SUTTON UNITED – 1 [Fear 85.]
ST ALBANS CITY – 2 [Clarke 52.78.]
What? It’s here already?? Oh bugger, it can’t be! We’re not ready yet! Tell them to come back next week.
What? We can’t? Oh arse. S’pose we’d better get it over with then….
It’s been a miserable summer generally, but still the long awaited first game of the season is finally upon us. And we’re shitting it. JR has tried to bolster our creaking defence, signing Bradley Thomas from Peterborough on a months loan. This at least goes a little way to helping us feel a little more confident about the visit of St Albans.
I wander into the Hood for 2pm and find Windy, Chalmers and Mr Bell enjoying the afternoon sun along with a pint. Greek is off watching Sperz opening fixture against Liverpool at a mates. He’s not being antisocial, it’s just he’s on a course of antibiotics and is unable to join in the the beer related activities. He’ll be joining us prior to the game.
As plans are made to leave for the ground, a phone call informs me that the St Albans team are stuck on the M25 and kick off will be delayed about 30 minutes.
Great, time for another pint then!
The extra time is well used and another beer is consumed before we make full use of a sober Greek and zoom to the ground in double quick time. So early in fact, we head to the bar for a quick snifter!
We’d been guessing about JR’s chosen line up all this week, but they’re all wrong as the teams run out as for starters, Andy Iga isn’t present. Phil Wilson getting the nod. At the back, another surprise is the inclusion of Craig Howard at the back. A player who we hadn’t seen anything of in pre-season. Hmmm, this could be interesting……
Proceedings get underway at 3.35 and despite our misgivings, things start fairly brightly for the U’s and after only 3 minutes a Peter Fear free-kick from out on the left is nodded on and Bradley Thomas hooks a shot across goal and just wide of the far post. A few minutes later, Brake has a moment of good fortune when 2 defenders mix up and clatter into each other out on the left. The Ex-Crawley man advances and plays a low ball to the near post, but the ‘keeper manages to cut the ball out at the feet of Andy Martin.
But the first signs that, as we’d feared, our defence was our biggest worry surface on 15 minutes when a ball through the backline has all the lads appealing for offside, but the flag stays down and the Saints no10 races through on goal. Thankfully, he hesitates a bit on the edge of the box and this allows Wilson that vital second to get down and block the ball at the strikers feet.
We respond within a couple of minutes and again another Fear free-kick from out on the left causes the visitors problems. Picking out Vansittart at the back post with a towering header that beats the ‘keeper, but not the crossabr and the ball is hoofed clear.
The exchanges continue with the visitors playing the tidier football, but we’re looking more dangerous when attacking. Andy Martin winning a ball inside the Saints half on 27 minutes, slipping the ball through to Nigel Brake supporting on the left. He races in on goal and with the option of Martin & Vansittart in support, he elects to go for goal, bringing a smart low save out of the ‘keeper at his near post.
St Albans remind us they’re still there though, a smart pass into the box from the left brings a neat turn & shot across the face of Wilsons goal and just wide of the far post.
We see out the half though with 2 decent openings, but again fail to take them. First Fear plays a great diagonal ball finding Brake out on the left. He nods inside for Eddie, but despite being clear on goal, he snatches at the shot and the ‘keeper gathers the weak effort easily. Akumouah has another sight of goal on 43 minutes, a deep ball from the right is flicked on, finding Ed arriving on the left, but he blazes over the target.
Still, we head in at the break feeling a bit more confident despite not really impressing. We’re creating chances, lets just hope we can make one count!
Having stuffed a bacon roll down my neck in time for the second half, things start well with Matt Gray swinging a cross in from the right and picking out Joff, but his header is high and clears the target. They’re involved again a minute or so later, Matty finding Martin with a quick throw, he lays the ball inside for Joff and with a good sight of goal, he blasts high of the target.
And within a couple of minutes, we’re paying for not converting any of those openings. An attack bogs down and 2 passes later, the no10 is on his way to goal again. This time he makes no mistake and turning inside Corbett, then leaving Wilson sprawling, puts his side 1-0 up.
The goal seems to lift St Albans and make an already lethargic 2nd half performance from the U’s worse. We huff & puff away, but don’t really look likely getting back into the game. The visitors certainly look capable of extending their advantage though. On 67 minutes, a cross from the left is headed on giving the no11 a sight of goal, but again Wilson reacts quickly and makes an excellent block.
