RYMAN PREMIER DIVISION
BEDFORD TOWN – 2 [Dillon 2. 62]
SUTTON UNITED – 1 [Bailey 45]
We’ve been waiting a while for this one. With our last 2 visits to Bedford turning into 2 classically top days out with drunken sillyness in abundance, we were quite looking forwards to making this trip. The fact we’re on a bloody good run a the time is purely coincidental!
And this could be our last visit for some time, especially with them struggling to make the new setup and apparently very likely to be heading for the Northern section even if they did.
Unfortunately, once again, we’re left a little in the doo doo by our national transport system. With engineering works at London Bridge screwing up my journey in particular! If thats not enough, a shitty bus service means I finally get to East Croydon a good 40 minutes later than I’d intended. I decide to ditch the original plan of getting into London and instead decide to jump on the slow service to Bedford and have a kip.
I finally find myself in Bedford almost an hour late and head for the pub to make up for lost time.
Windy is even further behind, having overslept despite not actually going out and getting shedded the night before for a change. He’ll finally roll into the boozer around 1. Upon arrival, I find Bob in place, brekkie & beer on the table. Bastard. Greek staggers in soon after with 3 mates he’d been on the piss with in Bedford the night before. They start their day with a jug of Vodka Red Bull. Nice! That’ll get very messy a bit later then.
Still, despite the delays we make the most of the time available and decide not to waste time wandering from pub to pub and settle down in the ‘Spoons. Feeling much more refreshed, a cab is ordred and Chalmers finally joins us from work just before 2.
We arrive at the New Eyrie just in time for Kick-Off and notice a couple of changes to the side. Despite the return of Tony Quinton, JR has puzzlingly decided not to restore the solid back 3 we’ve used for the last few weeks and instead plonks him in midfield. Craig Howard makes his second start at the back.
We’ve barely reached the cover at the far end before the home side have made an impression and we’re a goal behind. And it’s a really pony goal as well…
A deep free-kick down the middle from just inside our half finds a blue shirt towards the right of the box, he wins the header under a rather feeble challenge and nods back across goal to the totally unmarked no9 at the far post who has the simple task of directing a header past Iga.
Ok, how many times do we have to go over this? Set piece. Opponent. In box. Please mark. Thank you.
Sutton are soon finding their feet and a couple of minutes later a ball into the box is poorly cleared, dropping to Hanlan just outside the box. But despite being well placed, his shot is poor and barely troubles the home defence.
The defence though, is still struggling to find any rythm and on 9 minutes, 2 poor attempts at tackles fails to halt a run down our left, allowing the attacker to cut in and curl a decent looking effort accross the face of the goal.
But slowly things settle down and the boys start to play. We finally test the keeper 12 minutes in when a corner from the left isn’t dealt with and drops to Gray on the edge of the box. His fierce low drive forcing a good save from the ‘keeper, who just manages to hang onto the ball and prevent it squirming under him.
This leads to a good spell for the visitors and we start to play some very good football, moving the ball well. Akuamouah puts in a good cross from the left that evades Nurse & Fowler in the middle but finds Gray at the back post. Sadly his first time drive from an angle is the wrong side of the post and into the side netting.
Our next opportunity again comes as the result of a set piece. Gray swings it into the danger area and again, the home defence is unable to get rid of the ball. It falls to Tobi Jinadu around 8 yards out, but his snap shot despite beating the ‘keeper is blocked on the line by a defender and finally cleared upfield. Straight after, a free-kick from the right is flicked on in the box and drops to Patsy at the far post. Again we test the keeper, but again he hangs on and saves Palmers shot.
Bedford interrupt the flow towards their goal briefly on 38 minutes. Making progress towards the edge of the U’s box, 2 clever backheeled passes in succession plays the no10 in behind the defence. But despite being well placed to cause Iga some serious problems, but he construes to blaze a very good chance well over the target.
The U’s are soon back on the offensive though and a good surging run out from the back by Eddie, results in a ball down the left touchline to Jon Nurse, who spins his marker and leaves him trailibng in his wake. With a clear run at goal, the keeper races off his line to close the gap, but Nursey clips the ball over him & goalwards. But it just refuses to drop in time & dips just over the target.
With half time just around the corner, we keep pressing for that equaliser and once more we force a desperate save from the home keeper. Another corner comes in from the right & drops in the box invitingly for Akuamouah. He turns and fires goalwards, only for his shot to take a deflection on the way in. But, still the keeper is on hand to frustrate, sticking out a leg to just take enough off the pace of the ball and allow him to gather.
With it looking like our efforts aren’t going to be rewarded, we snatch the goal our play has deserved late in 1st half stoppage time.
Another corner is lumped in from the left and finds it’s way to the back post where Nurse rises highest and heads back across the face of goal for Bailey to nip in and power in a header from just under the bar. Naturally, when the whistle sends us to the bar moments later, we’re feeling fairly confident we’re going to go on and win this one.
