RYMAN PREMIER DIVISION
CHESHAM UNITED – 2 [Douglas 5. Fewings 86]
SUTTON UNITED – 0
The problem with being so generous and giving away lavish gifts is that every Boreham, Chesham & Heybridge you meet expects the same treatment. They all want those points we’re handing out left right and centre. And let’s face it, who are we to disappoint?
Now a couple of weeks ago, we were getting our hopes up of having some say in the destiny of the league title as our little end of season interest. Well, as it turns out, we were sort of right. We let Canvey have 3 points and then hosted Aldershot’s promotion party 2 weeks later. And that’s about as ‘involved’ as we got! “Never mind” I thought, having completely not learned my lesson, “maybe we can still have a say in the relegation issues!” Little did I realise that this would also no doubt involve giving points away to 2 key strugglers without so much as lifting a finger in response. Shoulda seen it coming really.
Annoyingly, this was our third midweek trip to Chesham this season following the Bryco Cup ‘burglary’ debacle and the subsequent replay (which I skipped thank god). Heading back out to Bucks, our hopes were not high of an improvement on Saturday’s poor showing, especially given our hosts were in need of points near the bottom of the table.
I think we might need some more wrapping paper. And a bow, a nice big bow.
With some uncertainty about transport into deepest Bucks, it was decided we’d pile up however possible and meet up in Chesham. After another wonderful experience of our capital’s transport facilities, I’m the last to arrive in the pub. Bob, Chalmers & Cathy are already there, with Gareth & Big Paul driving up. A couple of quick pints of ‘Sheepshagger’ later, it’s a brisk stroll through to the ground. We arrive just as the heavens open and unsurprisingly we find the others sheltering under the cover behind the goal from the downpour. Turned out nice again!
The line up for tonight is again fiddled with. Drew returns to the Bench, Matt Gray comes back in on the right and Hamlin is missing. Hanlan comes in to partner Watson and Brown drops into midfield. Tonight’s hosts, like Boreham Wood on saturday are fighting for their lives at the bottom, but also like Wood, their record is poor. 1 win in their last 14 says all you need to know. Still, they’ve not played us in that time!
Still, it’s Chesham who start the brightest. With the rain falling steadily to make the surface fast & slick, Ribolla has to get down quickly to parry a low swerving shot after just a couple of minutes at the expense of a corner. The U’s win a free-kick at the other end soon after. Bolt delivering, aiming for Watson in the box. But the Chesham no3 manages to just head clear from in front of the U’s striker.
The home side get straight up the other end and win a corner. Delivered from the right, the defence fails to clear and after a bit of head tennis, it’s nodded on to the back post where Douglas is lurking. He has the simple task of nudging the ball past the oncoming Ribolla with his forehead. Not the greatest of starts I think you’ll agree.
We hit back and 5 minutes later, a great run into space down the right by Brown ends with a great cross into the box. It evades the marked Watson at the near post, but finds the unmarked Hanlan right behind him. Matty seems a bit surprised the ball has made it that far and can only direct a snap-header straight at the ‘keeper from around 6 yards out.
A corner just short of the 20 minute mark is our next chance, swung into the middle, it’s cleared only as far as the edge of the area. Bailey nods it back into the danger area where Watson challenges the ‘keeper, casuing him to fumble the ball. But where a few weeks ago, someone would have snapped up the loose ball or at least made an issue of it, there’s no one anywhere near and the danger is cleared.
Chesham come again and shortly after, a cutting move down our right flank takes an attacker to the byeline. A low ball if cracked across the 6 yard box, but Douglas arrives a shade too late and the angle is too great. His shot ending up high & wide.
By & large, we struggle to make any real impression on the game and it’s the occasionally ropey defending of our hosts that gives us the best hope. A corner in the 34th minute zipping into the box. The ‘keeper misses out and again there’s no-one to get the telling touch.
Craig Brown then joins our growing injury list, hobbling off with what appears to be a dead leg. Honey replaces him. That’s not to say our own defending is anything near first class. At least when the ball is delivered into their final third, it’s disposed of as quickly and with as little fuss as possible. We’re a little more ragged. With half time approaching, a long ball forwards is aimed right at Palmer. An easy take! Wrong! The ball skids off the surface, under his foot and plays in Douglas who just happened to be hanging about. Thankfully Ribolla reacts quickly and manages to just clear the ball before the nippy striker can reach it.
The last real action of the half almost brings an unexpected equaliser. After some build up on the left, Akuamouah puts the ball into the box. Bailey nips in, takes it on his chest and bearing down on goal draws out the ‘keeper. But he seems to delay his strike for a split second and that gives a defender and John in the Chesham goal time to react in combination and block his shot.
At the break we decide against the bar in case we’re robbed and wander down the opposite end to await the second half.
It’s slow getting going after the restart, but the home side have the first real chance after 56 minutes. A free-kick from our right is played across the face of the box. The shot is off the mark, but deflects straight to Douglas. Again, Jamie is quick off his line and blocks the snap shot with an excellent stop.
Soon after a free-kick, again on the right is played into the box. A Chesham man lunges in to make contact. This takes the ball away from the dive of Ribolla, but he’s relieved to see the ball bounce back off the foot of his far post and Palmer make the clearance.
Then, next for the now groaning treatment table is Danny Bolt. Also suffering what looks like a dead leg from a challenge. Beale comes into the action as his replacement. He’s soon making his mark, goin in the book for a rather wild lunge.
A rare foray forwards again almost brings a goal for Sutton, but not quite. Hanlan flicks on a ball forwards for Watson, who makes his way into the box before slipping the ball across the 18 yard box for the supporting Akuamouah. But just as Eddie is about to pull the trigger with the goal at his mercy, a defender slides in to make a last ditch tackle, nicking the ball off his boot.
Another shot on target comes just after the hour, a strong run from Bailey from the left ends in a weak strike straight at John.
The home side have much the better of the latter stages, looking much more likely to score. Our performance steadily deteriorates (if that’s at all possible!) as the passing becomes more ragged and our long balls forward become more and more aimless.
Inside the last 10 minutes, a very rare attack forward from Gray takes him to the byeline where he somehow wriggles past his man. But his low-ish cross is cut out by John at the near post. Within a minute, it’s game over. A swift attack cuts right through the midfield and a pass into the right corner of the box picks out Fewings. His thumping drive beats the dive of Ribolla and hits the top corner.
Erm, you can blow up now ref, we’d really like to go home now please.
Fat chance of that, he then really turns the knife and tortures us with several minutes of injury time before we can amble out into the car park and our lift home. To the Hood Mr Miller. And be quick about it!
Joyously, the roads are clear and we manage to reach the local before closing and throw down a couple of beers to help alleviate the mild end of season depression that still lingers. Oh well, one game to go and then it’s the cup final.
Come on lads. Lets finish this season off on a bloody high eh?
MAN OF THE MATCH : I’d say us, for turning up to watch this crap.
ENTERTAINMENT : 2. Really really bad! Again!
TEAM : Ribolla, Brooker, Palmer, Gray, Corbett, Brown, Akuamouah, Bailey, Bolt, Watson, Hanlan.
SUBS : Beale, Honey, Drew.