SURREY SENIOR CUP SEMI-FINAL
DULWICH HAMLET – 1 [Coleman 81p]
SUTTON UNITED – 2 [Bailey 15. Bolt 38p]
The U’s gave us something to look forwards to at the end of this (so far!) reasonable season by disposing of Dulwich to reach another Surrey Cup final.
Where we’ll meet our ol’ buddypalchums from Kingsmeadow, the first time the 2 sides will have met each other in a Cup final since the early 60’s. Historical! Or something…
As befits the occassion of a semi-final, we aim to be in the boozer as early as possible. I bump into Gareth at Tulse Hill as I change trains. We find Jules, Bob & Cathy in the ‘Fox on the Hill’ on Denmark Hill. We make use of the different beers and then stagger back down the road, hitting the turnstiles at Champion Hill just as the teams kick off. Another perfectly timed pub/ground dash. Mr Chalmers greets us just inside the turnstile with Belly. Bloody hell, another crowd out tonight!
The U’s are missing Matt Gray from his right ‘wing-back’ role and Danny Brooker moves over to cover. Scott Corbett comes into the centre of defence after his spell out of the side. He also regains the skippers armband from Mark Watson.
We take our place behind the goal, but within a few moments head for the covered terracing as it starts to piss down. The game starts relatively slowly, with little of any note happening in the first 10 minutes. After 11 minutes though, the first real chance comes Nick Bailey’s way. Collecting the ball in midfield, he runs at the home defence, which obligingly opens up in front of him. He reaches the box before dragging a shot wide of the far post.
The home side have a bit of possession, but don’t really threaten. The U’s on the other hand look dangerous going forwards. With 15 minutes gone, we take advantage of the wind barrelling down the length of the pitch. Brooker is fouled on the right hand touchline, about 30-35 yrads out. Bolt swings the free-kick into the box. It looks like it’s perfectly placed for Mercer in the Hamlet goal to come out & claim.
He obviously thinks the same and leaves his line, looking to make a straight forward catch. But the ball holds up in the wind and with Mercer well off his line, Nick Bailey nips in and nods the ball over the stranded ‘keeper and into the empty net to give us an early lead.
The U’s keep pressing and Bolty thumps a curling free-kick from 20 yards out into the chest of the ‘keeper just 2 minutes later. But, soon after, the home side finally make the most of their possession and have a great chance to pull level. Working the ball wide, a cross comes in from the left picking out Coleman. But his point blank header is brilliantly stopped by Dunn.
The game continues to follow the pattern of Dulwich having a lot of the ball, but not producing much end product. Whilst the U’s look dangerous almost every time they break. Matt Fowler almost gets in after half an hour, but only a desperate saving header prevents him having a clear sight of goal. Then within 60 seconds, Nick Bailey swings in a wicked cross from deep on the left towards the far post, where Brooker comes sliding in, just missing out on making contact.
But the dangerous forward play pays off after 37 minutes. A clever flick from Folwer puts Brooker in behind the defence, as he tries to hook the ball back from the byeline, a covering defender blocks the effort but has his arms up in front of him. Handball???
The ref thinks so and to our delight, points to the spot!
Bolty steps up and in a departure from his usual precise placement from 12 yards, smashes the ball high down the middle for his 50th goal in a Sutton shirt. Even better, we’re 2-0 up!
We’re coming for ya K’s, we’re coming!
Dulwich open up the Sutton defence right on the break, but despite a good move, the striker fires well over of Dunn’s goal when very well placed.
The second half is less of a spectacle. The home side again have plenty of possession, but fail to seriously test Dunn. Within a couple of minutes of the restart, one long range effort dips just over the Sutton crossbar.
Very little of any note occurs as the match decends more into a scrappy kind of affair. A good bolt run just before the hour finds it’s way to Akuamouah, but he’s shut out. The next event of any real note is just inside the last 10 minutes. A ball into the box bounces around and Corbett reacts to block out the threat. His seemingly good challenge doesn’t cut much ice with the ref and after looking seriously at the situation, points to the spot for the 2nd time and throws the home side a lifeline. The home players surround the ref, seemingly demanding the already cautioned Corbett be shown another.
After a looong delay whilst an injured Dulwich player is carried off, Coleman sends Dunn the wrong way, placing his effort in off the post.
There then follows a frantic last few minutes as Hamlet go all out for an equaliser and the ref, having had a fairly reasonable game so far, gives some very very strange decisions. The most contriversial comes almost right on time. With the home side pushing up, a desperate cross is flung into the box and like our own moment in the first half, appears to strike the outstretched arms of a defender. But, for some reason and much to the disgust of the Dulwich fans & players, the ref waves play on!
Meanwhile, at the other end, we all breathe a huge sigh of relief!
The ref plays another agonising minute or so of added time before finally blowing his whistle and sending us towards that end of season clash against the hoopy ones. The rather upset oppo players surround the official all the way off the pitch.
We then of course make full use of Mr Chalmers decision to drive tonight & nip back to the Hood for a couple of celebratory beers.
Now all we have to do is teach that nasty Hoopy mob a good lesson.
MAN OF THE MATCH : Danny Brooker. Great to see him marauding down that right flank again!
ENTERTAINMENT : 6. Half decent 1st half. Died a death after though……..
TEAM : Dunn, Corbett, Palmer, Gonsalves, Brooker, Akuamouah, Bailey, Honey, Bolt, Fowler, Watson. SUBS : Ribolla, Gray, Beale, Hanlan
THE REFEREE’S………did ok, but had an erratic last 10 minutes when he seemed intent on pissing everyone off! Still, there was never any way we’d get 2 decent Surrey officials in consecutive games.