ST ALBANS CITY – 1 [Fieldwick 79.]
SUTTON UNITED – 2 [Gray p29. Corbett 45.]
Another saturday, another six pointer for the U’s! And sadly, for such a good away days drinking, the crew is almost pathetically threadbare. Only Windy and myself are on the early train into London.
Greek is skint after the exertions of Eastbourne on his wallet, Chalmers & Mrs C are moving in today and Millsy has failed to get out of bed! Still, we’re in town just after opening and as per normal, head for the Farmers Boy, our usual Stalebuns haunt.
A few pints later and we decide to find somewhere a little closer to the ground and is showing some footy on TV. We head for the Mermaid just by the park, but end up taking a wrong turn and do a complete circuit of Clarence Park before getting on track and finding Millsy wandering down the road.
Fancy a pint old boy?
We settle in and catch the second half of Charlton-Man City on the box and before too long, DS catches up and joins the party.
But all too quickly, it’s time for the beer to stop and the real footy to start. Thankfully, we’re only a couple of minutes from the ground. Again JR has stuck with pretty much the side that drew with Newport on Monday, but thats probably because Joff, Scooby & Elliot are all still injured.
The home side are in good form, topping the form table having picked up an amazing 9 wins in something like 10-11 games. A run thats pulled then away from the bottom spot they looked certain to make their own until the seasons end, to the brink of safety. Oh and Clarence Park is a bit of a nightmare for us results wise.
Our hosts are weakened though by the lack of their leading scorer and a couple of other bodies, so a result isn’t impossible. Proceedings take a short while to get going, but then after 16 minutes, Akuamouah has a golden chance to put us ahead.
A long ball forward finds the Saint’s ‘keeper. His clearance is poor and only succeeds in picking out Eddie. His run on goal looks certain to produce the opener, but somehow, he shoots wide of the mark having drawn the ‘keeper out. Gray whips in a free-kick from the left a couple of minutes later, but no-one attacks the ball and it drifts just wide of the far post.
With 26 minutes gone, our bright start continues and the best move of the match so far comes even closer to producing the first goal. A ball down the right is then swept into the centre and then moved on out to the left by Nurse, where Brake has found himself in acres of space. His low pass into the box finds Corbett who then touches the ball back into the path of Paul Honey and his low drive from the 18 yard line thumps back off the base of the far post.
But, a couple of minutes afterwards, finally the breakthrough. A high ball is aimed towards the right corner of the St Albans 18 yard box from the left. Corbett darts in to take possession before being baulked by a defender. The ref ignores calls for a penalty, but the linesman thinks otherwise and flags for the foul.
Matty Gray steps up and cracks the spot kick to the ‘keepers left, much to the delight of the noisy support behind the goal.
Right, lets bloody build on this!
Gonsalves has our next best chance from a Gray corner 10 minutes before half time. The ball is played in from the left and flicked on by their skipper, Hooper, at the near post. But Lewis is unable to get a good enough contact and his scuffed effort is bundled off the line.
Having been involved in proceedings but created little in the way of chances, their best opportunity comes with the break looming. A decent bit of movement results in a good ball in from the left flank. But having cut out Wilson, it proves too high for the 2 Yellow shirts arriving behind him and the danger is cleared.
Then right at the death of the half, Sutton snatch that desperately important second goal. Again, the play is swiftly moved from right to left, enabling the final ball to find Brake in plenty of space on the left. His first time ball into the box picks out Corbett between 2 defenders and despite the efforts of the ‘keeper, he’s unable to keep out the U’s skippers header.
2-0 and now we’re feeling a lot lot better about life.
In fact the stroll round at half time is very relaxed. Just hope the stroll out at full time is the same…..
As we’d pretty much expected, the U’s sit back a little after the restart and this allows the home side to build a little momentum. But it’s not until the 54th minute that their first opportunity comes. The ball is moved around the edge of the box before being played into the danger area from the left. Palmer prevents it reaching any Saints players by flicking the ball away from goal with his heel at the expense of a corner. A couple of similar situations arise soon after, but the crosses are either cleared or comfortably claimed by Wilson.
The pace of Watkins up front remains a threat though and just before the hour, a huge Gray clearance carries over the defence and sets up a straight race for the ball between our forward and the ‘keeper. Craig just wins and gets his foot to the ball, lifting it over the ‘keeper, only to see it drop the wrong side of the far upright.
