EASTBOURNE BOROUGH – 2 [Simmonds 45. Odubade 82.]
SUTTON UNITED – 2 [Gray p47. O’Shea 90.]
After the heart stopping, artery clogging, fingernail devouring stressful 90 minutes of last saturday’s visit of Maidenhead, a nice quiet, relaxing trip to the seaside would no doubt be the perfect rest cure. Sadly, when it comes to Sutton United visiting the seaside, our trips are anything but quiet and relaxing. So a long day of drinking and stupidity will have to do instead then. What a shame!
The crew assembles at East Croydon nice & early to assure we’re on the 9.33 to Eastbourne. Unsurprisingly the train is late, but as it’s only by a few minutes, we’re not that bothered as we’ve built a little bit of slack into the VDT for such eventualities. Once under way and even before we’ve reached as far as Gatwick, Greek produces his little treat for the journey down. 2 pints of homemade Vodka jelly. Everyone gets a healthy portion, scoffs it and then settles back to enjoy the rest of the journey to the coast, already feeling the warm glow of booze in our cheeks.
There are several other travelling U’s fans on the train it turns out and they elect to join the pre-match festivities once we arrive in our destination. Eventually, we’re off the choo-choo and wandering up the high street. We leave the non-weekenders in the Terminus pub and go in search of our B&B, which we locate surprisingly easily given the amount of Vodka jelly already sloshing around inside us. So, bags dumped, it’s back to the pub to get started on some vital lubrication of the tonsils.
With a fair bit of drinking done, people are getting the munchies, so we attempt to adjourn next door for some grub as the Terminus doesn’t do food. Sadly, the place has instated a ‘no colours’ policy since our last visit and thus we won’t be getting any scoff here! A quick wander around the corner and we spot a small cafebar place called ‘Venus’ and it seems that they couldn’t give a monkeys either way that we’re wearing football shirts. So everyone settles back for their munch, keeping an eye on the Boston-Yeovil match showing on the big plasma screen on the wall.
Sadly, the proprietor’s assumption we’d be sticking around for the England game is dashed when we cough up and head outside to the nearby cab rank. Sorry mate, but we’ve got bigger fish to fry down the road!
Arriving at the ground, we’re in plenty of time for a cheeky short before kick-off. Attempts to secure programmes are unsuccessful. They’ll be in the ground we’re told. Heading in after necking the drink, we find they’ve sold out. Bugger. Ho hum. I’ll settle for 3 points instead.
As is the expected norm, the U’s side has changes forced upon it. Elliot, Vansittart & Scarborough are out injured and Jermaine Hunter has apparently called in sick. So Craig Watkins starts up front and JR is forced to call upon reserve teamers Greg Andrews and Dominic O’Shea to fill empty spaces on the bench.
Proceedings are slow to pick up and neither side manages to make an early impact and it’s pretty dead until around 17 minutes in when Corbett loops a header over the target from the corner of the 18 yard box following a corner from the right. It’s not until the 22nd minute that the hosts reply, but it’s a close run thing!
A ball down our left flank finds the no6 in a little more space than we’d like. Gonsalves makes up the ground quickly and does enough to close the man down. But he still gets his shot off, forcing a save from Wilson. The ball then runs loose to another red shirt at the back post, but his effort is somehow deflected into the arms of our recovering ‘keeper.
Despite their lofty position up in the play-off spots, Eastbourne flatter to deceive a little. We’d certainly expected a lot more from ‘em. We’re not exactly entertained by the home ‘band’ down the side of the ground either. Their monotonous bashing simply serves to annoy most of us and actually drowns out any singing their fans are actually doing. Now, a drum, when played right, is I guess ok to help produce a bit of atmosphere and help provide tunes for people to sing along with. If you’re Brazilian and there’s about 60 thousand of you that is. Here in the UK, it just sounds shite.
They sadly meet neither criteria, so as this isn’t the Maracana please just stop it you twats. You’re giving me a fucking headache.
Despite having the wind at our backs, the U’s fail to trouble to stout Borough rearguard much during the rest of the half. Corbett thumps a dipping half-volley straight at the ‘keeper and Gray whips a deep hanging cross in that the ‘keeper just claims right under the crossbar before backing into his own upright. With half time approaching, Gray ends a good little series of passing by swinging a shot just over the bar and then we go and do it again. Give away a goal right on the break.
A quick ball out from the back, a pass behind the defence down the right and the Borough man gets to the byeline before pulling the ball back for the no10 to sweep the ball beyond the reach of Wilson and into the far corner. Bollocks.
Unable to return to the bar at half time so we can drown our sorrows with a swift beverage, we head up to the far end to await the restart where the discussion is the same as it always is when we’ve given away a goal right on 45 minutes. We’ve got to cancel it out as soon as we can or we’re in big trouble.
Fortunately, it seems the lads have drawn the same conclusion as us and start the second 45 minutes very very brightly. And within 2 minutes of the restart, we get the opportunity to pull ourselves level. Akuamouah accepts a short pass from the left, right on the edge of the 18 yard box. He’s already being manhandled by the defender before he tries to turn into the box and understandably goes down under the weight of his marker.
Thankfully for us, the ref is right there and has no hesitation in pointing to the spot. Laughably, the perpetrator tries to argue the toss, but it’s too late to cry about it, the damage is done. We of course take great pleasure in pointing this out to him. ” Yeah, they always change their minds don’t they mate!”. Matt Gray holds his nerve and rifles the spot kick to the ‘keepers left & into the corner of the net. It’s a priceless equaliser and we celebrate it as such behind the goal.
