RYMAN PREMIER DIVISION
SUTTON UNITED – 2 [OG 59.88]
MAIDENHEAD UNITED – 2 [O’Connor 40. Allen 65]
Having fallen foul of the stunning footballing wizardry* of Canvey on saturday, it was the visit of Maidenhead that gave us a chance to renew our chase for third spot.
*- This statement may or may not be entirely true…..
Now, I’ve got a tiny little soft spot for the ‘Magpies’ I have to admit. For it was they who finally relieved the Bobbins of their Premier Division place a couple of seasons back. A feat for which I reckoned that we should have presented them with the key to our town. A special commemorative dinner or at the very least, a nice little plaque.
Sadly, no one listens to me.
I meet Bob wandering Hood-wards, munching on the remains of his KFC. Gareth joins us soon after. With the tradition of the pre-match bevvy (or two!) immaculately observed it’s the usual wander down the road for the stuff that usually interrupts our enjoyment of the warm insides of a public house. The football.
The side is again subject to some tinkering tonight. Dean Hamlin is not selected, we assume this is so he can play in the Ressies cup final tomorrow night. Danny Brooker moves into his slot. Corbett moves into defence and Paul Honey is back in the centre.
It’s the visitors who make the best start. Moving the ball quickly and with purpose. Within 4 minutes, Dunn is called into action. A Maidenhead man gets to the byeline & pulls the ball back. Dunn stoops to collect, but the ball somehow gets loose. It’s knocked clear to the edge of the box where a snap shot finds the side netting.
The same path creates another chance after 11 minutes. Another good run & cross from the right causes problems. But the ball in is too high for the striker in the box and Eddie clears up at the expense of a corner.
The visitors keep up the pressure and 5 minutes later, the U’s defence does it’s backing off act again, allowing a strike from just outside the box. To complicate matters, it deflects up off Hodges & loops goalwards. Thankfully Tommy is on his toes and claims the ball from under his cross bar. Sutton finally get a sight of goal around 20 minutes in when Watson chests down a right wing pass from Brooker into the path of Bolt, but his strike is over the bar.
Straight after, the second chance comes! Bolt makes a great turn in the centre of the park and sets off on a run that takes him to the edge of the oppo box before touching it to his right for Bailey, but his shot is deflected over. From the resulting corner, Bolt swings the ball to the back post where Palmer nods it back into the danger area. Watson reacts first inside the 6 yard box, but his header lacks the power to beat the man on the line and he blocks before clearing.
The U’s are largely struggling to get going though and it’s still the ‘magpies’ who have by far the better of the play. Nervy defending doesn’t help either. 27 minutes on the clock and a ball into the area has Dunn & Hodges leaving it for each other. The striker nips in, but can’t guide his effort on target and shoots across the face of goal.
Still the visitors are on top. A very deep cross from the right drifts into the box. Dunn comes to punch, but misses and the Maidenhead man sneaking in behind him can only put his header into the side netting. A little bit of skill on the right from Bailey gets him in, but no one can apply the finishing touch to his pulled back ball into the box.
With 5 minutes to the break, a great free-kick finally breaks the deadlock. But this one doesn’t come from Mr Bolt’s left boot for a change. Nope, this one is delivered by O’Connor, in a black & white striped shirt. A foul a good 25 yards out results in a cracking strike that zips up over the wall and finds the top right hand corner of Dunns net. Knackers.
The U’s response is immediate. Within a minute Bailey gets free down the left, swinging a dangerous cross in towards the far post. There are Amber shirts queueing up for it, but Watson jumps highest, powering in a header from around 2-3 yards out. Somehow though, he finds the inside of the upright. The ball runs loos to the back post where Akuamouah snatches at the chance and rather than tap it in, lashes wildly away from the target.
So half time and seeing as it’s a nice warm evening, we wander round to the far end, forgoing the usual trip to the bar.
The second half starts a little better for Sutton than the first and 4 minutes in, Bolt gets to the byeline. His cross is just cleared, but headed straight back in by Bailey. Unfortunately, Brooker just can’t gwet onto the ball in.
Tommy gives us a bit of a scare shortly after when a huge goal kick bounces inside his box. He calls for it, but seems to misjudge the bounce and with a ‘Magpies’ forward prowling, ends up heading it out for a corner! Sutton are then make a couple of swift changes to try & lift the tempo. The introduction of the lively Craig Brown helps a lot. And just short of the hour, we’re level.
Bolt puts one of those free-kicks into the area from out by the right hand touchline. The delivery is good but picks out not a U’s shirt, but the Maidenhead No6, Jeffery who guides a perfect back header beyond the ‘keeper and just inside the post! Cheers mate, very decent of you!
Again, this fires us up and once more within a minute, we have another opportunity. Of course it’s Bolty doing the damage. A free-kick (what else!) from the right hand corner of the box, he thumps it in straight at the ‘keeper, but his save drops to Matt Gray who can’t quite convert the rebound, nodding wide of the post.
But after 54 minutes another lightning quick break by the visitors tears through the U’s defence. A ball from left to right finds Allen in acres of space, of course he draws out Dunn and finishes low to Tommy’s left. Bollocks. Back to square one then!
The U’s keep going, but as with saturday the final touch or pass just isn’t quite up to scratch. We’re relying mainly on Danny Bolt’s set piece prowess. One low blast from 20yards forcing a good save from the ‘keeper with his legs.
71 minutes gone and a U’s corner breaks down and 3 passes later Tommy is saving at the feet of a Maidenhead forward inside his 6 yard box.
The U’s are managing to make a bit more of an impression following their subs and Matt Gray, now back out on the right gets one great cross into the box. Bailey gets up and loops a header in on goal, but the ‘keeper makes the catch on his line.
But, just as it’s looking like the points are heading back with the visitors, we manage to rescue a draw with a somewhat bizarre goal!
Craig Brown skins his man down the right, legging into acres of space. His cross picks out Bailey and this time his header beats the ‘keeper, looping over him and thumping the face of the bar. It bounces straight up into the air and the ‘keeper adjusts to deal with the danger. But he completely misjudges the ball, missing his punch and allowing the ball to bounce back down on the goal-line. With Hanlan now closing in for the kill, he panics and only succeeds in prodding the ball over the line where Matt follows in just to be sure!
Bloody hell, they’re a charitable lot in Maidenhead.
Of course, having got out of jail, we then go close to winning it. A pass finds Bailey in on the left, he puts the ball into the danger area. But it evades everyone before Gray arrives at the back post, lashing a volley into the side netting. Rats!
So, we manage a point. And with the way we’d performed, we were pretty pleased with that! Well ,at least it makes the beer taste that bit better back in the pub.
Here we get to watch Nick the Greek Paul & Chalmers playing the fruit machine and losing. The last time I saw people that mesmerised by flashing lights and sounds was a few weeks back when I watched ‘Close Encounters of the Third Kind’ on the telly.
MAN OF THE MATCH : Craig Brown. Excellent when he came on.
ENTERTAINMENT : 7. Worth watching for the visitors attacking display if not much else….
TEAM : Dunn, Brooker, Palmer, Hodges, Corbett, Akuamouah, Honey, Bailey, Bolt, Watson, Gray.
SUBS : Brown, Hanlan, Beale
THE REFEREE’S………not bad. Didn’t do much wrong anyway!