CONFERENCE SOUTH | Att: 1071
BOBBINS – 1 [Elliot 37.] SUTTON UNITED – 2 [Watkins 73. Gray p75]
For most people, Christmas is all about eating turkey, giving gifts and getting pissed a lot. For us, it means a local derby and a chance to inflict some misery on our dear neighbours from Carshalton. Oh and of course, we’ve been known to partake in the getting pissed bit on occasion. Purely for medicinal purposes however.
The two sides of course met a short while back at GGL in the Carthiumleaguecupthingywotsit. With Matt Gray’s last minute penalty rather satisfyingly (and amusingly) settling a fairly evenly matched clash, but that win had been a rare moment of pleasure in a season promising to be a tough slog to the finish. But, we’ve done ourselves a bit of a favour winning our last 2 games and we go into the first serious meeting with the Bobbins just 2 points behind them in the table.
I take the short stroll up Bobbinsville High Street to the agreed meeting place of the Windsor Castle pub and arriving 10 minutes early and I’m the first here for a change. The pub sadly isn’t open yet and I decide to head for some cash at the petrol station up the road. Coming the other way are Millsy & Gareth. Checking my watch I inform them that the pub should be open by now. Get the drinks in gents!
Slowly but surely, the rest of the reprobates roll in over the next half hour, along with a couple of interested AFC Wimbledon fans with nowt better to do as they’re away to Dorking the following day and fancied seeing what the Non-League equivalent of the Old Firm is line. Hope we put on a good show for the neutrals! After the usual pre-match lubrication and post-Xmas catch up, it’s time to pinch our noses, ignore the smell and head down to the wonderfully rustic (or should that be rusty?) Colston Avenue, the home of our great rivals.
There’s a fair few people already in attendance when we enter the turnstiles. Looks like a good crowd should be cheering on the U’s today. Because anyone with half a brain knows the Bobbins, despite their claims to the contrary, are always seriously outnumbered in these fixtures. JR has made a couple of changes to the line up from our clash with Dorchester as defender Kevin Hemsley, signed on loan from Crawley the day before goes straight into the defence, presumably to cover for the injured Quinton. The more surprising selection though is that of Scott Corbett returning to the centre of midfield. Having not played since October, we’re a little worried he might not be at his sharpest today. Still, we can only wait and see!
The opening exchanges are fairly even, with he first few minutes passing uneventfully. But it’s after 6 minutes that the first opportunity arises. The home side win a corner and it’s put in from our left. A strong header is nodded in on target, but Lewis is there to hook it off the line at the near post. Close! Our response comes a couple of minutes later. A Gray ball in from the right finds Watkins. He can’t get a shot off, but the ball runs to Joff & his hooked shot brings a reaction save from the portly Searle in the Bobbins goal. Another moment follows shortly after, with a free-kick swung in from the left. As the crowd of players jump, a white clad arm definitely comes out highest of all and deflects the ball over everyone else & out for a throw on the far side. Naturally, the Lino & ref see nothing despite the loud howls for handball from our end.
The game is developing into a tight & scrappy derby encounter with the main battles being fought in midfield. Whilst a little short on good football, the game is certainly entertaining from a passion perspective. 24 minutes played and Joff loses possession in the Bobbins half. A quick pass forward finds their no9 and he turns his man before beating another. But having worked himself a good position and a sight of goal he screws his shot well wide of the mark and is rewarded by the expected hoots of derision from the away fans.
Another period passes without anything to get too excited about, then in the 37th minute, the home side win a free-kick. The irritating imp, Saunders swings the dead ball from the left into the box, where one time U, Gary Elliot gets his head to it and flicks a header beyond Wilson and into the far corner. Ooops!
