PRE SEASON FRIENDLY
DULWICH HAMLET – 1 [Haughton 61]
SUTTON UNITED – 2 [Watson 16. Bolt 88p]
The U’s return to the scene of their Surrey Cup semi-triumph from last season for what we expect to be probably our toughest test of the pre-season so far. And like that drizzly night a couple of months back, 2 penalties decided the outcome.
Sweating my arse off in the disgracefully un-British weather (sun? At this time of year? Who’d have thunk it?) I trudge up Dog Kennel Hill and make my way to the local Wetherspoons for a cheap pint & some scoff before making the slightly easier downhill return journey just after 7.
Gareth is present, but with NTG & Chalmers both unable to get here in time, it’s another treadbare attendance from the drinking team.
JR decides that Andy Iga is worth another run out and he starts again tonight. Also in the side is Ex-Charlton & Ipswich defender, Eddie Youds. Ooooh. What’s this? Are the U’s splashing out on some ex-Premiership experience?
Er, no, probably not if you think about it!
No sign of Paul Rogers again either. Although we later discover the reason. He’s buggered off! Yep, Curly will be turning out at Worthing this season and not GGL as we’d all hoped.
Oh well, at least Akauamouah & Bolty are back!
The U’s start brightly and 5 minutes in, Bolt is making a nuisance of himself down the left. Nipping in when 2 Dulwich defenders leave the ball for each other. He plays it infield to Collins who immediately moves it onto Watson. But the pass is a little too hard and before Watson can get control of it, a defender nips in and hoofs it clear. Inches past his own post.
Matt Gray goes on one of his runs a couple of minutes later, whipping a low ball into the near post for Collins. He just misses out making contact, but is flagged offside before Watson can stick the loose ball away. Sutton keep the pressure on and with 15 mins gone, take the lead with a fantastic bit of flowing footy.
Bolt plays a sweeping ball from right to left, finding Akuamouah. His progress is barred by a defender, so he lays the ball back to the supporting Gonsalves. Lewis immediately plays the ball into midfield back to Bolt who has legged it infield. He turns and puts the ball at the feet of Collins just inside the box, who in turn lays off to Watson around the penalty spot. With his back to goal, Watso turns his marker and finishes crisply to the ‘keepers right.
Braaaaaazil, it’s just watching Brazil!
Ahem, well, maybe not eh? Still, it was a bloody good goal.
Gray almost adds a second straight after, cutting in from the flank. But his shot is straight at the keeper. 20 minutes in, Bailey takes advantage of some more hesitancy in the home defence on the left. He puts the ball across the edge of the box to Collins, who turns and strikes on goal only to have his effort blocked by the arm of Hannigan inside the area.
Yeah, you guessed it, not a sausage given. Oh well, guess it’s only fair after young Mr Baileys Jurgen Klinnsmann impression on Saturday………ahem!
Dulwich finally carve an opening from their quick forward breaks a few minutes later. A good ball down the U’s left and the home attackers get behind Akuamouah. The ball is laid off just inside the box, but the shot is a little high and clears Iga’s bar.
The match follows a fairly similar pattern for a while before Mr Bolt suddenly remembers he hasn’t launched any from 30 yards yet so far. Right, have to sort that out. 33 minutes in and Dan himself wins a free-kick around the aforementioned distance from the goal.
A little surprised, the ‘keeper does well to get down and stop Bolty’s effort. But it’s a little too hot for him to handle and the ball runs loose. After a short scramble between the keeper, Watson & a couple of defenders, the ball is hustled to safety.
Dulwich have the last real moment of the half with a good surge down the right. The low ball from the byeline is intercepted by Youds in front of the near post & cleared for a corner.
We get a half time cuppa and wander to the other end. It’s not long after the restart that we get the news about Rogers departure. JR also elects to keep the side as is & leave Iga between the sticks.
The U’s are first out of the blocks, with Watson latching onto a ball over the Hamlet defence. He holds up, twists & turns to make himself the room before firing just over. Although passing to the unmarked Bolt, screaming himself hoarse not very far away quite possibly could have been a better option!
The next serious attack of the night see’s the home side level things up. Gonsalves is penalised for handball on the edge of the box. Before the U’s defence can reorganise, the kick is taken quickly and played into the big space where Lewis should be. The ball is knocked low across the 6 yard box and with the defence still at sixes & sevens, Haughton fires home from close range.
Gray tests the home ‘keeper not long after, making a good run before cracking a looping volley straight into his outstretched arms. Bailey is soon on one of his forays forwards, dancing past 2 challenges & into the box before his angled shot is smuggledd out for a corner by the keeper & a defender.
Dulwich are having a better second half than the first. Still moving the ball quickly, they seem to be having more success in gettng behind us. One good ball down the left producing a dangerous cross that Youds nods out for a corner. A corner that finds a Hamlet man and is half hit towards goal. Thankfully Gray is on hand to clear our lines before it can test Iga. As we reach the last 15, Bolt has another crack from a free-kick after Bailey is fouled a little over 20 yards out. But he doesn’t quite catch it right and the keeper manages to smother it.
Dulwich are soon up the other end, cutting through the centre of the U’s defence. A neat interchange of passes sends their no14 in on goal with only Iga in his way, but he blazes his effort well high of the target. With the game seemingly heading for a draw, a by now rare attack from Sutton puts them in a matchwinning position. Watson takes a pass on the edge of the box and in his usual style, twists & turns trying to get away from his marker. He turns inside Hannigan and the big defender hauls him down just inside the box. Penalty!
Bolt steps up and crashes his spot-kick into the roof of the net.
Then, with time almost up, we decide to go try & shoot ourselves in the foot. A corner from the left isn’t cleared and as play moves to the right across the edge of our box, Gray (I think) trips the Pink & Blue clad bloke with the ball and the ref once again points to the spot. Arse.
But, the penalty is weakly struck and Iga guesses right, diving to his left to keep it out. Saved!
Phew. Thank fuck for that.
And so we hang on to our 6th win in 6 pre-season matches. A record I certainly can’t ever recall since I’ve been watching the U’s! This was probably our toughest encounter yet and again, the boys kept going to the end. Youds started a little slowly, but by the end, he was well into his stride and that professional experience told. Collins had another good game and Watson had his brightest match so far.
TEAM : Iga, Palmer, Youds, Gonsalves, Gray, Akuamouah, Corbett, Bailey, Bolt, Collins, Watson.
SUBS : Davis, Honey