Att : 510
SUTTON UNITED – 4 [Cornwall 7.8.18. Quinton 81]
MAIDENHEAD UNITED – 1 [Hughes 75]
Right, so this is it then?
As the years have passed, my excitement in waiting for the football to actually start hasn’t diminished much, but what has diminished is my interest in pre-season matches. Sure, I still go and watch ’em, it’s football after all! But it’s more now just to see who we’ve picked up, managed to retain than anything else.
So naturally, poor performances generally don’t mean that much, just so long as we get a relatively settled XI in place for the first league game. Although, half arsed efforts like last week at Leatherhead still raise one or two doubts in ones pessimistic mind before the big kick off!
Still, it’s good to be back in the old routine and a trouble free trip into Sutton allowing me to arrive in the Hood a good ten minutes before expected is surely an encouraging sign?
Greek, Chalmers & Mrs C are all in. DS wanders in a short while later and the friendlyphobic gentleman is soon asking for all the nitty gritty from pre-season. Piss off, you should have gone and watched like a proper loser shouldn’t you!
A couple of beers and the usual stroll to the ground follow.
What doesn’t look to good is the dirty great black cloud hovering over GGL as we arrive. Hmmm, could be a wet one. Lets hope the visitors have only packed their moulded studs in their kitbags eh?
The new proggy is purchased and looks quite smart. Although looking for the customary typos that we like to torture the editor with will as always wait until the post match beer.
Most eagerly awaited is the well overdue new 1st team strip. Having had our nice quartered number for several years now, a change is overdue and the decision has finally been made. This year, we’ll be all stripey!
When the lads run out, we’re not disappointed. It looks fucking great. The white sponsors logo on the front stands out really well and the funky new numbers with the new FA approved ‘shoulder’ sponsors patch completes the look. Very nice. Now, when can we get one?
Oh, you don’t know? Er, yeah, cheers.
Having spent all summer surprisingly using a 4-4-2 over his favoured 3-5-2, JR decides to revert to this for todays game. Our best guess is that because Steve Douglas is unavailable for the first 2 games, he’s decided to try & balance the side as best he can.
On the pitch, the experienced Emberson is favoured ahead of Wilson in goal, with Scooby, Patsy & Gary Elliot in front of him. Matt, Quincy, Ug, Ed & Lewis complete the midfield with the pacy pair of Watkins & Cornwall up front.
As the match begins, rain begins to steadily fall and things take a couple of minutes to settle down. The covered terrace at the other ebnd looks very bare in the absence of the visitors small, but load contingent of fans and their fooking huge black & white striped flag. Sadly they’ve decided not to attend after a somewhat public disagreement on the last day at Newport last season. Shame, ‘cos I owed one of ’em a beer!
On the pitch, Watkins & Cornwall link up early on, with Craig slipping a ball through the defence for his new partner, but Luke drags the shot wide with the lino indicating he’s offside.
The visitors then reply, giving us all a bit of a scare when Gray slips out on the right allowing his man a clear run on goal. But with just Emberson to beat, he drags a weak shot wide of the near post.
They’re left to rue that missed opportunity on 7 minutes. Gray sweeps a pass forward, picking out Cornwall in the centre, around 30 yards from goal. He turns quickly, only to find no support anywhere near. So he steps across a defender closing him down and crashes a shot into the top far corner despite the ‘keeper getting a hand to it.
Hmmmm. Not a bad start at all. Oh and welcome to Sutton Luke!
Now, as things go, I doubt there’s many better ways of endearing yourself to your new fans than spanking in a 30 yarder inside the first 7 minutes of your debut.
Although I’d say one of the few things that would better that, is sticking the ball in the net again 60 seconds later…….
A Paul Honey ball down the right touchline is chased by Watkins, but it seems a covering defender will get there first and clear the danger. Unfortunately, he goes arse over tit on the greasy surface trying to control the ball and Watkins seizes on the loose ball. With the defence now trying to react to their mates blunder, Watkins clips the ball inside for Cornwall, who takes it on his chest, turns an on coming defender and strokes the ball under the oncoming ‘keeper and into the net.
