RYMAN PREMIER DIVISION
SUTTON UNITED – 1 [Bolt 68p]
PURFLEET – 1 [Akurang 21p]
The trip to Purfleet back in mid-September and the subsequent brilliant 2-0 win was probably where most of us actually realised “Hang on a mo! We could actually have a good season here!!”. Since then a lot has happened and I think some of us still haven’t quite come to grips to with just how good a year we’ve really had.
The religiously enforced pre-match meet is a bit earlier than usual as it’s the birthday of the newest member of the gang, Paul. He’d mentioned getting into the Hood for a few beers prior to the game and, if we’re perfectly honest, it’d be rude to refuse. Besides, sounds a bit of us that does.
Gareth, Bob & Oscar complete the party and it’s during this little drinky poos’ that I remember something from my lazy Sunday. Watching “Lock, Stock & 2 Smoking Barrels” (for the umpteenth time) on Channel 4, I made a startling discovery. There’s Paul! Although in this particular production, everyone seems to be calling him “Nick the Greek”. And it appears he’s got Liberia’s national defecit in his ‘sky rocket’.
My, what a small world.
Thankfully the birthday boy takes it in good heart. Well, I think he did. I say this because he didn’t physically attack me when I revealed his secret. And sadly, unlike his movie alter ego, he doesn’t actually carry around the GND of small African costal states. Shame really. ‘Cos it’s his round next.
We amble down towards the ground and we’re accosted as we enter Collingwood Rec by Mr Chalmers. Recently returned from his horsey extravaganza down in Cheltenham. Apparently, he only finished up 50 quid down at the end of the week. Result! He also shows off a natty ‘Partizan Belgrade’ scarf, a gift from a female admirer in the Serbian capital.
Chatting to foreign women on the internet? You won’t catch me doing that! *ahem*
The side is the same that began saturday’s encounter, with both Watson & Hodges passed fit & returning after knocks on saturday. Sadly, Danny hobbles off before we’ve had 20 minutes. We later hear its a calf strain. Bugger.
The match itself starts quite brightly. A deep Bolt free-kick finds Bailey in the box, but his looping little backwards header is straight into the arms of the ‘keeper. The visitors respond swiftly and a good strong attack down the left ends with a cross being headed straight at Tommy Dunn.
The visitors have the better of the opening exchanges as the U’s struggle to get going. A huge throw from our left sails all the way over to the back post, where a lurking huge bloke jumps and nods the ball past a leaping Dunn and see’s the ball bounce back off the foot of the post.
Barely a minute later, Tommy’s off his line swiftly to beat away a powerful 20 yard effort after the visitors have cut through our defence. Sutton hit back with a brief flurry and a Matt Fowler effort is blocked & then rather unwisely looped back towards his own goal by a defender. A back pass that the ‘keeper has to tip over the bar.
Shortly after Hodges departure, another huge throw in causes our defence problems once again. As before, it’s launched in from the left. This time, a Sutton head gets to it first, but it drops back inside the box. As a Purfleet man tries to bring it under control, he seems to be rather clumsily bundled over from behind, leaving the so far pony ref little option but to point to the sport. Nuts……
Akurang sends Dunn the wrong way, firing his effort straight up the middle. Thankfully, the lads keep their heads up and within 5 minutes, we manage a response. Bolt collects a throw-in out on the left and getting to the byeline, he hooks the ball across goal. A ‘Fleet defender dives in to clear with Watson lurking. But it’s still the Essex side who have the better of things, a neat 1-2 soon after see’s a good chance wasted as the shot is lifted over the bar.
Our only other moment of note in the 1st half is Fowler’s great break out run from deep in his own half. Unfortunately, he has no options of support upon reaching the edge of the Purfleet box and can only win a corner.
The customary quick nip to the bar before Nick sorry….Paul nips into the club shop and finally kits himself out with some U’s colours. A scarf and a rather trendy ‘bronx’ hat. Very smart.
The second half is a biiig improvement from a Sutton perspective. Within a couple of minutes of the restart, Bolt stings the hands of the ‘keeper with a great angled 25 yard piledriver. Sadly, there’s no Amber shirt close enough to convert the loose ball. We proceed to spend some good spells of play in the visitors half, but their no nonsense style at the back is proving tough to break down.
Then, just after the hour, we get a break!
A Bolt corner from the left heads into the box and as Matt Gray rises to try & meet it, he cops a hefty shove for his troubles. Thankfully, the so far rather one sided ref decides that this isn’t very nice at all and awards us a peno of our own.
Mr Bolt steps up and sending the ‘keeper the wrong way, plants his shot perfectly inside the foot of the opposite post. 1-1 and we now have a game.
Do we! Less than 2 minuets later and we’re trying to commit hari-kari at the other end. Palmer & brooker get in each others way going for a header and only succeed in nodding the ball towards Dunn’s goal and into the path of a lurking visiting striker. He gobbles up the gift and dashes for goal. Thankfully, Tommy is alert and is quick off his line to make a fine block and keep us on level terms.
Unfortunately, rather than lead to a grandstand finish from either side, the match peters out in the last 20 minutes and neither team can really find it within themselves to conjour up a match winning moment. Still, it’s a decent point in the bag!
We stumble off back down the Hood and enjoy a few more celebratory drinks with Nick sorry……Paul.
Happy Birthday mate.
Oh well, off to St Albans on saturday. But what we’d like to know is, whose dumb idea was it to have beer festival in town when we visit??? This could get very very messy….
MAN OF THE MATCH : Tommy Dunn. 3 or 4 excellent stops, solid all night.
ENTERTAINMENT : 6. Not a lot of footy played. But still a good point.
TEAM : Dunn, Gray, Gonsalves, Palmer, Hodges, Bailey, Bolt, Honey, Fowler, Watson, Akuamoah.
SUBS : Brown, Brooker, Corbett
THE REFEREE’S………crap. Another frustratingly inadequate performance.