RYMAN PREMIER DIVISION
SUTTON UNITED – 1 [Bolt 57p]
GRAYS ATHLETIC – 0
After the close run thing of Tuesday night, the visit of Grays, who had become the first side in Non-League outside the Conference to declare themselves full-time, was never going to be easy.
Another bloody nightmare getting into Sutton means that I abandon all hope of even managing half the customary pre-match pint at the Hood and instead head straight for the ground. For the first time in ages, muggins is going to be watching a U’s game completely sober.
Still, my unexpectedly early arrival at the ground allows me to nip into the club shop and bag the site’s sponsorship of Mr Bolt’s kit.
The only change to our line up from Tuesday is the unsurprising replacement of Fowler with Collins. Matty’s hamstring obviously still giving him trouble. Matt Hanlan makes his first appearance on the bench.
The opening 20-25 minutes is pretty dull stuff. Neither side manages to get a grip on the game or make a serious impression, with the visitors probably starting the brighter of the two sides, but that’s not saying much!
The only incident of any kind in those opening 25 minutes comes from a Bolt cross out on the left. Matt Gray jumps to challenge the Grays no7 at the back post and is penalised. Their man goes down in a heap and the visitors no3 takes exception, rushing in to get involved. Gray stands his ground and is eventually booked for his trouble! Quite how Mr 3 avoids a similar penalty has us scratching our heads.
The first real effort on goal is created by the visitors. A ball into the edge of the box from the right reaches Lock, but Iga is equal to his snap shot and turns the ball wide. It takes Sutton a couple of minutes to threaten the Grays goal in return. Collins & Bolt combining on the left, Bolt’s cross into the area finds Watson, but under pressure about 10 yards out, he’s unable to retain possession.
With half time approaching, the U’s have a brief flurry of activity. The best chance falls to Watson. Corbett turns & lays off the ball to Watson. Watso turns well himself and bursts into the box, skipping one challenge. Drawing Capleton to his near post, he curls a shot across goal and agonisingly wide of the far post.
The last act of the half has Collins setting up Gray for a cross out on the right. No-one can get into the box to attack the ball, but it doesn’t stop Matty’s cross from causing havoc in the visitors so far solidly marshalled defence. A defender tries to cut out the ball, but only succeeds in helping it across goal and scaring the life out of Capleton!
The second half is little better in the way of action and pretty much nothing really happens until just before the hour mark. Bolt wins a free-kick about 35 yards out on the right touchline. Reacting quickly, he places the ball and swings a great ball into the centre where Bailey has sneaked in and caught the Grays no12 completely by surprise. He gets goal side and makes his run on in goal with 12 in close attendance. As he’s about to shoot from around 12 yards out, he’s clearly hauled back by the chasing defender and pulls his effort wide. The ref, who has been caught out by the swift movement in the play is in no position to make a decision. Thankfully for once, a linesman shows some arsehole and flags for the offence. The ref then has no qualms about pointing to the spot and dismissing Williams for the professional foul.
Bolty steps up to take the kick, but he’s slightly delayed when the ref then has to nip over to the visitors dug out & dismiss their manager for some naughty comments made to the lino on the other side because of the penalty award. Having already been warned about his conduct in the first half, he’s soon parking his arse up in the stand.
Despite the delay & some advice from Youds to Capleton about Dan’s spot kick ability, Bolty rattles the spot kick to the ‘keepers left and gives us the lead.
That’s my boy!
Grays hit back soon after. A quick attack on our right and a cross is put into the box. Iga challenges an opposition player and the 2 collide, both landing in a heap on the ground. Staggeringly, despite the clear possibilty of a head injury, the ref lets play continue and only halts proceedings after Watson has been forced to head the ball off the line of the empty goal!
Oh and of course, the wanker gives the corner too………tosser.
On 65 minutes, the ref continues to infuriate by awarding a silly free-kick on the edge of the box. But the visitors waste the opportunity, swinging the ball high & wide of goal. Coming up to the last 15 minutes, Iga is called upon to rescue Hodges. The defender slips at a crucial moment on the edge of the box, allowing the Grays no10 a brief sight of goal. The big U’s keeper is off his line swiftly though to smother the ball at the strikers feet.
With time slowly running out, the visitors threat diminishes and the U’s look the most likely to score with 2 good chances in the last 5 minutes.
Firstly another great free-kick from deep on the right from Bolt loops to the back post, where Hodges times his run to perfection, powering his header just wide of the post and into the side netting. Then with one of the last acts of the match, Hanlan, on in place of Watson turns and blasts a low effort just wide of the post after a nice cushion header from midfield by Honey has picked out the veteran forward.
The lads hang on and keep the 3 points. But it’s another hard fought win.
Any chance we could get K’s to roll over for an easy 4-0 Monday?
MAN OF THE MATCH : Tough one. Rob Collins, just for his work-rate, never let up.
ENTERTAINMENT : 5. Not great and very little incident to be honest.
TEAM – Iga, Gray, Hodges, Palmer, Gonsalves, Bailey, Bolt, Corbett, Akuamouah, Watson, Collins
SUBS – Honey, Hanlan, Hamlin
THE REFEREE’S………largely ok. Usual couple of dodgy decisions though. Worst being Gray’s booking for getting attacked by thier no3! Although almost allowing an equaliser after Iga & their man are both down with possible head injury was also a tadge irritating.