RYMAN PREMIER DIVISION
SUTTON UNITED – 1 [Bailey 61]
ALDERSHOT TOWN – 1 [D’Sane 60]
Today was something of a long one. Up at 3am to catch my flight back from Austria, I managed to stagger home in time to snag a couple of hours kip prior to heading for the pub and the vitally important couple of bank holiday Monday pre-match drinks.
So, today is part 2 of our so far failed quest to stick a spanner in the works of the Ryman title chase.
In fact, it’s going to take a hell of an effort to stop today’s visitors from claiming the title. Despite our defeat to Canvey a couple of weeks back, Aldershot have since put their destiny in their own hands by getting themselves three huge points out on the little blob of land in the Thames estuary. So the Shots come into today’s match 9 points ahead and with a game in hand over their Essex rivals.
This means a point is technically all they require to snag the silverware. In fact, they could realistically get beat here today and still win the league if Canvey manage to fuck up against Billericay.
The Hood welcomes the usual suspects for today’s match. Myself, Bob, Chalmers, Gareth & Paul (you know, the one who looks like that Nick the Greek fellow) and Oscar are assembled. The boys fill me in on Saturday’s defeat & their visit to the ‘Honeypot’ afterwards. Apparently the big talking point is how much a beer cost, rather than the quality of the ‘entertainment’ on offer! With a big crowd expected, Bob makes wise use of his contacts and bags us proggies in advance, ordering ahead by phone. Isn’t technology wonderful? Sadly, we still have to collect as they don’t deliver. Yet.
We stroll through the Collingwood Turnstile in good time, with the expected queue surprisingly not materialising. Which is strange as the ground itself looks pretty well populated. Taking our places on the ShoeBox, we find Belly waiting along with assorted other familiar faces we haven’t seen in a while. Bloody woodworm. Must be a big game then!
Our first surprise of the day is that Tommy Dunn is not selected. Apparently injured. Jamie Ribolla steps in to cover. Dean Hamlin is back in on the right and Brown keeps his spot up front.
Sutton start brightly and an early free-kick is won on the right. DB puts it into the box where it finds Mark Watson, but he can’t quite direct his header and it loops into the arms of the ‘Shots ‘keeper and prize wanker Nikki “That’s two k’s and an i” Bull. The visitors are soon getting involved in proceedings and Ribolla has to be alert after about 6 minutes, racing off his line to smother a low angled ball into his area. A couple of minutes later, Danny Hodges pulls up and is replaced by Nick Drew. Another injury for the big bald one. Hope it’s not too serious and he’s fit for the cup final.
Like Canvey, Aldershot are moving the ball well and enjoying a fair bit of possession, but seem to lack that extra ‘something’ where it matters in the final third. D’Sane & McLean are certainly a pacy pairing, but don’t quite seem to have enough. 13 minutes in, Watson is chasing down a ball over the top of the ‘Shots defence, but he allows it to bounce once too often on the hard surface and with the combined efforts of Bull & a defender, the danger is averted.
By this stage, we’re enjoying plenty of banter with the Shots fans in the Collingwood corner terrace. Especially over our abuse of the over-exciteable Bull. He confirms our suspicions by flicking the finger in our direction after another chorus of “Dodgy ‘keeper”. Christ knows how he’d react once we started on the ‘mum’ jokes! There’s rice puddings with thicker skins than this bloke.
The visiting fans get their own back straight away when Ribolla slices a goal kick horribly into touch, bringing an ironic chorus of “dodgy keeper” to our right. Yeah, cheers for that Jamie. Appreciate it mate!
We have a nervy moment with about 19 minutes on the clock when a good cross from our right finds a man at the far post. His header beats Ribolla, but not Patsy, who’s covering behind and he heads clear. On 22 mins, it’s another Sutton set-piece that goes close. Bailey curling in a free-kick from the left that just evades Palmer at the back post.
Soon after, it’s the U’s coming forwards again. Bolt breaks out from deep and plays a sweeping ball across the park to Bailey. He slips the ball in to Watson on the edge of the box, but his first time effort is blocked by a defender.
Aldershot hit back on 31 minutes, winning a corner out on the right. It’s swung in to the back post where Ribolla comes for it. He’s seemingly impeded and misses out, leaving another ‘Shots man to head against the woodwork from 3-4 yards out.
But, the play switches to the other end and the ball is worked along the left touchline. Eddie Akuamouah in a rare foray forwards puts a dangerous low ball into the near post. Bull dives out to push it away one handed with Brown arriving. The young stopper injuring himself in the process.
