Hanlan Hits ‘Em Where It Hurts

RYMAN PREMIER DIVISION

Att: 782



KINGSTONIAN – 1    [Beard 58]

SUTTON UNITED – 2    [Bailey 57. Hanlan 82]

Already having battled like buggery on the park to get our points haul so far, the last thing you need this early in the season is a game that comes into the ‘local derby’ catagory.

And when you add into the equasion the fact that we’d turned today’s hosts over in a cup final a couple of months back, it just goes to make the job that teensy bit harder.

Bugger.

The good news is, we get to have a good old drink up in Kingston. Which isn’t bad.

I manage to pull my carcass out of bed in time for the 726, although the same can’t be said of a still pissed Chalmers. By chance, Gareth joins the bus a bit further down the line. We roll into the Kings Tun around half 11 and make a start. Jules wanders in shortly after and holidayed up Nick arrives, closely followed by Bob. Sadly I just fail to catch him at the bar.

Dammit! Next time rich bloke, next time!

We wind our usual way round to Kingsmeadow, via several watering holes of course! Before we arrive at possiby the slowest operated turnstile in the western world, finally managing to get into the ground barely moments before kick off.

Still all well organised down here then.

The U’s are exactly as per Saturday, with Fowler still not fit enough to return even to the bench. Hanlan keeps his spot warm again. Things get underway nicely with a frenetic midfield battle developing from the off. Bailey & Corbett making sure that they’re the boys on top.

Gray has an early chance when he robs a K’s man out on the right. He cuts infield and drives forwards before cracking a shot low at the near post. It looks like it’s drifting wide, but Key dives to his left and tips it around the post all the same. The U’s central pairing is doing an effective job and are playing a big part in keeping the pressure on the home side. Collins is his usual lively self and is also being a nuisance. 18 minutes in he takes a pass from Corbett before turning & shooting straight at Key.

The home side finally get themselves into the game just before the half hour mark. A lightning quick counter attack down our left ends with a good cross into the box. Hodges heads clear for a corner. The corner in from the right draws out Iga, but he can’t get a good punch on the ball. Watson then fails to clear his lines before a hooped shirt fires the loose ball well clear of the bar.

Sutton respond rapidly and a strong run by Scott Corbett, takes him past 2 defenders. He slides the ball into the left channel where Akuamouah has sneaked in. He gets behind the stretched back line and cracks in an effort on goal from an angle. Key reacts quickly & beats away the shot.

K’s main outlet as before is from very quick incisive breaks with play moved rapidly to the flanks. A poor U’s free-kick is cleared from the edge of the area and with 2 passes is deep down our left side. A rapid cross is flung in, but evades everyone.

Gray is again on the rampage around the half hour mark. The ball is switched out to the right, he steps inside again and heads upfield before playing a neat 1-2 with Bolt in the centre. He goes a bit further before testing Key again with a firm strike.

A couple more K’s breaks end with good balls in, but with no end product before Bolt goes on a dazzling run from midfield, dancing past 3 challenges before he’s just dispossessed on the edge of the box.

The hooped ones best chance of the half comes near the last 5 minutes with some concerted pressure on the right. With the U’s defence a little off balance, a good ball is swung in and with a free header, the K’s man somehow glances his header well wide of the far post.

The lads head for the bar whilst myself & late arrival Chalmers head for the far end and flag-tying-up duties.

The second half starts with a U’s change, Watson retiring hurt and Hanlan replacing him. The change doesn’t upset the lads too much as within a few minutes of the restart, we’re finally in front. A good run by Collins from deep takes him to the corner of the box, with space denied to him, he lays the ball back to Bailey who turns and sweeps a shot towards the far post. It trundles slowly towards the goal and seems like Key has all afternoon to get down to save. But the portly ‘keeper once again is found wanting against the U’s and a tadge embarrassingly the ball creeps under his hand and just inside the post. It’s not particularly special and not a strike that’ll live long in the memory, but it counts and we bounce around celebrating regardless.

Before I’ve had chance to finish scribbling my notes, that lot are back on level terms. We back off accross the field allowing a K’s attack to build momentum. The ball comes infield to Beard who turns and thumps a shot off the back of the unfortunate Ryan Palmer. Iga’s desperate dive is in vain and the ball loops over him and into the back of the net.

Most certainly, rats cocks.

The equaliser seems to unsettle the U’s and the home side have by far thier best spell of the game, with again attacks down our flanks catching us out. One move down our right ends with a run to the byeline. A low ball is put in to the near post but deflected out of play by Palmer with Iga only able to stand & watch.

Ex-hoopy fella, Akuamouah then almost does his old employers a big favour on the hour mark. A very poor header back towards the box & meant for Iga is siezed on by Browne. Thankfully for us, our man between the sticks is on his toes and spreads himself large in the view of the oncoming forward. It’s enough and Browne shoots well well wide of the mark.

We manage to hang in there though and K’s dominanace subsides and the midfield scrap resumes. Which the ref is doing his best to ruin with some frustratingly petty decisions that begins to infuriate the travelling U’s fans behind the goal.

Going into the last 10 minutes, a draw is seeming likely when out of the blue, the ref loses his mind for a second and actually awards us a free-kick in the K’s half of the field. And boy do we make it count!

With Bolt now off the field after picking up a knock, all the free-kick duties are the job of Nick Bailey. The little midfielder whips in a fantastic ball from the right touchline right across the face of goal. It gets as far as the back post where Matt Hanlan steams in to power a free header into the back of the net from a couple of yards out. Cue mad celebrations in the away end.

Once again, the game swings back Sutton’s way and within a couple of minutes the ref is back to normal, ignoring a perfectly legit shout for a penalty when Eddie latches onto a wide ball, zips between 2 defenders before being flattened by a rather obvious shoulder charge in the corner of the box.

The lads continue to keep working and manage to see out the final few minutes without too much incident to add another 2-1 win over K’s to that one we picked up in May.

After a couple of celebratory drinks in the bar (where we’re met with the dreadful news that the Scummers are actually top of the division! How the fuck did that happen???) it’s off into Kingston for the customary drink up before we manage to stagger back to the Hood for a closing time nightcap.

NOW can we have an easy game please?

MAN OF THE MATCH : Scott Corbett. Did a skippers job and got stuck in when needed!

ENTERTAINMENT : 8. Best game we’ve seen in a while. Good end to end stuff.

TEAM – Iga, Gray, Hodges, Palmer, Gonsalves, Bailey, Bolt, Corbett, Akuamouah, Watson, Collins

SUBS – Honey, Hanlan, Hamlin

THE REFEREE’S………what a tosser! So-so first half but may as well have pulled on a red & white hooped shirt for the second half. Usual MO for a useless homer.

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