RYMAN PREMIER DIVISION
SUTTON UNITED – 1 [Fowler 33]
BEDFORD TOWN – 1 [Howarth 81]
Normally, going close on 3 weeks during the season without footy would have us climbing the walls like a 5 year old who’s just had his E-number laden can of coke snatched away from him. But strangely, not this time. This break was surprisingly relaxed.
Maybe it’s because we’re all a little older, a little more mature? Maybe the footy doesn’t quite mean as much in our lives as it did when we were younger?
Or maybe it’s the fact that the season has been largely bollocks?
Here’s a clue. It’s the ‘bollocks’ one. I mean, for fucks sake. Us? Mature? Give over…
Still, it could be worse. We could be Leeds fans. As if supporting a club 90 million in debt, that’s sold most of it’s best players, looks almost doomed to relegation & possibly even going out of business wasn’t bad enough, you have to face up to the fact that you’re from Yorkshire as well (sorry Bob!).
Doesn’t even bear thinking about really.
Still, we could always look on the bright side & say we’re now unbeaten in 3 weeks. But I have a cold and I’m really not in the mood. So sod it.
So it’s to the Hood for the first time since the incredibly drunken Halloween ‘do’ last friday (don’t ask!) I find Mr Miller already parked. Even Chalmers arrives in time for a pre-match drink! The Greek fella arrives last, the result of a last minute shopping trip to Asda. On a Saturday afternoon?
Someone needs to get their priorities straight mate.
We arrive at GGL to a surprise. We have 2 new names in the side. Tony Quinton, a right sided player signed from Croydon Athletic, makes his debut replacing the suspended Matt Gray. The other ‘new’ man is John Nurse. A striker on the bench who has apparently made some decent showings for the reserves. Other team developments are the return of Akuamouah on the left and Paul Honey taking a seat on the bench.
The break has obviously been as relaxing for the lads as it was for us as they set about Bedford from the off. Eddie flying down the wing a couple of minutes in and having his cross cut out for a corner.
The visitors are quick to reply though and Iga is soon watching a free-kick flying just over his crossbar from the edge of the 18 yard box. But, by & large, the U’s have the better of the half. Fowler forces a corner after he’s got himself in down the right and Hanlan loops a shot over after a Danny Bolt free-kick is deflected his way.
The performance is heartening. The tempo alone being twice anything we’ve produced recently and many players seem to be getting back towards their best. Bolty’s recent addition must have been letting him get some kip as he’s having by far his best game so far. He latches onto a crossfield ball on the right on 14 minutes, but with no real support, goes it alone and cuts inside before firing into the side netting.
Bedford remind us they’re still around as at the other end a cross from the left drifts dangerously across goal. Iga watches it go before the ref somewhat bafflingly awards a corner.
But we’re soon back on the offensive, with Bolty seeing a free-kick from 25 yards deflected up and just inches wide of the far post. It’s almost on the half-hour that Bedford manage their next threat. Ronnie Fletcher, who is currently having what could be described as a ‘complete mare’, allows a deep ball to carry over him right to a completely unmarked attacker behind him. Fortunately his free’er than expected header is slightly off the mark and goes wide of the far post.
Bolt puts low free-kick into the midriff of the ‘keeper, before on 33 minutes, the fit again Matt Fowler finally gives us the lead. The so far impressive Quinton is involved down the right and delivers a good cross towards the near post. Despite being sandwiched between 2 defenders, Matt just wins the ball and it drops perfectly for him to turn & hook it past the ‘keeper from close range.
Bloody hell, I’m not used to this. 2 games running now and we’ve been in front!
Bedford don’t waste any time looking for an equaliser and within a minute or two have won a corner at the other end. The kick comes in from our left and is flicked on at the near post. Fortunately for us, no one is attacks the ball and it bounces out of play for a goal-kick.
Bailey helps the U’s end the half on the up with a good strong run down the left on 41 minutes before cutting in & firing a shot just over the target.
In the bar a couple of minutes later, I’m given confirmation of Oldhams impending progress to the second round of the cup as they lead Carlisle 2-0. Not a bad afternoon so far then!
The visitors start the second half in a more determined mood and set about looking for a quick equaliser. Within a couple of minutes of the restart, a cross from our left ends with a header flying just over our crossbar. Definately a good opportunity wasted by the visitors.
Bedford continue to have the better of things as the U’s struggle to get any sort of rhythm going again. We have a big let of on 66 minutes when the increasingly petty & irritating ref awards a free-kick on the edge of our box. The kick is planted firmly against our crossbar, then rebounds out, hits a Bedford player around 4 yards out and dribbles just wide of the post with Iga completely stranded.
A couple of minutes later, we regain a normal heartbeat & pattern of breathing.
Around this time, JR decides to introduce our new striker, Watson being the man to make way. Nurse almost has an immediate impact when a throw on is knocked inside. On the edge of the box, he takes a touch but snatches his shot and fires convincingly over the bar. His pace and eagerness to get involved are a breath of fresh air and he’s next involved as we enter the final 15 minutes, making a good run onto a ball down the right, his low cross somehow evades both Hanlan then Fowler around the 6 yard box.
But, the goal Bedford have been threatening for some while and that we just knew was somewhere around the corner duly arrives just inside the last 10 minutes. Bolty gives away a silly free-kick for handball about 35 yards out on the left. The kick is floated to the edge of the area where it drops to the visitors big No5, Howarth.
Could somebody please tackle him? Yes, tackle. Thats T. A. C. K. L. E……….oh never mind, it’s too late, he’s scored now.
Howarth bundles his way past 2 half hearted challenges & finds himself 15 yards out with the ‘keeper to beat. Despite Iga trying to make himself look big, the big defender wipes away his nosebleed and punts the ball into the roof of the net.
Sutton respond almost immediately though and when Bedford fail to clear an aimless hoof forwards properly, it drops to Hanlan 20 yards out. His dipping drive forcing a good save out of the visitors ‘keeper who palms the ball over the bar.
Not long after, we have the ball in the net following a scramble from a corner, but the ref decides that it’s a free-kick as we’re ‘goal hanging’ or something equally fucking stupid. The last real event of the match see’s Akuamouah dispossesed in midfield allowing Bedford to break quickly. 2 on 1, Iga comes barreling out of his area and makes a huge sliding challenge on the onrushing forward, taking the ball, the man, a small section of the main stand and a Ford Escort in the car park.
From our spot on the Shoebox and with the refs somewhat erratic view of the laws so far, we all expect the worst and Andy getting a slightly earlier bath than everyone else. But no, the ref waves play on and we’re still pissing ourselves laughing at the decision a couple of minutes later when he blows the final whistle.
As usual it’s then back to the Hood for our usual post-match analysis over a pint or several and for Mr Chalmers & Gareth to put what seems like a small African country’s national debt into the fruity.
Oh god it’s good to be back.
MAN OF THE MATCH – Eddie Akuamouah. Good to have you back Ed
ENTERTAINMENT – 6. A much better performance, just not the result
TEAM : Iga, Palmer, Fletcher, Gonsalves, Akuamouah, Quinton, Hanlan, Bolt, Bailey, Watson, Fowler
SUBS : Nurse, Honey, Hamlin, Williams
THE REFEREE’S………had a reasonable first half, then was seemingly replaced with a drone by aliens for the second half as he seemed to have lost the little knowledge of the laws he’d displayed in the first 45.