Back On The Rocky Road To The Top


Att : 536

SUTTON UNITED – 1  [Gray p14]


Having got the expected first defeat out of the way, albeit in slightly disappointing circumstances, the U’s get back to the business of pissing this tinpot league with the visit of old friends Bognor.

Still managed by Jack Pearce, the Rocks footballing style is the opposite of Weston’s big, strong & solid approach. And that suits us just fine! Although that pesky Nightingale fella of theirs has been banging in the goals again.

After last weeks early kick off and thus having to watch the game sober, I get to the boozer a bit earlier than usual and find PC and Mrs C already parked. Bloody pissheads. Windy wanders in shortly after. Greek won’t be gracing us with his presence as he’s pissed off to the Dominican for 2 weeks all inclusive.

Idiot. Doesn’t know what he’s missing!

Upon arrival at the ground, we find out that we’ll be missing John Scarborough through injury. JR has moved Quinton into the defence and gives Stuart Castledine his first start in midfield. Luke Cornwall returns from his thigh injury and replaces Douglas up front with Mackie.

The visitors make the livelier start and create two early openings. One a firm strike from 20 yards through a crowd that Emberson gets behind and on 10 minuets, a good cross in from the left picks out a slackly marked white shirt in the centre. But his header is directed straight at the U’s ‘keeper.

Sutton’s first chance soon arrives. Gray picking up the ball on the right before coming inside and feeding a pass into the channel for Mackie. His first touch is good, but the ‘keeper is off his line swiftly and blocks the shot at the expense of a corner.

Three minutes later and another move on the right leads to the opening goal. Pitcher exchanges passes with Mackie on the edge of the box before the ex-England semi-pro midfielder slips a pass into the near post for Akuamouah. As he controls, the Bognor ‘keeper races out and clips him from behind. The ref has no doubt and points straight to the spot.

Matty Gray steps up and strikes the spot kick to the ‘keepers right and into the bottom corner.

Phew. At least we won’t be forced to try and answer that “How will we respond when we go behind?” question again!

Pitcher tries his luck on 20 mins, hitting a low shot through a crowd from the edge of the box after some patient build up. The ‘keeper makes a hash of it and fumbles the less-than-blistering strike and manages to scramble up and grab it at the second attempt before it can cross the line. Disappointingly, a lurking Cornwall is flagged offside.

With the line up already having a slightly patched up appearance, Garry Elliot pulls up with what looks like a hamstring injury. Douglas comes on and goes out to the left with Castledine filling in at the back.

Bognor are by no means uninvolved in proceedings, but despite having plenty of the ball, they are making little impression on our defence and are reduced to trying their luck from range. One such effort from a good 20-odd yards out just to the left of centre on 25 minutes flies narrowly over the target.

Steve Douglas first involvement comes on 30 minutes, finding Mackie down the left, the young loanee immediately switches the play to the right flank, picking out Gray. Matt cuts inside his man and hits a low 18 yard shot straight at the ‘keeper.

The Rocks create the last real opening of the half with about 10 mins to play when a quickly taken free-kick sees the no8 allowed to run at the defence unchallenged before glidnig past 2 weak challenges and thumping an angled shot straight at Emberson from the right. After this, the half peters out somewhat and our lead is unthreatened at the break.

Our half time trip to the bar reveals that the Bobbins are 2-0 down in their clash at Farnborough. Not a bad afternoon so far! Especially as there’s a couple of scummers in the bar to take the piss out of….

Our visitors start the second half brightly and at a high tempo, trying to create a much needed opening. Our own cause is hindered with the loss of Quinton at the break. New signing Nick Welton, a forward, drops into midfield to fill the gap, but it’s a lot to ask of the new man who hasn’t played much football recently especially in an unfamiliar position!

Bognor’s high tempo and rapid movement of the ball causes us some discomfort, but lacks a real cutting edge. It’s not until the 57th minute that a really worrying moment is conjured up. A quick break through the centre ends with the ball sprayed left sending an attacker clear of the defence and 1 on 1 with Emberson. His prodded shot beats the U’s stopper, but Gonsalves is backing his man up and pops up on the goal line to make a last ditch block and Emberson gathers the loose ball.

Sutton’s response is swift. On the hour a corner from the left is swung in and headed away only as far as Pitcher 20 yards out who sends it back low and hard on the volley, but the ‘keeper tracks it well as it zips back through the crowd in front of him and he gets down to smother the shot.

But it’s the visitors who have the lions share of the ball and as the game enters it’s final phase, they noticeably step up their tempo again. Every free-kick, throw in and goal-kick is taken as swiftly as possible trying to force an opening where someone is out of position or not facing the play. On 72 minutes, a pass along the 18 yard line produces a smart turn & shot, but like much of the efforts before, it’s straight at Emberson.

Our stopper is in action a couple of minutes later when a Rocks man finds himself in some space towards the right about 25 yards out and lets fly with a fierce rising angled drive. Carl has to react swiftly and bats the effort away from the top corner of his goal, before managing to scramble and gather the loose ball.

With a huge dark cloud edging ominously in from the Collingwood Rec side and the sound of thunder rolling around the ground, Sutton enter a little purple patch, first Eddie breaks forward and has Cornwall up in support, but he plays a disappointing pass which is a little short. Luke has to step inside to avoid a defender before cracking a snap shot just high of the target from 18 yards. A poorly cleared left sided corner causes the next moment of concern after 78 mins, Pitcher feeding Gray, whose whipped in ball drifts agonisingly just wide of the far upright.

The best of the bunch though comes from Gonsalves providing a short cross in from the left after some neat footwork, but Mackie, having another tireless afternoon up front, diverts his header from the penalty spot just wide of the far post.

But, the final moment of note falls to the Rocks with a couple of minutes left on the clock. A quick ball down the right touchline is brought inside by it’s recipient and he plays a little pass into the channel, freeing a forward. But his low shot is dragged across goal and is wide of the mark.

Having had to withstand a fair bit of pressure, it’s a little relieving to hear the final whistle.

Back in the bar, a couple of celebratory pints follow before we look to head Hoodwards. Gareth disappears off to a Uni reunion in Clapham, only to call a few minutes later from West SUtotn station requesting a cab number. As apparently Thameslink have suspended their service and he’s too damn lazy to walk to Sutton. Which is a shame, as trying to get a cab round here at 8pm on a saturday night is about as likely as a Carshalton league win at GGL.

Still, what we’d give for a cab when we leave not long after. It’s pissing down. And as it was nice & sunny earlier, no one has a coat. Arse.

Oh well, guess we’ll have to run for it! My own concern is keeping a freshly autographed ball that I’ve promised to our favourite pub landlord for a charity raffle remains dry and the signatures unsmudged. I’m successful, but in the process, get absolutely fucking soaked.

As much as I enjoy sitting in the pub with a pint, doing it whilst rather moist is not my idea of fun.

Still, bet Greek isn’t partying like this out in the Dominican!

MAN OF THE MATCH – Ryan Palmer. A faultless performance.

ENTERTAINMENT – 7. Both sides tried to play, although they were slightly better at it!

TEAM : Emberson, Gray, Palmer, Quinton, Elliot, Gonsalves, Castledine, Akuamouah, Pitcher, Mackie, Cornwall.   SUBS : Wilson, Douglas, Charalambous, Welton.

THE REFEREE’S………not bad to be honest. But then again, neither side has a particularly nasty streak, so it was pretty easy for him really. Still, nice not to not have to call a ref a useless wanker for a change.

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