RYMAN PREMIER DIVISION
SUTTON UNITED – 4 [OG 39. Bailey 40. Nurse 44.54]
ST ALBANS CITY – 2 [Browne 18. Willis 46]
It’s hard to believe that just 3 weeks ago, we were hammering the daylights out of our rivals over Xmas. As since that wonderful afternoon, our defence has slipped back to it’s bad old ways that blighted our early season form and we’ve conceded 10 goals in the following 3 contests. At least half of those being very very avoidable.
So it was back to league action this afternoon against our old friends from St Albans, who despite being one of the pre-season favourites, have found the going hard and are currently battling at the wrong end of the table. A situation that horrifies us here at Gandermonium.
The new Conference (South) division without a St Albans piss up? It doesn’t bear thinking about. And while we’re on the subject, we’d like to take the opportunity to request that Bedford sort their bloody lives out as well.
Still, despite our own personal requirements on the drinking front, getting 3 more points on the board and 3 closer to that new Conference is the main thing.
Habit dictates I wander into the pub around 2. Here I find Gareth already undertaking refreshment. Todays gathering would be on the sparse side with Greek off working in Coventry, Chalmers away for the weekend for his birthday and Bob running around sorting out his house purchase.
Oh well, cheap round then!
The U’s side has one change from the Trophy defeat at Forest Green, Tony Quinton returning in place of Gonsalves, who’s given a rest on the bench. Matt Hanlan seemingly having shaken off his back problem to retain the skippers armband.
The visitors are keen to get their season kick-started & start very brightly. Only 5 minutes in and a corner causes problems at the back for our defence, finding a lightly marked man at the back post who nods back across goal for a colleague to head over the bar. The U’s come back within a few minutes with a corner of their own. Gray swinging it in from the right and finding Jinadu, whose cushioned header loops over the outstretched hand of the ‘keeper, but bounces back off the face of the cross bar.
The U’s defence is still looking ropey and on 15 minutes, they fail to deal with a cross from the right. Iga comes for the ball, but doesn’t seem to call and Patsy ends up nodding the ball over his ‘keeper towards goal. Fortunately Quinton is following up and boots the ball clear. This signals a period of control for the visitors, which our defence struggles to deal with.
A ball down the right behing Palmer has Iga racing off his line. We start panicking. The player gets just past Iga and tries to cut the ball back into the box. Thankfully Andy manages to get a hand on the ball and make a block. The Saints man gathers the ball again and tries to play the ball into the box with Iga retreating fast, but Palmer has made up the ground and cuts out the ball.
It’s a brief respite. Form a corner a minute or so later, we leave the big Saints no5, Browne, unmarked and he has the simple task of heading past Iga from close range. We decide to save our breath and not comment on the glaring lack of marking.
Sutton are struggling to make an impact going forwards and the defence isn’t exactly filling us with confidence!
Iga is in action again with 35 minutes played. We have a free-kick that we make a complete pigs-ear of on the edge of the St Albans box. The visitors take advantage & break quickly down the left. A ball into the box avoids 2 covering U’s defenders, but finds Patsy who tries to get rid only to see his attempted clearance cannon off a lurking forward and fly goalwards. But Iga reacts brilliantly to beat away the ball from almost point blank range.
A rare foray forwards soon after brings the U’s best chance of the match so far, but Fowler fails to convert Honey’s pull back from the right hand byeline, hooking the shot over the bar from 6 yards out. St Albans are soon back at the other end causing us some concern down the left, a ball low to the near post finding a white shirt, amazingly unmarked. But somehow, Iga & Palmer combine to snuff out his threat and smuggle the ball clear.
A minute later and through some good fortune, we somehow find ourselves level.
Eddie goes on a good run from deep down the left before switching the play out right to Bailey. Nickys cross is cut out and the ball rolls back to him, ignoring Matt Gray in acres of room behind him, he tries his luck again, swinging the ball in. DeSouza gets in front of Fowler at the near post, but his glancing header flies across goal, past his startled ‘keeper and nestles just insde the far post.
This moment of misfortune for the visitors seems to unsettle them and 60 seconds later, having hardly had a sniff so far, the U’s are ahead! Bailey runs at the St Albans defence before knocking a pass out to Grays feet on the right. He glides past the defender and thumps a low ball across the 6 yard box for Bailey who has carried on his run, to bury the ball from close range at the back post.
