Wing And A Prayer


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New Years Eve. What a shit day for a football match eh?

Well done whoever dreamt that one up!

Still, it could’ve been worse. We’ve only got a short run round the M25 to Welling. Some absolute genius decided poor fuckers like Stortford had to travel to Weymouth and Dorchester had to go to Histon!

Now, whilst Welling isn’t exactly paradise, it’s infinately more preferable to spending New Years Eve on a coach on the M3 somewhere. Nice.

With transport at my disposal for the first time in ages, I decide to volunteer to drive to this one. Sadly I have to play ‘follow the leader’ with DS & his missus all the way there, meaning I miss out on the chance to cane the tits off my brother’s car.


Still, there’s always the journey home I guess….

An uneventful trip round and we arrive in the bar with an hour to spare, allowing those of us who aren’t driving to enjoy a beer or two. My own imbibing will have to wait until tonight when I get back to the Hood.

Whilst in the bar, team news is received and it turns out JR’s only switch is to replace Steve Douglas with Luke Cornwall up front in the starting line-up.

Leaving the bar, we bump into a few of the familiar faces amongst the home support. Familiar mainly because they stayed and got heroically pissed up at our quiz night following their end of season visit to GGL last year! We’re also introduced to Mr Hobbins, one of the clubs chief persons. I hurriedly try & recall any incidents in the past where he could possibly dislike us (and more specifically, me!), but it turns out he just wants to meet some of the ‘online characters’ he’s heard about from his own clubs supporters.

Character? Now I’ve been called a few other things beginning with ‘C’ in the past, but never that!

As we’d expected for a side that’s lost only 2 league games all season, the hosts set about their task briskly and after just 4 minutes, our defence is caught napping a bit. A chipped pass into the left channel gets an attacker clear on goal, but Palmer does well to make up lost ground and manages to get a foot in to block the shot at the expense of a corner.

Welling continue to press and on 9 minutes, another scare for us. A low short ball in from the left is cut out by Palmer in front of goal,. but as he tries to clear, he only succeeds in hitting it against an opponent and it rebounds on goal. Only Wilson’s sharp reactions save the situation and he blocks the effort one handed to his left before Lewis ‘tidies up’ by getting rid of it as quickly as possible. Straight behind for a corner.

Our own attacking options are being much limited by our approach to the game. Once again, for some reason, we’ve taken to lumping the ball up to forwards who simply are not up to that style of play. If it was into the channels, at least giving Gray & Cornwall a chance to turn thier man and chase, then it wouldn’t be so bad, but the high balls are aimed at largely static targets and as such are a piece of piss for the big Welling centre backs to deal with.

The home side continue their early domination on 11 minutes. And it’s another cock up causing the problem. A deep angled ball into the box from the right finds only Palmer, but his attempt to clear is horribly sliced and skews out to the right, straight to an oncoming attacer in the box. His low shot from the angle defeats Wilson, but Gonsalves is on hand to stick out a foot and prevent it from troubling Phil’s net. The danger isn’t entirely cleared though and another ball in from the right finds an unmarked man arriving at the far post, but his first tmie effort is wide of the mark and the lino has his flag up for offside. Thank fuck.

Not long after, we finally muster our first threat of the afternoon. For once, Palmer plays a decent long ball out from the back, giving Gray something to chase after down the right side. He gets in a low cross along the edge of the 6 yard box, which has the ‘keeper scrambling. But Cornwall can’t get in ahead of his man and the defender makes a very hurried clearance.

It’s a brief respite as again, poor marking sees the home side create and miss another good opening. A deep cross in from the left picks out a man who’s got across in front of Conroy in the box. But his powerful diving effort is arrowed too high and a little wide of the mark from 10 yards.

Again, we breathe a sigh of relief at the other end. We really should be 3 down by now at least!

Welling’s pressure tails off slightly, but we fail to make much of the respite, creating little offensively. The defence is still hoofing it too much and the midfield is failing to offer an outlet for the centre-backs. Fear in particular looks completely off the pace.

Our hosts next chance comes around the half hour mark and again, it’s only because of Wilson, the scoreline remains blank. Another deep cross, this time to the ‘D’ on the edge of the box, causes us problems. The no4 slips a simple pass between two statuesque centre-backs for his mate in the no8 shirt. But the U’s stopper reacts superbly to smother his shot.

