-U, like Scott Forrester a couple of weeks back, is popping up to haunt us. The Beavers attack down our left flank and with Hollands out of position, a crossis fired across the box. Pape seems a little unsure of what to do, meanwhile the ball drops just beyond the far post and onto the bonce of Richard Thompson, less than 5 yards out. He doesn’t miss. Powering a header inside the upright to level the scores.
The goal raises the home sides spirits and they start to believe in themselves a bit more. Another ball through our defence has Pape tipping away a terrific shot from inside the box. After the total dominance of the 1st 20 minutes, the Sutton defence is all over the shop and Hampton are unfortunate not to make us pay. A free-kick out on the U’s left is delivered into the box and is met with a powerful header that beats Pape, but thankfully not the U’s defender (later ID’d as Danny Brooker) on the line who heads clear.
Things seemingly get worse for Sutton shortly after when Watson is injured in the course of having a shot blocked by a defender. He’s stretchered off and after a short delay, is replaced by Eddie Akuamouah. This seems to help the U’s a little though, as Eddies more direct running style is in direct contrast to Watson’s and this helps put the home defence on the back foot a little. Neither side really manages to create much in the last few minutes and we’re a tad relieved not to be going into the break behind.
We head into the bar for some results, but first a trip to the gents is required. It seems Bob is also in need of a piss and we head for the gents. Or at least what we THINK is the gents. It’s not. It’s the arse end of the players tunnel! We only realise our error when we pass 2 doors, one labelled ‘HOME’ and the other ‘AWAY’. This coupled by the fact that JR walks past us, confirms we’ve made a wrong turning.
We head back the other way, deciding not to offer JR our unique ‘motivational skills’ for his half time team talk. Not because we think he’d refuse, but because we really do now need that piss!
Bladders emptied and scores sorted, we head back out for the second half, hoping that JR had read our minds and administered a bit of a bollocking at the break. We’ll see…
The second half starts slowly, with neither side doing too much, but then a U’s attack has Bolt down the left, playing the ball inside to Corbett, who in turn lays it off to Bailey, 25 yards out in front of goal. His fierce low effort is somehow beaten away for a corner by a rather startled Iga. This seems to trigger the U’s into life again and they regain control of the midfield and start to control proccedings a lot more.
Corbett does well to direct a header goalwards soon after, but it lacks sufficient power and Iga hangs on. But despite the pressure, a second goal doesn’t look too likely. But just after the hour mark, Sutton win a corner on the left. Naturally, Bolt wanders over to take it, drilling it in low towards the near post.
“Thats a shite corner” says I, just as the ball is touched on by Fowler, into the path of the lurking Eddie and he doesn’t miss. Rifling a first time effort between Iga and his near post. Errrm, ok, maybe the corner wasn’t quite so bad after all………ahem!
Sutton push on looking for a third and killer goal and with a little under 15 minutes to play, an amazing melee develops in and around the Beavers box (hurr hurr, he said ‘Beavers box’ huhuhuhhuh!) with at least 3 or 4 efforts from Palmer, Bailey and Fowler all being blocked.
Eventually, the ball finds it’s way back to Palmer, who from a wide position pulls it back across the box. It evades everyone except Matt Gray prowling on the far corner of the box. He interecepts the ball and drives a shot inside the near post to make it 3-1.
Hampton briefly rally, but never look likely to get a second goal to make it a nervous finish and it’s the U’s who look more likely to increase their tally. The best chance falling to Eddie who just fails to connect at the back post with a Matt Fowler ball almost across the goal-line.
The match ends with the play in our area at the far end and an unseemly scuffle. Buggered if I know what it was about though.
We head for the nearby pub for the results and a pint. Not long into our bevvy, SKY display the Ryman League results. We all see them, but only Gareth makes the connection.
“Hang on! I think we’re second!!” he says, flicking through his proggy for the league table and doing some quick maths…
And bugger me, he’s right. A quick call to the absent-through-work Chalmers confirms it. Purfleet & St Albans failure to win has propelled us up 2 spots to the heady, almost Everest like heights of 2nd!!! Now, if you’d have told me we’d be 2nd going into Xmas, I’d have laughed myself silly.
We head off into Kingston for a few more beers to celebrate our unexpected news and end up in the local Wetherspoons, where Jules proceeds to freak out some poor bloke by declaring he’s his postman. Not that scary you might think, but if some stocky bloke you’ve never seen before comes up to you in a a pub and goes “you’re the bloke from number 37 such&such street!”, it would be admittedly a bit concerning.
Oh dear. What’ll it be like if we go top?
MAN OF THE MATCH : Ryan Palmer. Solid.
ENTERTAINMENT : 6. A Job well done and bloody hell, we’re SECOND!!!!
TEAM : Pape, Gray Hollands, Palmer, Brooker, Bailey, Bolt, Corbett, Fowler, Watson.
SUBS : Akuamouah, Honey, Beale
THE REFEREE’S A………rather poor one actually. Whistle happy and missed a couple of dreadfully obvious decisions.