BISHOPS STORTFORD – 3 [Parmenter 21. Martin 67. Hakim 77.]
SUTTON UNITED – 2 [Vansittart 76. Hunter 88.]
Having swerved Saturdays 3-0 dumping at Hornchurch, it’s back into the old routine for Taz and a midweek trip to Stortford as the U’s continue to search for those 3 points that will guarantee their Conference South status for next season.
I’m hoping I don’t get to see a repeat of Saturdays surrender. In fact, we’ve had so many poor 45 minutes this season, if you got air miles for dreadful ‘halves’ of football, we’d have accumulated enough to take the whole team and most of our support to Australia for a pre-season tour.
Millsy is kind enough to offer me a lift to deepest Essex Hertfordshire and with the aid of his flashy state of the art sat-nav system, we arrive with a little under an hour to spare. Right, time for a pint then!
In the bar, we’re treated to some live televised football. Grenoble versus Sedan in the French Cup quarter-finals on Eurosport. With Grenoble sporting a certain Nassim Akrour in their attack. Christ, what I’d give for a player like that in our side right now.
We manage to catch a glimpse of the team sheet and it contains Joff, Watkins AND Hunter in the starting eleven. No way. Surely JR isn’t going 4-3-3?? I finish my rather awful pint of Ansells and head out to find Greek and Windy.
As the teams line up, it’s pretty clear we’re NOT playing 4-3-3. But then again, we’re not entirely sure WHAT formation we’re using exactly! Joff is playing in a back 3 with Palmer & Blackwell and they’re flanked by Tydeman and Gonsalves. The midfield seems to be Corbett, Honey & Akuamouah with Hunter & Watkins up front. But we’re not 100% sure….
Early exchanges are quiet, although Joff does amble forwards for a free-kick that Corbett puts in from the right. The big striker’s glancing header slipping just wide of the far post.
It’s obvious pretty quickly though that the system we’ve chosen tonight (whatever it may be!) isn’t going to be a roaring success. Straight away the Stortford no9 has singled out Joff for his lack of pace and a lot of ball is coming his way. Although on 8 minutes, the first chance for the home side comes from the left.
A good cross in ends with a header being looped over Wilson. The ball comes back off the bar, hits the now grounded ‘keeper and looks to be trickling over the line until Joff dives in to prod it away at the expense of a corner. A couple of minutes later, Mr 9 is causing Joff problems. Knocking a ball past him down the line, he makes the box with our big makeshift defender trailing. Patsy comes across to try & cover, but it seems he’s not going to make it. Thankfully, matey scuffs a weak shot straight into the arms of a grateful Phil Wilson.
Despite obvious frailties at the back, we’re not looking that bad going forwards. Corbett feeding the ball into space for Hunter to nip onto. But with no support in the box, he has to go it alone and drags a shot across the face of goal.
Only a great save from Wilson keeps the scores level on 17 minutes when a corner from the right picks out a towering header at the back post. It looks for all the world like it’s in until our stopper somehow claws it out and around the post for a corner. The respite is brief as 4 minutes later, the home side are in front.
Wilson comes for a cross in from the right, but only gets a hand to it, puching it towards the edge of the 18 yard box. It bounces once before being nodded back over him and a defender into the net.
With the defence finally breached, we’d be forgiven for expecting a good hiding at this point, but the lads manage to steady themselves and on 27 minutes, we hit back.
Akuamouah wins the ball in midfield and advances a couple of yards before threading the ball through the Stortford defence for Watkins. He does well to hold off his marker and get into a good position in front of goal. But he tries to place his shot and slip it past the ‘keeper. He reacts and manages to get enough of a hand on it to divert it away from goal. Watkins latches onto the loose ball and lays it into the path of Hunter coming in behind him, but his effort is also blocked by the ‘keeper before being cleared.
Still, we keep plugging away and with the break approaching a ball forwards is well headed down by Watkins for Hunter. The big striker turns on the edge of the box and sees his shot deflected just wide for a corner with the ‘keeper scrambling across his 6 yard box.
Soon after, we survive another scare, but no thanks to the ref. A cross from the right finds a man all alone on the left. He brings the ball down and cracks a rising drive on goal. Wilson gets his hands to it and drops to smother the ball. As he does so an attacker comes in, kicking the ball from the keepers hands! Somehow no foul is given and the ball is smuggled out for a corner.