Bloody hell! 8 minutes gone, 2-0 up and a bloke on a hat-trick! Have I come to the wrong game or somthing???
Understandably, the Magpies are somewhat taken aback by this double blast and struggle to withold a now rampant U’s attack. Cornwall very nearly completes his treble on 11 minutes, jumping highest for a Matt Gray free-kick from the right, but he drives his header wide of the target.
No matter, as he only has to wait another 7 minutes!
Another Ug ball down the right touchline again pits Watkins against a defender in a race for the ball. This time it’s a bit more even and watkins shows new found strength to muscle him out of possession in the corner. He skips infield and immediately slides the ball to Cornwall just in from the corner of the 18 yard box.
With great composure, the new man takes a touch to steady himself and calmly strokes the ball into the far corner of the net.
Fuck me. Opening day and we’re 3-0 up inside 20 minutes thanks to a quickfire 11 minute hat-trick from a bloke on his debut!
What planet is this??
Maidenhead are now in almost complete disarray. The U’s midfield are dominating and the quick delivery of balls forward to Watkins & Cornwell is cutting through the Magpies defence at will.
Quite how we fail to add to our tally is beyond me! Cornwall almost grabs his and the U’s fourth around the half hour mark after a little 1-2 with Watkins on the edge of the box, but he can’t quite dig the ball out for a clean strike and the ‘keeper manages to save with his legs. Quinton tests him out shortly afterwards, collecting a loose ball and clipping a cheeky chip towards the top far corner, only to see it palmed away acrobatically.
The last real chance of the half comes to Gray after 34 mins. Another nice exchange on the right ends with the ball overrunning slightly. It looks like the ‘keeper coming off his line will hammer the ball into touch from about 5 yards outside his near post. But Watkins pops up out of nowhere, robs him and lays it into the path of Gray. His options are limited and with no-one in the centre, tries his luck, thrashing the ball across the face of goal.
Even with the rain just starting to get annoying, we’re still a little disappointed to hear the half time whistle. Ho hum, gives us a chance to dry off a bit I guess.
The visitors on the other hand have probably never heard a sweeter sound in their lives. And they trudge off down the tunnel for their half time cup of tea, bit of orange, counselling for post-traumatic stress and a bollocking of biblical proportions from their gaffer…..
I wander back out just before the teams emerge to find it still steadily pissing it down. Hmmm. Securicor terrace it is then!
Any worries I might have about being called a ‘wuss’ are dispelled when I find Windy already under cover.
The second half starts much like the first, pretty quietly. But 5 mins in a Gray free-kick from the right picks out Scooby just beyond the far post. He nods the ball back across goal and Quinton guides his own header just over the bar. It’s a painfully simple chance.
It seems we’re quite happy to sit back a little more this half and on 56 minutes, another Maidenhead chance finally arrives. An exchange of play ends with the ball running across the edge of the 18 yard box. A visiting player latches onto it ahead of Scooby, but with a good sight of goal, he seems to slip and his effort is skied way way over the target.
Sutton are now seriously in the comfort zone and starting to get a little casual. Unlike the first half, we’re giving the Magpies far far too much time on the ball and as a result, they’re gaining in confidence.
On 69 minutes, Emberson makes his first serious save of the afternoon. A ball forward out of defence is headed on around halfway, dropping into the space between defence & midfield and right to a Maidenhead man in a bit too much space. Spotting our ‘keeper in a slightly advanced position, he tries his luck with a first time dipping shot. Emberson adjusts quickly though and gets airborne quickly enough to tip the ball over the bar.
A brief effort on goal comes when Quinton directs a weak header at the ‘keeper from Akuamouah’s free-kick out on the right. But the goal we’ve been threatening to gift our guests soon arrives.
With about 15 to play, what looks a nothing ball forward is cut out by Patsy. He’s closed down by an attacker and rather than get rid, tries to be a clever sod and ends up on his arse having lost possession. Matey races clear and plants a shot across Emberson from the left into the far corner.
Ooooook. Can we please stop fucking about now?
Unfortunately we’re not quite done with the charity just yet. 4 minutes later a ball in from the left should be cut out by Palmer, but he only succeeds in touching the ball on and playing in a recently arrived substitute. From almost the exact same spot as the first goal, he somehow pulls his effort across Emberson and watches as it bobbles wide of the far post.
