WELLING UNITED – 3 [Smith 8. Lay 28. Day 52.]
SUTTON UNITED – 2 [Boosey 3. Gonsalves 72.]
With 2 unconvincing performances over lower league oppo, you can understand us heading out to south east London for this clash with bottom of the table Welling. Their record of not having won a home game yet is also giving us the jitters. Especially as when we play such sides, you can almost always rely on the U’s to deliver the result the oppo want.
We shouldn’t be sponsored by ‘Securicor’. Santa Claus would be more appropriate.
The crew arrange to meet up town in a boozer just off London Bridge. Naturally, as per usual, the transport system of this wonderful city fails to live up to Mr Livingstone’s utopian vision of perfection. And I spend 30 frustrating minutes kicking my heels waiting for a bus. When I finally get to Croydon, it’s then the usual fun game of ‘Stand in line at the ticket machine behind 4 morons who’ve never travelled by train before in their lives’. Then it’s 20 minutes on a train packed with Brighton fans to London Bridge.
12.30, I eventually stroll into the boozer and set about attacking a pint with “Late as usual” type abuse coming from all sides. A few Norwich fans on their way to Charlton are soon attracted by our ‘funny’ shirts. Talk naturally turns to a certain day in 1989 when we got our arses royally whipped in their back yard.
Oh such happy memories!
Before long, it’s time to skedaddle and get the choo-choo out to Welling. A phone call en-route reveals that the mornings M25 closure has caught out a few of our travelling fans. Most end up spending 4 hours in the chaos without ever getting near Welling.
As with recent weeks, we start the match quite brightly and Watkins has already just failed to connect with a Matt Gray cross from the right before we take the lead on 3 minutes.
Akuamouah makes a run from deep and manages to feed the ball in behind the defence for the run of Boosey before being upended. Glenn draws the ‘keeper before rolling the ball past him and in off the foot of the far post.
Despite this rousing beginning, the home side are soon causing problems themselves and in the end, our lead lasts about 5 minutes before being squandered by some terrible defending that will prove to be something of a trademark today.
A shot from the edge of the box is deflected out for a corner, which is then delivered from the right, straight onto the head of the tall and virtually unmarked no5 around the penalty spot who makes no mistake in guiding his header inside the far post.
The setback doesn’t downhearten us sufficiently and Boosey is soon in the thick of things again at the other end. Receiving a ball in from the right he carries to the edge of the box before delivering a well flighted chip that takes a full stretch fingertip save from the ‘keeper to help it over the bar.
Welling press and like everyone else we’ve played this season, break forwards with pace & purpose. We’re still trying to work out if this is because everyone in this division is really really good at counter-attacking, or we’ve just got a defence as mobile as a tortoise trying to walk through a field of jam.
Although I must say we are starting to lean toward the latter to be honest.
23 minutes played and Eddie wastes a very good chance to restore our lead when a Matt Gray ball through sends him clear down the right. But having done the hard part of making space and giving himself a shooting angle, he scuffs a very weak effort straight at the ‘keeper. Next up to blow a very good chance is Boosey. A throw from the left travels along the edge of the box before Watkins touches it through for Boosey, leaving him 1 on 1 with the keeper. But again, the effort is very weak and from 10 yards out the grounded ‘keeper is no doubt amazed to see the ball roll into his arms.
Welling hit back soon after and our defence stands off a red shirt around the edge of the 18 yard box, allowing him all the time in the world to curl a shot from the left corner of the area and just narrowly wide of Wilsons far post.
We fail to heed this warning and within a couple of minutes, that bright start seems like a year ago.
Once again, we stand off an opponent, this time allowing a low cross in from the right to the near post where a red shirted attacker nips in ahead of Wilson and guides the ball inside the near post.
Finally ahead and naturally looking to appease home fans desperate for that first home win, the hosts tails are well and truly up.
And when coupled with a performance best described as ‘a shambles’ (and that’s being polite!) over the last 20 minutes from the U’s, things as you can imagine are not pretty.
Within a minute, Wilson is tipping a fierce free-kick from the edge of his box just over the crossbar, then from the resulting corner, Nigel Brake is nodding a near post header off the line at the far post.
Somehow surviving this little flurry, we steady the ship a bit. But still, our play is dreadful. Passes are all over the shop, tackles aren’t made and we back off at every opportunity.
