RYMAN PREMIER DIVISION
SUTTON UNITED – 0
NORTHWOOD – 0
Having been going a bit mental in front of goal in recent weeks, sods law dictates we were due a crap 0-0 draw where we do everything BUT score against struggling oppo.
Bugger. It’s Northwood at home next.
To be fair, we were about due a scoreless game. But I’d rather it had come a couple more weeks down the line. Particularly, with the Scummers at Canvey today and facing certain defeat, a win for ourselves would leave the U’s just 2 points behind and a home game against Hayes on Tuesday night.
Ho hum. Guess we’ve waited long enough, another week won’t hurt……..*mutter*
The day starts crap when I miss my bus into Sutton. Which I hate, as it makes the customary pre-match beverages a somewhat more hurried affair. Fortunately, Mr Chalmers cruises by shortly afterwards and offers a lift. Top stuff!
We find a lone Northwood fan supping his pint when we arrive along with Mrs Chalmers. Our visitor informs us his side is a little understrength for today’s clash and shouldn’t offer much of a threat up front.
Oh great. Just what we wanted to hear! No really. Cheers mate.
For passing on this wonderful information, we save our fellow Non-League beerhound the arduous 10 minute stroll to the ground & Chalmers offers him a lift.
See, we’re nice people really!
We find Windy, Greek and Dave (on a rare Saturday off for his birthday) already at the ground. The Scot’s bloke is already moving a lot easier on his NHS crutches. Which is good news. As it means he can now get to the bar under his own steam again!
The Sutton side again suffers from an enforced change today, with despite Matt Gray returning from suspension, we’ve now lost the ever reliable Tony Quinton to the curse of the yellow card for one match. Dean Hamlin steps in to fill the gap.
From the off, the lads set about their lowly oppo and within 5 minutes, Nurse makes a run, cuts across the edge of the box and strikes an effort just wide of the mark. A few minutes later, a pass along the edge of the box finds Matt Hanlan, but his 20 yard drive thumps back off the bar and is cleared by the Northwood defence.
Our guests can’t manage to move the ball significantly into our half of the field, with most a lot of balls forward well overhit for Iga to gather comfortably. The U’s are soon back threatening the ‘Wood goal though and on 13 minutes a Bailey free-kick on the right finds Gray inside the 6 yard box, but his stooping header flashes just wide of the near post. A minute later, a great chance goes begging after Nurse bombs onto a well placed ball behind the visitors defence out on the left. He skins the number5, leaving him on his arse before squaring the ball to the waiting Fowler. Unfortunately, Matt’s first touch is poor and a defender is able to nip in and clear the danger.
On 17 minutes, Matt Gray swings in a corner from the right that finds the towering Jinadu 8 yards out, but his downward header bounces up and is tipped over the bar by the ‘keeper. Bailey, Hanlan & Honey snuff almost everything out in midfield, but our front two who have been so lively recently, just seem to lack that spark to open up the packed Northwood defence.
The best chance of the half for Sutton comes on 25 minutes. A ball through the ‘Wood defence sends Fowler clear. Electing to tee up the better placed Nurse, he pulls the ball back across the box. But JN is unable to make a clean strike and the ‘keeper manages to scramble the effort clear, but only as far as Bailey. He again tee’s up Nurse, but probably eager to make up for his failure to hit the net just before, he scuffs his shot horribly wide from about 5 yards out.
Uh oh, I’m starting to get that “long afternoon with no goals” feeling.
But the U’s keep plugging away and on 32 minutes, Matt Gray cracks a free-kick from the edge of the area through the wall, but the ‘keeper gets his body behind the effort and holds on. Fowler has the last effort of the half 4 minutes before the whistle, finding himself in a bit of space 25 yards out, he tries his luck, but his dipping effort is a little too high & drops just over the bar.
With it being a bit nippy, we head inside for a swift short to take the chill from our bones.
When we emerge 10 minutes later, the U’s are ready to resume their assualt on the visitors goal. Straight off, Nicky Bailey is off down the left to the byeline before delivering a low square ball into the box. It’s cut out at the near post and cleared straight back to him, where the lino flags him offside.
Errrrr…….do you want to tell him or shall I?
Bailey is soon back at the sharp end, dashing from deep in midfield, past 1 defender and into the box, but his shot arrows a whisker past the far post.
The lads keep pressing, trying to find a way throught the stubborn, packed ‘Wood defence, but they always seem to have somone in the right place at the right time to make a last ditch challenge or throw themselves in the way to block a goalbound effort.
On the hour, Northwood remind us that despite not having a great deal of firepower or threat up front, they’re still out there. Lurking.
A deep ball in from the right finds an attacker towards the back post. Challenged by Jinadu, he gets a weak header in that drops in front of Iga. Unfortunately the ball gets a nasty bounce off the surface and Andy has to throw out a quick hand to bat it away and out for a corner. And we all start to breathe again.
We’re soon back on the attack and on 66 minutes, a Matt Gray corner from the right picks out the towering figure of Jinadu, but he powers his header just over the bar. Soon after, another corner presents an opportunity. Once more from the right, it’s flicked high up into the air by a defender and drops to Palmer in his customary spot, loitering beyond the back post. But, again, the shot is well struck, but not quite on target.
With 15 minutes remaining, Palmer is a little less assured when he takes too long to deal with a ball forwards and an attacker pops in to steal the ball away. Through on goal, his low shot across Iga evades the ‘keepers grasp but thankfully slips wide of the left hand post. Again, there’s a sharp intake of breath in our part of the ground.
This scare ups our efforts and leads to a frantic last 10 minutes. Bailey first forces a good stop from the ‘keeper with a shot from an angle after he’s scampered onto a pass into the box. Next Gray aims a low ball to the near post that Fowler gives a casual little flick, only for it to drop onto the top of the cross bar rather than under it. Rats.
Fowler is involved again soon after, taking a pass in the box he turns and finds Boosey running in to support, but once again, the shot isn’t quite good enough and zips wide of the mark. The last serious word is left to Fowler with 5 minutes left.
Gray once more makes progress down the right and whips the ball in for Fowler to dive in at the near post and direct a header into the side netting, just the wrong side of the upright.
The stout rearguard that Northwood have mounted pays off and the ref sends them off the field and home happy with a very hard won away point. The gits. It’s also an honest, hardworking performance in complete contrast to their cartoon thuggery at their place earlier in the season.
Don’t they understand we’ve got some smelly local rivals to overtake??? Bloody inconsiderate if you ask me.
We wander back to the Hood for a few beers to help Dave celebrate his birthday, but things soon get silly and an already battered bottle of Sambuca takes another hiding.
Somewhat worse for wear, an early night is called. But, with the long awaited trip to Bedford 7 days away, that’s no bad thing!
Who knows, by 4.45 that afternoon, we could be on the brink of Conference South & above the Scummers.
MAN OF THE MATCH : Paul Honey. Perfect for him. Nice and muddy for him to get stuck in loads.
ENTERTAINMENT : 6. Not bad as 0-0’s go, but definately 2 points dropped.
TEAM : Iga, Gray, Akuamouah, Palmer, Jinadu, Bailey, Hamlin, Honey, Fowler, Hanlan, Nurse.
SUBS : Boosey, Dray, Fletcher.
THE REFEREE’S………Hmmmmmmmmm. Not great, but quite as bad as some others I guess. Although the 14 year old linesman we had on our side in the 1st half was quite frankly shocking.