With half time approcahing and proceedings very open so far, McClean wastes a great chance to give the visitors the lead and help fire them that bit closer to the title. A ball forwards bounces over the U’s rearguard & McLean races onto it inside the 18 yard box. With only Ribolla to beat and the goal at his mercy, he humps his shot miles over the bar. But the final say of the half goes to the home side. Another free-kick and again Bolty stands over it. With only one man acting as a ‘wall’, we all expect DB to lash this one goalwards, but he elects for a clever lifted ball into the box, where Watson dives in and connects, but he only succeeds in lifting the ball over the bar.
News reaches us during the break that Canvey are indeed fucking it up and trailing 1-0 against Billericay. So at the moment, whatever happens here, Aldershot are up. Given the murmurs of delight from the massed away fans, it seems the news has reached them too.
The second half starts with the U’s on the offensive. Watson heading down for Bolt who plays in Brown, but he can’t keep his effort down and hooks over the bar. Shortly after Nikki Bull, either possibly feeling his shoulder knock from the 1st half or because he simply can’t handle some mild teasing, departs to be replaced by ex-Sutton favourite, Gareth Howells.
Sutton keep pressing and after 57 minutes, Watson goes close to breaking the deadlock. A pass forwards finds the big forward. He instantly lays the ball off for Bolt, who then returns the favour, slipping the ball behind the defender for Watson to fire first time inches wide of Howells near post & into the side netting.
Naturally, after this little purple patch, it’s the visitors who take the lead on the hour. A silly free-kick is conceded about 30 yards out. It’s played out high to the Sutton right where Palmer outjumps his man to win the header, but only succeeds in aiming it into his own box. Maybe a little surprised, Ribolla has to come off his line to try & clear the danger, but D’Sane is quicker and nips in to poke the ball past him into the net. Another giveaway special from the U’s goal-grotto. Arse.
Thankfully, the Sutton response is swift. Some might say, immediate.
From the kick off, a move down the right ends with the ball being played across, just outside the box. It falls to Nick Bailey, who takes it on the bounce and crashes a dipping half volley over the dive of Howells and into the net. It’s another goal of the season contender. One that should see the the end of season awards take until sometime into mid-july to sort out. THATS how you get back into a game!
5 minutes later, the U’s spurn a great chance to go ahead. Bolt plays the ball into Brown, who lays it back into the path of the midfielder who skips away from a defender and with the goal at his mercy overruns the ball and the chance is gone.
The U’s keep coming and a great little run from Brown gets him some space on the left. He delivers a cross towards the back post, aimed at Watson who has lost his marker. But the Sutton frontman delivers a poor header & he clears the bar by some way.
Aldershot come back and start to come more & more into the match in the last 15 minutes. First Ribolla somehow keeps out a point blank effort after the ball is pulled back from the byeline and then straight after, a ball over the top catches out the defence completely. The ‘Shots 11 races into the box, skips round Ribolla and looks certain to score, but Patsy pops up and clears up again, hooking the ball off the line.
But the prize for worst miss of the day belongs to the Aldershot No14. A great low cross in from the left finds him 6 yards out and only a half decent touch would do. Sadly he only gets a quarter decent touch and slices wide of the mark.
Soon after a big cheer goes up at the far end. Which can mean only one thing. Canvey have failed to beat Billericay. To add to the moment, a red naval flare is set off in the Securicor terrace to mark the occasion. A late header is put over the U’s bar, but it’s all academic as the final whistle signals the visitors promotion to the Conference. And a 3rd consecutive runners up sport for Canvey and Mr King’s wallet. Oh dear!
We watch some of the post-match celebrations on the pitch and the presentations before ambling off back to the boozer for some relaxed Bank Holiday drinky poo’s. With some entertainment supplied in the form of an SMS from a source telling us K’s can only manage a 1-1 draw with long since relegated Hampton.
Good job they’ve not got a cup final coming up eh?
MAN OF THE MATCH : Danny Bolt. Was everywhere today.
ENTERTAINMENT : 7. Some decent footy despite the pitch.
TEAM : Ribolla, Brooker, Palmer, Hodges, Hamlin, Corbett, Akuamouah, Bailey, Bolt, Watson, Brown. SUBS : Beale, Honey, Gray. Drew.
THE REFEREE’S………about 15 years old! But, actually had a decent game. One or two strange decisions, naturally, but apart from that, quite a good performance. So, they’re not ALL complete morons.