When The Chips Are Down

FA CUP 3rd QUALIFYING ROUND

Att : 725


CHIPPENHAM TOWN – 1  [Allison  2]

SUTTON UNITED – 0

When the draw was made, being paired with Chippenham received a mixed reaction from the gang. On one hand, it was a bit of a day out on the train, to somewhere we’d never visited before and an excuse for a few beers (like we need one anyway). On the other, we had to get up frigging early to travel out to a side who had absolutely smashed fellow Conf South’ers Newport 4-0 in the previous round and had won 5 out of 5 of their home games so far.

One thing was for certain, this was going to be a tough tie. Shame no one told the team that eh?

Daft as we are though, we’re still on the 8.30 out of Sutton and Wiltshire bound. A party of 6 is making the journey, with DS and PC’s brother Alan tagging along. Greek misses another trip as he’s got some 5-a-side wotsit to go to. Now, missing an FA Cup piss-up away day for that is in itself is a disciplinary offence. But when you miss an FA Cup piss-up away day to go play 5-a-side with a bunch of bloody Spurs fans, we’re talking about possible excommunication here!

Strangely, the trains all once again work as they should and we end up in Paddington with time to spare. Grabbing a cuppa and some breakfast is required methinks. Although being served that cuppa by the most miserable fucker I’ve ever encountered does little to lift my own dark “I’ve had nowhere near enough fucking sleep” mood.

Er, cheers for that mate. I take it ‘service with a smile’ wasn’t mentioned in your fucking training manual?

Also milling around on the concourse are some Tonbridge fans. In fact, the very same Tonbridge fans we’d encountered on the train last week on their way to Lymington! Apparently they’re heading for Worcester, also in the FA Cup.

Again disgracefully well organised thanks to DS’s pre-booking of the tickets, we have our very own reserved seats on the train. Albeit at the far end from the ticket barrier. By the time we reach coach ‘B’, I feel like we’ve already walked had the way to sodding Chippenham!

We’re soon on the way and the first beers emerge from the baggage. A game of top trumps soon gets going and is just as quickly over as Alan and myself knock everyone out in double quick tmie. We persevere 1 on 1 for a good 15 minutes before getting bored and declaring a draw.

Further down the line, some Port Vale fans get on, obviously heading to Swindon. Natutrally, the famous choc n amber gets a look of “Who the feck is that??”. 10 minutes later and obviously still trying to work it out, they send back one of their young sons to get the answer!

Lazy bastards.

We eventually spill off the train at our destination (on time as well. What’s that all about?) and via a friendly local, find our way to the first pub. We get the usual ‘everyone goes quiet and stares’ welcome as we stroll in, but the locals are soon warming to us. Mainly as we bugger off into a back room to play pool! Although we do get chatting to a few as they pass through on their way to the bog.

Still, a change of scenery is requred after a while and we travel 20 arduous yards to the next pub along the way. A couple of beers here and then it’s off to the last planned stop, the ‘Little George’. A name that conjours up images of a cosy little corner pub, with a dog asleep by a fire.

What we find is a very large, brightly decorated, modern pine & chrome trim pub. Which does a dreadful pint of Wadsworths.

More drink later and it’s time for the time honoured pissed amble to the ground. Except we have one small problem. Everyone we’ve asked for directions it seems hasn’t got a fucking clue what they’re talking about and we end up heading off in the wrong direction. To make matters worse, it’s started pissing down.

Thankfully, we eventually find a local who knows their town and we set off in the right direction. Eventually we find ourselves at Chippenham’s Hardenhuish home. A quick trip to the bar for a drink is brief, as it’s rather small and very busy. The same can also be said of the one covered end behind the near goal.

On the playing front, our confidence is boosted slightly with confirmation that Honey and Scarborough have both been declaerd fit and return to the starting line up. Another good bit of news is that Billy Harding ISN’T in the starting line up! JR has also elected to stick with Ekoku up front with Cornwall and leaves Douglas on the bench in favour of Eddie out on the left.

