RYMAN PREMIER DIVISION
SUTTON UNITED – 3 [Watson 3. Bailey 84.87]
BRAINTREE TOWN – 1 [Cobb p51]
Wow. Last league game of the season already? Bloody hell…..
My my, hasn’t time flown. It really only seems like a couple of weeks ago that we were wandering into a friendly against Molesey, contemplating another horrible season ahead of us! But, thanks to some outstanding performances from the youngsters and helped along by the older lads such as Bolt, Watson, Brooker, Hodges & Palmer we’ve come through it pretty much unscathed and played some bloody good football at times too.
Today’s visitors are Braintree, who themselves have had a bit of a rough old season, but they’ve managed to secure their premier place for next season already and come to GGL with little more than pride to play for. We meanwhile, with a win, can snatch 5th place if Basingstoke fail to get a result. So hopefully the boys will be switched on again after those 2 dreadful performances last week.
My usual saturday pre-match routine is thrown in to chaos when lettering for our big fuck off St George flag fails to materialise in the post. Oh arse. There follows a good hours worth of fruitless wandering around in Sutton to try & find an alternative supply. By the time I arrive in the Hood, I’m absolutely gagging for a pint! Oscar, Gareth & Big Paul are all already there, supping away. No Bob though. Ritual observed, it’s the totter down Collingwood Road for the last time this season.
The U’s see the return of Hamlin in the defence. Tommy Dunn is still missing with Ribolla continuing between the sticks. Apart from that, it’s pretty much “as you were”. As we head for our places on the Shoebox, Braintree attack straight from the kick-off up the middle of the field. Ribolla has to be alert and makes a low save to his left. I’m then lumbered with getting progs for everyone (but I’m doing the report you bastards!), thankfully I make it back to my spot just in time to see the U’s go ahead after 3 minutes.
A foray by Akuamouah down the left is shut out, but the ball breaks loose to Bolt just inside the left side of the 18 yard box. He turns inside a defender and delivers a floated ball to the back post where Mark Watson is waiting to head his 99th goal in a Sutton shirt. He doesn’t miss.
A few minutes later, the visitors defence provides us with some mild amusement when high ball into the box is met by a defender who rather than chesting the ball back to his ‘keeper, chests it past him! Sadly the ball lacks any pace and matey gets back and hoofs clear a couple of yards from the line.
Sutton are having the better of the early exchanges and after 15 minutes, Bolt plays a sweeping ball to Akuamouah on the left. He comes inside the full back and plays a low ball into the box. Hanlan manages to get a touch onto the ball, helping it on towards Watson, but a defender manages to get a foot in and blocks out our No10.
A minute later, Braintree manage their second attack. A free-kick from our left is met with a header straight at Ribolla. But Jamie fumbles and the loose ball has to be twatted out for a corner by Palmer. Jamie atones for his mistake from the corner, making a diving save to keep out an effort at the near post.
The match then falls into a rut for a good 15 minutes or so where neither side can really get hold of the ball and do anything with it. But after 34 minutes, it’s the visitors who manage to produce something. A pass through the right side of our defence lets in a Braintree man. He lofts the ball high over the advancing Ribolla and as is drops to wards the back post, Mr Reliable, Ryan Palmer is there again to get us out of the poop. Hooking the ball clear to safety. Although I’m not 100% convinced it was on it’s way in.
Sutton’s response takes around 4 minutes to materialise. A ball over the Braintree defence sets Bolt on his way down the left. His low ball in is cut out for a corner. Which he delivers to the back post. It evades everyone but Palmer and he knocks it back into the danger area. Where it finds Watson. With his 100th goal possibly on his mind, he goes for the spectacular! But his overhead-kick flies the wrong side of the upright. Never mind Watso. Save it ‘til wednesday night mate!
With half-time upon us, a late set-piece almost doubles our lead. Hanlan puts Bolt in down the left and his cross is tipped away for a corner by the ‘keeper. Bolt then swings the resulting flag-kick to the edge of the 18 yard box, where Nick Bailey thumps a volley just over the crossbar.
We hit the bar for some scores and find the travelling support enjoying a half-time drink. Well, we think they’re the away fans. Most of their loud singing involves praise of “Glenn Hoddle’s Blue & White Army”
Hmmmmm! Oh well, at least Paul & Gareth get on well with ‘em.
