Unhappy Hunting Ground

CONFERENCE SOUTH

Att : 364



BISHOPS STORTFORD – 2   [Hodges 28. Jackman 55]

SUTTON UNITED – 1   [Castledine 49]

When you’re having a good start to the season, the last thing you need to throw a spanner in the works is a visit to a ground where you’ve never won. Oh look, Bishops Stortford away!

Stortford’s new home at Woodside Park hasn’t proved a happy hunting ground for the U’s. On our several visits so far, the best result we’ve managed are two 1-1 draws. And one of those was an FA Cup tie that we ended up losing on sodding penalties!

Still, we’ve got that good start behind us, so we should be confident!

Well, I’m bloody not. With 3 defenders out, it’s not looking good. More less-than-good news comes in the shape of a longer than anticipated absence for Paul Honey. Apparently some fucking bell end at Dorset County Hospital couldn’t read an x-ray properly and failed to realise that our midfield stopper needed a plate inserting to assist the healing of his injury.

A few days pain and a trip to a private consultant later and Ug is finally on the mend. Well, thats if he’s not managed to contract a dose of MRSA or something from his Dorset NHS experience……useless twats.

Gareth offers to drive up the M11 for today, saving us a slog through town and a journey into Essex Herts by train. Well, it saves me, him & Mrs C a slog up by train. Chalmers unfortunately has to work and will be doing so anyway.

Gareth & I sympathise with his plight by going round to his and eating all his bacon before we head off.  Yeah, I know. We’re all fucking heart. Always looking out for our mates.

Our own progress is slowed somewhat on the M25 with a couple of miles of heavy traffic delaying progress. It turns out that the cause is some bird who’s managed to put her Fiat Punto into a ditch just off the hard shoulder and all these wankers are slowing down for a good old rubberneck.

Tossers. Don’t they know we’ve got a pub to get to?

Thanks to the stupidity of the public, we eventually get to the boozer for around 2pm. Still, it’s enough time for a couple of beers and catch up with some of the Stortford lot we’d last seen in the Hamilton Hall on the last day of last season. With both parties more than worse for wear after a day on the piss, re-introductions are made all round!

Eventually PC shows up and necks a beer. Then it’s back to the car and the short drive to the ground.

For once, we’re not charged to park the motor, which is handy as the home side are charging a tenner to get in. The mood is not improved when we discover that the programme is somewhat anorexic considering it’s 2 quid value. Oh dear! Whatever happened to the days of them padding it out with endless Wembley 81 stuff for our visit?

Unsurprisingly, having lost the 3 players to injury last week, changes have to be made to the starting line up. JR elects to place the experienced Castledine in the defence and give new man Charalambous a spot in midfield with Steve Douglas starting out on the left.

Sutton start brightly and after just 5 minutes have what looks a pretty reasonable shout for a penalty completely ignored by the ref. Douglas gets down the left touchline and pulls the ball back into the box. The defence can’t clear and Akuamouah along with Douglas engage in a bit of a scramble to try & regain the ball. Douglas looks like he might break free and touches the ball toward the byeline before being tripped with the loud crack of boot hitting shinpad ringing out.

Naturally, this is a goalkick.

I think we’ll just leave it at that.

Cornwall is presented with a great chance to add to his early season goal tally barely a minute later when Gray plays a lovely diagonal ball across field from the right, sending Luke clear of the defence. But with just the ‘keeper to beat, he hits his effort at the stopper and the chance is gone.

Stortford edge into proceedings after this and a few minutes later, have their first sight of goal. A deep free-kick is played in from left to right and headed on, presenting a shooting opportunity. But Emberson is equal to the effort and Gonsalves is on hand to clear up the loose ball. The home side grow in confidence from this and on 15 minutes a quick break down the left results in a dangerous low ball across the box. It just evades the man arrinving near post and Castledine tidies up at the expense of a corner.

Emberson is in action soon after, acrobatically tipping a right sided free-kick over the crossbar by his near post after the no11 has whipped it around his wall. The tricky Bishops midfielder is taking all thier set pieces and is generally placing them perfectly into the danger area.

His next opportunity to cause problems comes just shy of the half hour mark. Another deep free-kick from the left into our box drops for an attacker who immediately turns & strikes on goal. The ball strikes a U’s man and a big shout goes up for handball. But before the ref can make his decision, the ball has run loose to the lurking no5 and he diverts it past a stranded Emberson for the opening goal.

Sutton’s response is swift. A couple of minutes later, Matt Gray’s floated corner from the right picks out Cornwall on the edge of the 6 yard box, but his deft header is blocked out and then cleared by a defender at the far post. It’s the last real threat we manage in the half as the lads find it hard going to create anything or exert any serious pressure on the hosts.

Still, we go in only the one down at the break, so we’re still hopeful of nicking something 2nd half.

As in the first 45, the lads start the second brightly. Another Gray corner from the right flank is flicked on and falls for Cornwall in the box. But he can’t turn to get a shot away and the ball is nicked off his toe. Three minutes later though, another set piece has the desired effect. Again Gray drifts it in from the right and it’s flicked on near post. Castledine gets up highest and his header creeps in under the bar despite the attentions of a defender on the line and the scores are level.

For a few minutes, the home side wobble and the U’s exert some pressure. It seems the equaliser has woken the side up and they’re taking the game to Stortford. But it all goes wrong on 54 minutes. An attack breaks down when a ball into the box following a corner is easily taken by the ‘keeper. He immediately punts it straight upfield where an attacker begins a straight race for the ball with Akuamouah.

Ed does his best to hold his man up and seems to have succeeded, but he’s undone by his partner at the back getting sucked towards the ball and a simple prodded pass to the right leaves a supporting attacker with just Emberson to beat from several yards.

Which he does.

Arse.

The goal really is a blow to the U’s and for the remainder of the match, they huff & puff away but never really look like creating anything likely to earn them a second equaliser.

JR introduces Welton for Charalambous to try and give us a bit more presence up front, but it has little effect. And with us trying to push up, it’s the home side who look the most likely to score again.

Twice inside the last 5 minutes they hit us on the break, the first time attacking down the left before switching the play. Their man stepping inside and curling an effort well wide from a promising position and again down the left at the death, with their man clear of the defence, but his fierce 20 yard effort is just over the target.

So we head into the bar with yet another crap result here to add to our collection. Still, on the bright side, the Bobbins have lost 1-0 at home in their huge 6 pointer with Maidenhead at home and slump to bottom of the table. Shame we couldn’t have retained that top spot to complete the set!

Naturally we cop some stick from the locals, but after aquick drink and a chat, we saddle up and head back to the Hood for the evening. With a charity draw featuring signed footballs from both ends of the Conference South up for grabs, we’re intruiged as to who will be the lucky person in possession of the exclusive Sutton United item.

Sods law of course dictates that the only Scummer in the building picks it up with the first ticket out of the hat. A sure sign that luck isn’t on our side today comes next ticket out. The number being one less than my ticket.

Ho hum.

MAN OF THE MATCH – Lewis Gonsalves. Another solid defensive performance.

ENTERTAINMENT – 6. Not a classic. Another U’s-Stortford game that failed to really ignite!

TEAM : Emberson,Gray,Palmer,Gonsalves,Castledine,Akuamouah,Charalambous,Pitcher, Mackie,Cornwall Douglas   SUBS : Wilson, Welton, Rivers, Adams

THE REFEREE’S………so-so. Usual complaints of failing to award any free-kicks in the final third etc etc etc. Base level annoying more than anything.

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