SUTTON UNITED – 0
BISHOPS STORTFORD – 0
With the U’s participation in the FA Cup once again over far earlier that us and no doubt our bank manager would have liked, we’re back to league action with the visit of our old friends from Stortford.
With the visitors averaging almost 2 goals a game when away from their Woodside Park home and our defence still not exactly inspiring confidence, a continuation of our disappointing form seems on the cards.
Steady rain accompanies the short stroll to the Hood from the bus stop and I’m glad to get into the dry for a pint. Looks like we’ll probably be spending another Saturday under cover at the game. The usual characters are in the pub already enjoying refreshments and although still not exactly ‘over’ Wednesdays shocker, the mood is certainly a damn sight less depressing. Mainly because we’re all in a pub, drinking beer. And not watching shit football.
Thankfully, the rain lifts briefly and we at least manage to get to the ground dry, but we’re soon parked under the Collingwood Rec covering, sheltering from the rain and hoping we’ll get something from today’s clash.
Sadly, once again, JR has to make changes to the side. Craig Watkins is ruled out with an ankle injury and is replaced by Warren Haughton brought in on loan from Lewes. Also missing is Paul Honey, who has once again been in the wars picking up a cut to his head and a corking black eye. Glenn Boosey keeps his spot in midfield.
With the crappy weather, not much really happens for the first 30 minutes or so. The U’s opportunities are limited to a weak chip on goal from new man Haughton, Peter Fear driving a free-kick over the target from around 25 yards and Haughton combining with Boosey following a throw on the right, Akumouah wasting the opportunity with a weak shot at the ‘keeper.
The first really good chance does fall to Sutton on about 31 minutes. Gray & Boosey make a pigs ear of a short corner routine, but Matty regains possession of the ball and fires a low ball to the near post for Haughton. But a couple of yards out and looking certain to score, our loanee see’s the ball skew off his shin and spin embarrassingly wide of the target.
Our spurned chance seems to be the trigger that Stortford need and within a couple of minutes, Wilson is called into action seriously for the first time this afternoon. The ref fails to give what looks to be a U’s free-kick and the visitors break quickly with the no11 getting clear. He goes past 1 man before squaring the ball for his team-mate wearing no4. But his shot is well blocked by the U’s custodian.
The visitors are now on top with again our lack of presence in midfield certainly not helpnig. On 36 another chance comes the way of our guests. A free-kick is delivered from deep out on the left. A looping header is the result and it drops just wide of Wilsons far post. There’s one more opportunity for Stortford before the break a minute or two later following a ball in from the right to the edge of the box. The lay off results in a shot being again driven narrowly wide of the upright.
Thankfully we reach the half time whistle still level. But as we stroll to the bar, it’s again the performance that’s worrying us the most.
Things start brightly when the second half gets underway. Within 3 minutes of the restart a Matt Gray corner from the left is poorly cleared. Boosey tries his luck from that corner of the box, but his shot is charged down and spins into space behind the defence. Martin slides in with a defender and manages to force the ball over the line by the far post, but celebrations are cut short by the linesman’s flag.
Sadly, still sheltering from the steady rain, we’re not in our customary Shoebox perch and can’t comment on the decision. But chatting later to a fellow U’s fan who was in line, it seems the decision may be wrong as he reckoned Martin looked onside from his vantage point.
Another case of not getting the rub it seems. Typical of the shitty season we’re having really!
It’s a brief respite for the U’s and Stortford are soon re-gaining the control they’d enjoyed at the end of the first half. Wilson continues to be the much busier of the two ‘keepers and again he’s in action after 49 minutes, making a very good stop to a low skidding shot from the centre after the midfield have been slow to react to a pass forwards and the lay off across the edge of the box.
On 55 minutes, he’s not as sharp thoughm, failing to gather after a free-kick from the left is headed on. Thankfully this time the defence is switched on and manages to clear the danger. Next on the hour a fast break up the left ends with a tempting low ball into the box, but to our relief, the Stortford frontmen haven’t managed to keep up with play and there’s no-one in a blue shirt there to finish it off.
One rare chance for Sutton again falls to Martin. Haughton recieves a pass & tries to pick out Boosey, but a defender gets a foot in and forces the ball into the path of Martin. But his first touch is a little too heavy and the ‘keeper is off his line quickly to block the ball at the strikers feet.
Our dodgy defending really drops us in the shit with a bit under 15 to play when Tony Quinton, who has largely had a fairly solid game, plays a very weak backpass into the box. The loose ball is seized upon by a lurking striker and he bursts clear with only Wilson to beat. The ‘keeper comes off his line and brings down the oncoming attacker. The ref is left with no option but to point to the spot.
Fortunately, he decides that a red card isn’t neccessary as the striker was going across goal and had seemingly overhit his last touch.
It’s a decision that will haunt the visitors.
Skipper Dave Rainford steps up and strikes the ball to Wilson’s right, but the U’s man makes up for his mistake and guesses right, beating out the kick and managing to do enough to block out a follow up effort before the ball is cleared.
Quinton almost makes up for his mistake inside the last 10 minutes. Rising to meet a Gray corner from the right, his header flashes just over the bar.
Wilson has one more task before the end, again making a good block after another quick break down the left has caught us out and put an attacker in the clear. Our own best hope of nicking the points comes very soon after when Martin is played in by a pass from the centre. He forces a stop from the ‘keeper and the ball rebounds out to Eddie on the left about 20 yards from goal, but his attempted shot drops well wide of the mark.
In the end, a draw is probably the fairest result. Whilst the visitors had a lot of the play, their forwards didn’t really create a great deal. Still, after the rubbish on Wednesday night, I think most of us would’ve taken a 0-0!
Right, is the beer on in the bar?
MAN OF THE MATCH – Lewis Gonsalves. Several superb tackles preventing some dodgy moments.
ENTERTAINMENT – 6. Dour & not much to shout about. 0-0 is about right!
TEAM : Wilson, Gray, Brake, Scarborough, Gonsalves, Fear, Boosey, Akuamouah, Haughton, Martin
SUBS : Tydeman, Booth, Arkali,
THE REFEREE’S………not bad to be honest. Not brilliant, but not the most annoying twat ever either. Pass!