RYMAN PREMIER DIVISION
SUTTON UNITED – 2 [Bolt 10p.83p]
BISHOPS STORTFORD – 2 [Barnett 87. Essandoh 90]
Match Reporter: Nick The Greek
With the usual group looking depleted, no Taz (something about culture and Salt mine, more like young lady and knickers), and no Chalmers (last seen heading off to pick Celery in Wales), Gareth (hangover intact) and I decide to head straight past the Hood and onto the Club bar for our pre-match bevy, we are soon met by Bob and Belly.
Due to being so close to the ground we are able to be out of the bar in time to see the players run out, and after recent performances most people are more than pleased to see Mr Watson (sponsored by myself) and Mr Bolt (sponsored by this site), run out.
So with my “Little Blue Book” and pencil in hand I’m ready for the serious/dubious reporting to start.
With only 4 minutes gone I get to make my first of many (and I was hoping for a quiet 0-0 game) notes. Bolty sends a long ball over from a corner to Palmer who’s looping header looks to be going in before a melee of defender to crossbar to Hodges to Desborough (Stortford’s Keeper) who manages to flap it clear. It could have so easily been 1-0.
A couple of minutes later and we have another opportunity to go into the lead with a ball into the box for Watson to chest down, only to see a defender slide it away before he can pull the trigger.
10 minutes gone and we do get the lead we deserve. Watson on the edge of the box plays through Collins who taken down by the last man, red card and penalty is the only real decision than can be made, but as we all know with these refs that’s not always the case, so one out of two isn’t bad. Danny Bolt spots the ball before calmly running up and smashing it low to the ‘keepers left into the corner .
It’s not long before we get to witness another bit of high calibre refereeing as Stortford’s Grant Cooper takes out Matt Gray leaving him crumpled in a heap, thanks to the ball ending up out of play he can receive a bit of treatment straight away and doesn’t seem to be any major injury. So as he is made to leave the pitch, we expect to see a possible yellow card and a definite free kick, but again we are surprised by the ref, who gives us a throw in!
Watson again is proving to us love him or hate him we do need him, as on the edge of the box he flicks on to Collins who just manages to get a toe on it and looks like beating the ‘keeper, but with a reaction save he palms it wide.
The first card of the game goes to their no. 8 for arguing with the ref. But the resulting free kick out on our right is wasted, as it is drove straight into the feet of their wall. Guess who is causing problems for the Stortford defence again? That’s right Mark Watson, brings the ball down in the box, with his back to goal he turns and fires the ball toward the far post but a very good save by Desborough only results in a corner.
An indirect free kick is laid of to Bolty who does what we all expect of him and from 30 yards drives the ball towards goal, resulting in the ‘keeper palming it away and what looks like a corner but good work by Nick Bailey see’s him chase the ball down and take advantage of the defender slipping to turn back along the by-line to try and thread the ball to Mark Watson but again a good touch by the goalie pushes it away from the oncoming striker.
All of the above excitement was inside the first twenty minutes and it is only after that time that Stortford must their first attempt on goal, with a ball into the left hand side of our box Iga comes rushing to meet it but is beaten by the Stortford attacker who lifts the ball towards goal, but Palmers on hand to head clear and preserve our lead.
So after a little scare it is back to watching us try to increase our lead and with Rob Collins and Eddie Akuamoah linking well down the left we get to see a good effort from a Watson overhead easily saved.
With 32 on the clock we are again pushing for the 2nd goal and a long ball over the tops send Collins through but could not quite get on the end of it.
2 minutes later we see the Ref approaching Cooper brandishing a red card, for what could have only have been for foul and abusive language (note to Grant Cooper, most Ref’s are blind but not deaf).
So with Stortford down to 10 I would hope to have seen us pushing even hard to extend the lead but instead get to watch Tim Langer run from about 30 yards into our box unchallenged but gratefully no actual strike materialised.
6 minutes left of the half and again the Keeper did very well, Danny Hodges plays a great ball over the defence for Collins to run onto, Desborough has a slip as he tries to get off his line, but still manages to recover in time to block Collins stab at the ball.
So with the half-time whistle just blown we head to the bar for a quick beverage and then back out to see if Sutton can get the elusive second.
Luckily for me nothing of any note happened in the first 15 minutes, except I got to enjoy my cheeseburger and keep ketchup off the note pad.
With the first very quiet 15 minutes of the second half gone Stortford muster a second attempt but again Palmer is on hand to clear the danger.
5 minutes later Watson passes to Gray on the edge of the box, who drives just wide of the far post.
Shortly after Corbett has seemed to tweak something and is replaced by Paul Honey.
72 gone and we have really seemed to have lost our momentum, and ability to test the ‘keeper. Corner from our right whipped in but headed clear as far as Bailey on the penalty spot who heads clearly over.
75th minute Hodges booked and subbed, he had been trying to run off some sort of pain in his thigh area but to no avail (hopefully nothing too bad). Dean Hamlin comes on.
Again Stortford try to get back into this game from a long free kick the 6 is unchallenged but heads well wide. At the opposite end Matt Gray whips in a ball for Rob Collins to knock down for Bolty who fires wide. A couple of minutes on and Rob Collins is trying to wiggle and turn his way through the defence when possibly a lay off to Gray may have been better (can’t really complain at our strikers trying to be greedy and create chances though can we).
With 9 minutes until full-time we finally get our second goal, Mark Watson takes control of the ball just inside the 18 yard box and tries to lift the ball past the defender who deliberately moves his arm to make contact with the ball, red card, penalty, well again one out of two isn’t bad.
Danny Bolt again spots the penalty and again put it in the exact same place as before.
2-0 against 10 men with 9 + injury to play, job done. So off goes Watson and on comes Hanlan.
Again nothing of real note until the 90th minute when Aaron Barnett heads in a consolation goal from 3 yards from a corner. 2-1.
Okay lads only a few minutes to go until we get the 3 points.
3 minutes into stoppage Stortford send another corner on to our penalty spot where an unmarked Essendoh powers his volley straight into the ground, which then bounces up and over the defenders and Iga on the line. 2-2
So the Final whistle goes and we set off for the Hood for a couple of beers to try and understand what just happened.
It’ll be something shit no doubt.
MAN OF THE MATCH : Mark Watson, definitely made a difference up front.
ENTERTAINMENT : First-half 7, Second-half 5
TEAM : Iga, Palmer, Hodges, Gonsalves, Akuamoah, Gray, Bailey, Corbett, Bolt, Watson, Collins.
SUBS : Hamlin, Honey, Hanlan
THE REFEREE’S……..had a reasonable game