PRE SEASON FRIENDLY
EASTBOURNE BOROUGH – 0
SUTTON UNITED – 2 [Corbett 77. Gray 86]
Aaaah! At long last. A trip to the seaside for some football. Basically an excuse to get completely bollocksed and get up to all sorts of mischief. If we’re lucky. With us not having near a beach in ages for a game and the 2 now legendary Weymouth trips fading into the mists of time, the usual suspects were planning on making the most of this one. Especially as our next opportunity, the trip to Bognor, is scheduled for 5 days before Xmas.
Which brings to mind the phrase ‘postponed’ for some reason.
The travelling party for this one was due to be 6 strong, but with Belly getting his dates wrong (and his missus threatening removal of body parts he’s particularly fond of if he ditched the event he’d double booked with) and Bob being stuck with a private job on the Sunday, it would instead just be the 4 of us running amok in the fair town of Eastbourne that evening.
Things go a bit pete from the start. As is normal for this country, the trains are completely buggered and we finally clamber on a choo-choo originally due for about half 9 at almost half 10. Costing us pretty much an hours supping time. Bastards!
Once in town, we leg it to the hotel we’ve booked and dump our gear before finding a decent watering hole 5 minutes up the road. On the way, Chalmers has his usual “Don’t I know you?” encounter. This time it’s some bloke he deals with for his Sunday footy apparently. We really should call this stuff ‘Chalmers Meets…’. I swear that bloke could be the first man on fucking mars and he’d know one of the locals. “Yeah, that’s Zyzzgr. Nice lad. Worked for Tommy Clarke’s up town”.
Keen to make up for lost time, we decide to stay put in this boozer rather than go traipsing around and chuck a few beers down our heads. Along with a frankly obscenely big portion of steak n ale pie which guarantees we won’t be bothering whoever is running the tea-bar at the ground this afternoon, which given the reputation of football food is probably a good thing for our insides. Now suitably refreshed, it’s time for the usual hour and a half break in our drinking schedule so we can go and watch some footy. Taxi!
Eastbourne’s ground is a nice little setup. Covered on all sides, it’s certainly a place we wouldn’t mind visiting again if they can make it into the DML quota for next season’s Conference South reshuffle. One minor complaint though. The number of places available to attach 18 foot wide flags to is sadly lacking at the clubhouse end. Can we have some hooks or something for next time? Ta!
Unlike the previous 2 friendlies, JR has decided to just bring a basic 14 man squad today, probably feeling that bringing 20 players all this way is a bit silly. Watson is back from his hols though and starts up front with Scott Forrester. Matt Fowler apparently missing due to injury. Good news is, Ryan Palmer lines up for us today. Which probably means he’s not actually off to Farnborough. Maybe.
Things are a little slow to start with, but the lads are soon settling with a Bailey free-kick causing problems and the resulting corner being volleyed over by Rogers. Then Bolt drops a lovely ball over the Boro back four for Forrester, who seems to be pulled back as he shapes to shoot. The ref waving away loud appeals for a penalty. The home side hit back soon after, with Hodges diving to head a dangerous low cross just narrowly beyond the near post for a corner.
With around a quarter of an hour gone, Sutton have their best chance of the match. Forrester gets up well to a ball forwards, flicking on for the lurking Bolt. His first touch takes him away from the defence, leaving him with only the ‘keeper to beat. But unusually, he seems in 2 minds as to what he wants to do and in the end sends a disappointing lob a yard wide of the near post from 12 yards.
A couple of minuets later, Forrester is busy again, hassling a defender out of the ball out on the left. He makes it to the byeline, but rather than pull the ball back to the completely unmarked Watson 6 yards out, he cuts back inside and tries to curl one into the top far corner. Sadly , his effort flies across goal and out for a goalkick.
We continue to keep the pressure on and a Bolt free-kick is hooked back across the box by Watson, giving Akuamouah a clear sight of goal from the edge of the box. But he misjudges the ball and only produces a rather embarrassing air-shot. Ooops! 26 minutes gone and Nick Bailey surges from midfield, bursting into the box and laying the ball into the feet of Forrester, but his weak shot from 8 yards is straight at the ‘keeper.
With half time approaching, Eastbourne manage a brief flurry of activity. First a good ball down our right is thumped just over Davis crossbar and then on the whistle, ex-U John Westcott cracks an effort wide of the mark. So a promising half, but sadly nowt to show for it. Chalmers myself and Nick (the greek variety) head off to the other end to see if we can actually find somewhere to hang about half a ton of flag. Gareth & Bob instead hit the bar.
Well, when I say ‘we’, I actually mean ‘me’. The other lads contribution being no more than half heartedly handing me said flag and making unhelpful comments about it not being straight etc as I clamber amongst the rafters of the covered terracing. Cheers boys.
