RYMAN PREMIER DIVISION
GRAYS ATHELTIC – 3 [Thurgood p17. Youds 45. Williams 84]
SUTTON UNITED – 2 [Quinton 3. Akuamouah 55]
Still grinning like idiots after the small matter of giving the Scummers a right bloody good hiding on Saturday, we made the short trip round the M25 to Grays for our Mew Years Day clash. And this was despite our hangovers from the exertions in the pub the previous evening welcoming 2004.
In case you were wondering, yes we are nuts. Completely nuts.
And whose stupid fucking idea was it to give us a team in frigging Essex the day after the most pissed up night of the year?
Poxy bloody Ryman fixture computer. I hope it gets a virus or something….
Still, hangovers and all, we motor through the rain and round the worlds biggest car-park to the joyous Essex town of Grays. Another of those places just love to visit. Although, in the defence of Grays, they are the only football club with an entry in the CAMRA beer guide. Which is always good to help you dull the ‘excitement’ of visiting the most aptly named town in the country.
A quick pre-match drink tops up the booze level from the previous evening and we head out for some munch. To our delight, it’s started to rain. Lovely.
The side is unchanged from saturdays one-sided goal feast, but Tydeman and Boosey are added to the bench to help boost the squad a bit.
The lads carry on from where they left off at the weekend, setting about the home side from the off. We’ve barely got the flag up when just 3 minutes in, Bailey drifts a free-kick into the box from the left. Tony Quinton takes advantage of the static home defence, nips in round the back and stoops to head past the exposed Capleton.
Not bad gentlemen! Not bad at all.
Grays are quick to hit back and within a couple of minutes, a cross from the right is headed clear over from 8 yards out by the well placed Griffiths. Sutton continue to press, but fail to break down the home defence, well marshalled as expected by the experienced Eddie Youds.
On 16 minutes, a brief spell of pressure from Grays results in an unexpected equaliser. A pass into the box brings Iga off his line and despite getting to the ball first & pushing it out of the path of the oncoming Hazeldeyne, the Grays man goes over our ‘keeper and the ref points to the spot.
The bald Grays no6 steps up and sends Andy the wrong way to level the scores. The goal really gets the blues going and we have to suffer a period of home attacks. Iga has to be alert to push away a low ball coming in from the right on 20 minutes. Fortunately it’s a green & white shirt there first to clear the danger. 32 minutes played and a cross from the left is cut out but only half cleared. The ball comes straight back into the U’s box, picking out a now unmarked forward, but his header is poor and drifts well wide.
We finally regain a foothold in the match and with half-time looming, almost snatch the lead. Gray puts in a cross from the right and Jon Nurse manages to nod the ball back across the 6 yard box from by the back post. Pual Honey reacts first, hooking the ball goalwards. But Capleton is equal to the effort and makes a very good one handed save, pushing the ball away. Grays break quickly and seconds later, Iga is forced to turn a low, long range Remy drive just round his post. From the resulting corner, Youds is given enough space to get his head to a near post flick-on and put the home side ahead.
Bloody typical. 30 seconds after we could be ahead, we gift one the other end.
There’s still time for Sutton to strike back, with the so far impressive Jinadu heading a right wing corner from Matt Gray across goal and just wide of the upright.
We can’t be arsed to hit the bar at half-time, but soon regret the decision as we begin to notice it’s really rather sodding cold out here.
The second half starts well for the U’s, with Nurse flicking on a long ball forwards for Akuamouah to outpace the home defence, draw the ‘keeper and calmly slot the ball home for his first goal of the season. Cue delight amongst the travelling fans.
My own good mood is soon dented when I discover I’ve busted my pen during the celebrations. Somehow it manages to remain in a useable state long enough for me to finish my scribbling.
On the hour, Iga is called into action when a ball infield results in a sharp low strike from around 25 yards out. Andy gets down well and pushes the effort away at the expense of a corner.
The match then develops into an intruiging contest, with both midfields battling it out for supremacy. Honey and Bailey giving a more than decent account of themselves against their full time opponents. In fact, the U’s seem more than set for a point. With all 3 not a possibility.
But just as it seems we’re getting on top, disaster strikes with 6 minutes remaining. An attack breaks down 30 yards out from goal when Nurse is robbed of the ball. Grays move the ball back downfield and with the U’s defence a little on the back foot, a cross-field ball finds an unmarked and rather offside looking blue shirt on the left, 10 yards out. Iga, comes off his line, but can’t prevent the ball being prodded under him and into the far corner. Andy’s reaction only helps confirm our suspicions about an offside, as he charges to the left touchline to furiously remonstrate with the linesman. A reaction that gets him an instant yellow card.
Sutton shake off the setback and set about trying to get the reward their performance deserves. With time slipping away, Bailey nips in to connect with a deep free-kick from the left and flash a header wide of the far post. Then almost on the whistle, a ball across from the right by Gray catches out a Grays defender with an awkward bounce and Bailey seizes on the opportunity, burtsing in on the left.
He can’t quite get round the last man, but still works himself a shooting opportunity from a narrow angle, but agonisingly Capleton gets a foot to the ball and it’s enough to allow him to smother the ball.
Sadly, time runs out before we can manage another attacking effort and our 13 game unbeaten run comes to an end.
We head into the bar for a drink to drown our sorrows and are greeted by a local bunch of pikey twats. “Oooooh look, it’s the Sutton massive!” one moron exclaims as we stroll in. “Were you born in a barn?” another whinges, no doubt upset by the blast of cold air from the doorway we just came through.
It’s called a ‘door’ you cock. You have to OPEN them to get in order to get into a room. How did you expect us to get in? Down the fucking chimney? Shame the dole office isn’t open on New Years Day. Then you could all fuck off and leave me to enjoy my drink in peace. You Burberry hatted Essex pikey arseholes.
Thankfully, the majority soon leave and we get to sup up in peace before heading back towards Sutton and a few more pints in the completely non-pikey Robin Hood.
Happy New Year everyone!
MAN OF THE MATCH : Paul Honey. Really back to his best with a solid all round performance.
ENTERTAINMENT : 7. Not a bad game. Both sides tried to play the right way.
TEAM : Iga, Palmer, Quinton, Jinadu, Gonsalves, Gray, Akuamouah, Honey, Bailey, Nurse, Fowler
SUBS : Hamlin, Tydeman, Fletcher, Boosey
THE REFEREE’S………fussy, Let some robust tackling go, especially by the Grays no6, who by our reckoning, didn’t appear to make a single legal challenge in the entire 90 minutes. Don’t have much to say for the lino 2nd half. Missed a blatantly offside oppo player who promptly scored the winner. Cock.