This finally seems to be the wake up call we need and within a couple of minutes, the game is sealed. Quinton wins the ball in midfield and holds it before playing a lovely ball into the right channel for Gray, who slips past his man and cracks a low ball into the 6 yard box. A defender has go back and manges to divert it away from Watkins at the near post only to see it reach Quinton on the 18 yard line and he dispatches a smart low drive into the bottom corner.
The goal finally knocks the remaining stuffing out of the visitors and the U’s set about belatedly looking to put a very convincing look to the scoreline. Closest they get is a deep free-kick from Gray out on the right that finds Stewart Castledine, operating as an emergency forward, in the box. His nod down drops invitingly for Akuamouah, but he hooks the effort over the target from close range.
Eventually, the ref ends the contest and we head back to the bar for a celebratory pint. We’re further bouyed by the vidiprinter revealing the Bobbins have suffered a 4-1 reverse at Newport.
Unfortunately, that result and Lewes 6-2 spanking of Farnborough means we sit third. Although at least a point at Havant on Monday would comically put us top for about 24 hours until the rest of the division catches up on the Tuesday. That’ll be fun!
With a few ales sunk, it’s time to return to the comfort of the Hood and regail the locals of another mighty conquest by the U’s.
Our already imminent departure is hastened by Greek playing silly buggers and causing a wee bit of friction with some local pigeon club members.
Several of them are huddled around the next table to us, all poised with those funny little clock/box things of theirs and one of them doing a count down, starting at 30. The tension mounts as the count approaches 10.
“10, 9….” announces Mr Countdown bloke.
“GO!” shouts Greek.
At this point, a couple of loud ‘clicks’ are heard from the Pigeon huddle.
“….8, 7, 6……” continues Mr countdown. Triggering some very anxious looks from some of the group. The sort of anxious look someone would have if, say for instance, they’d triggered some sort of Pigeon Race timing device several seconds before they should have done.
Greek notices the sudden change in the pigeoneers demeanor and giggling like a small mischevious child, sinks his drink in one swallow and makes a swift exit stage right.
Before we know it, the pigeoneers count is finished and we’ve got several angry skyrat fanciers demanding to know “What fucking idiot did that??”. We all look on a bit bemused, not sure whether to laugh or pick up a bit of furniture to use in the upcoming ruck. This silence only serves to irritate them further. One short bloke in particular is seriously steaming and points an accusing finger at Jules.
Now normally, he’d have a pretty good chance in being right, as such mischief is most certainly in Jules reportoire, but on this occasion he’s completely innocent. Sadly, his reply of “What are you looking at?? I didn’t do anything!” isn’t what short, angry pigeon fancier wants to hear.
He comes storming round the table and seriously looks like he’s going to kick off. Fortunately, one of his colleagues steps in to prevent the situation spiralling out of control. We decide now’s a good time to drink up & leave.
Right, now where did that bastard Greek bloke go to??
We hop into the car for the short trip back to the Hood. Windy & I sit there, then after a few seconds, start sniggering before both loudly shouting “GO!” and collapsing into hysterics. Greek then re-appears, jumping into his missus car for his pre-arranged lift home, still giggling like a small child. It seems he’d run off an hidden in the toilets whilst we dealt with the aftermath of his idiocy.
Yes, I think home is the best place for you Mr Troublemaker!
So, I think the lesson to be learned here ladies & gentlemen, is don’t fuck with pigeoneerists. They’re not what they seem….
MAN OF THE MATCH – Luke Cornwall. 11 minute debut hat-trick. Nuff said!
ENTERTAINMENT – 8. First half excellent, let down by some second half fannying about.
TEAM : Emberson,Palmer, Scarborough, Elliot, Gray, Quinton, Honey, Akuamouah, Gonsalves, Watkins, Cornwall SUBS : Castledine, Marvell, Rivers, Wilson.
THE REFEREE’S………not that bad really. Usual odd annoying decision, but nowt to get too steamed up about. Besides, after a result like that, we can’t really complain!