Bloody hell, where did that come from??
Things get worse for the Saints almost right on the the half-time whistle. They win a corner on our left that Jinadu manages to get his head to & clear. The ball looks to be running out of play on the right, but Paul Honey charges after it and manages somehow to keep it in play. He looks up and plays an instant long pass down the line and over the heads of Nurse and the Saints no3. In a straight race for goal, there’s only going to be one winner and Nurse outstrips the defender. The closest he gets to the U’s striker is the big shove in the back he gives him as he steadies to shoot 8 yards out, but Nursey has already pulled the trigger and lifts the ball over the ‘keeper.
The already somewhat animated visitors bench, who have been leaping up and down in their technical area almost the entire 1st half, are up in arms screaming for an offside.
Er, if you say so gents. But from where I was stood, looked like Nursey and the defender were pretty much shoulder to shoulder……..until JN really got on the gas and left him for dead that is!
Now stop fucking whinging, sit down and shut the fuck up. You’re giving me a headache.
3-1 at the break then and we head into the bar, making calls to update Greek & Chalmers whilst still trying to work out just how the hell we were ahead.
Our good mood doesn’t last long. We’ve hardly got from the tunnel to the Securicor terrace before we’ve conceeded a corner. We don’t get much further before said corner is put in from the left and once again an unamrked opponent is on hand to head past Iga.
Ok lads. We’ve said it before, but we’ll go over it just one more time ok?
See opponent? FUCKING MARK HIM! Got that? Cheers.
The St Albans fightback doesn’t last long and just before the hour a quick free-kick in our own half is played out to Gray on the right. He goes on a run, simply runs past the defender on the right and crosses low into the box. The ball finds Nurse 8 yards out and he’s allowed enough time & space to turn and shoot past the ‘keeper.
Iga has us uttering naughty words soon after, fumbling a seemingly simple cross which causes a real scramble in the box, but Matt Gray is on hand to eventually clear the danger. Almost straight after, Nurse is presented the chance of his first hat-trick in a U’s shirt when Folwer hassles a defender out of the ball 20 yards out. He notices Nursey racing through the middle behind him and backheels the ball into this path. Holding off the defender, the young striker tries his luck, but pulls his effort wide of the near post.
St Albans keep going and chasing the game, they puch DeSouza into his more familiar role up front to try & rescue something and with 20 minutes to go, he’s presented with a great chance. A free-kick from the right is weakly cleared out to the left, it’s quickly aimed back into the box where it’s deflected into the path of DeSouza about 6 yards out. With Iga grounded, the big striker only has to hit the target.
Ooops! Did I just say that?
Lets just say it was a horrible horrible miss, shanking his shot off his shin and very high very wide of the target.
The miss seems to knock the remaining fight out of the visitors and the U’s see out the match comfortably, but sadly fail to add to their tally. First Bailey swings a brilliant 40 yard pass from left to right for Gray on the corner of the box, but his toe-ender is just blocked by the onrushing ‘keeper and with time almost up, Nurse breaks down the left, dances past his man and just as he’s about to shoot the defender manages to get back and just nick the ball off his foot.
So 3 points on the board and a second consecutive home league win.
We head back to the Hood for the usual post match refreshments where we find that the Scummers have sadly won at Kettering, meaning we don’t get to make up any more ground on them. But there’s still time.
Now, c’mon St Albans, get yer bloody finger out and get up to 13th! We need that piss up next season!
MAN OF THE MATCH : Paul Honey. Another all action 90 miuntes.
ENTERTAINMENT : 7. Ok I guess. State of the pitch didn’t really help.
TEAM : Iga, Palmer, Quinton, Jinadu, Gray, Akuamouah, Honey, Bailey, Hanlan, Nurse, Fowler
SUBS : Gonsalves, Tydeman, Boosey
THE REFEREE’S………erratic. Admittedly gave us quite a bit in the second half & infuriated the visiting Saints fans. But once again it was inconsistancy that dogged him. Missing blatant fouls one moment, awarding yellow cards for breathing near an opponent the next. Still, we won!