Att : 494
SUTTON UNITED – 2 [Gray 11. Akuamouah 16]
Hayes – 1 [Jeffrey 73]
It’s been a tough few weeks for the U’s. 2 shit cup exits (one of these to an amateur side with 10 men!) and given a couple of right going overs in the league, you can imagine the mood around GGL at the moment.
JR though, continues to try & turn things around. This week has seen the signing of Oxford United midfielder Rob Hughes and the release of Geoff Pitcher along with Alexis Charalambous.
Still, confidence amongst the crew is low when assembling in the Hood. Even the SHAG syndicate has decided to plump for the away side today. Even after a couple of drinks, the mood fails to improve!
Despite this, it’s off to GGL for some more expected punishment.
On arrival, it’s clear that pretty football probably isn’t going to be on the menu. The pitch is in a pretty poor state. Looking in a couple of places like a ploughed field rather than a decent playing surface. Thank fuck we spent all that money on it over the past couple of summers eh? I’d hate to see the state it’d be in now otherwise!
Surprisingly, John has reverted to his favoured 3-5-2 pattern. But he’s stuck Jay Conroy out on the right, with new man Hughes in the middle alongside Fear & Honey. Eddie returning to his old spot out on the left. Matty & Steve Douglas lead the attack.
Just before kick off, we’re treated to the unusual sight of Greek in colours. The shop finally having received his replicas. Now that’s going to take some getting used to!
Things are a little low key to start with, but that suits us fine. It means chucking away an early goal is less of a possibility! Still, we seem to be handling the conditions better than the visitors, trying to get the ball out wide as much as possible, with Conroy making a couple of decent early runs.
Then, completely out of the blue, we get a vital boost. With a huge helping hand from ex-U Kevin Davies in the Hayes goal.
A ball from the right is played up to Matt Gray on the edge of the 18 yard box. He turns infield and as a gap opens up in front of him, hits a low effort towards the near post. It should be a routine save for the ‘keeper, but somehow, despite getting his body behind the ball, allows the shot to squirm first through his arms and then under his body, out through his legs and over the line.
Fuck me. Would that be a bit of luck?? For us? Bloody hell!!
It seems the lads draw the same conclusion as us and you can see immediately that some confidence returns to the team. A couple of minutes later, a good ball in from the right by Conroy causes real problems and with Douglas lurking, a defender sticks out a leg, slicing the ball straight into the arms of Davies on the line. But it’s more down to luck than judgement!
We keep up the pressure and on 16 minutes another good run by Conroy sees him brought down right on the right edge of the 18 yard box. As the visitors faff about preparing for the set-piece, Fearo makes his move.
“Eddie, GO!” he calls out across the box and sweeps a cross towards the far post where Akuahouah arrives to rifle a low volley beyond the startled Davies.
Right, now we’ve got summat to hang onto you bastards, lets bloody keep it!
Hayes first threat of any sort comes 3 minutes later. A free-kick from way out on the left is delivered to the near post where a big attacker dives in full stretch to make contact, but if he manages it, it’s the slightest of touches and it does little to divert the flight of the ball. The effort ending up in the arms of Wilson.
Serious action is few and far between after this, but the U’s are definately on top. Moving the ball far better on the rubbish surface than our guests. The fact that we’re not chasing down absolutely everything and not giving ‘em the chance to settle on the ball anywhere on the park is also helping.
The next real opening comes on 33 minutes. A pass into the right channel finds Hughes, but he’s lacking in support and faced with 2 defenders with his space rapidly decreasing. But rather than turn his back and try to hold onto the ball and await reinforcement, he completely mugs off the defender in front of him on the bye-line with an amazing little Ronaldhino-esque backheel and leaves his man for dead. He then clips an inviting ball across the face of goal that Davies manages to get a hand to and push into the air. It drops to Douglas a few yards out, but his prodded effort is somehow blocked by both the ‘keeper and a defender on the line and bundled round the post for a corner.
A couple of minutes later and Conroy exchanges a 1-2 with Gray down the right, the full back gets past his man only to be cut down once more in full flight, clearly just inside the box. Naturally, despite there being clear marks on the soft turf indicating where the challenge was made INSIDE the box, the ref gives a free-kick, right on the line. Twat.
He does little to endear himself further just a few minutes later when Fear takes a free-kick from the right and one of the 2 man Hayes wall clearly jumps, arms out and deflects the balls flight with his hands. He gives nothing and Gonsalves header back across goal from the far post results in a goal kick.