On the whistle, a good ball down the right sets Watkins free. His cross into the box is a little too high for Hunter, but reaches Akuamouah just beyond him. His effort from an angle to the left is deflected out of play for a corner.
We can’t be arsed with the bar at half time and instead head round to the opposite end. If we can nick a goal, who knows. But we’re still trying to decide exactly what formation we’re playing! Closest we can guess is 5-3-2.
Answers on a postcard please to : Whatfuckingsystemwasthatanyway, PO Box 1, Sutton.
The second half is slow to get going and it’s not until the 62nd minute that anything really happens. A huge cross field ball from Palmer, played right to left, gives Watkins something to chase. He manages to keep the ball in play right on the far touchline despite the attentions of a defender and turns infield to deliver a cross to the back post. Hunter jumps highest, his downward header forcing a desperate 1 handed save from the ‘keeper.
Our situation worsens though 5 minutes after. Joff tries to play footy in our own third of the pitch down towards the right corner. He loses possession, then misses the tackle to try & win the ball back. It’s played inside for a blue shirt in so much space he should have his own postal code. He makes full use of the time allowed to him and picks his spot beyond Wilson and plants the ball into the far corner.
No marking. Fannying about with the ball in our own half, missed tackles. Thats our whole fucking season summed up right there in that one goal.
JR decides to try & inject some fresh legs and introduces Steve Douglas to proceedings at the expense of Watkins. The young strikers first contribution is to find space on the left and win a corner from his low cross. The ball is swung in and Palmer jumps highest to head in on goal. The ‘keeper is surprised by the ball coming at him from such close range and is unable to keep hold of it. Vansittart follows up, bundling the ball over the line. COME ON!!! A lifeline perhaps?
We rains our voices again and a chorus of “Come on you yellows” rings out round the ground to try & lift the lads that bit more. We barely have time to finish our tune before we’re 2 goals behind again.
A ball down the left is just intercepted by Gonsalves. Under pressure, he plays it back in field for Wilson. He takes a touch and has to hastily get rid of the ball as the no9 files in with a rather dangerous looking challenge. This is ignored and with our defence once again out of position, the quick throw catches us out. The ball it thrown down the line, where a Stortford man takes it to the byeline and pulls it back for a team-mate to bundle it in from a couple of yards out.
For fucks sake.
I quickly text an update to the ill-at-home Chalmers. His reply speaks volumes about how utterly predictable we are this year. “Bet we scored and they went up the other end straight away and got another….”
Still, to the lads credit, they keep trying and with time running out, we’re given a glimmer of hope. Corbett wriggles his way through down the right touchline and plays a pass to the near post. Hunter recieves and twists one way, then the other, with us screaming at him to shoot, before twisting back the way he’d come and rifling a shot into the roof of the net.
COME ON!!! Right, get that fucking ball and LETS GO!!
The home side suddenly seem a little nervy. And we press forwards, desperately looking for an equaliser. At last a couple of decent crosses come into the box, but are cleared anywhere by the Stortford defence. As it turns out, our only real effort at nicking something from the game comes in injury time. A poorly cleared ball into the box comes to Joff around 25 yards out to the left of goal. He immediately loops a volley back on goal that has the ‘keeper scrambling, but it drops onto the roof of the net rather than into it.
We amble out back to the cars, full of the knowledge that we’re still not bloody safe. And we’ve now got to try & get it at home to fellow strugglers Welling, who have an impressive away record.
Our evening is compounded when we return to the Millsymobile and find that having been carefully guided to an allotted parking spot, some cock has parked right across behind us, barring our exit. It takes a good 10 minutes to find the owner of the offending vehicle.
Is anyone having fun yet??
MAN OF THE MATCH : Paul Honey. All action tackle anything that moves performance
ENTERTAINMENT : 6. At least we went down fighting tho.
TEAM: Wilson,Vansittart, Palmer, Gonsalves, Blackwell, Tydeman, Honey, Corbett, Akuamouah, Watkins, Hunter. SUBS : Douglas, Brake, Hewitt
THE REFEREE’S………absolutely awful in the first half. Gave us practically nothing, yet awarded a string of free-kicks around our 18 yard box. Booked Hunter for a nothing challenge on their centre-back, yet did fuck all for a carbon copy challenge on Vansittart at the other end. Had a quieter second half, but still a twat nonetheless.