Can They Kick It? You Bet!


Att: 100

FARNHAM TOWN – 1    [Hodgson 56.]

SUTTON UNITED – 3    [Vansittart 3. Gray p72. Watkins 76.]

The U’s stepped away from League action again and headed down to deepest Surrey for this county cup match. It’s our first trip to Farnham’s Memorial Ground, although our hosts have been to GGL twice in recent years.

Despite still being stranded out in Winnersh for work, this game is actually a damn sight easier to get to than if I’d been in Wimbledon. A quick dash down the M3 and eventually into Farnahm. Sadly, finding the Memorial Ground proves a real sod to find. I’m not helped by the fact that it’s 5.30 and the floodlights aren’t yet switched on.

For 20 minutes I wander around the general area, looking for the ground. Eventually, a local directs me to the car park. A quick flick of high beam reveals the floodlight pylons. About bloody time!

Right, time for a pint.

I find a small  boozer just over the road and get settled in. The bar billiards table should keep the rest of the mob happy when they roll up. I’m soon joined by Steve Honey, father of Paul ‘Ug’ Honey, who he’s just dropped off at the ground. Obviously he’s in need of refreshment as well.

Greek bundles in after half six, with Windy & Mrs C close behind. Chalmers eventually finds his way from the station and is last in.

Right, bar billiards anyone?

A good few games later, it’s off over the road to freeze our arses off for the sake of a a football match. The ground itself is a little sparse. A small covered bit of seating sits atop a steep bank behind one goal and a tidy little clubhouse off to the far side. The only down side is that they’ve already sold out of programmes.

There’s suprisingly quite a few U’s fans here tonight and our stupidity dedication is repaid when JR sticks to a full strength line up with only Gary Haylock absent. Presumably he’s appeared in some county competition for Basingstoke at some point this season, so we bring in Joff up front to partner Eddie again.

With the home side languishing near the foot of the Combined Counties and just a single win to their name so far this season, we’re feeling mildly confident of a bit of a walkover tonight. Our hopes are raised after a couple of minutes when a long ball forwards looks to be an easy take for the ‘keeper, but hilariously, he slips as the ball bounces in front of him. Ending up on his back he desperately flaps his hands at the ball in a vain attempt to keep it from going in. Failing miserably, he can only lie and watch as Joff follows in to walk the ball over the line for probably the easiest goal he’s ever scored in his life.

And that includes when facing the Carshalton defence.

Bouyed by the early goal, the U’s pour forwards looking to swamp the home side and end this contest as quickly as possible. On 5 minutes, Ug plays a pass down the right for Eddie. He beats his man and squares the ball, only for it to run just behind Vansittart in the box. A minute later, the first crude challenge of the evening brings a free-kick out on the left. Fear swings it round the wall, forcing the keeper in to a rather unconvincing parry. The ball runs out to the right where Joff nips in to intercept, only to be rather unceremoniously upended by a goalkeeper somewhat over keen not to cost his side another goal.

A penalty? Don’t make me laugh! The ref’s non-decision goes on to set the tone for the rest of the night.

Matt Gray then adds to Farnham’s problems by starting to get going down the right. Skinning his man, he drills in a low cross that zips across the 6 yard box, avoiding a touch from any one of 3 Amber shirts before being desperately thumped clear. Gray then moments later cuts in from the right and with a missive gap opening up in front of him. His thumping, rising drive stings the hands of the now busy keeper and is beaten away.

The bombardment eases off slightly and it takes a good 8 minutes for the next real chance to arrive. Brake runs onto a pass into space down the left. Whipping in a great cross under the crossbar, Joff arrives at the back post with a goal almost certain, but he somehow guides his header over the bar rather than under it.

Farnham are starting to steady the ship and having survived the early battering, are growing slightly in confidence. Their slightly agricultural style is also finding the mark. Scooby is crudely twatted by the girly haired no9 which earns him a booking. 5 minutes later another rather hefty challenge sends Quinton crashing into a heap in the centre circle. His reaction is the one that football fans the world over know. Flat on the back, one hand covering the face, the other in the air.

He’s hurt.

Our physio takes a while attending to our stricken defender before a stretcher is summoned from the sidelines and he’s trundled rather slowly over the uneven surface back to the dressing rooms.

Great, we’re struggling enough as it is this season, but now it looks like we could just be losing a key member of the squad for some time. Bugger.

JR immediately shifts Joff into the backline and brings on Watkins to replace him up front with Ed.

The assault recommences, again with Gray attacking down the right. This time his whipped in cross is touched on to Scooby at the back post. Somehow his header is blocked on the line and his follow up effort with the boot only succeeds in hitting the same defender, now on the ground. Again, the ball is hacked clear. Scarborough has another chance shortly after, again from a Gray cross into the box. But this time he just fails to make contact.

