RYMAN PREMIER DIVISION
SUTTON UNITED – 2 [Watson 49. Bolt 86]
ENFIELD – 1 [Blokie 81]
Games against Enfield are always a pain. None more so in recent years with their sad decline seeing them now a regular feature towards the bottom of the Ryman Premier.
Of course, you’d expect this to give us the perfect opportunity to take advantage and redress the historical balance by giving ‘em a few good hidings along the way.
No way Jose.
Now, the bastards battle, scratch, bite, kick and just plain be a pain the bloody arse 10 times more than before. Mainly because they need the 3 points 10 times more than they used to!
And with the current E’s team sitting 2nd bottom, we’re not expecting a pretty spectacle of free-flowing, textbook football. Not that we expect that anyway when this lot are in town.
A Friday off work sick, threatens my attendance for this ‘humdinger’ but thankfully (or should that be unfortunately?) I’m feeling much better come Saturday morning. That and the lovely bright spring sunshine outside along with the chances of getting Gareth to do his second report in 3 games at such short notice being unlikely, persuades me to risk my health and spend an afternoon on the terraces.
The things I do for you people.
This of course means no beer though, due to my fragile state. A sober game! Uh oh. But with no drinking planned, I decide to forego the usual ‘piss-about-waiting-for-a-bus-into-Sutton’ routine and instead grab the car keys.
I arrive at the Hood as Big Paul & Gareth arrive, finding Oscar already parked with a pint. My request for a pint of orange & lemonade momentarily confuses the barman. He puts back the bottle of Acclaim he assumed I’d be wanting and produces the non-alcoholic beverage.
“Not feeling well are we?” he enquires whilst giving me that disapproving look all barmen give you when you order a soft-arsed non-alcoholic drink that’s clearly for your consumption and no one else’s.
I hate being ill. Not only am I going to be sober at this game, I’m in a pub drinking a pint of pop which quite possibly contains vitamins. Stuff that’s actually good for me! Oh the shame of it……..
The U’s line up for the first time in ages is unchanged, with Honey keeping skipper Scott Corbett out of the side again. As mentioned, the visitors perilous league position was never going to produce a classic and so it proved. For most of the first 15 minutes, Enfield harried & chased, closing down U’s players as quickly as possible. Denying us any space or time with the ball. Despite having a lot of the possession, most of our play is broken up either by the aforementioned pressure, a petty foul or a clever combination of the two.
Now, I know they’re struggling, but watching almost every single forward/positive move interrupted by a niggly trip, kick, barge for the best part of 45 minutes does get on your tits a bit. Along with getting all 11 men behind the ball each time we get a set-piece, we get the impression we’re in for a very long, very dull afternoon.
Of course, having done nowt for almost 20 minutes, Enfield have the best chance of the half from their first real attack. A corner is won and swung into the box, where a visiting big lump rises to plant a header onto the top of Dunn’s crossbar.
Within 3 minutes, the U’s respond. A Nick Bailey free-kick from out on the left finds Danny Hodges at the back post, but his firm header crashes back off the crossbar. The rebound drops to a startled Matt Gray and with the ball bouncing horribly, his half volley effort is skewed horribly high & wide.
Enfield’s no nonsense approach coupled with a stiff breeze and our hard pitch means the ball spends more time in the air than on the ground. It also means any real chances or action are at a premium.
A little over 30 minutes in, the U’s win a corner, which of course, Bolt fires over. Under pressure from Fowler, the ‘keeper tries to gather but looses the ball in a crowd of players. It runs loose to Watson, but he’s the next victim of the horrible bounce and his effort clears the bar by some way.
Shortly after, we’re treated to the sight of the importmant Hodges trudging off down the tunnel, finally succumbing to a cut on his head, sustained in an earlier accidental clash. Thankfully, the ever dependable Danny Brooker is on hand to step into the breech.
37 minutes played and another silly, niggly foul brings our 323rd free-kick of the half. It’s played into the box by Bolt, aimed at the near post. Bailey leaps to challenge the ‘keeper and the ball pops loose. But before anyone in a U’s shirt can react, a defender is on hand to head the dangerous bouncing ball from under the bar and to safety.
With half time (thankfully!) approaching, our defence, having had next to bugger all to do, goes walkies. A big clearance forwards picks out Traore in frankly acres of space on the edge of the box. We all prepare to hold our heads in our hands and mutter “bollocks” as the striker chips the ball goalwards. Thankfully, Tommy is on his toes and flings himself full stretch to bat away the effort.
Thank fuck for that!
With time almost up, we manage our first real bit of open play materialises. Bolty picks up the ball just inside the Enfield half and runs at them, gliding past 1 challenge before belting a low effort just wide of the post. Rats.
We emerge from the bar around 15 minutes later and hope to god (or whatever deity happened to be listening at the time, we’re not that fussy) that we’d see a bit more excitement this half.
Oh and a goal would be nice too. Preferably one for us.