Fortunately it’s not until the last 5 minutes of the half that our goal is once again threatened. More ball watching follwing a deep ball in from the right allows a Welling man all the time he needs to take his shot. But it hits a static U’s defender and spins just wide for a corner. Then a minute or so later, the no9 has no problem holding off Gonsalves on the left before striking low across Wilson and just wide of the far post.
Naturally pissed off, we trudge round at half-time, making calls to those who had fallen victim to the M25 carnage and informing them they’re really not missing very much apart from another shocking display.
The second half starts pretty brightly for us, with a couple of opportunities to haul ourselves back into the game. First Boosey robs an opponent and slips a pass through on the left for Watkins. With a sight of goal, he lets fly, but the ‘keeper reacts and beats away the shot. Immediately after, Gray swings in a cross from the right that picks out Watkins on the edge of the 6 yard box, but his touch betrays him and allows a defender to nip in and clear the danger.
Despite this reasonable start, after 52 minutes another moment of self inflicted stupidity makes our task even harder. We win a free-kick around 25 yards from our own goal. For some reason, rather than slow the play down and make the most of this opportunity to clear our lines, plus possibly put the pressure back on the home side, Joff decides that taking it quickly is a better option. He plays the ball 5 yards to Booth who is immediately dispossessed and a quick pass is slipped in behind the now totally out of position defence.
Thanks more to luck and clumsy play from the hosts, the almost certain looking goal is somehow averted with the play forced out to our right. The ball is then moved back along the edge of the 18 yard box, where 2 weak half arsed challenges fail to break up the attack. The final movement involves a shot from the 18 yard line that wouldn’t ordinarily trouble Wilson, but it cannons off the legs off a U’s defender and with our stopper now completely wrongfooted, it bobbles past him and into the net.
Another corking example for that “Fucking Godawful Goals. Vol1” video we were planning methinks.
Sutton retaliate 5 minutes later. Gray’s low ball from the right is hooked to the edge of the box. Honey collects the loose ball and darts into the area, before pulling a pass back in from the right to Boosey, but his shot brings a good 1 handed save from the ‘keeper. A dangerous but rare cross from Brake on the left causes problems not long after, but is headed clear for a corner.
Wilson is back in action just after the hour. Another pass through our defence sends an attacker clear. But his shot is straight at the ‘keeper and the effort is just blocked.
With the game entering it’s latter stages, the U’s manage to grab a lifeline. Matt Gray swings a deep free-kick in from the left and it looks to have gone just a little too far beyond the far post, but Gonsalves stoops in front of Martin and somehow guides a header just inside the far post from the narrowest of angles.
The home side aren’t done yet and are still looking like scoring every time they go forwards. Lewis is forced to clear a shot off the line after another ball through has sent a forward clear and round Wilson.
Our quest to get something from the game is assisted with 10 minutes remaining. The Welling no4, already booked for a rather pointless and obvious handball a few minutes earlier then adds his second utterly pointless caution of the afternoon and leaving his team mates in the shit when he stupidly charges down an attempted goalkick from Wilson. Of course, looks all perplexed and hard done by when shown the red card. But he’s off nonetheless.
Not related to Peter Barnsby at all are you mate?
Despite the man advantage, we fail to force the game and the home side see out the remaining few minutes without too much trouble, although good cross in from the left by Brake does force the ‘keeper to acrobatically tip the ball away from under the crossbar.
All that keeps us occupied is aiming some nasty retorts at a group of silly old fuckers to our left who are doing their best to wind us up, gobbing off like they’ve got a 100% home record and not just about to secure their first home win…….in mid-November.
Sadly, a totally undeserved late U’s equaliser fails to materialise and give us the chance to get in their faces.
Pissed off, we trudge back up to the station for a train back into town. We alight at Charing Cross and head off to Victoria for a pint. Sadly the beer is crap, the pub packed and colours aren’t allowed. So we fuck it off and head back to Sutton and the Hood to properly drown our sorrows.
Just think, we’re back here in a couple of weeks.
MAN OF THE MATCH – Phil Wilson. Busiest player on the park for us…..
ENTERTAINMENT – 6. 5 goals, but thats more due to 2 awful defences than anything else!
TEAM : Wilson, Gray, Brake, Vansittart, Scarborough, Gonsalves, Booth, Honey, Boosey, Akuamouah, Watkins. SUBS : Martin, Howard
THE REFEREE’S……….a bit of a twat, but nothing out of the ordinary really.