The rain continues to fall steadily and thankfully, we don’t have to leave our shelter behind the goal as the lads elect to go down the hill for the 1st half. Strangely, the locals stay put as well. This could be interesting…….

In the last round, our hosts battered Newport from the off and were 3-0 up inside 15 minutes. This would seem to indicate that if we can keep it tight for 20 mins, then maybe we can get at ‘em once we’ve weathered the initial storm.

Well, if we can work that out, why can’t those people out there on the pitch?

With barely a minute gone, a rather pointless free-kick is conceeded out on the right touch line, a few yards inside our half. It’s delivered into our box and finds their no7 taking advantage of some dreadful marking to arrive unchallenged in front of the back post and guide his header into the corner past a completely exposed Phil Wilson.

Oh great start lads. Great start.

Naturally, tails up from the super start, the home side are straight into their stride and the U’s spend the first 20 minutes or so stumbling around and aimlessly hoofing the ball in the vague direction of the opposition half. Akuamouah in particular is having a torrid start to his saturday afternoon as the home side quickly identify him as a weak link and attack him as often as possible.

On 21 mins, one such raid down the left exposes Eddie and the resulting ball across is collected by the Bluebirds lone striker in the box. He turns inside and cracks a low shot across goal, but it zips narrowly wide.

This seems to be the wake up call Sutton need and over the next couple of minutes, actually start to look like they’ve met before and begin trying to get the passing going. With 25 minutes played, a little bit of pressure on the edge of the 18 yard box and a defender plays a woeful backpass towards his ‘keeper. The lurking Cornwall seizes onto the loose ball and with just the keeper to beat, prods a weak effort wide of the mark when it seemed easier to score.

Fucks sake. Looks like it’s going to be one of those days again!

Another rare U’s moment comes just after the half hour. We finally manage to work an overlap on the flanks and a ball through sends Akuamouah clear. His ball across just evades Cornwall in the centre, but Gray is following up on the right and immediately puts the ball back in towards Quinton, but his ability to jump and head the ball is somewhat reduced at that moment by a defender trying to get a piggy back from him. Naturally, this is perfectly legal and above board………like fuck!

Wilson keeps us in the match a few minutes later when again the left side is exposed and a short pass infield from the touchline allows a blue shirt to once again turn & shoot, but big Phil is well placed and beats the effotr away.

The rest of the half is to be honest, pretty dull. We continue to fail miserably to build any sort of momentum in the game and the home side find that the route to their lone striker, has for the time being at least, finally been blocked by our defence.

Still, it’s a pretty miserable bunch who stroll round to the far end at half time. It’s going to take a HUGE improvement in the second half to get anything here…….

Despite the rain continuing to fall sporadically, most of the support decides to take it’s spot on the open terrace behind the goal and ignore the cover down the side. Probably because we’re a bit daft really.

I stick the flags up under the cover, deciding the last thing I want on a 3 hour journey home, possibly after a miserable defeat, is a soaking wet 18x9ft flag weighing several tons on my back and head out to join the other foolish persons behind the goal.

Sutton start the half brightly. A throw in from the right is headed away as far as Gray, also out on the right. He takes the opportunity to put the ball straight back into the area that finds Cornwall, but his deft header is tipped wide at full stretch by the ‘keeper for a corner.

Sadly, this is about all we can muster and the home side look far more likely to add to their tally that we do in cancelling it out. A deep free-kick on 51 minutes from the right finds a man at the far post. Wilson manages to block the header and then gather at the second attempt after a brief melee by the post. A poor pass a couple of minutes later gives away possession, resulting in a man away down the left. But his shot is across goal and wide of the mark.