Much to our delight, we don’t have long to wait. 4 minutes in the Enfield number 6 concedes another in a long line of rather silly free-kicks out on the right hand touchline. Bolty grabs the ball and then cheekily sneaks it 5 yards back up the touchline, giving him a better angle of attack.
It helps. A lot.
Swinging the dead-ball into the box, it’s rather sportingly headed on by a defender and Mark Watson pounces at the back post, heading past the scrambling ‘keeper.
We all breathe a huge sigh of relief. Thank Christ for that.
Unfortunately the match doesn’t improve at all and slips back into it’s previously rather uninteresting rut. It’s not until a shade beyond the hour mark that anything happens. Matt Gray popping up to power a header home from a left wing cross. Sadly he’s offside. He then vents his frustration at the linesman on his side, earning him a booking. I needn’t tell you that it’s about the only thing this idiot gets right all day.
The majority of the possession still lies with the U’s, but they’re finding it hard going to break down the stubborn E’s defence. We’re so bored that we turn on the visitors number 4. A gentleman sporting some natty dreadlocks…
“Look! It’s Lenny Kravitz!!” declares one bored U’s fan not a million miles away from me.
“Alright Lenny! Whats up mate? Things not going your way?” I chip in.
Cue groans all around for my terrible pun. What? You expect me to let a sitter like that go begging? Never! Besides, they’re just jealous I thought of it first. It’s true I tell you!
A good run & cross from Bolt gives Watson a half chance with 20 to play, but the ball comes through a crowd of legs and catches the striker a bit by surprise & he’s unable to direct the ball goal wards.
Our guests meanwhile are finally starting to get a wee bit more adventurous. Gone are the 11 men behind the ball as they try to make an impression on proceedings and more importantly, try to rescue a priceless point. Just inside the last 10 minutes, Dunn has to be down smartly to stop a shot hit on the turn through a crowd in front of him.
He’s then rather crudely poleaxed claiming a corner a couple of minutes later. A move which naturally sparks the now almost customary 15 man handbag swinging contest. The result of which is 2 yellow cards for those naughty, North London ruffians.
Soon after though, the moment we’ve been dreading. The ref has a sequence of awarding some ridiculous free-kicks to the oppo. One of which is right on the edge of the ‘D’ of the Sutton 18 yard box. Tommy Lines up a big wall and Enfield apparently rush on a sub, just to take the kick. What’s this? Special teams?
Of course, mateys first touch is to curl the ball low around Dunn’s wall and into the bottom corner & give our visitors an unlikely equaliser.
Pah! Call that a free-kick??? Rubbish! We’ll show you a free-kick…
Oi Bolty, there’s a bloke here who reckons he’s a bit special in the ol’ dead ball department. When you get a minute, show him how it’s really done will ya?
The equaliser stings Sutton into a response and almost immediately a corner is won. Bolty chucks the ball into the danger area, finding Palmer at the back post. His delicate ball back into the area drops to Eddie who nods it down to Fowler. But only a desperate block by the ‘keeper prevents the young striker from registering.
With time running out, we’re starting to feel a little uneasy. Then with 3 minutes left on the clock, another pointless free-kick is conceded by the visitors. 35 yards out, they think only a one man obstruction is required.
Mwahahahahahahahaha! The fools! Over to you Mr Bolt.
DB makes the most of this flimsy cover and after Honey’s little dummy run proceeds to crack one of those frankly frightening fuck off missile-like efforts low beyond the desperate dive of the ‘keeper and into the bottom corner of the net.
YEEEEEEEEESSSSSSSS!!!!! You beauty!!!! Another goal of the season contender. Yeah, cheers Dan, thats only about 8 you’ve notched up now mate. The voting’s going to take fucking weeks at this rate!
Big Paul is impressed as it’s his first experience of a Bolt blockbuster. He’d heard all about ‘em, but hadn’t yet seen one in the flesh and we reckon he was beginning to think we were telling him porkies about all these amazing 35yard free-kicks, just so he’d keep coming on the off chance of seeing one.
Bolty’s amazing strike knocks the stuffing out of the visitors and the lively combination of sub, Craig Brown & Fowler should really add a third, but a poor final ball ensures the margin stays at just one and we see out the match without any real threat to our lead.
Then it’s off back to the Hood for a pint (which is more orange juice & disapproving barman looks in my case) before I leave the rest of the gang to their planned piss up in Cheam and I return to my sick bed.
Ooooh, what fun.
MAN OF THE MATCH : Paul Honey. Nothing got past this boy!
ENTERTAINMENT : 5. A poor spectacle. Unsurprising given the circumstances.
TEAM : Dunn, Gray, Gonsalves, Palmer, Hodges, Bailey, Bolt, Honey, Fowler, Watson, Akuamoah.
SUBS : Brown, Brooker, Corbett
THE REFEREE’S………rather poor. Seriously failed to clamp down on the niggly negative approach of some of the visitors defence. Also one of those “I’ll blow for that now, but I won’t blow for the exact same thing 30 seconds later” type tossers. Frustrating.