RYMAN PREMIER DIVISION
SUTTON UNITED – 0
CANVEY ISLAND – 2 [Chenery 68. Gregory 82]
You’re not getting in! Yep, like a spotty 16 year old with dodgy ID and black socks over their white trainers trying to get into ‘Legends’ on a Saturday night, our attempt to mildly crash the Ryman Premier title shindig failed the big test, with a disappointing 2-0 if not entirely surprising home defeat to 2nd place Canvey Island.
I roll into the Hood for the usual pre-match throat lubrication. Surprisingly, I’m the first to arrive, but I’m not alone for long as Gareth & Nick the Greek wander in shortly after. Bob follows on having lazed around at home to watch the footy on the box first. Once again after beers and the usual bollocks chatted, it’s the usual last minute stagger down the road to the ground. For once, we’re in luck and there’s proggies still available on the turnstile. Result.
The side is again lacking key players today. Mark Watson returns from his back trouble, but just how fit or effective he’ll be after that and his layoff is anyone’s guess. Hanlan drops back to the bench after his display of poaching on Tuesday night, with Matt Gray now partnering Watson up front. Honey is still on the bench, with Corbett starting in midfield. Dean Hamlin makes a second start out on the right.
Despite the visitors lofty position and proximity to the top spot, it’s the U’s who start the brightest. With only 3 minutes on the clock, Watson flicks on a ball forwards. It finds Gray in space on the right and he heads for the box. Watso peels off and races for the 6 yard box, looking for any ball Matty can supply. With no other choice, the ‘keeper races off his line but Gray pushes the ball past him and skips over his challenge. We all await a decent cross and possibly 1-0. What we get is a fucking horrible bobble and Matt slicing the ball well wide of the near post.
Oh arse. It’s going to be one of those days is it?
The half progresses a bit and the visitors are starting to come alive. But their build up seems sluggish, lacking any real pace or urgency. But after 13 minutes, the Canvey No3. Duffy, picks up a loose ball in the middle of the park. He sets off on a run that takes him past 2 very half arsed challenges before he finds himself on the edge of the box. Deciding that he deserves a crack for his efforts, he drifts a shot just narrowly wide of Dunn’s left hand upright.
The U’s respond immediately and straight up the other end, Gray gets in behind the Canvey defence when the ball runs loose. In a great position and the ‘keeper off his line, he snatches at the chance and fires straight into Potter’s midriff.
The half then takes on a rather dull edge. Canvey have a lot of possession but create not a lot of chances. Our own efforts are bitty. With misplaced passes and distinct lack of punch.
Despite the visitors territorial advantage, it’s the u’s and Matt Gray once again who cause problem. Scott Corbett slips a pass down the left, and Gray scampers onto it. He goes past 1 defender and gets to the byeline. But again, his final ball is poor and he hits a weak ball to the near post where it’s hacked clear.
Shortly after, Corbett hits a dipping shot from a Watson knockdown straight at the keeper, but it lacks sufficient pace to really trouble him.
Canvey hit back shortly after, again the U’s midfield backs off and a speculative shot almost catches out Tommy Dunn. But he tips the effort away from goal & claims it at the second attempt.
Despite the largely uneventful half, it of course has to end with some form of controversy. Naturally supplied by one of the officials. A deep Danny Bolt free-kick is nodded down by Danny Hodges. It’s blocked by a defender & runs back past Hodges and is heading for a corner. Danny decides to shield it out, just to make sure. Well, thats the idea anyway. Instead Ollie Berquez barges him to the ground with not even a derisory attempt to win the ball.
Dead cert peno. No doubt. Yep, I’m convinced.
Sadly, the linesman (of course having had the customary completely unobstructed view from a few yards away) just smiles and awards a corner. To be fair to the ref, his view from the edge of the box ain’t great, so we’ll let him off on this occasion. But his assistant? Fuck me, total wanker.
Fine mate, if you’re going to mug us off, go for it. But don’t stand there smiling like a twat as you do so. It just makes you look a much bigger fucking arsehole than you actually already are. And trust me, judging by that decision, you’re already one of enormous proportions.
And following that staggering little display of fuckwittedness, we head for the bar level at 0-0. Heading down the tunnel, I get a text from my K’s contact. They’re already 2-0 down to the Shots. Ooooh, big 2nd half needed from the visitors now….
The second half is different to the first. Canvey come out & definitely step up a gear. It’s still not exactly the frantic must win title type gear we’d expected, but it’s enough!
Again, like the first half, they have a lot more of the ball than we do. But unlike the first half, we’re not managing to clear our lines very well and more of the play takes place in our final third of the pitch. Again though, the first dangerous moment is supplied by our good selves. Bolt puts another of those deep free-kicks into the danger area. Hodges gets clear of his marker but seems to hesitate and the ball gets away from him. Canvey step up again and very soon, Tommy Dunn is called upon to make a smart save. Another run through midfield again attracts 2 rather half hearted challenges, the ball is slipped into the channel, where Berquez’s low shot finds Tommy’s left hand in it’s way.
The visitors keep pressing and a corner from the left just before the hour causes havoc. Tommy comes, but can only palm the ball away. A bit of a scramble ensues at the back post. Again, it takes the U’s defence several goes to get it clear and only then at the expense of another corner.
Still Canvey press, but still good chances aren’t forthcoming. The U’s are struggling to make an impression, with the odd break out their only relief. Mark Watson hassles a Canvey defender out of the ball 30 yards out and heads for the box. With ex-Canvey man Bolt tearing up in support, he slips the ball across the 18 yard box, but he puts it too close to the ‘keeper and Potter gets there ahead of him and saves at his feet.
With 68 minutes on the clock, the visitors pressure finally tells. But from our point of view, it’s a rather disappointing goal to concede. A ball in from our right finds it’s way to the back post. Eddie Akuamouah gets there ahead of his man, but fails to deal with the ball and only succeeds in gifting it to the lurking Gregory who takes a touch to the byeline and thumps in a ball that finds Chenery a couple of yards out. He can’t miss and powers a header past the exposed Dunn.
That’s torn it.
The U’s up their efforts and go looking for an equaliser. With 11 minutes left, our best chance of nicking something goes begging. Again it’s Bolty who’s the provider. Another wonderfully flighted deep free-kick again catches out an opposition defence. Hodges is the man who gets up highest and connects, but he sends his header agonisingly wide of the right hand stick.
Canvey meanwhile are still pressing forwards and with 5 minutes left, not for the first time, the Sutton midfield and defence stand off. This allows Minton to put a ball in from the right to the far side of the box, just inside the 18 yard area. With plenty of time & space, sub Gregory thumps a low drive past the dive of Dunn to seal the points and keep the Essex men well in the title race and us firmly locked outside wondering if we should just sack it and go get a kebab.
We amble back towards the Hood for a philosophical pint or 6. But our mood is improved slightly when we get a late text messgage. Apparently the Bobbins recent tooth & nail fight NOT to get promoted from the Ryman 1st continues unabated. A 2-0 defeat coupled with everyone else around them winning means that a depressing Boxing Day at Coldsore for next season isn’t quite secure just yet.
I wonder if Mr Roberts is regretting his “3 more wins and we’re up” comment yet?
MAN OF THE MATCH : Dean Hamlin. Again, had a pretty faultless game on the right.
ENTERTAINMENT : 5. Not a great advert for the top 5 if we’re honest.
TEAM : Dunn, Hamlin, Brooker, Palmer, Hodges, Corbett, Akuamouah, Bailey, Bolt, Watson, Gray.
SUBS : Brown, Hanlan, Honey