The second half turns out quieter than the first. But Bailey produces the first opening for the U’s when he robs a defender outside the box about 12 minutes in. His pass wide finds Watson, who then sticks a cross into the box. Forrester is the target and claims the ball, but can’t get a shot away. He lays the ball off for Gray, arriving behind him. But Matty’s drive is just wide of the far post.
Our hosts come back around the hour and have 2 opportunities within a minute. First a ball in from the left isn’t cut out and the resulting shot flies across Davis goal. A corner rapidly follows, also coming in from the left. It evades everyone, except for an Eastbourne attacker at the back post. Fortunately, Davis is on hand to block the shot with his legs. On 71 minutes, some poor communication between Davis & his defence lets in the home side, but the chance is wasted when the cross is headed over the target.
Forrester brings us back into the game with a long range drive straight at the keeper straight after and is involved 5 minutes later when the U’s go ahead with a sublime goal. Scotty makes good progress down the right and several yards from the byeline, lofts a shot ball back to Corbett just inside the edge of the box. Corbs takes the ball down on his chest, before looping a volley over the desperate reach of the ‘keeper and in off the underside of the bar. It’s an absolute belter.
Bloody hell lads. Calm down. It’s not even the end of July yet and we’re knocking in goal of the season contenders already! And that’s before Bolty’s even got going!
The goal knocks the stuffing out of our hosts a little and for the last few minutes are holding off further Sutton attacks. The lively Forrester being the main source. One run to the byeline see’s him pick out Gray in the 6 yard box, but Matty’s shot is blocked. He’s not quite so unlucky a few moments later.
Another Forrester break down the right ends with Scotty whipping a ball into the box and finding Gray once more in the box towards the back post. Matt hooks his shot back across goal and it looks to be sneaking in at the far side when a defender arrives and can only help force it over the line.
All in all a very satisfactory performance and over DML oppo too. Which doesn’t happen very often for us!
A couple of quick snifters in their bar and it’s a cab back into town. Bob heading off for the station, leaving us to try & put as big a dent as possible in the local alcohol supply. First a couple of starters in the ‘Eagle’ accompanies a game of bar billiards, then the local ‘Hogshead’ where yours truly has 3 attempts at getting a half decent bloody pint from those on offer. Clean your fucking lines lads! We’re then forced to hit whatever is available rather than get soaked in the pissing rain that’s started to fall outside. More drinking in the Wetherspoons before aimless wandering takes over as we search for a pub, any pub where we can get a drink. During this period of the evening, Nick the Greek finds himself on the end of a rather hurtful comment about his manhood from a very pissed ‘hen’ as we stumble out of the last pub. From this point on, he’s sympathetically referred to by the rest of us as ‘wiener’.
Chalmers is the first to fall foul of the day’s intake, staggering off into the night, headed for the hotel and his pit. We meanwhile try to sate the big Greek type fellow’s need for after hours drinking. A brief stop at a subterranean club type place ends when Gareth & I protest at the piss poor dance/house/techno shit pumping out of the speakers. We still stay for a couple though. After here, with not much else on offer, we ourselves decide it’s time for beddy-byes. Back on the front, for some strange reason, we amble onto the beach. Well, NTG & Gareth do. I more kind of, well, fall onto it. And lose my glasses.
Five minutes of frantic scrambling later and NTG, without any light source available to him whatsoever, somehow finds my missing goggles. Phew! Finally we stagger back into our digs. But the silliness doesn’t quite end there. As it’s a warm evening and with our window open, Chalmers & I can hear NTG & Gareth rabbiting away in their room in the darkness. Conversations follow and my good self decides that a daring commando raid across the flat roof outside the window to get a surprise photo is quite positively the best idea in the world ever.
Sadly, after a day on the piss, decent planning is the last thing on my mind. Tumbling out of the window, camera in hand. I work my way across the roof. Listening for my two victims to try & give me an idea exactly where they are. Then, it dawns on me. Their room is actually on the floor above.
Oh fuck this for a game of soldiers, I’m off to bed.
The weekend is finished off the next morning, with 4 fragile U’s fans heading up the front to ‘Treasure Island’ which has a rather cool looking crazy golf course. Mr Chalmers proves to be something of a Tiger Woods amongst the shipwrecks and other piratey stuff, tonking the arse off us all by a good several shots. Not that we’re bad losers or anything.
Oh the things we do for fun.
TEAM : Davis, Palmer, Hodges, Gonsalves, Gray, Akuamouah, Rogers, Bailey, Bolt, Forrester, Watson. SUBS : Corbett, Hamlin, Honey