Then, after 32 minutes, we finally manage to carve out a good chance and test the Wings ‘keeper.

Gray latches onto a ball down the left and steps inside his man before delivering a beautifully flighted cross to the far post where Hughes has arrived unmarked. His header is destined for the top corner until the Welling stopper flings himself across his goal to claw the ball  round his post. From the resulting corner, the ball is cleared only as far as Hughes just outside the box. He clips it straight back into the danger area and Cornwall gets up to flick a header goalwards that the ‘keeper claims fairly comfortably above his head.

Our good fortune continues before the break. A cross into the box from the right finds a red shirt. He holds off his marker and lays the ball off to a colleague. But again Wilson is in the way and despite the bal squirming under him, he’s able to comfortable gather before it can trickle goalwards.

Naturally, the discussions as we stroll round at the break consist mainly of “How the fuck are we still in this game??”. With a bit of “Aren’t Thurrock beating the Scummers yet??” thrown in for good measure.

Whats that? They’re NOT beating ‘em??

Fucks sake. Just wait ‘til I speak to that Thurrockboy character!

As it happens, the Essex one calls as I’m clipping up the flag. The game has finished 0-0 and they were “Shit” apparently.

Oh well, that explains that then!

Our own match is soon back underway. Unsurprisingly, Fear fails to re-emerge and is replaced by Quinton. Despite some early pressure after the restart from the hosts, we manage to see our way towards the hour mark without too much incident. The fact that we’re actually trying to get the ball down & build the play rather than just lumping it forward. This pays off when a quick break following a Welling attack allows Conroy to play a pass in behind the home defence for Gray down the right, but his low shot across goal brings a good 1 handed save from the ‘keeper for a corner.

The resulting set piece comes in from the left and finds it’s way to a slightly surprised Cornwall towards the back post. His first touch isn’t great, but he still manages to direct an effort on goal, but it lacks power and the man stood on the line next to the opposite post has no trouble in clearing the danger.

After the first half, the second 45 is much more of a laboured affair. With chances and decent openings few & far between. Welling do have one ball played low across the box on 71 minutes after an overlap on the left opens up, but there’s no-one there to convert the chance. From here on in, a 0-0 result is starting to look much more likely until the U’s visibly tire somewhat in the last 10 minutes and we end up where we started.

Us defending like mad and the home side wondering how they’re not in front!

First the no5 fails to connect with a right sided corner at the far post on 79 mins after Wilson comes & is blocked off at the near post , then the U’s ‘keeper fumbles a routine shot with about 5 to go, but manages to ercover sufficiently to push it away allowing  a U’s man to clear.

By now completely shagged out, we’re chasing shadows at the back and another quick attack after we’ve given the ball away cheaply isn’t capitalised on. Despite being played into the clear on the left, he rifles his rising effort across the face of goal and into the hoardings on the far side of the target.

Then, right at the death, another move down the left catches out our tiring rearguard. Thankfully, Welling’s Stadhart seems just as knackered and can’t quite make up the ground quick enough to tuck away the ball as it trundles agonisingly across the face of goal. Wilson completes a tidy afternoon by flinging himself in the path of ball and man just to be sure.

So, somehow, we’ve ridden our luck and claimed a very valuable point away to a side who look like they’ll be at least play off contenders. And so mildly pleased with the result, if not the performance, we head back to the car.

Later on, it’s back to the Hood to help welcome in the New Year. Still suffering from a lack of cash, it seems as if my own celebrations are destined to be somewhat low key.

That is until my number comes up in the pubs ‘Bonus Ball’ draw and lands me 50 quid!

Happy New Year!!!!

MAN OF THE MATCH : Phil Wilson. An outstanding afternoon. We’d have got murdered if it hadn’t been for him!

ENTERTAINMENT : 7. Fairly entertaining to watch on the whole.

TEAM : Wilson, Conroy, Scarborough, Palmer, Gonsalves, Gray, Honey, Cornwall, Hughes, Fear, Akuamouah.   SUBS : Quinton, Castledine, Gordon, Elliott, Douglas

THE REFEREE’S A………largely ok, but typically fussy. First card was naturally for dissent after several silly challenges had gone unpunished. Much the same in the second half. Not great, but we’ve had a lot lot worse.

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