SURREY SENIOR CUP FINAL Att: 775
KINGSTONIAN – 1 [Steele 90] SUTTON UNITED – 2 [Palmer 25. Watson 46]
“….to lift the Surrey Cup, we were there, we were there!”
The U’s rounded off a largely enjoyable campaign with a very overdue and rather satisfying win over our old friends Kingstonian at Imber Court on Wednesday night. And with the U’s having already finished a solid 5 places & 10 points above the hoopy ones, the question was, could they make up that obvious gulf in class tonight in the big show? Don’t be so bloody daft.
Being a cup final and being quite close to my workplace, an early leave to allow for some decent pre-match refreshment was arranged, nay required. As such, I bowl into the Wimbledon Hogshead to find the rest of the gang already in attendance. Jules, Bob, Gareth and Big Paul (aka ‘Nick the Greek’) are all well into their half-day piss ups, the lucky bastards. Looks like yours truly has got some catching up to do!
Some bevvies later, it’s time for a change of scenery and we head for Thames Ditton to continue our pre-match festivities. Picking up a couple of other U’s fans along the way who decide to tag along for the ride (or should that be crawl?) round the hostelries of this quaint little town. First stop is the George & Dragon, then it’s onto the Swan right next to the river. Nice pub, shame the beer was so bad, with Bob depositing the best part of half a pint straight into the Thames! We of course immediately scarper to the Red Lion before we get nicked by the environmental agency for Bob’s toxic waste dumping.
As we settle outside the pub, Mr Chalmers (late as usual!) rolls up to join us. Thankfully though, he’s got his motor and we
threaten persuade him that making two shuttle runs to the ground and giving us all a lift is a really really great idea. Like a mug good chap, he falls for this load of bollocks agrees to this amazing plan and he sets off with his first load of merry passengers. Meanwhile, the remaining drinkers, Myself, Gareth & the Greek decide to get a few quick shorts in to finish off with whilst we await our ride’s retun. Sadly we’re rudely interrupted soon after by Chalmers calling to announce that there’s tons of traffic on the run down to the ground & it would be an idea to start walking. Bugger!
We meet him coming back the other way a few minutes later and race for the ground, getting parked up and ambling up to the turnstiles with easily 10 minutes to spare. Now here’s the part where I’d like to thank the Surrey FA for only having one fucking turnstile open and kicking the match off dead on 7.30 despite ourselves & at least 100-150 other fans still being outside the ground at that point. Cheers lads! Thus I must give my apologies that the early part of this report might be a tad vague as I didn’t get into the ground until a good 5 mins after the start. Sorry!
Another oddity here was the announced crowd of 775. What did they do? Stop bloody counting the people coming in dead on 7.30? It’s certainly the first time I’ve heard a match attendance announced that early, let alone before I’ve even got into the ground!
On the pitch, the U’s side welcomes back Tommy Dunn in goal after his lay off and has Matt Gray gets a start up front with Mark Watson. Thankfully, Danny Brooker is present, wearing a bandage on his head to protect the 6 stitches he picked up on Saturday against Braintree, so we’re pretty sorted squad wise.
As we wander around the ground to take our spot behind the goal, we witness K’s first(ish) attack. A cross from the left finds Sills in the box, but his header flies across goal and wide of the far post. The U’s response isn’t far away and a good run from Bolt takes him deep into the opposition half. His low cross from the left side zips across the face of goal, with no-one in an Amber shirt there to put it away sadly. Honours even early doors then.
The hoopy ones seem to have settled slightly better and are moving the ball well, exerting pressure on the Sutton defence. 10 minutes in and a free-kick from our right finds a K’s man unmarked in the box. His thumping 1st time shot flashes across the box and again is wide of Dunn’s upright. The possession they’re enjoying doesn’t mean we’re completely out of it though. We again reply rapidly, with Bailey heading a left wing cross back across the area, but Gray’s shot from this is well wide of the mark, much like everything else so far tonight. Bailey & Gray combine again after 14 minutes, Nick’s run from deep and pass putting Gray free in the box, but his cross is cut out at the expense of a corner.
K’s then have 2 good chances to take the lead inside 5 minutes. First a cross from the U’s left again finds a hoopy head in the box. The ball drops to another Kingston man, his shot from 10 yards beats Dunn, but not ex-K Eddie Akuamouah on the line and the stand in left back clears the danger. Then after 22 minutes, a very quick break down the left catches the U’s out. The ball in finds Sills, again his header is close, but once again it’s wide of the target.
With almost half an hour played, K’s are left to rue those missed opportunities as the U’s edge ahead. A good ball in is punched clear by Jones, but at the expense of a corner. Bolt puts in an outswinger from the right towards the back post. Ryan Palmer is the target and his header loops towards goal. It looks like straightforward catch for the young K’s ‘keeper. But Bailey pops up in front of him trying his utmost to get a touch on the ball. He doesn’t need to. His effort is enough to take Jones eye off the ball for a split second and he can only help Patsy’s header into the roof of the net to give Sutton the lead and send us lot behind the goal a bit mad.
Within a couple of minutes, Gray misses a great chance to double that advantage. Darting onto Bolt’s free-kick from the right, he powers a stooping header just inches wide of the mark. Kingston then set about trying to claw the goal back with the time left until the break. Their best chance of doing so comes on 39 minutes. Another set-piece from the left is floated in, but once more, despite a hooped shirt getting up highest, the effort is again off target, narrowly over Dunn’s crossbar this time.