Another Watkins chance comes several minutes later. Receiving a pass outside the box, he flicks it over his shoulder and turns his man. But the shot lacks pace and the ‘keeper is able to get down and push it away so a defender can clear.
St Albans come back and have a good opportunity of their own soon after. A ball down the left and a pass inside sends the forward clear. Quinton gets across to close down the space and the resulting shot skims across goal. Sutton again catch the home side on the break after 77 minutes. Corbett feeding Akuamouah, who in turn feeds the ball into the right channel for Gray. His shot being saved at the near post.
Soon after, the Saints get the goal they’ve been hoping for. We fail to close down an attacker on the left and his ball across the box finds it’s way to Fieldwick on the right corner of the 18 yard box and his cleanly struck half volley finds the bottom far corner.
This of course leads to renewed efforts from the home side to find an equaliser. It almost comes with 8 minutes remaining. A corner from the left results in a free header at the far post, but thankfully, the ball clears Wilson’s crossbar and the lead remains intact.
Our hosts efforts are made much more difficult a little under a minute later. Dean Hooper, their skipper already having earned a booking for dissent earlier and the target of some ‘Kingston reject’ abuse from the travelling U’s fans earns himself a second yellow for a rather pointless foul.
Trying to find a way past Gonsalves down near the corner flag on the left, he turns one way then the other before the Sutton man nicks the ball off his toe and rolls it up the line. Seemingly frustrated by his lack of progress, Hooper rather stupidly bundles into the back of Brake as he clears the ball up field.
He takes his time leaving the field, like it’s going to change anything anyway, before departing down the tunnel with our mocking chant of “Deeeeano deeeeeeeano!” sending him on his way.
Good player, but a bit of a plank it seems.
The last chance of the game comes soon after when Quinton heads a Gray free-kick from the right over the bar when well placed. Still, it’s no big worry as having lost a man, the home side fail to trouble Wilson during the remaining minutes and we hang on for another 3 big big points.
A fellow U calls just as the final whistle blows and he’s treated to the sound of the celebrating travelling support before I bother speaking to him! Then it’s off to the bar for a drink. Here a vote is taken on whether to return to the Mermaid and take in the Chelsea-Southampton clash on the telly.
Well, chelsea hold little interest for me, but they’ve got beer, so I’m in!
After a couple, some home fans drift in and we chat about the afternoons events. Millsy finds himself engaged in conversation at the bar with a gentleman who it appears isn’t interested in a sensible discussion about the game and unable to get otherwise, withdraws. A few more beers later and we decide it’s time to go.
I decide to have a pre-departure piss and find Millsy in the gents having had the same idea. He then decides, no doubt beer assisted, that the gentleman earlier was a ‘cock’ and that he would tell him so before we departed. Uh oh!
We’re halfway out the door when Mr Mills says ‘goodbye’. Strangely, the saints fan takes offence and has to be held back by a mate as the landlord hustles us out of the door. “At least you waited until you were leaving to cause bother” he says before slamming the door in my face.
That’s us mate. Polite to the last.
Still, bad Millsy, BAD Millsy!
We head for the station and are soon back in St Pancras. As we head down the escalators from the concourse, we discover we’ve lsot one of the party. Oh bollocks, where’s Mills got to now?
A minute or so later, he’s scampering down the escalators with bottles of beer. Ah! Foraging for supplies I see!
Then it’s a McDonalds stop for desperately needed food and down to Kings Cross for the Thameslink home. But again as we head into the station, Millsy has gone AWOL. NOW what?
Again, he reappears very shortly after, this time with a carrier bag full of Stella. Fuck me, bit thisty are you mate??
The journey home entails a very drunken game of ‘Supercars Top Trumps’ that I and and Amber are soon knocked out of by the vastly more experienced player Windy and the cheat-like-fuck-at-every-opportunity Mills. It gets pretty involved and they’re still going strong as we roll into West Sutton.
Right, what times that bus? Hmmm. Time for a cheeky pint in the Hood on the way home then.
Hi everyone, I’m hooooome!
MAN OF THE MATCH : Lewis Gonsalves. Went about his business without any fuss.
ENTERTAINMENT : 7. Reasonable game of footy on a very good surface. Not bad at all.
TEAM : Wilson, Palmer, Gonsalves, Quinton, Gray, Honey, Corbett, Nurse, Brake, Watkins, Akuamouah. SUBS : Tydeman, Hunter, Adams
THE REFEREE’S………a fussy sod. Some very pernickety decisions during the 90 mins, but at least he was giving em both ways. Consistently fussy shall we say!