FA TROPHY 3RD ROUND
SUTTON UNITED – 1 [Watson 82]
HAVANT & WATERLOOVILLE – 3 [Howe 25. Haughton 55. Hambley 59]
Having wondered all week if the game would actually be on after the snowfall during the week, it all turned out to be something of an anti-climax.
The U’s turning in a rather poor performance and allowing an ordinary Havant & Waterlooville side Trophy progress without too many problems. Unsurprising really when you take our form against DML sides into account. Form that really could only be described as ‘shit’.
It was reported that after the recent snowfall, that a large snowman (adorned with a U’s hat and scarf of course!) had sprung up in the centre circle. Having seen the way we played today, I think it would have been a wise idea to have given ol’ Frosty a bloody shirt as well and named him in the starting line up.
We meet up for the usual pre-match pint or two in the Hood, warming ourselves by the nice open fire, Gareth voicing his displeasure at match report stick from the Harrow match. Sorry mate, price of fame! Then a chilly stroll to the ground. Once more, proggies are sold out at the Collingwood end so it’s a stroll round. Sadly, even the club shop draws a blank! Our first proggy-less game of the season.
With the U’s side unchanged from the last match, we’re hopeful of breaking our little DML hoodoo and making some progress in this competition. Fat chance.
The match seems to take an age to get going. With the bumpy surface causing both sides problems. One thing we quickly notice is the pace of the visitors defence. Or lack of it! But despite their ponderous nature, the U’s find it hard to break them down. They do little to enhance their reputation with a comical moment around 10 minutes in. A clearance is horribly sliced towards his own goal by a ‘Hawks’ centre back. A clearance that has his ‘keeper scrambling to try & prevent a corner. He fails, the U’s get the corner and we get a chuckle. One of the very few bright spots in a soon to be very crap afternoon!
Within a minute, Bolty threads a pass through the defence for Watson. Sadly, he’s still not got back that early season sharpness and reacts a little late to the chance, allowing the ‘keeper to race off his line & clear the danger. The visitors hit back, with their No11 Haughton looking rather dangerous. But despite some pressure, Pape only has a long range effort to deal with.
Another Bolt pass sends Fowler clear in the box after 18 minutes. He rounds the ‘keeper and slips the ball goalwards. But it lacks enough legs to make it the full distance and a defender is on hand to clear. Almost giving the ball back to the amazed Fowler in the process.
Matt Gray is then rather pointlessly booked soon after for throwing the ball away. But only after the protests of the visitors defence. Although the ref redresses the balance a short while after, cautioning the H&W No8 for the same offence.
With the U’s failing to find any real rythym to their play it’s still a bit of a surprise when the visitors go ahead after around 25 minutes. Our midfield backs off, allowing one of their opposite number to make good ground. He then lofts a ball over the U’s defence (well roundabout where you’d expect the defence to actually be!) and into the path of the No9. With no Sutton defender within 10 yards and the relative freedom of GGL, Howe controls the pass and fires past an exposed Pape. Although, from our vantage point it looks like the ball has gone straight through our veteran custodian.
Fucking typical. One chance, one goal. And another visiting team given a head start……..
The goal shakes the U’s and for a short spell, the visitors look the most likely to do any damage. Then comes our second bright spot of the afternoon. Gonsalves slips on the edge of the 18 yard box, allowing the prowling Taylor to snatch up the ball, glide past Palmer and leave Pape sprawling. With the net gaping in front of him, he some how construes to spoon the ball narrowly over the bar from no more than 10 yards. A miss of truly huge proportions!
Rumours that Mark Watson applauds his admiration from the other end are completely unfounded!
Although, the man in the visitors goal keeps us all completely bemused with his utter inability to actually catch the ball. Electing instead to try and (badly!) punch the ball clear!! The fact that we fail to test the bloke seriously only adds to the frustration.
With the half drawing to a close, Sutton spurn their best chance of drawing level. Once again, Bolt is the provider, threading another of those passes through the defence. Watson reacts a little quicker this time and shrugging off the attentions of a defender, bursts into the box. Drawing the ‘keeper, he delays his shot for a second and when he does pull the trigger, the erratic ‘keeper has recovered and blocks the effort.