Unfortunately, the home side step up their efforts in the second half and we find it difficult to carry our control of the match forward from the first 45 minutes. Bailey has an early surging run that shows promise, but ends it with a disappointingly weak shot. Jinadu has our heads in our hands soon after, going to cut out a cross in from the right, he slices the ball horribly over his shoulder and Iga can only watch it as it loops over his bar and out for a corner.
Er, Tobes ol’ son, we’ve changed ends now mate!
We’re then treated to one of those classically dumb, yet undoubtedly drunken moments that seem to litter these reports with worrying regularity! It amazes me just how such a small group of people could do so much stupid stuff.
A shot from distance on the Bedford goal sails too high & well wide of the target. It drops towards us behind the goal and finds Gareth out in the open, having just disposed of the remains of his burger in the bin. Now, most people having just had major reconstructive surgery on their knee, would, on hearing several people shout a warning about a football heading their way, duck or at the very least try to make sure their dodgy joint is not on the receiving end of a potentially painful whack. Not our Windy. Oooooh no.
He tries to volley it. Yep, you read that right. He tries to volley the fucking ball. Quite whether this is down the several pints he’d had prior to the game or just plain stupidity, I’m really not too sure. But fortunately, the alarm bells in his brain (and no doubt the searing pain from the aforementioned joint) means he doesn’t quite follow through with the idea to the end and pulls out at the last moment.
Looking a little bit like he’s in some discomfort he hobbles back to reclaim his crutches, freely admitting that his little stunt was “probably the stupidest thing I’ve ever done”. Which is strange, as I’m pretty sure his decision to go to Hitchin the afternoon after the actual op had claimed that particular prize. And then there was the almost stepping in front of the express train on the way home from Bognor. And…
But back to the action.
Gray switches the play out to the left and Akuamouah gets to the byeline, delivering a good ball into the box and to the back post. Gray has continued his run and heads the ball back across, but no-one in an amber shirt is there to take advantage of the chance.
Just past the hour, a poxy bit of defending lets in the home side and we once more find ourselves behind. A long ball forwards really should be cut out by either Jinadu or Palmer, but they leave the job to each other and the ball bounces between them, leaveing the Eagles no9 a free-run on goal. Iga races off his line but is beaten by the shot, only to see it come back off the post. Sadly luck is not on our side and the ball falls back at the feet of the striker and he rolls the ball into the net.
We mount a response and within 10 minutes, Bailey blasts down the left flank before squaring the ball along the edge of the box for Nurse. He lets the ball run, turning his marker before cracking a low shot towards the far corner. But once more, that bastard bloody ‘keeper is there to frustrate us, getting a hand onto the shot, helping it onto the foot of the post. Even then we don’t get a break and the ball bounces back out into play rather than over the line for the equaliser.
Both sides go onto trade half chances, but it seems more & more likely that the hosts dogged defence is going to come out on top, making sure they hang onto the points. On 77 minutes, they almost go further ahead when Iga drops a catch following a free-kick. But the loose ball is hooked through a crowd and thumps back off an upright. Sutton respond with Gray putting in a ball from the right that gets touched onto Nurse out on the left. But sadly the ‘keeper is once more equal to the low effort & turns it past the post for a corner.
Andy Iga has us cursing inside the last 10 minutes, picking up a backpass when really he should know better. Our last chance to rescue a point comes with around 5 minutes left from another Gray cross. It finds Bailey diving in at the back post, but somehow, the Bedford defence manage to block out the effort and hang on to the final whistle.
Mildly disappointed, we head for the bar to get some results and a couple of drinks, then it’s a cab to quite possibly our favourite pub outside of the London Borough of Sutton. The Wellington Arms. Definately the only reason we’ve failed to drink this town dry on previous visits!
Much ‘Banana’ beer is sunk, but sadly due to the engineering works, we have to head off earlier than we’d like so we don’t end up stuck in deepest Bedfordshire. Completely pissed.
A couple of hours later, I’m heading through the park towards home and find a gate barring my way. “No problem” I think. And it’s not. Somehow managing to negotiate the obstacle without breaking my neck, I’m feeling quite pleased with myself. For about 10 seconds. Before I go arse over tit, tripping on the kerb the other side.
Aaaaah, Bedford. We’ll miss ya.
MAN OF THE MATCH : Nick Bailey. Plenty of action in the middle.
ENTERTAINMENT : 7. Some good footy played, shame about the result.
TEAM : Iga, Gray, Akuamouah, Palmer, Jinadu, Bailey, Howard, Quinton, Hanlan, Fowler, J.Nurse.
SUBS : Boosey, C.Nurse, Dray, Hamlin
THE REFEREE’S………Ok I guess. Had far far worse this season. Didn’t get that much wrong really if I’m honest!