RYMAN PREMIER DIVISION
BISHOPS STORTFORD – 1 [Bunn 86]
SUTTON UNITED – 1 [Boosey 85]
So far this season in 3 meetings with Stortford, it’s taken a penalty shoot out to seperate the sides with the other games ending level. And with both sides sitting 10th & 11th and in decent form, we’re not exactly expecting to go up there and have the 3 points sewn up inside 20 minutes.
The drinking crew are back to full strength this week after some recent absences and when I wander into the pub at Liverpool Street, I find Greek & Windy already feeding their hard earned into the establishments fruit machines. Addicted? Surely not!
Gareth then greets me with the cheery story of a conversation he’d had with a Brentford ‘fan’ at Sutton station that morning. He’d told our man the distressing news that Ex-U’s midfielder Ed Hutchinson had been killed in a car crash (Although ringing round different contacts & getting Oscar to check teletext & the net soon seems to reveal this as a rather sick hoax).
There’s some weird bastards out there.
He also reveals that the Greek bloke has been depressed all the way into town after he’d been reminded of where they’re travelling today. Looks like that FA Cup result it still pretty fresh in the mind for him.
Bob rolls in soon after and Chalmers confirms he has to work until one & will catch us up in Stortford. A couple of pints and a pasty later and it’s on the train to Hertfordshire. Although not the one we intend and we arrive a bit later than we’d have liked.
Chalmers is soon on the phone asking for directions to the boozer. His arrival is well timed as it’s his round! Just to ensure he’s aware of this, Greek drops him a text with the details. Seconds later, PC walks through the door and breaks off from the “hello’s” to answer a text he’s just got……
Come on, stop whinging and get ‘em in.
Once he’s dealt with the lack of refreshments, his thoughts turn to his footy bet for the day. Asking how I reckon my other team Oldham would get on at Blackpool this afternoon. After a short while pondering, I feel a draw would be about the right result. PC decides not to follow my wise & sage like advice & back the home side to win.
Pah! You’ll pay for that, you scruffy haired bloke you.
We arrive with time to spare before kick-off and check out the side. Which doesn’t take long, as it’s exactly the same as last week! Although we are boasting a full compliment of subs this afternoon, which is unusual for us as JR normally prefers just the 3.
The game itself starts with Stortford on the attack straight away and by the time we’ve reached the far end which we’re shooting towards, the home side have already won and tried their luck from at least 3 corners. None of which are defended with any great conviction by the U’s defence. But that’s ok, we’re starting to almost expect it! Although it takes a good 18 minutes before I’m scribbling anything worth metioning into my notepad.
A cross from the U’s left results in a crisp volley inside the box bringing a great reaction save from Iga. Soon after, the U’s are hitting back with Bailey making a strong incursion down the hosts left flank, but his pull back from the byeline is cut out at the near post. Nurse is soon once again unsettling oppo defenders with his pace on 24 minutes, keeping a ball forwards in play out on the left before heading infield and leaving a defender for dead. But Desborough gets down well and parries Nurseys low shot.
He’s soon in action again very soon after when the U’s striker once more gets loose on the left after a nice pass from Akuamouah, pulling the ball back from the byeline, Desborough fumbles the straightforward catch, but there’s no-one in an Amber shirt close enough to make him pay for his error and he gathers at the second attempt.
The U’s have now settled well and despite the match being very tight with little being given away by either side, the few chances there are seem to be falling our way. On 34 minutes, Akuamouah wins the ball on the left and plays infield to Fowler who immediately puts Bailey away down the left. His pinpoint cross swung in first time picks out Nurse between thwo defenders, but despite the U’s striker taking the ball well on his chest, the pace takes it just out of his reach and the ‘keeper is able to claim the ball just in time,
With the break approaching, Nurse continues to cause problems. Again raiding down the left he cuts in and with what looks to be a decent shooting opportunity, he elects to roll the ball across the area to the oncoming Hanlan, but the pass is just behind the Sutton skipper and a defender is able to nip in and clear. The last real chance of the half then falls to the home side. Bailey conceeds a free-kick out on the left, for which he is somewhat harshly booked. The resulting ball into our 18 yard box finds it’s way to the back post, where it is headed narrowly over Iga’s crossbar.
