SUTTON UNITED – 3 [Gray p32. Akuamouah 70. Watkins 73.]
DORCHESTER TOWN – 2 [Keeler 42.46.]
It’s nearly Christmas and that of course means it’s time for company christmas parties to appear on the scene. Problem is, mine was the night before this particular clash and inevitably involved somewhat large amounts of alcohol sunk in a rather short space of time. A bit like the average away game really, just without the football.
So, it’s because of this a very very hungover match reporter came to at about half one on the Saturday afternoon. Ooops.
Running around like a blue arsed fly, albeit one that’s had far too much to drink the evening before, I get ready and stumble out into the cold afternoon. Fortunately a bus shows up pretty quickly. It’s then I realise I’m not exactly well prepared for doing a match report. Firstly, I have nothing to write the notes in. And secondly, even if I did have something to write in, I don’t have anything to write with.
Couple this with a total lack of cash and things aren’t going well.
By the time I hit Sutton it’s quarter to 3, so I stagger down to the cash machine, then Smiths for my pen & pad and finally to Greggs for a sandwich as I’m bloody starving. And soakage, I need soakage.
Naturally, I miss kick off. But to make matters worse, I get to the Collingwood Rec turnstiles to find them closed. 5 mins after kick off! What the fuck? Cursing my luck, I carry on round the ground to the main entrance. At least these haven’t been abandoned 10 seconds after the ref has signalled the start of the game.
I finally get to the Shoebox and naturally have to accept the associated abuse with arriving so late.
In between the stick, they manage to fill me in on events so far. Apparently it’s been fairly dull, although the visitors have had a shot hit both posts and come out again. Despite my fragile state, I can make out that JR has kept faith with Gary Haylock up front and has paired him with Eddie Akuamouah. Joff replacing the injured Quinton at the back.
The first incident I note since stumbling into the ground comes after 24 minutes. Eddie finds Gray out right snd one of his trademark deliveries into the box just evades the touch of Haylock by the far post. Another Gray cross a minute later this time finds Brake, but his header is guided just over the target.
Our guests retaliate immediately, with a run to the byeline and the ball being cut back to the left corner of the 18 yard box. But the resultant shot zips wide of the near post.
The next chance comes on 33 mintues and once more, it’s from the boot of Gray. Honey finds our marauding wing-back down that right flank. A low ball into the box finds Haylock and his touch is into the path of the supporting Watkins. But with the goal at his mercy, he completely scuffs his shot and the danger is swiftly cleared.
Into the last 10 minutes and finally a breakthrough. Dorchester fail to clear a ball into the final third and keeping the pressure up, a pass in from the left finds Akuamouah in the box. He turns and with a sight of goal, he’s clearly pulled back as he tries to shoot. The ‘keeper easily gathers the effort, but the ref points to the spot. Gray steps up and despite the ‘keeper guessing right, slots the penalty into the bottom left corner.
Little else to excite happens before the break & we head round to the warmth of the bar. As we await the whistle, a free-kick is conceded around 20 yards out from our goal, on the left. The no8 steps up and thumps a fierce angled drive into the top far corner of Wilsons goal.
Normally at this juncture in a report, I’d naturally insert a couple of obscenities that had crossed my mind at the time of the opposition scoring. But all that popped into my drink addled brain this particular afternoon was “Christ it’s cold. Can we go inside yet?”
Thankfully, the bar is exactly what I expect. Nice & warm.
Sadly though, the half time break passes only too quickly and it’s time to head back out into the cold. Still, at least my head has stopped hurting. Following on from the slightly annoying end to the first half, the start to the second half isn’t much better.
The visitors swiftly break through on the U’s left and a ball into space behind the defence finds the no8 again and his touch past Wilson trickles across the 6 yard box and sneaks just inside the far post.
Uh oh. Here we go again….
Ahead for the first time, the visitors take the opportunity to press forward and pressurise our wonky defence. And 3 minutes after that 2nd goal, they cut open the defence through the centre. A ball is clipped into the box finding a striped shirt in a bit too much space. Fortunately, his turn & shot is well saved by Wilson, blocking with his legs.
Dorchester now take charge of proceedings, with the U’s defence struggling continually to clear their lines sufficiently. But somehow, some desperate if unconvincing defending and an apparent lack of urgency around our 18 yard box by the oppo means we remain only that 1 goal behind.
Around the hour mark, we suddenly break the cycle of almost constant defence and have a short burst of heartening activity at the other end. Akuamouah chases down a long high ball on the right and cuts in, driving for the box. He skips past one defender just inside the box, only to be hauled down from behind. For some strange reason, the ref allows play to continue and the visitors to clear the danger.
Erm, you are actually allowed to award more than one penalty for a team during a game mate!
Immediately after, a throw from Matt Gray on the right is touched back to him from Honey. Matt swings the ball in and Haylock nods on. It drops to Watkins, but he can’t quite fashion enough space for a clean strike and the effort is charged down. Another attack follows very quickly, when Gray pops up on the left this time to deliver a ball in. Joff wins and touches it back out to Scarborough, but his fierce drive is tipped away by the keeper with an acrobatic stop.
JR decides to boost the attack and replaces Haylock with Boosey. The change doesn’t have an immediate impact and the game resumes it’s prior pattern of Dorchester pressure for a short spell. But with 20 minutes remaining, we hit back out of the blue and level the scores.
Honey wins a big challenge in midfield and plays a ball through the defence, down the left flank. Akuamouah has timed his run well and takes the ball. Holding off his man, he draws the ‘keeper and cracks a shot low between the stopper and his near post form about 6 yards out. The celebrations behind the goal are that of relief. We’ve staved off a bit of a battering and managed to nick what appears to be a valuable point.
We’re not really expecting what comes next. Within 3 minutes, another ball down the left, this time over the top sends Watkins scampering away into space down the very same left flank. Again, the ‘keeper is drawn off his line, but this time Watkins elects for subtlety and lifts the ball over the stopper, the ball dropping inside the far post and sparking some pretty happy jumping up and down on the terraces! COME ON!
Now, can we please just hold onto this one please guys?
On 78 minutes, more direct running unsettles the Magpies defence and Akuamouah gets free on the right, but his fiercely driven low cross along the edge of the 6 yard box evades everyone in front of goal.
But our purple patch fades as quickly as it had arrived and the visitors once again come looking for goals. But this time round they have the added incentive of being one down as opposed to being one up.
On the other side of the coin, we’ve now got a lead to protect and it’s all hands on deck. Once again, the defending gets a little desperate, but we manage to see out the remaining 10 minutes or so without any major scares. The worst of the bunch comes with 8 minutes left with a deep cross from our left into the danger area is volleyed first time back across the goal, guided wide by a slight deflection. The following corner comes to nothing and we hang on for 3 huge huge points.
Feeling a hell of a lot better than I did earlier, we all amble back to the Hood to chill out & enjoy only our second home win. And our second league win in a row!
The evening is passed sedately with the usual drinking & pissing about, but mainly with playing a word game on the quiz machine in the pub.
We’re easily entertained.
MAN OF THE MATCH : Matt Gray. Constant problems down the right.
ENTERTAINMENT : 7. Not technically great, but not dull either!
TEAM : Wilson, Booth, Scarborough, Vansittart, Gonsalves, Gray, Honey, Brake, Haylock, Akuamouah, Watkins SUBS : Boosey, Martin, Tydeman, Corbett, Iga
THE REFEREE’S A………this is getting almost boring! Another bloke who could be termed ‘competent’. Then again, had very little to do except award our penalty. Although he did miss two other rather obvious ones!