Watkins first real intervention comes after 34 minutes, taking a touch towards the left, he turns his marker and cuts infield away from the defender. True to form he’s scythed down in full flow. Sadly, the ref decides only a free-kick is adequate punishment. Fear launches the resulting set piece way over the bar.

Four minutes later, the home side finally muster a chance. Of sorts. A break across field from left to right ends with a shot from 25+ yards, but it flies well wide of the mark. It proves to be the last event of any note as the half peters out to nothing.

We wander round the side of the ground and find that there’s no access to behind the far goal. And with nowhere to place flags, we head all the way back around to the opposite side where there’s a nice handy fence.

The second half takes a little while getting going. But several minutes in, another Gray cross from the right almost doubles our advantage. Vansittart directs a header from 8 yards or so across goal from the near post. The keeper gets a touch, but just as a goal looks certain, a defender reacts to prod it off the line and a colleague clears.

Having caused us few problems other than frustrate our attacking efforts to a certain extent, the home side make things a damn sight more uncomfortable just before the hour. A long ball forwards finds a huge gap between Scarborough and Joff. The no10 just simply legs it through the ocean liner sized hole onto the ball and manages to clip it over the advancing Wilson for the equaliser.

‘Flaming fuckcakes’ doesn’t even cover it. As low points go, this ones pretty special. Our defence has hardly covered itself in glory so far during this campaign, but this takes the biscuit.

Boosted by the goal, the home side sense a chance of an upset and naturally give it everything they’ve got. But despite getting forwards more, they fail to seriously threaten Wilson’s goal further. We keep pressing as well and it’s becoming clear that the only real avenue we’re going to get any joy from is Gray mudering the poor no3 facing him time & again. On 64 minutes, another Gray run & cross arrives low at the near post. Joff gets a touch and it deceives the ‘keeper and seems to be heading in. Especially as Eddie is arriving to apply an almost unescessary touch. But somehow, the ball is knocked off the line and cleared.

Just as the worry about the possibilty of extr-time being needed to settle this game and the pisstaking that would draw from that lot down the road enters our heads, we get a break.

For what seems like the 100th time tonight, Gray drives a low ball in from the right flank finding Akuamouah at the near post. He manages to keep the ball in play and turns, playing a pass back out to the edge of the box. Ug is up in support. He steps into the box and as a defender comes in from his right, he tries to sidestep the man, only to have his legs chopped from under him with a rather ill advised and nasty 2 footed lunge by the no8.

Even a ref such as the one we’re lumbered with tonight can’t ignore this and points to the spot before booking the offender. There follows an amusing exchange of abuse with the fat, gobby no4, who seems to be of the impression his side have been hard done by! I’d suggest getting your fucking eyes tested mate.

Matt Gray steps up and rattles the spot kick into the bottom left corner of the net to restore the U’s lead and allows us to finally breathe a little easier.

Again, the game swings undeniably back our way and within a couple of minutes, Craig Watkins effectively kills the tie. Having already missed a couple of reasonable efforts, this time he makes no mistake. A quick break down the left leads to Eddie playing Brake in behind the defence. His low centre is neatly turned in from close range by Watkins.

Things tail off as the game draws to a conclusion, with only a Nigle Brake shot from an angle being beaten out by the keeper in the last 5 minutes after play involving Boosey and Akuamouah. The last real act of the game naturally involves another nasty challenge. Watkins is shielding the ball out on the left byeline, when the no12, who has already shown himself to be a tad exciteable, simply kicks his legs from under him. Somehow the ref views this assault as only worthy of a booking.

But the score stays 3-1 and we head back to the cars for the trip home. Quick enquiries fail to reveal the extent of Quincy’s injury. Guesses range from bruising to a broken leg. Naturally we all silently hope it’s the former.

Knackered and suffering from the onset of a cold, I decide to forego the usual pre-closing time beer at the Hood and head straight home. Some 40 minutes later, I’ve deposited Chalmers home and am heading in for a mug of Lemsip.

Ooooh, this fast living will get to me one day.

MAN OF THE MATCH :  Matt Gray. Ran his man ragged all night.

ENTERTAINMENT : 4. Shocking pitch & somewhat OTT opposition

TEAM : Wilson, Booth, Scarborough, Quinton, Gonsalves, Gray, Fear, Honey, Brake, Vansittart, Akuamouah  SUBS : Watkins, Martin, Boosey

THE REFEREE’S………seemed very inexperienced. Let a hell of a lot go against a seriously basic

opposition. Quincy’s injury comes as a direct result of this. Lets hope he learns.

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