Sometimes, you have to really ask, just what the fuck are these people doing???
Sadly, the U’s fail to add what would hopefully be a killer 3rd goal before the break and we have to settle with going in just the 2 up. Still, it’s a bloody huge improvement on recent performances!
Right, time for a cockle-warming drink I feel……
Hayes come out a bit brighter for the second half and a few minutes in, manage to cause a couple of nervy moments. A deep cross field ball from right to left, picks out an attacker in a dangerous position in the box. But after controlling the ball first time, the surface intervenes and he ends up on his arse. Quickly joined by Akuamouah, arriving to clear the danger. Thankfully, Palmer is alert and scoops the ball out for a corner before matey can regain his feet.
The resulting corner is delivered at pace towards the near post, but it’s intercepted by a U’s defender for another corner, which comes to nothing.
From here on in though, the game drops into a lull. With little happening or created by either side. Not really surprising considering how badly the pitch is starting to cut up. And it wasn’t great to start with! Proceedings aer somewhat brightened up though with a good ol’ 20 man handbags melee in the U’s box when a couple of our lads voice their displeasure at a rather daft and unnecessarily late challenge on Wilson. Only Davies in the Hayes goal and Steve Douglas avoid getting involved, the latter obviously deciding that heading to the sidelines for a drink while the ref sorts it all out was a better use of his energy!
On the other hand, the Hayes no5 decides the opposite and sprints a good 50-60 yards to get involved. Amazingly, not a single card of either sort is shown.
A half chance comes our way with 20 to play. Conroy playing an early ball into the box from deep, that Douglas meets at the near post, getting the slightest of touches. It carries across the face of goal and is going wide, but Davies is unable to gather and conceeds a somewhat soft corner.
But, soon after, the ref awards the visitors what looks a slightly iffy corner. It’s played in from our left, aimed at a huge crowd of players at the back post. Wilson fails to gain enough momentum & height on his jump to claim the ball and it’s nodded back across goal, dropping in at the far post despite the best efforts of Honey to prevent it from crossing the line.
To our relief, the goal fails to rattle the lads too much and driven on by a somewhat resurgent Peter Fear, we still look more like to score next. Honey has a shot from the 18 yard line saved by Davies after Eddie wins the ball out on the left and pulls a cross back from the byeline on 75 minutes and A neat bit of play on the right sees Gray cleverly back heel the ball into space for Douglas, but Davies acrobatically tips away his fierce angled drive.
Hayes have what looks to be a reasonable shout for a pen at the other end when their man goes down chasing in after a low ball across the box, but the ref ignores their appeals.
Still, the last few minutes are counted down nervously by those of us on the terraces, but the lads dig in resolutely. With Honey charging around like a loon as usual tackling everything that moves and more unusually, Fearo, putting his foot in and making challenges when needed.
Our last worrying moment comes with about a minutes left, when a big free-kick is played into the box and nodded away out to the left. Eddie makes a great block on the first shot and the follow up effort is curled across the face of goal and wide of the far post.
Not long after, the whistle sounds for the end of the game. And to our relief, we’ve hung on to claim the 3 points and halt what has been the most miserable of runs.
Right, can we get pissed now please?
Back in the bar, the atmosphere is much improved on recent weeks. People are smiling for starters! A couple of pints later and the players are in, all togged up ready for their Xmas night out on the town (Except for Mr Conroy. Who is wearing a delightfully er……pink sweater. Very nice Jay! No really……..) Which is fair enough I s’pose as with 3 points in the bag and no game until next tuesday (possibly), the schedule allows for some team bonding.
Besides, after a run like that, I’d need a fucking good drink as well! And speaking of which……
Eventually, we stumble back into the Hood. And complete a good night on the beer to celebrate the win. Just hope we can celebrate a couple more over the Xmas period.
MAN OF THE MATCH : Paul Honey. Ug back to his best!
ENTERTAINMENT : 7. Not spectacular, but plenty of what we needed. Heart, fight and passion.
TEAM : Wilson, Conroy, Scarborough, Palmer, Gonsalves, Gray, Honey, Douglas, Hughes, Fear, Akuamouah. SUBS : Chabaan, Castledine, Gordon
THE REFEREE’S A………annoying. Loved blowing his whistle. In fact, thats pretty much all he did when it kicked off in the second half……..THREE times! Hopeless. And he’s doing a football league game this week. Sheesh!