The last act of the half comes from Phil Wingfield, who having made good progress down our left, cuts in across the face of goal and skies a terrible shot miles over the bar when well placed. Cheers Phil! At the break, we take a stroll round to the opposite end, naturally with smug looking smiles on our faces. The K’s contingent don’t seem too pleased though with proceedings so far. Funny that.
Their managers response is to make a change at half time to try and shake things up, although whatever his new game plan was to be, it’s dumped royally on it’s arse within 60 seconds of the restart. That pesky ex-K, Akuamouah harries his opposite number out of the ball just inside the K’s half. Recently, as he’s been a little cautious in this ‘wing-back’ position, we’ve not seen much of him taking opponents on. Well he makes up for it now, as he skips past one challenge and then a second before whipping a fast low ball into the penalty area. Watson charges in to meet it and holding off his marker, from 10 yards out and a couple of yards beyond the near post, slams the ball into the top near corner, sending us wild with delight on the terracing behind. It’s his 100th goal in a Sutton shirt as well and quite frankly couldn’t have come at a better time. 2-0, we’re cooking now lads!
K’s response isn’t long in coming, with a move through the middle putting Wingfield through in the box, but as before with their finishing, the ball hits the advertising boards behind the goal rather than the back of the net as the veteran wide man slips his shot wide of the mark. But, to be fair, they keep coming. 53 minutes played and an attach down the Sutton right flank, ends with a cross which Sills heads down towards the back post. A hooped shirt pops up, looking to despatch the opportunity, but Danny Brooker throws himself into the path of the shot to deflect it over the bar for a corner and keep the sheet clean.
United go close just before the hour with another good flash of football. A quick pass finds Akuamouah on the left, he plays a 1-2 with Bolt and races for the byeline, delivering a great hanging cross into the box. Watson pulls away from his man and Jones can only watch as the big striker powers down a header down a gnats chuff wide of his far post.
Dean Hamlin leaves the field on a stretcher soon after, seemingly suffering from a back injury, but we have a ready made replacement in Darren Beale to fill the gap, so no one’s unduly worried about the effect this will have on the side. Watson then goes on one of his stumbling, bulldozer like runs on 65 minutes, ploughing past 2 challenges before pulling his shot wide of the near post.
This proves to be Sutton’s best spell of the match and a third goal looks likely. But the closest they get is a free-kick that Danny Bolt (who else?) belts low across the face of goal with no less than 3 U’s men sliding in, all failing to get that final vital touch. However, with the U’s having come into the match with some fitness doubts, it’s no surprise that we lose first Brooker and then Paul Honey to knocks, both hobble off replaced by Brown and Hanlan respectively. Their loss seems to upset our rhythm and for the last 15, K’s largely take over affairs and desperately try to claw their way back into the match.
First Dunn has to be on his toes, tipping away a dangerous looking cross from the left. Then he can only look on as a cross from the right soon after is deflected to an unmarked Kingstonian player, but for the umpteenth time this evening, the finishing is shite and he pulls his effort across goal and wide of the target when anything on goal would surely have halved the defecit.
The hoopy horrors keep pressing and inside the last 5 minuets, their night is summed up when a well delivered free-kick is headed over by ex-Scummer, Matt Elverson when very well placed right in front of goal. It’ just ain’t your night lads!
By this point we’re all gearing up for some celebrating and most of us are now offloading useless loose items such as mobiles and wallets into our bags and jacket pockets in time for the customary full time pitch invasion. But we’re made to wait for the magic moment as the ref deems it necessary to play nine bloody minutes on top of the usual ninety. Bastard! Do us a favour mate, they’ve missed loads tonight, we’ll be here til Christmas at this rate waiting for that lot to score!
As it happens, we’re not waiting until Christmas. In the 99th minute of play, a silly free-kick is conceded in a central position, around 25 yards out. Scott Steele lines it up and curls a wonderful effort around the Sutton wall, past Dunn and in off the post. 2-1, but surely too little too late?
Ok ref, NOW you can blow you sodding whistle!! To our relief, this is practically the last kick he duly peeps his last and we duly pile over the barriers to greet our victorious heroes and celebrate ending the season with a pot. It’s about bloody time we beat this lot too!
After the usual ‘losers first’ formalities, the Sutton boys collect their medals and lastly, our captain and ex-K, Scott Corbett holds aloft our 15th County cup to round off the season on a high. With a quick ridiculous ‘team’ pic later for the drunken mob in front of Jones now vacated goal to mark the occasion, we then all pile back into the available transportation, heading back to the Robin Hood en masse for the last time after a game this season and, quite possibly, one or two celebratory drinkypoos.
Be rude not to.
MAN OF THE MATCH : Mark Watson. That rather timely 100th goal gets him this one!
ENTERTAINMENT : 8. An entertaining end to end cup final. And the result helps……..a bit.
TEAM : Dunn, Palmer, Brooker, Hamlin, Akuamouah, Bailey, Corbett, Honey, Bolt, Gray, Watson. SUBS : Ribolla, Beale, Hanlan, Brown
THE REFEREE’S………oh we can’t be bothered!!! He was alright I suppose. Apart from those 9 sodding extra minutes at the end! Whats wrong mate? Watch stopped??? Still, we won, can’t complain!