Att : 213
BASINGSTOKE TOWN – 2 [Ray 25. 56]
SUTTON UNITED – 0
Let’s be honest, away to Basingstoke is never the first match we look for when the fixtures are released. It’s not quite a ‘Heybridge’ in that it’s in the middle of nowhere and they kick the shit out of you. In fact, the place has actually improved markedly from the miserable 60’s concrete hellhole it was on my first visit back in the early 90’s.
It’s even marginally redeemed itself in the drinking stakes, with a couple of reasonable watering holes accessible a short distance from the station.
I think the reason we never treat this trip with any great enthusiasm is our largely piss poor record at the Camrose. Barring a trophy win here about 3 years ago and that unforgettable ‘runners up’ match 2 seasons back, we’ve had about as much success here as Carshalton have with putting a man on the moon.
When you add to the fact that apart from that 5-0 win a couple of years back, encounters out this way generally aren’t what you’d call memorable either.
The fact I can only recall last season’s 1-0 defeat here due to the fact I comtemplated sticking red hot pokers in my eyes rather that witness such depressing cack again as opposed to any particular onfield event. “So why go then??” I hear you cry…..
It’s ‘cos we’re stupid innit.
Still, we’ve not had a half bad start to the season. So surely this visit will be better than most previous efforts! Won’t it?
Staggeringly for us, the arranged ‘meets’ at various points of the train’s route out of Sutton go perfectly. Pretty good considering most of us usually have trouble getting to large stationary building such as a pub within an hour of each other on a saturday.
Greek having been sunning himself for 2 weeks is again absent, this time clocking up some OT to pay for it! Still, PC, Mrs C, Windy and DS make up the travelling party.
Another surprise comes in the form of our South West trains service from Clapham. In that it is neither late, breaks down or has it’s crew go on a wildcat strike halfway through the journey.
That’s twice this season thats happened so far. There’s probably people using this route every day of the week for years who’ve never experienced that.
As per usual, arrival in Basingstoke means a visit to the Queens Arms next to the station. Then we’re off through a packed shopping centre to reach the next pub. In the hight street type area we find that like back home, the town’s Hogshead pub has had a makeover and now goes by the name of the ‘Bakers Arms’.
Ho hum. It does beer……
Even better, it has a pool table and before long, drinks are being supped and some of us (ie. Me!) are attempting to play. But as per normal, the relaxed pre-match period comes to a close and it’s time to head off to the ground.
Nipping round the corner to a nearby taxi-rank, it starts to piss down. Even worse, the bloke in the office reckons he hasn’t got anything to take us. Gareth relies on a number he’d noted at the station earlier and has more joy. While we wait, we shelter under a rather handy tree.
Now, if you run a taxi office, here’s a tip. Don’t tell people like me (ie. a prospective customer) that you “haven’t got anything for at least half an hour” when you’ve got three fucking signwritten cars sat outside your office. It really is a little bit annoying.
Still, we arrive at the ground in time for a quick snifter before the game and here my slightly optimistic mood is ruined. There’s a rumour circulating that in our starting line up today is Ex-Bobbin and prolific yellow card collector, Billy Harding.
Oh fuck off! That can’t be true. He’s rubbish!
Worried as I am, Gareth seeks out other U’s fans to discover the truth. Across the crowded bar, I can see him chatting to Millsy. I don’t need to hear the conversation to know what the score is. Millsy nods slowly and Gareth’s head goes into his hands.
Harding’s starting then…….
Again, we’re struggling for defenders today. Elliot has again picked up a knock and will sit it out today. Emberson is also still missing. Wilson keeps his place and loan signing Danny Ekoku makes his debut up front.
Despite the absentees, we make a bright start. Within a couple of minutes Cornwall finds room on the right and feeds Ekoku, but his firmly struck effort is blocked by the onrushing ‘keepers midriff.
Sutton keep up the pressure and barely allow the home side out of their own half. On 16 minutes, another chance comes and goes. After some build up around the edge of the box, a pass finds Pitcher on the left corner of the 18 yard area. But his low skidding drive is just wide of the near post, with Cornwall just failing to get a possibly crucial diverting touch on it’s way through.
The home side manage a brief foray forwards shortly after with a move down the right which ends with a shot across goal that goes out for a throw in on the far side. Their next atack 3 minuets later though is slightly more effective.