The hosts react to being pegged back and try to restore their lead. On 58 minutes a cross in from the right drops loose at the far post. Wilson reacts quickly and makes another of those timely stops. 4 minutes later and a free-kick from our left finds a red shirt jumping highest at the back post, but he directs his header straight at our man between the sticks. Sutton then enter their best spell of the game, exerting a fair bit of pressure on the Eastbourne defence. But despite this, we fail to create anything clear cut in front of goal. The best opportunity is a wicked curling free-kick put in from the left by Gray that a defender heads clear from in front of goal despite the call from his ‘keeper.
We’re hoping JR sees we’re getting on top and will introduce a fresh pair of legs, possibly in midfield, to push us on for the last 15 minutes or so. But, the change doesn’t come and with 8 minutes to play, we’re left to rue that fact.
A long throw into the box is cleared, but immediately clipped back over the defence. Their nippy and on form striker Odubade gets in behind our advancing backline, but it looks like it’s Wilsons ball. What happens next just sums up our season to a tee. Wilson somehow makes a hash of the easy catch and the striker manages to bundle it past him and then into the empty net.
Once again, it looks like an individual mistake has cost us valuable points. The goal is Odubade’s last touch and he’s subbed straight after. JR reacts and throws on striker Dom O’Shea in place of Honey. The midfielder doesn’t seem particularly pleased with the decision, which is unsurprising when you consider he’s had to run his tits off again to cover for the leggy Scott Corbett in midfield most of the afternoon. Dom is obviously keen to impress and straight away he’s involved down the left, nipping into a bit of space and delivering a ball into the box. It lacks pace and the ‘keeper gathers without any problem. But no matter, it’s his second contribution that’s the important one.
With the 90 minutes pretty much up and injuries to go, Gray plays a pass in from the right touchline for Watkins. He in turn feeds it along the edge of the box for Akuamouah. Ed does well to hold his man and turns to slip a pass into the box. O’Shea gets in front of his marker, controls the ball and from a narrow angle gets his foot round it, delivering a low shot to the near post.
Now, 99 times out of 100 an experienced ‘keeper like Hook would deal easily with such a relatively run of the mill effort as this, he’s closed the angle, got his body behind it to cushion the shot, you name it. But somehow, to his horror, the ball somehow squirms under his body, between his legs and pops out to trickle over the line, sparking understandably wild celebrations amongst the travelling fans behind the goal. Dom sets off on a celebration run to the side, before checking & legging it back towards goal before disappearing under a huge pile of team-mates and supporters.
Once more, the ‘Tom Hark’ tune the home PA announcer has played after each of their goals rings out around the ground, but again like in the cup tie back in October, it’s the U’s fans singing it mockingly back at their hosts to celebrate a goal of our own.
The home side are shell shocked by the leveller and there’s simply not enough time remaining to respond anyway and the ref blows for time almost straight after the restart, much to the further delight of us lot behind the goal. Somewhat elated with our unexpected point, we stumble back into the bar for a well needed drink and to find out the England score. A good few bevvies later here, it’s a cab back to the B&B in town for a shower, change and back out for the evening to hit the bright lights of Eastbourne.
We return to the Terminus for much beerage, where we discover that our club of choice around the corner, Kings, has a BOGOF deal on drinks if you’re in there before 11pm. Naturally, we fully intend to take advantage. So with 20 minutes to the deadline, Miller instructs me to ‘Bog Off’ and I neck my beer to dart round the corner undertake my important reccepathfinding duties for the rest of the troops.
After a brief wait in the queue out front, I make it in with 10minutes to spare and then thoroughly piss off the barman serving me by requesting 36 bottles of alcoholic fizzy pop, meaning he’d have to spend his immediate future uncapping 72 of the fuckers. He looks at me for a moment to process the ridiculously large order, as if to make sure he heard me right and then, as the penny drops, checks his watch to see what the time is. It’s at this point he sighs and shakes his head before calling me ‘a cunt’ and starts emptying the fridge behind him of Smirnoff Black. Yes yes, a cunt I may be good sir, but I shall soon be a cunt with ALL of the booze. Now all I’ve got to worry about is defending my section of the bar which contains a crate and a half of alcopops until the others arrive.
This ridiculous opening salvo of alcohol gets the party properly started when the rest of the herberts stumble into the gaff about 10 minutes later and we boogie the night away in between making loud proclamations of love and admiration regarding a 17 year old reserve striker. Then somewhat worse for wear, we eventually leave at kicking out time around 3am and head for the kebab place just round the corner for some much needed soakage. My Cheeseburger tastes particularly sweet and only the following morning do I discover that one of the reasons for this was probably because it actually wasn’t mine as I’d actually not ordered any grub, let alone paid for it!
So, if you were in the kebab place just off Eastbourne’s pedestrianised Hight Street in the early hours of Sunday morning and some bastard nicked your cheeseburger order…..yeah, that was me. Sorry about that. I owe you one.
Either that or blame Dom O’Shea. Either works.
MAN OF THE MATCH : Dominic O’Shea. what a contribution!
ENTERTAINMENT : 7. Pretty average really
TEAM : Wilson, Palmer, Gonsalves, Gray, Quinton, Honey, C.Nurse, Brake, Corbett, Watkins, Akuamouah. SUBS : O’Shea, Tydeman, Andrews