PRE SEASON FRIENDLY
WHYTELEAFE – 0
SUTTON UNITED – 2 [Palmer 2. Bailey 15]
Along with the Molesey game, another almost-permanent-fixture of a Sutton United pre-season programme is a trip to the pleasant, leafy surroundings of Whyteleafe’s Chruch Lane ground. Recent visits have met with mixed results. And win or lose a crap season generally follows.
For example, we played here before the Conference season (oops!) and the 2 subsequently dreadful years back in the Ryman (D’oh!).
Now guess where we didn’t visit last season? Thats right………Whyteleafe.
But you’d be a fool and a football supporter to draw any kind of conclusion from that. Ahem. Errrrr, John, can we have a word??
Still, this fails to deter lunatics such as ourselves from attending. The usual dash from work for a Tuesday night, I wind up in Whyteleafe a bit earlier than I expect. Better hit the local for a bevvy then! I’m surprised not to find any of the other pissheads in the Tavern. Strange!
Beer necked, I’m soon in the ground & find Gareth at the Tea bar. Being ever the gentleman, he stands me a cup of PG, requiring industrial strength asbestos gloves to hold it. Belly appears soon after and Chalmers then calls. To his relief, it’s a quarter to 8 kick off meaning he won’t miss much as he’s running late. Which doesn’t happen often…….ahem! No sign of Bob though. We assume he’s in the bar.
The U’s are almost exactly as per saturday with only Fowler replacing Forrester up front. We later hear Scotty is suffering from a bit of a dead leg and is being rested.
Sutton start in a lively manner and with their first serious attack, stun the home side by taking the lead. Gray wins an early free-kick out on the right. Bolt does the honours, swinging the ball into the box. His ball picks out Watson, who forces a good stop from Rose in the ‘leafe goal with a diving header. He can’t hold onto the effort and the ball is loose at the back post. Palmer seizes his chance and thumps the ball back towards the goal. Rose blocks it, but only succeeds in diverting it into the back of his own net.
Not a bad start that.
The home side respond immediately and Gonsalves has to be on his toes to head clear a dangerous cross from the left. Sutton continue to play the ball around well and Bolt creates an opening for Fowler with a wonderful ball from the centre out to the right. But Matty elects to thump it on the the volley rather than bring it down. His effort is high and well wide. 8 minutes in, a Danny Bolt corner from the right picks out Hodges at the back stick, but he’s not able to direct his header to any great effect and Rose claims it.
The home side are playing their part, moving the ball around well. But their defence is not beng quite so efficient. And with 15 minutes played, they’re pulled apart by a sweeping move.
Bolt takes a quick free-kick from out by the left touchline. Delivering it with great accuracy to Matt Gray in acres of space on the far side. Matty’s first touch matches the quality of the pinpoint pass, taking it down first time. Gray attacks the defender in front of him, making some space before cracking a swerving low ball into the box with pace. From around 8 yards out, Nick Bailey pops up from nowhere, completely unmarked and taking advantage of the slippery surface, stylishly slides in to prod the ball between the now unbalanced Rose and his near post and make it 2-0.
We don’t really press the advantage and not much really happens for a while, until around the half hour mark, when Whyteleafe win a free-kick on our right. The ball finds it’s way just beyond the back post and is headed back goalwards. Thankfully, Nick Bailey is there to nod it off the line and Ryan Palmer does enough to block the follow up shot and send it dipping just over the crossbar. The U’s response takes a few minutes to arrive. Another sweeping ball from left to right by Bolt finds Gray again. He runs at the defender, steps inside him and thumps in a shot from around 20 yards that flashes just wide thanks to the aid of a slight deflection.
With a couple of minutes to the break, ‘Leafe blow their best chance so far. A ball in from our left leads to poor communication between Patsy & Davis, with the defender hooking the ball away from the ‘keeper. With Davis now stranded at his near post, the loose ball drops to an unmarked Whyteleafe player just inside the 18 yard box. Sadly, with the goal at his mercy, he heads over the target.
The home side come out firing at the start of the second half, with 2 early chances.
Firstly a fine run down our right ends in a shot from a narrow angle which Davis has to beat away. Then another attack & cross from the right presents a free-header in the box. But Patsy intercepts it before it can trouble Davis and thumps it clear upfield.
Oh the hour, Bolt breaks down the right, skips a scything challenge and fires an effort goalwards from an angle. The ball is deflected up by a covering defender and with Watson looking for any scraps, Rose in the Whyteleafe goal manages to gather the ball at the second attempt. Not long after it’s Corbett down the right creating the opening. He puts a cross to the back post where Akuamouah is waiting. But Eddie can’t get a shot away and instead makes himself enough room to put the ball back towards the other side. He picks out Bailey unmarked a couple of yards out, but Nicks downwards header is the wrong side of the upright.
Another good chance comes & goes for the home side. A free-kick on the left corner of our box. It’s swung low around the wall whilst the U’s defence is still organising and with Davis stranded in the middle of his goal, Danny Hodges has read the dnager and stoops to head the ball clear off the line at the far post.
A swift break down the left by Bolt on 68 minutes ends with a hung cross to the back stick, where once again Bailey is waiting. Again though, his effort disappoints. The diving header flying straight across the face of goal and into the hands of the grateful Rose.
Going into the last 15 minutes, Bolt & Honey combine for a short corner that Danny whips into the box. Hodges dives in at the near post, producing a great save from Rose who tips the ball onto the top of the bar. ‘Leafe again make progress down the U’s right flank in the 81st minute, the blistering low cross flashing along the byeline, past Davis & out the other side with no-one getting a touch.
But towards the last few minutes, it’s the U’s who create the chances. 3 minutes from time, Corbett puts in a solid challenge on the halfway line before sweeping the ball down the channel. Watson sprints clear of his marker and drawing Rose off his line fires a shot across him and just wide of the far post. Watso is in again right at the death, heading a Bolt/Hamlin short corner powerfully down, but straight at Rose.
We head off to the Hood for our usual last knockings bevvy, again encouraged by another solid display. Ok, so we’ve still got a bit to do but winning is a good habit to get into. Besides, we only need to finish in the top 13 for this new Conference thingy they’re doing next season.
Even we can do that……can’t we?
TEAM : Davis, Palmer, Hodges, Gonsalves, Gray, Akuamouah, Rogers, Bailey, Bolt, Fowler, Watson. SUBS : Corbett, Hamlin, Honey