Hey, did you hear that? I could’ve sworn I heard some Scummers celebrating. Nah, must be just my imagination……
Ahead in a game like this, you’d think the Bobbins would try to stay cool & not do anything stupid to jeopardise the lead. Sadly for them, a fat useless plank masquerading as one of their defenders by the name of Billy Harding hasn’t read this particular script. If the name sounds at all familiar to you, it’ll be because he was the doughnut who got himself sent off before half time in the Easter clash here last season for two completely stupid yellow cards in the space of a couple of minutes. Most people wouldn’t be thick enough to let something like that happen twice in a big game at home against their deadliest rivals. Sadly for the Scummers, Billy isn’t most people.
With halftime barely a couple of minutes away, an everyday run of the mill foul on Akuamouah wins the U’s a free-kick a few yards inside the Bobbins half on the left. Players retreat for the set piece, but not Harding. He not only stands obstructing the kick, he kicks the ball away to prevent it being taken with the ref stood next to him. Ta da! Dumb, pointless yellow card number one.
Eventually the free-kick is taken, it’s cleared and the ball is regained once again just inside the Bobbins half. The ball comes loose and Brake goes to regain possession. It’s his ball, easily. At least a 60-40 in his favour. Unfortunately for our hosts, no one told Harding and he lunges in, clattering the U’s midfielder. After the usual handbags and a bit of deliberation, the ref decides not to bottle this one and daft pointless yellow card number two is swiftly followed by the inevitable red. And all inside 60 seconds. Cheerio mate! His stupidity earns him some abuse from the U’s fans down the side, me included. My part in this abuse in turn earns me a warning about the use of fruity language from a steward. Me? Swear at football? I think you’ve mistaken me for someone else my friend.
The sending off throws the Bobbins slightly and they spend the last couple of minutes hanging on a bit as we have two goalmouth scrambles come to nothing. One free-kick on the left is played in towards a crowd of players in the box. Someone, Joff I think, wins the header and the ball drops, bouncing towards the now gaping net. Somehow a defender gets back to prevent it from crossing the line and then blocks a touch from Vansittart, smuggling the ball inches wide of the near post at the expense of a corner.
Being ever so indiscreet, the same steward who’d chosen to warn me a few minutes earlier ‘celebrates’ this moment like the home side have scored again. I point out that this really isn’t wise as such actions can provoke people. His opinion on this is to call me a “fucking prick” and threaten to take me “outside”.
He soon changes his tune when several other U’s fans turn their attention to him and point out that it is in fact he who is the fucking prick. The offer to take me outside is soon made out to mean a threat of ejection. Yes, of course it was mate, now fuck off before you get yourself into any further bother.
The ref bringing the half to an end takes the sting out of the incident as we head round to the opposite end for the second half. With the hosts down to 10 men, there’s a real chance we could turn this around. Lets hope the guys make the most of it.
The second half starts slowly for the U’s and 3 minutes in, Saunders is allowed to pick up the ball on our left and run at the defence almost unchallenged. His dipping lob from 20 odd yards just drops over Wilsons crossbar. Wakey wakey lads! Sutton press, looking for an equaliser. But are finding it hard to get through the Robins defence, with their skipper Carroll proving particularly annoying with his knack of getting in the end of almost every ball we put into their box. The game has been pretty competitive so far, but starts getting a little heated as we pass the hour mark and the tackles really start flying in.
Saunders & Gonsalves tangle out on the left when the Robins man goes through Lewis as he challenges for a high ball. The Sutton defender isn’t happy and more handbags start getting swung in all directions. The ref steps in and cautions both, but with hands raised, both could easily have walked for it. Corbett soon joins them in the book as well for a crunching late challenge a couple of minutes after on the edge of the Bobbins 18 yard box.
The game eventually turns on a short spell with a little over 20 minutes remaining. Saunders reacts to what seems a fairly innocuous challenge by Honey, which in turn earns the Sutton man a caution. This seems to be the last straw for the home bench and within moments, despite being the man behind most of their threatening moves, the little midfielder is replaced to seemingly save him from an inevitable red card and leaving them 2 men short.
Why thank you Mr Smith!
