RYMAN PREMIER DIVISION
NORTHWOOD – 1 [Moore 79]
SUTTON UNITED – 2 [Bailey 6. Gray 45]
So far this season it’s been our away form keeping us afloat and after Saturday’s trip to North West London, it looks like it shall continue to do so until we decide to start winning home matches. Let’s hope someone was down at GGL watching AFC Wimbledon tonk our tenants-for-the-day, Cobham, in a CCL match and taking notes.
Whilst our place was playing host to the latest episode in the AFCW “have it won by Xmas” bandwagon, we made our way to Northwood for the first time. Having only joined the Isthmian in ‘91, this small club have managed to drag themselves up through the ranks and even manaegd to pip moneybags Hornchurch to the Division 1 North title last year. But, they’ve found life hard up here so far and currently occupied a spot in the bottom 4. Here’s hoping.
By some miracle, freak of nature or just sheer fluke I for once encounter absoultely no delays on a trip into London on a saturday and arrive at the Marylebone Hobgoblin a shocking 2 minuets before it actually opens. I’m not long inside when Gareth arrives. With the Greek one off on some company jaunt to Sun City, where a beer no doubt costs 4p or something equally ridiculous, Chalmers working and Bob meeting us up there, it’s just the one bevvy before a leisurely stroll for the train.
Which is unusual, as normally when we use Marylebone, we end up legging it from the pub and leaping onto the train with about 2 seconds to spare.
First stop is Pinner and the Queens Head. A nice little town with a high street which is all Ye Olde buildings. Ok, it’s not St Albans, but it’s not bad for this part of the world! Here we find Bob. But not for long as he then slopes off for some grub. Chalmers finally catches up just before 2. Time for a sneaky half then Mr C?
After the delightful Pinner, Northwood is something of a letdown. Dull & dreary in a sort of Harrow stylie (yeah yeah, so Sutton ain’t exactly Las Vegas, but come on!). The ground is a brisk stroll from the station and it’s narrow driveway flanked by Allotments reminds us somewhat of Coldsore Avenue. Let’s hope they’re as bad as the Scummers eh?
The ground itelf is a little basic, but quite tight. The open end with the graveyard behind it draws a few comments regarding our form so far. The big pre-match rumour is that Mark Watson has departed and was last seen heading for Lewes. Some greet this news like we’ve signed Ronaldo, others find it disappointing we’ve lost an experienced player but on the other hand know that that it just wasn’t happening for him at the mo and maybe a change is best for both parties.
Whatever. Good luck Mr Watson. And cheers.
Watso’s departure leaves us with a question. Who’s up front with Fowler then??
The answer is of course Matt Hanlan, who as widely touted by a certain webmaster currently writing a match report, also gets the skippers armband. Other changes to the line up (4-4-2 again! Christ!) involve Tony Quinton at centre back, his third different position in his 3 matches since joining (Starting to wonder what you’ve got yourself into yet Tony?) and Dean Hamlin in at right-back. Paul Honey comes back into centre-mid, with Gray & Akuamouah as proper wingers. Which we like. Bolty stays on the bench.
The changed formation has an immediate impact. Within 5 minutes of the start, the U’s are ahead from their first real attack. Honey plays the ball out to Hamlin on the right, he in turn finds Gray down the right hand channel. Matt’s good low ball to the near post just evades Fowler, but not Nick Bailey who arrives completely unmarked (fuck me, feels much better writing that when we’re scoring and not the oppo!) to ram the ball into the roof of the net.
Nice start gentlemen. S’pose a complete rout is out of the question?
No, thought not.
Akuamouah is soon producing the goods on the other side, putting in a cross having beaten his man, that Fowler volleys into the ground at the far post and wide of the mark. It takes the home side a good few minutes to respond and their first opening comes with 15 played. A quick break on our right flank ends with a lively looking striker zipping a low shot across our goal. But, by and large, the U’s are definitely having the better of things.
A rather dodgy tackle on the edge of the box (a sign of things to come!) gives us a free-kick, but we make a complete mess of it and it never even crosses the 18 yard line, let alone trouble the ‘keeper! What it does manage is to get all the U’s supporters behind the goal shouting “Just fucking shoot!”.