A ball down the left sets Gonsalves shoulder to shoulder with an attacker going towards the byeline in the box when suddenly the ref sees an infringement and points to the spot. From my vantage point at the far end, it looks a very very soft penalty, but later we discover from someone with a slightly better view that Lew seems to have had a dirty great handful of shirt.
Fortunately, the spot kick is poor and Wilson goes to his left to block with his defenders following up to clear the loose ball.
But our thoughts of “Right, they’ve had their chance……” have to be re-evaluated a couple of minutes down the line. Rather than build on having avoided going behind after that good start, we go behind after that good start!
A quick, incisive, yet incredibly simple attack down our right results in a good cross into the box. It’s nodded down at the far post back out to the edge of the 18 yard box, where an awaiting Basingstoke man cracks a crisp drive between Wilson and his near post.
From this point forward, the match enters a completely blank period with very very little action on the field of any note to really speak of. In fact, the only note I make after the goal is for a Cornwall header looped over the target from a left sided Geoff Pitcher corner. Apart from that, a heavy, 10 minute downpour of rain that sends the travelling support stood at the open end scattering for cover is really the only other major event of the half!
Our injury problems worsen at the break with Castledine failing to reappear. Douglas comes on and goes to the left. Quinton takes the ex-Wimbledon man’s spot in the defence.
Still despite this latest setback, Sutton start this half fairly brightly. Gray whips in a corner on 48 mins that is touched on at the near post, forcing the ‘keeper to push it over the bar and a couple of minutes further down the line, A Gray free-kick finds Cornwall on the edge of the box, but his stooping, flicked header finds only the ‘keepers midriff.
Again though, just as it seems we’re starting to get a hold on proceedings, we find ourselves further behind. A poor free-kick from Gray out on the right is only headed clear as Palmer sitting 30 yards out. He tries a rather ambitious ball back out to Gray on the right. It’s cut out by a defender and his header sends a team-mate clear down the left touchline.
He swings an early ball towards the right corner of the area where the no6 manages to get his head to the bouncing ball, guiding it over the advancing Wilson and just inside the far post.
Ummmm, I get the feeling we’re heading for another run of the mill Basingstoke game here……..
Cornwall flashes a fierce shot on the turn just wide of the far post after collecting the ball 20 yards out following a throw in from the right, but it’s a rare sigh of goal for the U’s. Although one reasonable move on 67 mins manages to get Ekoku in down the left where he beats his man and drills a low ball across the 6 yard box, but it’s deflected over by a defender.
After this, our efforts to get back into the match fade and it looks more & more likely that the home side will add to their tally. Our new star signing, who has had a less than stirling debut in midfield, is the cause of one opening. Giving the ball away weakly in midfield and the ball is switched to the right, where the run ends with a cross being headed narrowly wide of the target.
Just as good an opportunity goes begging near the end. Some slack defending allows a bit too much room on the left, but the resulting cross is headed just over the target from close range.
Thankfully the final whistle isn’t far behind and we head off to the sanctity of the bar. Our mood isn’t helped much by Histon failing to register even a single measly goal at the Bobbins. Rubbish! Turns out Oldham have got stuffed 4-0 as well.
Erm, any chance we can call a cab now and fuck off please??
Back on the station, we have to endure a less than direct trip home and standing on the platform at Woking, a train to clapham pulls in. We soon abandon any plans of getting it when realise it’s fresh out of Fratton station and is full to bursting of utterly pissed Geordies.
Our decision to pass on this train is proved to be a good one when one of the hammered northerners enquires “Is yow eggchasers like?”
Eventually, we make it back to West Sutton where Windy decides to head off home as his cold has worsened somewhat. So bad in fact that even his fags “are tasting crap”!
Right, I’m going to the Hood to forget what I just saw this afternoon.
Saturday in Chippenham should be a right laugh.
MAN OF THE MATCH – Phil Wilson. Excellent 1st half performance kept us in it.
ENTERTAINMENT – 5. Not bad 1st 20. Pretty poor for the other 70…..
TEAM : Wilson, Gray, Castledine, Palmer, Gonsalves, Harding, Akuamouah, Pitcher, Quinton, Cornwall, Ekoku SUBS : Douglas, Adams, Charalambous
THE REFEREE’S………another so-so performance. Don’t really recall any major fuck-ups.