I can’t be arsed to traipse round to the bar at half time and head to the other end to get the job of tying up a sodding great flag over & done with! The others bugger off for a drink. Cheers boys! Chalmers emerges fairly happy though as his footy bet is looking good so far, especially as Oldham trail 1-0. Bugger!
The second half starts brightly for the U’s, Fowler playing the ball out to the right flank for Matt Gray who cuts infield, but his shot from just outside the box clears the crossbar. Stortford hit back a couple of minutes later with a cross from our left being met at the near post, but well over the target.
On 54 minutes, a corner from the right by Gray picks out Tobi Jinadu at the near post. He directs his header onto the target, but it lacks the power to beat Desborough who claims the ball. 2 minutes later and Andy Iga is in action again, tipping away a free-kick from the edge of the area that looks destined for the top corner of his net. Just after the hour, Stortford go close again when the play is switched from left to right with a ball in behind Gray. The attacker takes a touch and fires past Iga, but is wide of the target. There’s a short lull in the action as a midfield battle ensues, with neither side quite able to get on top and take control.
It’s not until Iga is called upon to smother a low shot from the left after the Stortford no4 has cut inside Akuamouah with a little under 20 minutes left that things pick up again. It’s Eddie himself creating our next chance with a good run down the left. He gets away from their no6 and delivers a low ball to the near post where Nurse arrives, but guides his effort just the wrong side of the upright. Both sides continue to plug away, but it’s not until the last 10 minutes the game picks up!
First Gray puts a wicked cross in from the right which is just headed away by a defender from between Nurse and Bailey at the back post, then with 5 minutes left, substitute Glen Boosey finds the ball at his feet after a throw in from the right has been touched on. He tries his luck from just outside the box only to see his shot take a wicked deflection and spin past the completely wrong footed Desborough and into the net! Woooo Hooo! A bit of luck!
To be honest, with the game seemingly set for a 0-0, it was going to take a nice big slice of fortune to break the deadlock. And we just got it.
Come on lads, lets stay calm here. Stay strong and keep what we have………..oh bugger.
Within 60 seconds of going in front, we conceed a free-kick on the edge of our area. It’s hit low round the wall to the left and seemingly straight at Iga, but he spills the ball and Bunn slides in to poke home the chance. 1-1.
Looks like we might have to settle for the draw after all then!
But the goals seem to rouse both sides into action and we get a frantic last couple of minutes of end to end action. With Stortford first applying the pressure but not quite managing to make an opening, beofre the U’s have 2 decent chances to snatch the game. Boosey obviously bouyed by his first senior goal for the club, then tries to show us he doesn’t need such a huge deflection all the time. Taking a pass across the edge of the box in his stride, he curls a delightful shot towards the bottom far corner of the goal only for Desborough to fling himself to one side and make an excellent one handed stop, tipping the ball round the post. Then with time running out, Gray puts a corner in from the right that is only half cleared, dropping to Akuamouah just inside the box. His first time effort fizzes across goal and inches wide of the far post.
See, we told you it’d be a draw.
And speaking of draws, as we head out into the car park to go & meet our cab back into town, I inform Chalmers that Oldham have levelled up at Blackpool. He’s not happy. “Clucking fronts” or something similar is all he has to say.
His mood is worsened soon after on the train back into London when he discovers that the aformentioned equaliser has just cost him the best part of 350 quid. Lobbing his mobile phone in disgust at the closest thing available to an Oldham fan. Me!
Innocently, I enquire what would have been his ‘return’ had he bet on the draw, just like I’d predicted?
Closer to 550 quid apparently. Oooops!
A grub and booze stop in Liverpool Street sets us up nicely for the trip back home, with a conversation made up entierly of song lyrics.
Drunk? Us? With our reputation??
MAN OF THE MATCH : John Nurse. Our main threat again!
ENTERTAINMENT : 7. Not great, but an interesting encounter between 2 evenly matched sides.
TEAM : Iga, Palmer, Quinton, Jinadu, Gray, Akuamouah, Honey, Bailey, Hanlan, Nurse, Fowler
SUBS : Gonsalves, Tydeman, Boosey, Hamlin, Fletcher
THE REFEREE’S………so-so. No great shakes. Made the usual Ryman type decisions. IE. None!