RYMAN PREMIER DIVISION
SUTTON UNITED – 0
CANVEY ISLAND – 1 [Duffy 26]
After picking up 3 vital points at Harrow during the week, the U’s faced another tough encounter, this time with title favourites Canvey making the trip down from Essex. As if their expensively assembled side wasn’t enough to deal with, their superb record at GGL didn’t exactly fill us with confidence.
With only a draw way back when they were a Ryman 3rd Div outfit in the league cup the best we could boast!
But, loyal fools that we are, we still assemble in the Hood for that pre-match bevvy. Here I find Gareth & Greek bloke. Bob joins later. Chalmers has decided to go and watch some girly Premiership match, with Chelsea visiting Wolves and no doubt dishing out a spanking you’d expect from a side fielding 100 million quids worth of foreign nancy boys.
Us? More like a 100 quids worth!
The U’s retain the side from midweek, but with 2 new additions to the bench. New signing Sean Gorman & 18 year old Martyn Williams, a striker on a months loan from QPR.
The game gets underway and before we’ve found our place on the shoebox, the U’s have missed a good early chance. Watson is fouled on the left and Bailey plays the resulting free-kick into the box. It misses everyone but Ryan Palmer who’s sneaked in at the back post. But his sidefoot volley from about 5 yards out flies over the bar.
Canvey are soon responding, with a quick ball forwards up the centre headed down to our right. An attacker is onto the ball and gets behind our defence, but Iga blocks his first time shot with his legs. The visitors are having the better of the play though, moving the ball well in all areas. The U’s suffer a blow after 10 minutes when Corbett falls awkwardly and is stretchered off with what we later find out to be a back strain.
Ronnie Fletcher though again displays his good distribution skills that we saw in flashes at Harrow with a great angled ball out of defence picking out Danny Bolt. His ball into the box finds Watson well placed, but he’s well marshalled by his marker and pulls his shot well wide of the mark.
Canvey move stright up the other end and win a corner. Iga calls for the ball but misses out and the ball drops awkwardly for an attacker at the back post. He’s unable to pull his shot onto the target and the danger passes. 20 minutes in, A bolt free-kick from the right again bypasses everyone & finds Palmer once more lurking at the back post. Again he’s unable to find the mark, scuffing his shot wide.
The visitors continue to cause problems from balls into the box. Another corner is missed by Iga and Fletcher manages to help it on it’s way, but the ball comes straight back in. Iga again attempts to claim the ball but sandwiched between 2 attackers, fumbles and the ball is nodded in at the back post. Thankfully, the ref has spotted this and disallows the effort.
But it’s not long before their pressure pays off. The U’s fail to clear their lines from another Canvey attack and the ball drops to Duffy. He’s allowed to advance a few yards unchallenged before curling a beauty of an effort beyond the dive of Iga right into the top right corner.
Sutton are now struggling to keep the tide at bay. The midfield is overrun at times, with Gray & Watson left to scrap for very little up front. Thankfully the defence is managing to hold on and with about 30 minutes gone, a great diagonal ball picks out the Canvey no8 in behind the defence, but Palmer closes the gap and makes a great challenge inside the box. With half time approaching, a rare break out is launched. Gray gets free down the right and pulls the ball back across the box. It’s cut out, but finds it’s way back to Matty and he crosses again. This time Bailey is in there and he just fails to beat the ‘keeper with his leap for the ball.
With the last act of the half, Canvey really should double their lead, but are denied a certain goal with a fantastic reaction save from Iga. A ball in from the right ends with a close range shot being blocked. The ball breaks across the 6 yard box to a completely unmarked attacker. With Iga scrambling back across his line, it seems like a formality to tuck the ball into the empty net. But his effort is somehow blocked as the big U’s ‘keeper throws himself in front of the ball and gets a hand on it.
Enjoying the usual half time drinks break, I’m pleased to discover that Oldham are amazingly 3-0 up at Wycombe. Bloody hell!
The second half though picks up where the 1st left off, with Canvey on the offensive from the off. Within a minute of the restart, they’re in down the left before a shot beats Iga but not Hamlin behind him & he hooks the ball off the line with another attacker lurking.
Sutton keep working, but struggle to make an impact, especially in midfield. Although Honey is getting stuck in as he always seems to do against the Gulls!
Iga makes up for his shaky dealing with crosses from earlier, pulling off two good stops within a couple of minutes of each other. First a short pass picks out the roaming no8. but his fierce shot is beaten away by the ‘keeper. And then with about 20 to play, a great long range effort looks to be dipping in, but Iga leaps to get his fingertips onto the ball and touch it onto the bar rather than under it.
But the dodginess from crosses is still there and with 15 minutes remaining a cross from the left is only half cleared again and the ball comes straight back in, only to be headed against the outside of the far post.
The U’s make 2 changes, throwing on Gorman & Collins up front with Gray going back to the right in a hope of trying to liven us up. It helps a bit and we create a couple of chances. 77 minutes gone and a ball forward finds Collins who lays off to Gorman, but his first time shot is well over. A couple of minutes later, Collins gets to the bye line on the left and delivers a great floated ball in that hits the bar above the far post, but before Gorman can put away any rebound, the ref blows up for an apparent foul.
We keep going though and inside the last 10 minutes a good ball down the right sends Gray clear. His ball to the near post is met with a diving header from Collins that produces an instinctive save from the ‘keeper. But the ref feels Collins has fouled his marker and a free-kick is awarded.
The visitors have the last word though. A nasty, dipping volley is acrobatically tipped away by Iga in the last minute to keep the scoreline looking respectable.
You can’t fault the lads for effort, but confidence seems to be the problem at the moment and maybe putting a couple of wins together, no matter how, would do the trick.
We nip off back to the Hood and as per normal, proceed to put away enough beer to have people in Blair’s health department tutting in disapproval.
Bah, what do they know?
MAN OF THE MATCH : Lewis Gonsalves. Another faultless performance.
ENTERTAINMENT : 7. Not bad.
TEAM : Iga, Hamlin, Akuamoah, Palmer, Fletcher, Gonsalves, Bailey, Corbett, Bolt, Watson, Gray.
SUBS : Honey, Collins, Gorman, Williams
THE REFEREE’S……..Didn’t have a bad game really. No complaints. Which is unusual!