Around the half-hour, a good ball over the Sutton defence gives the Northwood no9 a good shooting opportunity, but he hits it first time instead of carrying it forward a bit and it ends up troubling the deceased inhabitants of the field just behind that goal than Andy Iga. Matt Gray responds with a good run and shot from a central location that drifts just wide before probably the home side’s best chance so far.
A little knock into the right side of the box is neatly taken on the chest by Moore, before he spins and cracks a volley straight at Iga guarding his near post. Not bad. Not bad at all.
But Sutton still look the likelier to score and going into the last 10 minutes of the half have a couple of decent chances. On 36 minutes a free-kick eventually finds it’s way out to the right where Tony Quinton, up from the back, delivers a great cross into the box that is just begging to be put away. Unfortunately no-one can get to it in front of goal, but Bailey again arrives late, this time just beyond the back post, with a powerful diving header that flies back across the goal and scrapes the top of the bar.
We keep up the pressure and a couple of minutes later, Eddie latches onto a ball over the top of the ‘Wood defence. He gets just inside the box and with a defender looking to close him down, cracks a shot just the wrong side of the post & into the side netting.
And then it gets silly….
Obviously greatly aggrieved that Eddie has thoughtlessly managed to get his shot away before he could dive in and remove both his legs below the knees, the Northwood no2, Dave Nolan decides to give Ed a little taste of what to probably expect next time, by simply giving him a good old fashioned slap in the mush.
Now, I know I’m not on the board of FIFA or the FA, I’m not a decision maker in the laws of football and ok, I’m not a qualified referee either. But correct me if I’m wrong here, doesn’t striking an opponent (or a team mate if the fancy takes you) constitute, under the laws of the game, a straight no-questions-asked-don’t-even-bother-to-argue-about-it-you-brainless-wanker red card?
In the real, normal world, you’d have thought so. But this is Ryman Land. And despite the ref seeing the incident, Nolan just gets a yellow instead. Diabolical.
Nolan then switches off the one braincell he has and starts trying to double his caution tally before the ref has even had time to put the first card back in his pocket. Probably slightly bemused at his behaviour, the ref calls him back to remind him that he has in fact already shown him a yellow card in the last 25 seconds and to get another would be “naughty”. Sadly, the official fails to accept this opportunity to simply tell Mr Nolan “You’re obviously some sort of twat, just get the fuck off the pitch you thick cunt” whilst producing a second yellow and thus correcting his mistake made those 25 seconds ago.
Thankfully, the lads keep their heads and with half-time approaching, we edge further ahead. Nick Bailey picks up possession just inside the Northwood half and then picks out the run of Matt Gray with a perfect ball behind the home defence & into space. Matty simply outpaces his man and from the edge of the box, rifles a shot past the ‘keeper and in off the far post.
We jump around and celebrate before we’re brought back to earth by the thought that we’ve got to defend that lead for 45 whole minutes.
At the break, I enjoy a fine bacon butty from the grub hut. But I feel slightly guilty in devouring something that has more brains and personality than Nolan.
And that’s just the ketchup! (With apologies to Heinz).
The second half starts well for the U’s. Gray robs a dozing Northwood man in midfield & goes for goal, only a last ditch tackle blocks his goalbound shot. We’re given a big wake up call no too long after when a ball in behind the defence finds Moore who shoots past Iga from close range, but thankfully the lino’s flag is up. Gray drags another effort wide after another good run. Then Nolan is involved again, upending Matt Fowler. Within a couple of minutes, Matty is exacting revenge by hoofing said twat into the air, a move that causes a minor scuffle and earns our man a yellow card.
To prevent someone else no doubt exacting revenge, JR decides that it’d be best if Fowler left the game and replaces him with Jon Nurse. Nolan adds to his already impressive reputation by stalking the departing Fowler down the touchline with some words of ‘encouragement’.
How sweet. His parents must be so proud. We on the other hand think he’s a fucking bellend.
Unfortunately such rubbish as this distracts the U’s from the task at hand. Winning a football match against a set of clogging wankers.And the home side start to find a few more gaps, creating a few more chances than we’d like. The best of a bunch comes on 65 minutes when A ball into the channel on the right his hit first time, flashing just past Iga’s near post.