Just past the hour mark, a super chance comes the way of our hosts and once again, it’s our mistakes presenting the chance. A throw down the right ends with a cross into the box, but it’s far too deep and the home side quickly break out, once more, down the left. An early ball across to the centre sends the no9 clear with just Wilson to beat. He tries a clever chip from the edge of the box, but miskicks horribly and the ball loops over Phil, bounces back off the bar and into the stoppers arms.

JR decides a change is required and the utterly anonymous Ekoku is withdrawn for Douglas. But sadly he goes out left and the equally anonymous Akuamouah goes up front. Not exactly what you’d call an effective swop! Moments later, our lack of bite and sharpness up front is no more clearly displayed when the ‘keeper spills a routine cross into the box, but there’s no one there to seize on the chance and the danger is cleared without too much fuss.

Still, the introduction of Douglas gives us a little lift and in several minutes, he manages to cause more problems for the full back than Ed has managed in 70. One run to the byeline produces a rare corner. It’s swung in and finds Scooby getting up highest towards the back post, but his header zips a fraction over the bar, brushing the roof of the net.

With our slightly more positive outlook, we start trying to press up as much as possible and try to snatch something from the tie. This inevitably leaves gaps at the back and it takes a brilliant save from Wilson to keep us alive. A cross in from the right is poorly headed clear and drops about 20 yards out in a central position for the Chips no14. His thunderous volley looks a dead cert to kill the match off, but Wilson flings himself across his goal and gets a hand to the shot, forcing it down into the ground and away from goal.

Rivers replaces Cornwall with 5 to play, leaving the totally ineffective Akuamouah on the field. A move that staggers most behind the goal. Cornwall might not have had a great game, but at least he got involved! Still, the young striker gets involved in the short time he’s out there and is involved in Douglas winning a corner with time almost up.

It’s played in from the left and the Chippenham ‘keeper flaps at it under pressure at his near post. The ball falls to Douglas just inside the 18 yard box, but despite his best efforts, his volley flashes a good couple of feet over the target.

And so ends our participation in the FA Cup for another year.

Somewhat pissed off at yet another less than impressive ‘performance’ in the cup, we gather up flags and decide to head back to the Little George in town & catch the second half of the England game rather than try to cram into what will be a really rather busy bar.

We trudge back up the hill to the pub and set about being bored to fucking tears by yet another turgid performance from our rather tiresome national side. A few other travelling U’s also make the same choice. Although I’m sure most would rather have been sat on the motorway somewhere.

England hold out and secure their win, which whilst terminally dull, ensures my day at least doesn’t get worse with a shower of text messages from piss taking austrians.

With the game done, the pub empties out pretty quickly and we take a seat to mull over the crap we’ve witnessed. And with mulling, goes beer!

The journey home is uneventful and quiet. Although we do get chatting to a bunch of lads out on a works piss up and end up swopping various dodgy video clips via the wonders of modern telephonic technolgy! Eventually back at Victoria, a knackered Chalmers and Alan head for home, DS, Gareth, myself and Mrs C decide the best thing is to go back to the pub and have a couple more bevvies.

My evening ends, very drunkenly, in a kebab shop obtaining chips. Whilst, for some reason, being questioned by an AFC Wimbledon fan as to why I “support Sutton, but live in Carshalton”.

“I don’t. I live in fucking Wallington you twat”.

And with that, I stumble off into the night with my chips.

Time for bed methinks!

MAN OF THE MATCH – Paul Honey. Did more than anyone else for the cause

ENTERTAINMENT – 3. Really really bad.

TEAM : Wilson, Palmer, Scarborough, Gonsalves, Gray, Akuamouah, Honey, Quinton, Pitcher, Cornwall, Ekoku.  SUBS : Douglas, Rivers, Welton, Charalambous, Harding

THE REFEREE’S………again, didn’t really do anything majorly bad. Although him letting the home side take an age to take any throw in or set piece for 85 mins and then booking the ‘keeper for ‘Time wasting’ out of the blue was mildly annoying!

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