MAIDENHEAD UNITED – 2 [O’Connor 19.p89.]
SUTTON UNITED – 2 [Corbett 53. Honey 69.]
With the disappointing second half on Saturday condemning us to an opening day defeat, the crew headed to Maidenhead hoping for better things.
Besides, like someone who knows the doorman at a club getting someone you know who looks a bit underage in, surely the Magpies will remember the big ol’ favour we did ‘em back in April in demolishing their rivals for that vital 13th and final qualifying place that got you entry to the new Conference set up?
Naaah, we didn’t think so either.
I find Chalmers & Bob in the pub at Paddington. Windy & Dave are going by car, with Greek doing mortgage related stuff, he’d be absent tonight.
A quick pint and a raid of Sainsbury’s sandwich selection later and we’re off to York Road.
Now, Maidenhead as a team might not be looking to do us a favour tonight by way of thanks, but one of their lads certainly is! Having kept the Magpie army informed of events at the Camrose by text message, I’ve not only earned myself a pint, but it also seems a mention in the programme is warranted!
JR must have read our minds with regards to what was ‘wrong’ with saturdays performance as he’s made exactly the changes we wanted! Brake, Howard & Martin all drop to the bench, with Booth, Boosey & Kennedy all getting the start their bright substitute appearances required.
Unfortunately, for the first few minutes, we look a little sluggish and after 6 minutes, ex-Magpies ‘keeper Wilson is in action for the first time. A ball down the left sees Akuamouah attempt to cut out but he only succeeds in flicking the ball on for an opponent. He cuts in and fires a shot in that Wilson pushes away for a corner.
Our first sight of goal comes from a ball forward that Joff flicks on. Boosey in support collects and tries his luck, but the shot is pulled comfortably wide of the far post. Our next effort a minute or so later is more promising.. A lot more promising! Matt Gray driving a corner in from the left and picking out the darting run of Fear at the near post. His guided header beats the ‘keeper hands down, but thumps back off the inside of the far post and is hacked clear.
Another corner from the causes some concern shortly after, with the Maidenhead defence only half clearing. Kennedy collects & finds Honey. But his driven shot is straight at the ‘keeper.
This relatively bright start all goes tits up though with 19 minutes played as the defence commits hari kari, conceeding a goal so ridiculously awful there’s really no words I could think of to describe it!
A ball forward drops to Corbett, but his attemped clearance is just sliced up into the air. Booth tries to cover, but under pressure from an attacker, his attempted header back to Wilson is at a stretch and loops towards goal. Off his line, the U’s ‘keeper does well to backpedal & touch the ball onto his cross bar, but it drops to the Magpies no10, O’Connor and he nods into the empty net from almost on the line.
As shit goals go, this one’s a real cracker.
This dreadful moment seems to knock our confidence and we spend the rest of the half failing to play any football at all, pumping long balls forwards aimed at Joff, who is being well marshalled by the equally big no5. In fact, most of our clearances fall into 2 basic catagories. Theres the ‘hit Joff’ one I’ve just mentioned and there’s then the ‘ooops, I’ve shinned it no more than 10 yards straight to an opponent’ variant.
We also fail miserably to exert any serious pressure on the home side’s defence, who have as much time as they wantr to play the ball calmly between each other. But, despite this, there’s only one real moment of worry during the rest of the half. We win a rare free-kick in the Maidenhead half. Fear does the honours & swings it in, picking out Bradley Thomas. But his header lacks power, the ‘keeper claims and immediately sets up a swift counter attack. The initial thrust is down the centre, but is forced out the right. With no cover, Wilson gambles and goes flying out to the right to challenge the advancing opponent. His initial challenge is enough to put him off, but the guy backing him up collects the pass back to him and plays it across the box. Somehow, a combination of Wilson and a returning defender manage to keep the ball out of our goal.
The largely rubbish half thankfully passes without further damage and we amble to the far end to raise the flags and hopefully await some form of recovery.
The signs immediately after the restart aren’t great. A couple of minutes in, we’re caught out down our right flank and the dangerous low ball across the box is only claimed at the second attempt by Wilson.
We’re not looking too clever, with little in the way of decent play being produced by the U’s, but 8 minuets after the restart, the somewhat reluctant ref awards a rare free-kick deep in Magpie territory, out on the right. Fear once more wraps his boot round it and swings it to the back post. Corbett steals in and taking advantage of some slack marking, powers a header back across goal and levels the scores.