But the danger isn’t over yet. The ball runs back to Watson, who looks up and lays the ball onto the penalty spot for the rapidly arriving Nick Bailey. We all await the ball nestling in the back of the net but instead watch Nick fall to the ground with his head in his hands as the ball bobbles horribly in front of him and he fails to make any contact at all.
You can just tell it’s not going to be our day!
The second half proves to be little better and not much of any note occurs until 10 minutes into the half. A long throw from the U’s left is flicked on to a completely unmarked H&W man at the back post. With Pape utterly stranded, he shoots only for Matt Gray to pop up and make a vital block. Sutton fail to clear the danger and the following ball reaches the far post where Haughton stoops to nod between Pape and his near post. Oh dear. One goal was going to be hard work………but 2?
We neededn’t have worried too much about having to pull 2 goals back as within 2 minutes, it becomes 3 we have to pull back! A free-kick from out on the right picks out Hambley and his header causes what seems to be a melee on the line, but the ref signals a goal and the U’s are heading for the Trophy exit.
With 30 minutes left, JR decides to make a rare early change, throwing on Honey & Akumaouah for Bolt and Hollands. Within 5 minutes of the change, Sutton again spurn a great chance to get back into the match. A nice bit of play between Fowler and Gray see’s Gray deliver a good firm low ball to the near post. Bailey has ghosted in and seems certain to reduce the arrears, when again the surface denies him and the ‘keeper dives in to gather while he tries to dig the ball from out under his feet.
Sutton keep at it and Watson has an effort ruled out for offside with about 15 to go. Within 60 seconds, Bailey puts a lovely ball into the box, over the head of Watsons marker. All he has to do is control, turn and have a free crack at goal. Unfortunately, the ball thumps into his thigh and runs harmlessly through to the ‘keeper.
With time running out and the chances of rescuing anything almost gone, we finally get a break. Bailey makes a good run to the byeline, cutting the ball back to the waiting Folwer. This time, he’s the reciepient of a bastard of a bobble and scuffs his shot horribly. Somehow though the ball finds it’s way to a seemingly well offside Watson, who, as the visitors defence stand and wait for a flag that never comes waltzes past the ‘keeper and scores from 2 or 3 yards out.
The goal gives the boys a lift and its no surprise that we then have probably our best spell of the match. But, when both well placed, both Corbett and then Watson fail to hit the target with efforts from 18 yards.
In the end, we’re just pleased to hear the final whistle andf get back to that nice warm fire and good beer in the Hood! But, once more, another cup defeat to a semingly unimpressive DML team nags at the back of your mind. Ok, so it wasn’t quite as bad as Trowbridge a few years back, but it was still pretty fucking terrible!! And to think we didn’t really test the worst ‘keeper we’ve seen at GGL since Raphael Torres shipped 6 for Bath in ‘94 for the whole 90 minutes is very very annoying.
Back in the Hood, the usual beers are sunk and we amuse ourselves with some copies of an old fanzine from the early 90’s that Bob has unearthed in his loft.
Today, we’ll take our amusement where we can get it!
Oh well, there’s always the Surrey Cup I s’pose…
MAN OF THE MATCH : Oh dear. Do I really have to award one??
ENTERTAINMENT : 4. Really rather poor. Neither side was really much cop!
TEAM : Pape, Brooker, Palmer, Gonsalves, Brooker, Bailey, Corbett, Bolt, Gray, Fowler, Watson.
SUBS : Beale, Akuamouah, Honey, Smith
THE REFEREE’S……..actually not that bad!! Mr Singh has been touted for a while as the best ref in NL footy and he backed that up with a well judged approach to the game. See!!!! I can be nice about refs!!! We just want more like him please!!!! Sadly his assistants were a couple of witless prats, with the bloke in front of us in the 1st half missing a couple of dodgy tackles on Gray. And how the twat at the other end missed Watson being offside for his goal is beyond me!