RYMAN PREMIER DIVISION
ST ALBANS CITY – 2 [Brown 47.84]
SUTTON UNITED – 1 [Palmer 19]
On a list of foolish things to do, having a beer festival in the city of St Albans when we’re in town is pretty much near the top to be honest.
Being the city the contains the HQ of CAMRA, you’re always going to get a good selection of scrunge to get down your neck. And we usually do, with several displays down the years of U’s fans so pissed, they fall asleep on the terraces during the game. Which whilst not the greatest advert for the quality of the footballing fare, should at least show you the usual drinking state of affairs in this part of the world!
But then some nutter decided that holding a beer festival over the weekend that Sutton United are to visit Clarence Park was a great idea. And who are we to argue with such a stroke of pure genius?
Amazingly, Mr Chalmers is out of his pit on time and catches me at East Croydon. Even more amazingly, Gareth has managed to drag himself out in time to catch the early train with Bob at Sutton. Bloody hell, almost a full squad! The boys eventually join our train at Blackfriars.
Arriving at our destination, it’s straight off to a regular haunt, the ‘Farmers Boy’ for an early pint and some scoff. Then we amble off into town, searching for the source of this beer fest. The ‘Lower Red Lion’. Here we find a more than adequate supply of different beers to kill a few more brain cells with. We make a start before the small matter of a footy match distracts us and we eventually drag our carcasses down to the ground.
Hodges calf injury means he misses out, but we have a more than capable replacement in Danny Brooker. Apart from that, we’re pretty much up to strength.
The U’s enjoy a decent first half hour, having the better of the chances. A Matt Gray cross after 16 minutes just evading Watson in the box. But 3 minutes later, we go in front from a bit of a scrappy effort. A Danny Bolt free-kick from the right touchline is only half cleared. Nick Bailey drops a nice little ball into the box and Palmer nods it down. Watson reacts first, lifting the ball over the ‘keeper, only to see it bounce back off the inside of the far post. Thankfully Palmer is first to react and gleefully hooks home the loose ball.
The next best opportunity we get is from a huge kick by Dunn. Watson chases it down, shrugs off the challenge of Brown and with only Wilmot to beat, can’t get a solid enough contact and the ball runs wide of the target.
With half time approaching, the home side come more into the game and with 44 minutes on the clock, an attack down the U’s left results in a good cross into the box, which is headed goalwards, but is touched onto the bar by Dunn and hacked clear by Gonsalves.
Unfortunately, the warning isn’t heeded and within 2 minutes of the restart, the home side draw level. The U’s lose possession in midfield and a ball over the top seems to have been dealt with by Gonsalves. But he loses out on the byeline and the resulting cross is bulleted into the top corner with a diving header from the big No5, Brown. The goal lifts St Albans and they start to have much the better of things.
The next half chance falls to Sutton though. Another long ball finds Watson and his flick puts in Fowler, but he’s shut out by a defender and his effort is off the mark.
Shortly after, just on the hour, the home fans think they have a second goal when Tommy Dunn has a couple of goes at punching a corner clear. He fails and the ball is eventually hooked clear, despite protests that it had crossed the line.
Within 5 minutes, the home side have another effort off the woodwork. A cross from the right is headed back across goal before being nodded against Dunn’s crossbar. But the threat is averted when the ref blows for pushing.
The ref frustrates us with some very weird decisions and coupled with a tired looking display, we struggle to re-impose ourselves on the match. A few half chances come our way but little else. First a Watson challenge results in a loose ball. Bailey pulls it back from the byeline, but no-one is there to apply the finishing touch.
A Danny Bolt cross from the right is headed straight at Wilmot by Fowler then soon after, a dubious offside decision denies Watson after good work between Fowler & Bolt. With around 10 to play, Bolt cuts in from the right, goes past 1 and from the corner of the box drifts a chip just over the bar at the far post.
Then with a draw looking likely and maybe the fairest result, the ref intervenes……..
A high ball drops to Palmer just inside the Sutton 18 yard box. As he tries to get the ball under control, he’s challenged by a City forward. Illegally. The guy clambers all over Patsy, simply not allowing him to clear the danger. But whereas the ref has previously blown for numerous free-kicks already this afternoon for similar offences, this one is let go. Patsy can do no more than conceded a corner.
Of course, the corner finds Brown beyond the far post and his looping header evades Brooker on the line and finds the top corner.
Unfortunately the lads are unable to try and rescue a point and we trudge back to the Beer Festival via a couple of other recommended boozers we’ve not done before. Back at the fest’ we get stuck in and steadily reduce the already low amount of brain cells available to us. Having failed to get Gareth to replace his fizzy lager with proper beer, he and Chalmers retire first and stagger off pissed to the
Bob and I then cram a few more down our necks before heading for the last train home.
Oh well, at least losing in St Albans isn’t that bad…
MAN OF THE MATCH : Hmmmm. Not too sure…….
ENTERTAINMENT : 6. Neither side looked top 5!!
TEAM : Dunn, Gray, Gonsalves, Palmer, Brooker, Bailey, Bolt, Honey, Fowler, Watson, Akuamoah.
SUBS : Brown, Brooker, Corbett
THE REFEREE’S………another hopeless ‘homer’ twat. The most frustrating non-decision being the virtual wrestling move on Palmer that caused him to conceed the free-kick from which the winner came.