Bloody hell, where did that come from??
Bouyed by suddenly finding themselves back in the game, we tighten up all over the park, push up on our opponents and start making life a damn sight harder for them than before. Gone is the leisurely passing between centre backs as Kennedy, Gray, Honey & Joff harry & chase.
Maidenhead have a sight of goal just after the hour, a break down the middle seeing their man ride 2 weak challenges on the edge of the box, but his shot is wide of the mark. A couple of minutes later, we respond with a Gray corner from the right. It flies across the face of goal, is knocked back under the bar and hooked off the line by a defender.
But with 20 minutes to go, Gray makes a run down the right. And plays a ball down the line for Kunle Olusesi, on for the tiring Kennedy. The tiny forward attacks the defence and drives for the box, before playing a ball across 18 yard line, finding Boosey. Glenn finds his path barred, but keeps possession, lays off to the supporting Honey who thumps a dipping drive beyond the reach of the ‘keeper.
It’s a cracking strike from Ug. Despite not being known for his striking prowess, when he does hit one, it stays hit!
The game enters it’s most interesting phase with the U’s pushing for a killer third and the home side trying to get back on terms. Maidenhead go closest with a little 10 minutes to play, a ball from left to right across the Sutton box. It eventually finds it’s way to their no6, whose blistering drive zips narrowly high & a tad wide of Wilsons near post. Olusesi impresses on his debut. We’d heard he was quick, but not that he was 3 foot tall! But despite his diminutive stature and being an ex-scummer, he wins us over with his efforts, chasing about like a lunatic.
But with time running down, it’s looking distinctly like for all their efforts, the home side are going to end up on the wrong end of the result. Until, with around a minute left, once again it’s an official rather than a member of either side who has the biggest say.
A high ball in to the edge of the box sees Thomas challenge his man in the air and seemingly win a comfortable header. A second or two later, we notice the linesman on the near side flagging.
“Offside” we think. Great, a chance to relieve the perssure and kill a few vital seconds. To our annoyance, the ref who has so far less than covered himself in glory, takes an age to spot the flag before acknowledging it. And when he does, the lino immediately places the flag across his chest.
Er, hold on. Isn’t that indicating a foul?? It’d better be in our favour if it is. ‘Cos if that fucking twat is giving a penalty, I will not be amused….
After a discussion between the ref and his assistant, it becomes clear the man with the flag has indeed given a penalty. And whats worse, the ref agrees.
Wankers. Total total wankers. Not ONE person had appealed. Not one. Not a fan, not a player, no one.
O’Connor makes the most of the lifeline and despite Wilson guessing right, places his spot-kick tidily inside the post and two points evaporate right in front of our eyes.
Pissed off, we head for the car. Right, time for Windy to get us back to the pub for a beer. I need one after that! As we head to the car park, we pass a very VERY pissed off U’s official having a very excited phone call. And it doesn’t take a rocket scientist to work out it’s about 3 useless idiots in black shirts. Hopefully we’ve dispensed with complaining to the league and gone straight for the knock on the door and a good going over with pick-axe handles by several burly blokes.
We head for the motorway and Windy gets a flash from a speed camera. His cursing has barely died down as we approach the M4. To discover some arsehole has decided to close the sliproad. We try to follow the ‘diversion’, but quickly discover 2 piss poor signs is all the help we’re getting and we’re soon heading down poxy B roads to get home. Naturally this turns the air blue with 5 parched footy fans in the car.
Thankfully, having Dave in tow helps as he calls ahead and gets a round ordered up. Even better, we manage to roll up with 5 minutes to spare and Chalmers gets another round in. Which improves the mood slightly.
Here’s hoping for a win saturday.
MAN OF THE MATCH – Paul Honey. ‘Ug Ug Ug!’ PH at his battling best
ENTERTAINMENT – 6. Rubbish first half, one JR bollocking later and a huge improvement.
TEAM : Wilson, Gray, Booth, Corbett, Thomas, Boosey, Fear, Honey, Akuamouah, Vansittart, Kennedy SUBS : Martin, Brake, Howard, Olusesi
THE REFEREE’S………a 1st class homer. Gave us very very little all night and his assistants were shocking in their incompetence. The guy flagging for that last minute penalty that only he amongst 300 supporters, 22 players and the ref saw.