Nurse gets the chance to show his pace with around 20 to play, running onto a ball over the top down the left. He gets to the byeline & pulls the ball back across the 6 yard box. Hanlan arrives, but his touch towards goal is deflected over the bar. Somehow the officials decide a goal-kick is correct.
Another outrageous act of thuggery isn’t far away, with Bailey breaking forward from midfield, he’s confronted by the Northwood no14. Nick hesitates and this allows the defender to make a perfectly legitimate blocking tackle. Unfortunately winning the ball isn’t enough and he follows through, making sure to strike Bailey in the face. We hear the slap 20 yards away behind the goal, so quite how the lino direct in line & even closer doesn’t is beyond me. Of course, the ref isn’t interested and it’s a good few seconds before he allows the dazed & prostrate Bailey to receive treatment.
With pointless violence back on the menu, it’s no surprise that Mr Nolan is also soon involved again, earning Jon Nurse a booking after going down like he’s been shot following a somewhat innocuous challenge out on the left touchline. The ref’s cowardice from earlier comes back to haunt us with just under 15 minutes left, when after an exchange of passes, Nolan crosses from the left to the back post where Moore powers a towering header past Iga and hauls Northwood back into contention.
The U’s endure a nervy few minutes following the goal, with a couple of dangerous crosses having to be defended. But with time running out, the so far impressive Moore having brought his side back into the contest then practically condemns them to defeat. He chases down a ball over the top, but Iga anticipates and is waiting just inside his 18 yard line to gather the ball. But seemingly having swopped brains with Nolan at some point, Moore keeps going and pointlessly goes straight through the U’s ‘keeper.
Obviously more than fed up with this kind of bollocks, it’s not surprising we react. What is surprising is the sight of a normally placid Palmer charging in to confront Moore! The forward reacts and within a couple of seconds, it’s all going off. Which suits the home side right down to the ground, with only their ‘keeper failing to join the ruck at the far end.
After a few moments, the ref somehow separates the 2 sides and shows Moore a straight red. And that’s it! We’re amazed only the one card is shown to either side as we could clearly punches thrown from the other end of the ground! The brief engagement between Quinton & the Northwood no4 being particularly eye catching.
With the barney over, it takes the sting out of the hosts the final few minutes seem to swing back in the U’s favour. The last real event of any note coming inside the last 5 minutes. Jon Nurse chases after a ball down the left touchline and having kept it in play, heads infield towards the box. The no4, chases back to intercept and you can tell that he’s really not that interested in the white round thing.
Before he’s got within 10 yards of intercepting our man, I’ve called it.
“He’s going to take him out.” I confidently predict.
Naturally, the dickhead fails to prove me wrong and brutally chops Nurse down in full flight. And quite staggeringly escapes any punishment other than the award of a free-kick. But that’s not all. With no complaint, Jon picks himself up and heads into the box to await the free-kick. Here, the no6 decides that our man has caused great offence in not losing a limb in the challenge and ‘has a word’.
Well, when I say he ‘has a word’ I really mean ‘tries to nut him’. The 14 also has a go, just for good measure. Only the lino’s intervention by coming in from the touchline prevents further aggro.
The kick comes to little, but after a nervy few minutes, the ref blows for time and the 3 points are ours. We applaud our boys off and abuse the departing thugs before heading to the bar for a drink, some results and the last half hour of the Russia-Wales game.
Then it’s a happy wander back to the Hood for a few more celebratory pints.
Now, who’s going to tell the Greek that his man has left?
MAN OF THE MATCH – Nick Bailey. Covered every blade of grass & pinched a goal too. Nice.
ENTERTAINMENT – 7. We won! And with all the antics going on, you couldn’t say it was boring!
TEAM : Iga, Palmer, Quinton, Gonsalves, Hamlin, Akuamouah, Gray, Honey, Bailey, Hanlan, Fowler
SUBS : Nurse, Fletcher, Bolt
THE REFEREE’S………started ok. But letting the impressively twattish no2 off a certain red card meant that all the bollocks in the second half could easily have been avoided. He’d completely lost control by the end.