SUTTON UNITED – 0
NEWPORT COUNTY – 0
Christ, is it really 8 months since we made that trip into Wales and nicked that first win of the season?? My, doesn’t time fly when you’re having….er……never mind.
Much has changed since that meeting at the arse end of August, the visitors have changed manager and binned a fair few of the players they’d assume would fire them into at least play-off contention. As it is, they’re one of an elite band of clubs actually below us in the table and currently occupy the third and last relegation spot. As for ourselves, there’s been a few changes since then as well.
Andy Martin, who linked up with Watkins so well that day, has departed. As has Peter Fear, whose free-kicks led to 2 of our 4 goals. Also gone is Kunle Olusesi, Scott Forrester and Stuart Booth.
Should be interesting then.
Wandering into the Hood for 2, I find Windy still looking a little run down after the stupid amount of beer put away in Eastbourne on saturday night. Looks like he’s managed to dispose of as many brain cells as myself! DS joins us, no doubt having got a taste for our pre-match beverage antics 48 hours earlier and Mr & Mrs Chalmers arrive shortly after. Greek has selfishly decided to go and have dinner at his parents and will be heading straight for the ground.
The fact that he’s struggling to talk after singing himself hoarse at Eastbourne like the rest of us might also have something to do with it!
A couple of pints later, it’s sunnies on for the stroll to GGL. Except Windy, ‘cos he hasn’t got any!
The side remains exactly the same as the one that nicked that dramatic late point by the coast 48 hours earlier with the only addition being that of Jermaine Hunter on the bench. Makes a change not to have to describe yet another reshuffle in a report!
Just like saturday, things are slow to get going. It’s not until the 18th minute the ol;’ biro is in action scribbling notes and it’s the visitors going close to grabbing a goal. Wilson seems to lose a high cross in from the left in the sun and he’s beaten to the ball by an attacker, Palmer coming to the rescue behind him on the post, heading the effort from under the bar.
It’s not until several minutes later that the U’s enjoy their first chance. Chris Nurse exchanging a 1-2 with Gray down the right, which allows the midfielder to burst into the box. Havnig gone past 2 men, the ‘keeper is quick off his line to block his prodded effort at the expense of a corner.
Both sides are trying hard, but producing little of quality. The hard bumpy pitch isn’t helping, but the current league positions of ourselves and our guests are pretty obvious from the standard of play!
Wilson has to be alert after just over half an hour when a loose ball out on the left ends in a firece dipping volley that our keeper manages to grasp above his head. Chris Nurse again provides another effort soon after when a cross in from the left is weakly headed clear, dropping for the midfielder around the 18 yard line. His thundering drive on goal flashing just narrowly over the target. The best chance of the half though comes barely 60 seconds later. Gray’s long throw from the right is flicked on at the near post and Corbett, having sneaked between 2 defenders in the centre directs a free header straight at the ‘keeper from no more than 6 yards.
Newport hit back and Brake continues an impressive performance, being on hand to hook the ball off the line after a left wing corner has been headed back across goal. A couple of minutes later Matt Gray whips a corner in from the right that misses everyone except Palmer at the back post, but he sees the ball late and his lashed effort flies across goal.
The usual trip to the bar follows. Here we fnid some County fans sporting some rather lovely home-made Easter bonnets! Either that, or they’ve robbed a bunch of racegoers on their way to Ascot.
A lack of any binoculars seems to suggest it’s the former though.
The U’s shake off their slightly lethargic first half and come out for the second 45 minutes more positively. Which is good considering we’re in the shit.
Just a couple of minutes after the restart another deep free-kick is again weakly headed clear, finding Gray out on the right. He immediately whips a cross in, but it deflects off a defender and gives the ‘keeper a relatively straightforward catch.
After 55 minutes, a ball over the top of the Newport defence sends Watkins racing into space. Closely shadowed by a defender, he does well to get the ball into a position to shoot, but with his man clambering all over him, he elects for honesty and tries to get his shot off instead of going down under the weight of the challenge and surely winning a penalty. The effort scuffs harmlessly across goal, not even close to being on target.
He gets another chance a minute or two later. Corbett breaks forwards from midfield and feeds the ball to Nurse. He can’t release a shot, but the ball runs loose to Watkins and his fierce shot form a very tight angle flashes just wide of the far upright.
Another chance follows close behind. Brake running onto a ball behind the defence on the left delivers a low cross to the near post, but the ‘keeper manages to smother the ball a fraction before Watkins can get his touch in.
Chances become rarer as the visitors manage to ind their feet and it’s not until the 78th minute that anything else exciting happens. And thankfully for the U’s, Wilson is on hand to keep out a possible match winner.
A ball into the box is deflected and finds a man in space just beyond the left hand upright. He takes a touch and with glory beckoning, the U’s stopper beats out his close range drive. The loose ball is played back into the box, but this time a defender is on hand and the danger is cleared.
With time running out, JR again throws on Dom O’Shea to see if he can reproduce that dramatic impact from 2days before, but he’s given little opportunity to do so and the match peters out into goalless tedium. Back in the bar, it’s discovered that the point isn’t exactly disasterous for both sides. Newport’s point has moved them out of the bottom 3 at the expense of Margate. Meanwhile, most of the other results have gone our way, with the Bobbins 4-1 thumping at Havant being particularly cheering! Also, Maidenhead’s puzzling 4-1 defeat at Redbridge certainly cheers everyone up, Newport & Sutton alike.
The usual few beverages are sunk before we amble off down the Hood. Here we find a group of Wombles celebrating promotion and recall it’s actually Monday and thus quiz night.
Closing time and having defeated both Womble and Scummer based teams, the now rather worse for wear U’s stumble out into the night in search of transport home.
Thank god I don’t have work in the morning.
MAN OF THE MATCH : Chris Nurse. Had his best game in a U’s shirt.
ENTERTAINMENT : 6. Lots of effort, just no goals……
TEAM : Wilson, Palmer, Gonsalves, Gray, Quinton, Honey, C.Nurse, Brake, Corbett, Watkins, Akuamouah. SUBS : O’Shea, Tydeman, Andrews, Hunter
THE REFEREE’S………another reasonable bloke. Nothing particularly upsetting to report. Which makes a change!