RYMAN PREMIER DIVISION
BISHOPS STORTFORD – 1 [Renner 67]
SUTTON UNITED – 0
The U’s returned to action after a 2 week break, forced upon us when our 2 scheduled opponents selfishly decided to play cup matches rather than face us. The big wusses.
“Still…..” we thought “…..give the lads a nice break. Leave them refreshed for the run in!”
Yeah yeah, I know I know…
The 11 meet at Liverpool Street is a bit of a pain for yours truly what with the Central line out of action. But, cunningly I devise an alternative route. One cunning alternative route that goes tits up at Moorgate, leaving me with an unscheduled stroll round the corner to my final destination.
Not really a problem, only if I can remember the sodding way…….
Thankfully the ol’ grey matter is in gear and I roll into the pub at 5 past. Gareth has surrendered to a monster hangover from last night and will be following on. Chalmers is stuck in work. So, after a quick pint, it’s just the 2 of us that jump on the Choo-choo, headed for the Hants/Essex border.
A brief wander around the pleasant town centre and we finally find our way to Stortfords only entry in the GBG. The Half Moon. It’s a pleasant place, but the selection is disappointing and after just the one bevvy, we move on, starting the long stroll towards Woodside Park.
We attempt to take in some of the Newcastle-Chelsea match at our next stop, but instead find a near deserted boozer & the Pakistan-India cricket on the box! Weird.
Another stroll & we come to ‘The Cock’. We amble in and are instantly greeted by some Stortford fans and a rendition of that ‘hilarious’ song regarding a certain cup final. Sadly, before you can say “What have you done since?” we’ve noticed a distinct lack of decent beer & are back out the door before you can say “Wembley 81”.
Shame, we’d loved to have stopped & chatted. Never mind gentlemen. Maybe next time eh?
Fortunately, we find another pub nearby and this fits the bill. Footy on the telly & drinkable beer.
Another couple of swifties and we decide to complete the hike to the ground. Thankfully we manage. Just about. A bonus being Gareth’s arrival by car a few minutes before, so we call ahead & request he gets the proggies in. Reluctantly, he agrees. Top man!
The Sutton line up is pretty unchanged, with only Corbett unavailable through suspension. Danny Brooker returns in his place.
The match itself turns out to be bloody awful. With the first half particularly poor. Chances are few & far between. As is any real footy, with the ball spending more time in the air and bouncing around than under any kind of control.
Bolt has a free-kick drop to Palmer after about 10 minutes, but the defenders effort is well over. Stortford hit back soon after with a free-kick of their own which picks out a big man at the back post, but his diving header is wide of the mark. They create another opening within a couple of minutes, a good run across the pitch ends with a low effort just wide of Dunn’s goal.
Sutton are finding it hard to find any kind of rythm to their play, with the home side, understandably given their league position, battling for everything and closing down quickly at all times not helping matters. A rare flash comes from Bolt, picking up a ball in midfield, slips a pass into the box for Fowler, but he scoops his 1st time effort weakly wide.
Another sign of what we can do follows soon. Gray with a quick throw finds Fowler inside the box, he makes a quick lay off to the oncoming Bolt, but it’s too strong and the midfielder can only run it out of play for a goal kick. This leads to a sort-of patch where the home side have a lot of the ball, but the U’s do more with what little possession they have. A long ball forwards finds Fowler, but he’s seemingly held back by the defender. He still manages to lay the ball off to Bolt, but his shot clears the bar.
After 34 minutes, a Bolt cross after some good work on the left causes havoc in the box. The ball eventually finds it’s way out to Gray on the right. He pulls his shot across the box and it comes through a crowd to Watson. But he’s surprised by the sudden chance and can only divert it wide of the far post.
Probably the U’s best chance comes from a Bailey run & cross from the left to the back post that the ‘keeper just manages to pick out of the air with an unmarked Fowler lurking just behind him.
We make our usual half-time trip to the bar to collect some scores before heading back out, hoping that the second half would improve on the first. Fat chance.
The U’s have the better of the first 15 minutes, with Bailey almost finding Watson with a ball into the box, but the striker just fails to make contact. Bolt then has a good run and shot flash wide of the upright before he later gets to the byeline, pulling the ball back, Matt Gray’s fierce strike being touched wide by a defender, yet only a goalkick being given.
The home side now come back more & more into the game, exerting pressure on the U’s rearguard. Matters not helped by some dreadfully erratic Sutton passing in midfield that only serves to cause more problems. After 67 minutes, the goal comes. An attack down the Sutton right isn’t dealt with and neither is the cross. A weak defensive header falls to Jenner on the edge of the box and he cracks a first time volley beyond the dive of Dunn into the far corner of the net.
Shit. Doesn’t look like we’ll be getting that back!
Within a couple of minutes, Dunn makes an outstanding save to prevent a certain second. Another foray down our right ends with a low ball into the box, met by Southam from around 6 yards, that the young ‘keeper somehow blocks, before gratefully gathering a mis-hit rebound.
The game then suffers another lull with the home side still having much of the possession and Sutton unable to thread more than a couple of passes together.
Going into the last few minutes, the customary late U’s rally (sort of) materialises. A good ball forward finds Watson, who manages to hold it up before laying it off for the oncoming Bolt, but his effort again flashes just the wrong side of the post.
Stortford give us a reminder they’re still there with a couple of minutes to go, when a 30 yard snap shot from out wide zips barely an inch over Dunn’s bar.
So a poor defeat to a side struggling at the wrong end of the table, but fair play to them, if anything their work ethic and desire won them the points. Something we weren’t able to match.
We head out to the car park and a ride home in Gareth’s shiny motor so we can get back to the Hood sharpish for a couple of commiseratory drinks and intelligent chatter.
Oh alright, I admit it, we got ratted & talke bollocks.
MAN OF THE MATCH : Oh god. Not a chance…….
ENTERTAINMENT : 3. A dreadful, dreadful game. We won’t mention the 1st half……..
TEAM : Dunn, Gray, Brooker, Palmer, Gonsalves, Akuamouah, Honey, Bailey, Bolt, Fowler, Watson.
SUBS : Drew, London, Brown
THE REFEREE’S………not that bad. The usual few baffling moments where obvious fouls are allowed to pass before whistling for something really petty & pointless 10 seconds later. Oh well……