SUTTON UNITED – 0
BOGNOR REGIS TOWN – 0
Having barely recovered from the excesses of the weekend trip down to Weston, ‘London Cock’ and all, it was back out into the cold for more underwhelming football in this midweek clash against another seaside outfit.
Bognor was the scene of one of our rare performances this season and was where the now sadly departed Evren ‘Dave’ Arkali scored his one and only goal in a Sutton shirt, instantly cementing his cult hero status.
But, ‘Dave’ is gone now. And so it seems has the impetus of the Rocks early season form. Sliding slowly down the table, they come to GGL on the back of 3 straight defeats. One of those a 6-0 gubbing at Grays. Tonight is also a slightly special occasion as we’ve once again persuaded the landlord of our favourite boozer to sponsor a match ball.
Thankfully traffic doesn’t delay me too much and I amble into the pub around half 6, with plenty of time for a pint before kick off. The rest of the crew are assembled, with Chalmers, Greek, Windy, Dave, Oscar, Mr & Mrs Chalmers. A beer and the usual abuse later and we stroll down to the ground.
Amazingly, JR has named a side unchanged from Saturdays defeat at Weston. The only difference is on the bench, where new signing Gary Haylock finds himself having joined from Basingstoke on Monday.
Hopefully, we’ll get to have a look at him a bit later.
The game slowly stumbles into life with neither side looking particularly sharp. It takes nearly 10 minutes for anything to really happen. A ball down the left gives Brake a chance to take on the full back. He doesn’t quite beat him, but still delivers a good ball in. A defender heads out for a corner before the ball can reach Gray at the back post.
Another Brake cross follows a minute or so later, but this time it only succeeds in hitting the stanchion of the net at the far post.
Bognor manage a response after around 15 minutes. A move down the left results in a short pass into the box. Initially, the defence give the attacker a bit too much space and he turns for the shot.
Fortunately, the U’s react quickly to the problem and his shot is blocked at the expense of a corner.
Vansittart gets a sight of goal not long after when he runs onto a long ball forward. Unfortunately, having brought the ball under control well, he doesn’t have the pace to outrun his marker and is forced to hit an early shot from 20 plus yards out, which flies well over the bar.
Both sides have about the same amount of the play, but it’s Sutton who create more with their possession. Fear heads a Gray corner from the right wide of the near post before, on 27 minutes, Eddie Akuamouah is presented with the best chance of the game. A defender fails to cut out a pass into the corner of the 18 yard box, he only succeeds in touching the ball into the path of Eddie. With a sight of goal, he steadies himself, but the ‘keeper is alert and makes a good stop with his legs.
Akuamouah is causing problems again a few minutes later when he robs an opponent of the ball down the left. He cuts infield, skipping past one challenge and then another, before trying to pull the ball back from the byeline. A defender cuts out the pass with Joff lurking just behind him.
As we start our wander round for half time, Gray attacks down the right hand side. He puts the ball into the box only for a defender to cut it out. It runs loose to the edge of the box for Fear who rattles in a thunderous drive that brings a very good fingertip save from the Rocks ‘keeper.
The final chance of the half falls to the visitors though. A pass through the middle splits the defence, seemingly sending an attacked clear. But Booth makes an excellently well timed challenge just over the 18 yard line to stop him. The ball rebounds out and finds another white shirt. His shot isn’t very strong, but it comes througha crowd, forcing Wilson to shovel it wide for a corner as best he can.
We survive the set piece and go in level at the break. Absolutely starving, I forego the trip to the bar and instead head for Roses to get a bacon roll to stuff my face with.
Sutton begin the second half more brightly than the first. Within a couple of minutes of the restart, another good chance goes begging when Vansittart is found in space with a defence splitting ball. Clear on goal, he draws the ‘keeper, but then somehow puts his effort wide when seemingly easier to score.
Wilson has to cut out a driven low cross at his near post after a Bognor man has got down the left. But it’s already looking like the game is drifting to a goal-less stalemate as both sides struggle to impose themselves onto proceedings.
It’s not until after the hour mark that another opportunity arrives. Akuamouah again sent clear on goal, but once again finding the Rocks stopper in good form. Once more, he saves Ed’s low shot with his legs. Another dull passage of play follows before a deep cross in from the left picks out a free white shirt in the box. But to our relief, his header drops wide of the far post.
With about 10 mins remaining, things pick up a little. Gray cuts in from the right and puts a ball into the near post, where Nigel Break heads on target, but straight at the goalkeeper. Brake is involved again with 5 minutes left, leading a quick counter attack down the left wing. He pulls a lox cross into the box for Vansittart, who then lays it off for Gray on the far corner of the box. But he also finds the ‘keeper equal to his low drive at the near post and a corner is all we get.
The last act again comes from Gray. Whipping in a free-kick from the right, he picks out Gonsalves in the centre, but his strong header flies across goal.
In the end, all we get is a point. Which when you consider the visitors recent record and our own position, isn’t really good enough. Also very frustrating was the lack of intervention from our bench. With 3 attackers on the bench, surely throwing one on for the last 10-15 minutes to try & change things might have been a positive step? I’m sure our new man Mr Haylock would have loved a chance to prove himself.
Certainly a chance to grab 3 much needed points as opposed to just the one.
MAN OF THE MATCH : Eddie Akuamouah. AGAIN! Certainly putting a hell of a lot more in than some others…..
ENTERTAINMENT : 6. A few chances, but sadly no goals..
TEAM : Wilson, Booth, Scarborough, Quinton, Gonsalves, Gray, Fear, Honey, Brake, Vansittart, Akuamouah. SUBS : Boosey, Martin, Haylock
THE REFEREE’S A………annoying. Ok ok, he tried to let things flow, but my god he let so much go unpunished. How many times did he have to talk to that no3 for crying out loud?