Back with the footy and Braintree set about trying to reduce the defecit from the restart. Again in the first minute of the half Ribolla is in action, saving with his legs from close range after a pass has opened up the Sutton defence.
The U’s are soon back on the attack and Watson is still looking for his century. A Bailey flick on sends the striker free into the box. He cuts back, but his low cross is cut out before it can reach Hanlan.
After 53 minutes though, Braintree are thrown a lifeline from practically nothing. A cross comes in from the left and flies across the box. Then the ref blows and points to the spot! Eh?
We can only assume he’s seen a push or something, but the lack of any kind of an appeal from their players or fans says all we need to know. Our old adversary, Paul Cobb places the ball and tucks it past Ribolla’s outstretched hand and into the bottom corner.
The U’s pick up the pace & take charge of the match. Bailey plays to Bolt on the right who then slides a great ball in for Watson. He has only one thing on his mind and thats his century! Going for goal, he ignores the unmarked Hanlan in the middle. But his shot from a rather narrow angle is blocked out by the ‘keeper. The ball runs loose to the edge of the box where Bailey pops up and fires straight back in. It’s deflected through a crowd and finds it’s way back to Watson. Whether he’s surprised by this or something, I don’t know, but he only manages to prod the ball wide of the post.
We keep on coming though and Gray is introduced to try & inject some life into our play. He’s involved almost immediately, Bolt whipping in a cross from the right that he just fails to reach. A couple of minutes later and he’s combining on the left with Eddie before putting a great ball into the box that finds Hamlin sneaking in at the back post. But the young defender can’t quite get his header on target.
77 minutes on the clock and a great ball down the left sets Hamlin on his way. He holds off a defender to get to the byeline and thumps a low cross towards the back stick, where Gray races in but can’t quite get hold of the ball and the ‘keeper has a simple save to make.
Going into the last 10 minutes, the Sutton pressure continues with a long throw from the left. Hanlan nods it down and Gray hits his effort first time, but a defender gets a foot in and blocks his effort. But not to be denied, with 4 minutes left, Gray pounces on a loose ball around 25 yards out. He turns and runs at the Braintree defence before threading a lovely ball through the retreating defensive line for Nick Bailey to nip onto. He takes a touch, skips away from a defender and slots the ball under the keeper. Woooooooohooooo! About time!
To be fair, rather than accept the result, the visitors push up trying to snatch an equaliser. This proves to be their downfall as with time running out an attack breaks down. A quick ball forwards finds Gray on the halfway line, he turns and immediately feeds Bailey again, bombing on past him into the opposition half. It then turns into a straight sprint for goal with defenders racing back to try & cover. But, Bailey reaches the box first, draws out the ‘keeper, skips round him and slots his shot inside the post. 3-1 and game over.
The ref soon brings things to a close and we clap the lads off after a hard season. But reminding them there’s one more game left on Wednesday.
So, we amble off to the Hood for our final post-Saturday football drink up. Chalmers joins us from his day out from watching Chelsea throw West Ham a huge relegation lifeline (an occasion deemed happy enough for Bob to open a tab behind the bar!) and the usual bullshit is discussed. One of the better ones being a mate of Gareth & Paul joining us and swearing blind that he’d seen ex-boyfriend & popstar, Justin Timberlake. Driving through North Cheam.
What? The ‘Lake’? Our buddy ‘Jus’?
Big fan of the U’s! Obviously saw him on his way to the game. Always joining us for a beer afterwards when he’s not off doing his pop-star stuff.
In fact, if he wasn’t so busy, I’m sure he’d be at Imber Court with the rest of us on Wednesday…..
MAN OF THE MATCH : Matt Gray. Gave us a big kick up the arse when he came on.
ENTERTAINMENT : 6. Not quite like watching Brazil, but a bloody improvement on the last 2!
TEAM : Ribolla, Hamlin, Akuamouah, Palmer, Brooker, Bailey, Bolt, Corbett, Hanlan, Watson, Brown. SUBS : Honey, Beale, Gray
THE REFEREE’S………so so. Didn’t really have a great deal to do, but amazed us all with the penalty award. Wonderfully pointless.