Slide Halted……Just

CONFERENCE SOUTH

Att : 581



SUTTON UNITED – 1  [OG 85]

NEWPORT COUNTY – 1  [Belle 55]

I bloody hate missing games. Especially for little or no reason. And that’s what I faced last week. Missing out because you’re utterly skint is one thing. Missing out because your flat has no heating, is freezing fucking cold and you have to sit in waiting for the bloke to come & fix it is another.

So, not only did I sit at home twiddling my thumbs. My bloody heating STILL isn’t fixed!

Which is a bit of a pain in the arse in November.

Still, if nothing else, I guess it’s good preperation for the coming weeks of standing on freezing cold terraces watching non-league football.

I find Windy already in the Hood. And he’s a bit miffed. Greek had arranged to be there for an early pint and is apparently late. Oh well mate, never mind, I’m here now! Greek finally arrives, complaining of a non-starting car.

The usual couple of pints later, we stroll in the sunshine down to the ground, hopeful of a return to form with a win over struggling Newport. Matt Gray returns to the line up after his breif spell out with injury, replacnig Pitcher who is unavailable. Craig Watkins makes his last appearance before returning to Exeter at the end of his loan period.

As has become the norm recently, we start rather slowly. And although we avoid the early goal of recent weeks, the defence still looks a little wobbly, taking 3 attempts to clear a left sided corner after 3 minutes, with 2 defensive headers going straight into the air before the third finally allows us to breathe easy again.

A good opportunity to further settle the nerves comes a couple of minutes later. Watkins persistence in the centre around 35 yards out wins him possession and he drives forward with the ball. As he skips past the final defender and seemingly has a clear run on goal, Cornwall nips in from the left and nicks the chance. But with a good sight of goal, he pulls the shot across goal and narrowly wide of the far post.

I bet Craig is dead chuffed about that!

It’s a rare clear sight of goal for the U’s as they struggle to impress themselves on proceedings, especially in midfield. This leads to plenty of possession for the visitors, but they fail to create a great deal. The best chance coming on 11 minutes. A low cross in from the left being touched on at the near post, forcing Wilson to save low to his left.

Castledine gets a sight of the target soon after, getting on the end of a Gray free-kick from the right side of the 18 yard box, but his header hits a defender and gently drops in front of the ‘keeper for an easy take. Slowly from here on in, we get more of the ball, but make little of it.

One rare moment of decent flowing football comes on the left. Watkins harries a defender off the ball and lays it infield for Quinton. He smartly backheels the ball into the path of Cornwall on the edge of the 18 yard box, but his shot is weak and again it’s another easy save for the ‘keeper.

County continue to have plenty of the ball and if anything, look distinctly more organised than a side in the bottom 3. But their frontline is their downfall, showing little punch.

Another decent U’s chance comes on 32 minutes, the play being switched from left to right by Akuamouah and picking out Gray in behind the full back, he drills a medium height ball to the near post, but Watkins fails to get a touch and Ed, who’s continued his run has the ball pushed away from in front of him by the ‘keeper and the chance is gone.

The visitors blunt attacking point costs them near the break when a ball in from a free-kick is nodded down in the box. But their man connects with only air as he swings his boot from about 10 yards out. It’s the sort of chance that never seems to fall your way when you’re in the shit and struggling.

Half time then and a chance to warm up in the bar. Thankfully, that feeling is helped with the news that the Bobbins are once again failing to add to their mighty away points tally of one and are trailing at Dorchester. Previously winless at home.

Oh dear. It’d be tragic if it wasn’t so funny.

Right, back out into the cold. And as I wander round, I get a horrible little feeling. We’re really not looking like breaking this lot down and they’ve had enough of the ball to maybe sneak a rubbish goal.

And we all know what happens this season when we go a goal down……..

Still, we start the half promisingly. A couple of minutes in Watkins gets into space down the left, pulling the ball back across the edge of the box for an unmarked Quinton. But he weakly sidefoots wide of the target.

