CONFERENCE LEAGUE CUP 3rd ROUND
SUTTON UNITED – 0
WOKING – 3 [Ferguson 15. Sharpling 55. Nade 73.]
Having been dumped out of the Trophy by full-time Grays last saturday, we weren’t too hopeful of springing a surprise on our old friends from Woking in this League cup encounter. Even if they did say they’d be playing several ‘fringe’ players!
Having stuffed my face with Fish n Chips, I stroll down the high street towards the pub and begin to realise just how bloody cold it is out here. Guess a quick medicinal pint will help there.
It’s pretty quiet in the pub when I arrive. Mrs C, still smug about her win in the S.H.I.T trophy at the weekend, Windy & Oscar are the only ones present. A couple of pints later, Greek & PC arrive. Right, too cold to walk, any chance of a lift gents?
The usual paltry attendance we’ve come to expect from these sort of games greets us. Despite playing at home to a side with an average home crowd of over 2000, it seems that very few have bothered with the journey up the A3. Another indication of the respect afforded this competition.
Woking have also chosen, understandably, to field several of their fringe players. We, on the other hand, field whoever we can get out onto the pitch! JR reshuffles again, with Corbett going into defence to replace Kevin Hemsley who has returned to Crawley after his loan spell, Chris Nurse gets a start to cover in midfield. Akuamouah is left on the bench, presumably to help protect his iffy back.
With so many changes to their own line up, it understandably takes the visitors a little while to settle. The U’s come out strongly and really should take advantage, but despite some reasonable opportunities, fail to do so.
2 minutes gone and a Nigel Brake corner from the right picks out Chris Nurse several yards out at the back post, but he somehow guides his header wide of the upright when it seemed easier to score. A couple of mins later another corner causes problems. This time Gray delivers from the left and the Woking ‘keeper flaps at the ball and has to be rescued by a defender heading from under his own crossbar.
Fear then exchanges a 1-2 with Gray, manages to win a challenge on the byeline, then feed Vansittart whilst grounded. Joff’s hooked cross into the box is headed over by Brake at the far post.
Watkins has been annoying the Cards defence with his pace and direct running. An example of this comes on 13 minutes when he skins the implausibly tall no17 only to be taken out at about waist height by the lanky streak of piss. Naturally, only a finger wagging ensues from the ref.
Our guests hadn’t produced much in the way of chances yet, but from a couple of forays forwards, it was clear that they had plenty of pace down the flanks. And after 15 minutes, they make it tell. We’re opened up down the left by a lightning attack and a cross delivered towards the near post. The resulting header comes back off the inside of the far post and despite the efforts of Phil Wilson, is adjudged to have crossed the line by the lino before he can claw it back. Arse.
We respond immediately, Joff flicking on a long throw in from the left. But sadly, no one in an Amber shirt has placed themselves behind the big striker to take advantage.
The match now decends into tedium with the visitors starting to click as a unit and controlling the play. After 26 minutes, Gonsalves has to nod off the line after a deep cross from the right results in a towering header looping over Wilson. A minute later and Joff heads a Gray corner into the ground from about 6 yards out and watches it bounce agonisingly over the bar. Wilson has to beat out an fierce effort from the edge of the box on the half hour mark after a mazy run down the centre turns our defence inside out.
The remainder of the half is a real snoozefest with regards to action. Neither side creates anything, but with Woking, you get the feeling they don’t really want to at the moment thanks, but maybe later. It’s not until the last minute or two of the half that the match sparks back into life. Watkins makes a run down the right and manages to wriggle past Mr Lanky streak of piss no17 right on the byeline. His pullback finds Joff about 8 yards out, but it’s a little behind him and the resulting shot is weak and only in the general direction of goal.
Immediately after, a poor clearance from Wilson falls straight to a Woking man who immediately plays in a team mate behind the defence on the left. Phil has to get down quickly to help the bobbling shot around his far post. The half ends with Mr17 displaying his tackling ability again, crudely piling into Honey on the near touchline. Again, a talking to it seems is all that is required.
Yeah, thanks a bunch ref.
Freezing cold and glad that the half time whistle has arrived, we amble into the bar for warmth.
We emerge back into the cold expecting very little from the second 45 minutes. and find that JR has been forced into a change. Joff has failed to reappear, feeling the effects of a recent bout of flu and is replaced by Steve Douglas. Still, little occurs and the only moment of ‘entertainment’ comes when our new friend mr17 is once again outwitted by Watkins, only to be rather obviously hauled back by his shirt. The ref again seems loathe to actually do anything about this plank until matey decides to compound his offence by booting the ball out of play. Staggeringly, it’s this petty offence that finally earns him a caution and not the 3 stupid challenges he’s made previously.
Not a lot else happens until shortly before the hour mark when the result is all but confirmed. A corner from our left is aimed at the far post, where what seems like a huge crowd a of players jumps for the ball, only for it to come down at the near post where an unmarked attacker has the easiest of tasks to nod home from a couple of yards out.
Watkins departs with a knock soon after from another clumsy challenge and rather than risk our currently only fit striker in Akuamouah, JR throws on Graham Tydeman, pushing Nurse up front with Douglas. The two lads battle away for little reward, but both have opportunities to restore a little pride to the scoreline within a couple of minutes of each other.
Gray makes a rare run down the right and getting to the byeline pulls the ball back for Tydeman. He slips a short pass inside, but Douglas’ effort at full stretch is blocked by the ‘keeper. Shortly after a ball down the left sends Brake to the byeline, but despite Nurse getting on the end of his knock back, it’s deflected out for a corner by a defender.
On 73 minutes though, the visitors pace again exposes our already threadbare lineup. An attack down the right is supported by Gray, but play breaks down and a raking pass into space down that right flank leaves Gray trailing. A quick square ball to the edge of the box finds an attacker and despite the efforts of Wilson and Corbett to prevent the goal, he goes round the ‘keeper and rolls the ball in from just inside the box.
And thats about it really. The remaining 15 or so minutes are tedious to say the least and we’re all soon willing the ref to blow up ASAP so we can get back to the warmth of the Hood and enjoy a pint.
Sadly, our prayers of the ref feeling sorry for us and calling an early halt to proceedings go unanswered, so we have to wait the full quarter of an hour before scurrying to the cars and heading back to the pub.
Just think, we’ve got to do this all over again next week too! Oh goody.
MAN OF THE MATCH – Craig Watkins. About our liveliest player until he got crocked.
ENTERTAINMENT – 4. Dull dull dull.
TEAM : Wilson, Gray, Scarborough, Corbett, Gonsalves, Brake, Honey, Fear, Watkins, Vansittart, Nurse SUBS : Tydeman, Douglas, Akuamouah
THE REFEREE’S………typically fussy. Let their 17 get away with 2 poor challenges, yet booked him for kicking the ball away! Cock.