RYMAN PREMIER DIVISION
ST ALBANS CITY – 2 [Wraight 9. Tomlinson 47]
SUTTON UNITED – 0
An early visit to St Albans is always welcome amongst the beerhounds. Mainly due to the large number of pubs. But certainly not because it’s a happy hunting ground for the U’s when it comes to the number of points we’ve picked up here in recent years.
Still, it doesn’t stop us coming up here year after year.
The usual suspects pile off the train and make their way to our favourite starting point when visiting this part of the world. The Farmers boy. Here we get started on consuming beer, scoffing some grub and watching the unusual sight of English batsmen racking up a large score in the cricket. Chalmers rolls in from work just after one & we head for the ground, suitably lubricated.
JR has decided to keep the same side that scrapped out 3 points at Hendon, with Bolty remaining on the bench.
We start slowly and it’s not long before the hosts bright start pays off. 9 minutes in the U’s defence fails to clear thier lines efficiently and it immediately sets St Albans back on the attack. A ball into the right behind Hamlin and a cross back into the box picks out Wraight arriving late into the box cracking a low first time shot under Iga.
Sutton make hard work of getting themselves into the game & it’s clear that we’re missing someone who can deliver a decent ball. Several times Collins or Gray make decent runs into the channel, only to see a woefully overhit pass fly over their heads & into touch.
The home side are finding plenty of space behind our full-backs, with Hamlin in particular coming under a lot of pressure. Thankfully though, they’re unable to seriously threaten Iga too much. We manage our first threat on goal just before the half hour. Honey heads the ball forwards to Gray who turns and runs at the St Albans defence, before driving a shot across goal & just wide of the far post.
Our lacklustre defending surfaces again soon after, Plamer playing a terrible backpass to his ‘keeper. Iga manages to slice it barely clear before another Saints man fires the loose ball across the face of his goal.
More poor defending follows on 33 minutes, when again we don’t clear our lines and a ball is played in behind our defence allowing a clear sight of goal. Iga positions himself well & makes a good stop. Our only response before half time is when the St Albans ‘keeper & Collins chase a loose ball. The ‘keeper just gets there, but his rushed clearance drops straight to Matt Gray about 25 yards out. He has a clear sight of the now unguarded goal & has to hit the ball first time, but his hooked shot is always curling away & drifts harmlessly wide.
Half time & I head for the far end to hoist the flag, whilst the rest of the gang head for the bar. Cheers lads! I sense a pattern forming here.
The second half starts as badly as the first. A couple of minutes in and a huge clearance by the City ‘keeper is headed on by De-Souza over our rather static defence allowing Tomlinson to nip in and easily clip the ball over the head of a completely stranded Andy Iga. Oh dear.
We’re soon trying to make things even worse 2 minutes later, when Collins plays a dreadful pass back towards our own goal. Thankfully, the unmarked St Albans man musters only a weak effort straight at our ‘keeper.
It takes us until around the hour mark to make an impression on the home defence. Matt Gray goind on a decent run down the right touchline. Spotting the run of Bailey to the near post, he puts in a low cross. But a defender gets a foot in and a corner is our only reward.
Saint’s De-Souza is causing us all sorts of problems all over the park with the lads failing to get to grips with his bustling style of play. On 63 minutes, he runs at our ropey defence, which as per normal, backs off rather than meet the threat. The big striker’s shot flashes across the Face of Iga’s goal and norrowly wide of the far post.
Whilst the home side knock the ball about comfortably, we’re struggling to put even 2 simple passes together. With most of our ‘attacking’ play just booting the ball forwards and hoping that either Collins or Gray are nearby and can maybe get onto the end of it.
What we need is someone out there who can pass the ball……hmmmmmm………..anyone got any ideas?
Ooooh, hang on! That bloke who usually wears number 7. Whats his name? Darren Belt? No! Danny Bolt, thats it! He’s not that bad at passing. Any chance of him coming on JR?
Errrr, no offence John, but no, Matt Hanlan won’t do instead…….
Rather embarrasingly for the rest of the side, when Hanlan does come on, he shows more composure on the ball than the rest of them put together.
Naturally, with us playing poorly, all we need to complete the day is the ref to switch into utter ‘Homer’ mode. And quicker than you can say “Are you fucking blind you twat???” up he pops! Around 20 minutes left and a ball into the left channel sets Akuamouah on his way. He battles past one man, gets into the box and knocks the ball past another only for it to strike his outstretched arm. With said ref stood no more than 2 yards away in plain sight.
No no no no silly. Thats not handball! Of course not. A defender? With his arm outstretched as an opponent knocks the ball past him in the box? A handball?? Never!
To make matters worse, an even more blatant offence occurs a minute or so later. A corner in from the left is virtually caught on the penalty spot by the Saints no5, but of course, we’d switched to the more mystical set of rules known as “Uravinalaffmate” which are practiced only by a select band of cowardly, half blind dickheads known as ‘Ryman League Officials’.
But, lets be honest here, if I was a St Albans fan & had lost 2 points to 2 late peno’s having completely outclassed your oppo, I think I’d have been a tad peeved. It would most certainly have been a very undeserved point from our point of view.
Somehow, we manage to keep things respectable (and not use any more subs), before staggering away towards the pub for the England game, muttering lots of naughty words.
Thankfully, England manage to get the win they need despite the Sutton-esque first half performance and we get to watch Wales get destroyed by the Italians as we er…..get destroyed!
Oh and just for the record, absolutely NOTHING was stolen on the way to the station that night.
Nothing at all d’you hear?
MAN OF THE MATCH – Errr…….
ENTERTAINMENT – 2. Poor, bad, awful, terrible……..nuff said.
TEAM : Iga, Palmer, Hodges, Gonsalves, Hamlin, Akuamouah, Corbett, Honey, Bailey, Gray, Collins
SUBS : Bolt, Brooker, Hanlan
THE REFEREE’S………a complete arsehole.