JR reacts to this change with one of his own and instantly withdraws the tiring Corbett for Chris Nurse. The young midfielder’s introduction has an almost immediate effect. His added mobility enabling us to get forward more & finally, it looks like the man advantage might be made to count. Indeed it is Nurse’s persistence that plays a part in the equaliser on 73 minutes. He wins the ball 20 odd yards out and manages to slip a pass through the defence down the right for Akuamouah. He crosses low into the box and Watkins pops up to hit his volley into the ground and loop over the scrambling Searle into the far corner. Halle-fucking-lujiah! About time.
Mental celebrations naturally ensue on the away terrace. Right, now we’re level, lets fucking have ‘em! COME ON! Just as amusing, is Millsy’s serenading of our less than friendly steward from earlier after he takes an ill-timed stroll past the still celebrating U’s hordes moments after the goal. Then before we’ve really had chance to catch our breath from the equaliser, Akuamouah latches onto a ball down the left flank. With few options available to him, he cuts infield and skips past Carroll, only to be pulled down from behind inside the box.
That’s a fucking penalty that is!
It’s probably the one thing the Bobbins skipper has got wrong all day to be fair. And what a way to do it! The ref takes what seems like an age to make his decision, but after a good hard look, he points to the spot.
Matt Gray steps up, just as he had last month and places the ball before sending Searle the wrong way and cracking the penalty into the top corner. Time to go mental again methinks! As the celebrations recede, I turn to see our two Womble observers from the pub earlier stood at the back of the terrace nodding in approval. It seems our big time charlie guests are enjoying our little pub league rivalry playing out before them!
The 2 quickfire goals visibly knock the stuffing out of the Bobbins and as a last desperate throw of the dice, they withdraw a sub made just 15 minutes before for a striker to try & salvage something. But it’s too little too late and as they commit more men forward more & more gaps open up at the back and Akuamouah blows 2 superb chances to really rub salt into the Scummers wounds. About 4-5 minutes after Matt has put us ahead, a foray down the right ends with a ball into space on the edge of the box. Eddie skips round the sprawling figure of Searle, but not before he’s forced him wide, but with the goal still gaping, Ed somehow rattles his shot against the base of the near upright. Inside the last 10 minutes, another breakaway presents the ex-Robins man with another sitter. Watkins scampers free down the right flank and whips a cross into the box where the unmarked Akuamouah just has to nod it past the exposed Searle, but instead he mistimes the jump and guides his header over the target. Sitters!
But, no matter. The U’s see out the last few minutes without too much incident, with a late free-kick being headed well over by ex-U Mark Costello the only really nervy moment. The lads leave the field to a rousing reception at the final whistle, with John Scarborough doing his crowd favourite credentials no harm at all with a big fist pumping celebration. That’ll do lads, that’ll do!
We meander happily back to the Windsor for a few more drinks and chatter about the latest defeat of the old enemy and what a jolly Xmas it’s turning out to be. But before long, despite the amount of cash going over the bar, the pub decides it will be closing and we have no option but to wander back into Sutton to continue the festivities. Arriving back at the Hood, Windy produces a football trivia game he’d been given as a stocking filler the day before as a means to keep everyone entertained. Before long, a rather more rowdy booze fuelled version of the game than the manufacturers would probably have envisioned has broken out. Much to the bemusement of the bar staff.
Ahhh, there’s nowt like a bit of Bobbin bashing to make a Christmas feel complete.
“Jingle bells, jingle bells…”
MAN OF THE MATCH : John Scarborough. Solid at the back, led the line well.
ENTERTAINMENT : 7. Fierce local derby with tackles flying in all over the shop.
TEAM : Wilson, Gray, Scarborough, Hemsley, Gonsalves, Honey, Corbett, Brake, Akuamouah, Vansittart, Watkins SUBS : Boosey, Martin, Haylock, C.Nurse, Booth
THE REFEREE’S A………Largely ok. Seemed to realise this was actually a local derby and reffed as such. Never really stood for much and flashed a fair few cards as well. Brave decision to send their bloke off for the two very quickfire yellow cards. A LOT of refs would simply have bottled that and just told him off. On the whole, can’t complain.