On loan defender Bradley Thomas, who has had a decent debut, is unfortunate to go into the refs book around thsi time, becoming the umpteenth U’s player to tangle with the visitors no8, Parker, who has been a total wanker all afternoon, getting away with murder with a number of niggly fouls throughout the game. Thomas arrives a moment late out on the touchline and Parker goes over his legs. It’s a foul, no argument. A free-kick against at best.
Unfortunately, it seems Parker is another of these tiresome little pricks who just loves dishing it, yet the moment he gets dumped on his arse in an innocuous challenge, he wants a ruck. Naturally, he jumps to his feet and in a blatant act of retaliation puts his hands in Thomas’ face.
The result? Errr, well our man gets a caution of course. Naturally! Of course! If he’d been watching, I’m sure Chris Nurse would have been overjoyed considering he walked for putting his hand into an opponents face at Braintree last season.
New league, same clueless card happy knobheads officiating I see.
With the game slipping away from us, JR makes moves to change things and as he has 3 subs stripped ready to come on, we concede a corner.
Now, first rule of making subs? Never do it whilst you’re defending a corner.
“Right lads, we’ll just get rid of this corner and we’ll get you on……………..oh fuck it, the buggers have scored again.”
You couldn’t make it up. As Messrs Rains, Boosey, Booth and Kennedy look on, the corner from the right finds that no10 pretty much as unmarked as you can be at the back post. And his header thumps off the underside of the bar and over the line. 2-0.
Still, the lads come on, with about 12 minutes to pull back one more goal than they were expecting to 30 seconds ago. But, their introduction certainly livens the U’s up. Kennedy gives us a bit more pace and directness up front and with Boosey looking to dance past half the oppo team every time he gets the ball, we certainly look more threatening.
With 5 minutes left, we finally get a goal back. Kennedy chases a ball over the defence and just gets there ahead of the onrushing ‘keeper. He’s forced away from goal, but hooks the ball back over his shoulder for Peter Fear arriving behind him and the ex-Wimbledon mad powers a header past a defender on the line from 15 yards out.
That’s more like it! Now, can we please get a point we hardly deserve please?
Kennedy is certainly putting himself about and times a run across the defensive line perfectly to bomb onto a nice pass from Fear. But he’s criminally flagged offside well after recieving the ball by a linesman paying more attention to the call from defenders rather than where the player actually was when the ball was played.
Pushing up, the Saints are of course going to get chances, the best of which comes late on with a cross from the right leaving a white shirt with a free-header, but he places it over the bar rather than under it.
But, with time running out and white shirts starting to timewaste somewhat unsubtly by requiring treatment every time there’s a tackle. The most pathetic example comes from their ‘keeper at the death. We win a corner out on the left and it’s swung right in close to goal. No-one is able to clear and it finds Scott Corbett at the back post. But his shot is smothered at point blank range by the ‘keeper. It’s not a blisteringly hard shot, but matey of course starts rolling around holding his head.
He’s no more got a head injury than I’ve just bought a small island in the Carribbean with monopoly money.
Naturally, his 2-bob theatrics earns him much abuse and use of the old ‘Nescafe shake’ from the Shoebox. Twat.
To add insult to injury, Thomas again tangles with the Deligthful Mr Parker and this time hangs onto his leg to stop him getting away with the ball after he’s slipped. Unfortunately this IS a yellow card and when combined with the rather stupidly awarded one 20 minutes or so before, it means that Brad is off down the tunnel and into the showers whilst there’s still some hot water.
Slightly miffed, we head off back to the Hood to not so much drown our sorrows as put ‘em in concrete boots & chuck ‘em into the nearest river.
Still, a few beers later, we’re nicely pissed and trying to explain to a bewildered Mr Chalmers the meaning of the phrase ‘to put out’ in relation to having success with a young lady.
I don’t think he quite got it though.
MAN OF THE MATCH – Joff Vansittart. Only U’s player to really make an impact.
ENTERTAINMENT – 5. So-so first half, but woeful second.
TEAM : Wilson, Gray, Brake, Corbett, Thomas, Howard, Fear, Honey, Akuamouah, Vansittart, Martin SUBS :Kennedy, Boosey, Booth
THE REFEREE’S………fairly quiet first half, but total twat in the second. Since when does having an opponent raise his hands in retaliation to a nothing challenge mean an instant yellow card against you? Is that a new FIFA directive? ‘Cos I must have missed that one, you MUPPET,