Things then get decidedly bad. 55 mins in and Ryan Palmer intercepts a fairly aimless Newport ball forward. But rather than take either of the 2 simple options open to him, hoofing it clear or laying it off to Gonsalves to his left, he faffs around with it and 2 poor touches later has the ball nicked off him by the visitors big striker.

Naturally, presented with a complete gift like this, he makes no mistake and after travelling to the edge of the box, he finishes well, much to the delight of the travelling fans behind the goal.

And all of a sudden, that horrible little feeling I had about 10 minutes ago is back. And it’s sat on my shoulder going “I fuckin TOLD you they’d score!”. Sometimes, I really hate my own brain. Especially when it’s right.

I silently remind myself to set about killing it slowly with beer afterwards. That’ll show it.

Unsurprisingly, the goal puts us right on the back foot and the visitors grow in confidence. They begin to get on top, although again, without really looking like adding to their tally. Although on 64 mins, a huge goalkick is allowed to bounce 30 yards out from goal. The big no9 races in again, but this time, the attentions of Palmer keep him off balance and allows Wilson to make the save from the resulting shot.

Our first response to the goal finally comes with a quarter of an hour to go. JR throws on Sean Rivers to try & hold the ball up more up front and it soon pays dividends. The young forward wins a header in the centre out to Watkins on the left. He attacks the full back and cuts inside, hitting a low shot at the ‘keeper by his near post.

County have a near miss a couple of minutes later, a pointless free-kick conceeded 25 yards out is taken quickly and flashes across goal, just wide of the far post. A couple of minutes later, another poorly conceeded free-kick results in a free-header at the near post, but it’s thankfully directed straight at Wilson.

The game now sparks into life, with the most exciting spell coming in the final ten minutes. We win a free-kick on the edge of the box and a combination of Quinton, Honey & Gray work a shooting opportunity for Gray and his low drive is parried by the ‘keeper. Sadly he manages to gather the loose ball before either Watkins or Cornwall can dig it out and get an effort on goal.

But, the chance lifts the lads and they start pressing more & more for a goal. And to our relief, one finally comes with 5 minutes to play. Palmer plays a superb angled ball out to the right and in behind the defence for Gray. He controls, cuts in and thumps a low centre across the box, where the backpedalling no5 swings and only succeeds in slicing the ball beyond his ‘keeper and into the far corner of the net.

About bloody time! Although, lets face it. with the way we’ve played, an OG was probably the only way we WERE going to get back into the game.

Smelling a possible win, we press for a winner and Gray again gets behind the defence almost immediately after, but this time, his centre is cut out at the near post for a corner which comes to nought. County aren’t out of it by any means and also press for a winner in the final few minutes as the game swings back & forth, but despite getting through a couple of times, they fail to test Wilson.

By the end, a point is probably about fair and we’re slightly relieved to hear the final whistle. Well, we’ve finally drawn a game. And more importantly, for the first time this season, we’ve gone behind and not lost!

Thank christ for that. It was starting to get just a little bit annoying.

We head for the bar and enjoy a beer with the friendly Welsh followers. Including one lady who confesses to having given one of the annoying youngsters who’ve appeared at home games recently a clip round the ear for mentioning sheep shagging at the end of the game.

Fair play madam!

More beer follows and before we know it, it’s closing time! Hmmm, guess we won’t be heading for the Hood tonight then??

By the way, I’m absolutely Hank fucking Marvin.

Whats that?? Did someone say “All back to Millsy’s for Chinese”?? Sounds bloody good to me!

MAN OF THE MATCH – Paul Honey. Worked his socks off in an otherwise lacklustre midfield.

ENTERTAINMENT – 6. Short on quality, but a damn sight better than the last time we met here!

TEAM: Wilson, Gray, Scarborough, Palmer, Gonsalves, Akuamouah, Castledine, Quinton, Honey, Watkins, Cornwall   SUBS : Fear, Rivers, Elliot

THE REFEREE’S………again, hardly noticeable. Which is nice.

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