Corner Turned, Or Another False Dawn?

CONFERENCE SOUTH

Att : 536



SUTTON UNITED – 1   [Fear 27]

HAVANT & WATERLOOVILLE – 1  [Baptiste 5]

Another Saturday, another game. It’s well known that if your manager is fortunate enough to pick up the manager of the month award in your division, he’s usually also fortunate enough to fail to win a game in the following month.

It’s 4 frigging months since that award. And even by our standards, that’s surely that’s got to be some sort of record for the MotM ‘curse’??

With the current run of form standing at one win in 15 games, we’ve slumped firmly into mid-table. And breathed a huge sigh of relief that only 2 sides are being relegated this season. ‘Cos if it was the standard 3 down, with the way we’re playing, most of us are pretty certain that final spot would have our name on it.

Amusingly, despite form that would cause the most optimistic fan to sit rocking in the corner of a darkened room muttering “We’re doomed we’re doomed” over and over again, some nutters are still talking about the play-offs!

Well, they were until the performance at Maidenhead last week……

Despite having good intentions of getting up bright and early and doing lots of cronstructive stuff, I say bollocks to it and stay in my pit until close to 12.

A quick dash round like a madman and it’s off to the Hood for the usual pre-match beverage.

It seems we’re a little depleted today. Windy has hurt his knee at footy training on thursday and as such doesn’t want to walk down to the Hood when the clubhouse is 60 seconds away.

Personally I reckon it’s because he’s a lazy scottish bastard.

Greek has decided to train it straight to West Sutton & join him. So, it’s just me Chalmers, Mrs C and our esteemed programme editor enjoying the alcoholic fare in this particular establishment.

GGL looks strangely quiet when we arrive just before the sides come out. One things for certain, the lack of wins is certainly starting to bite into our home attendances.

The side is once again pretty much unchanged for todays clash with genuine play-off, nay title, contenders Havant (Chrst, that night in August at their place seems like a lifetime ago!). JR sticks with the 3-5-2, and persevere’s with Luke & Steve Douglas up front. On the bench, Sean Rivers reappears suddenly. There’s no sign of Conroy (apparently still injured from last weeks warm up) or Rob Hughes.

Rumours seem to indicate the latter may have followed Quinton out of the door following JR’s comments in the local rag that he’d have to cut a couple of the squad for monetary reasons. But they’re not confirmed by anyone during the course of the afternoon.

Ho hum…..

So, with us defending the Collingwood end, things get underway.

Not entirely to our surprise, the visitors start brightly and look to put us under early pressure. They have much of the ball for the first 5 mins or so and it’s also not entirely to our surprise that they then proceed to take the lead.

A ball is swung out to the left of the box where it finds veteran striker Baptiste. Smartly, he controls, turns his man and rifles an effort from the angle that Wilson can only half block before it finds it’s way to the back of our net.

Feel free to insert your own appropriate Anglo-saxon phrase here.

We find it helps enormously in moments like this.

The visitors continue to press after the goal as we find it hard to get going at all. Another dangerous attack down our left flank on 10 minutes looks to produce a second goal, but the Hawks attacker at the near post fails to make contact and Patsy dives in to head away for a corner before it can reach the second.

Slowly but surely though, we eventually get more and more into the game. And whilst not quite matching the visitors possession wise, we’re at least getting stuck in and making them work hard when they’ve got the ball.

A couple of corners come our way around the 20 minute mark and neither is well dealt with by the Havant defence. The theme recurrs just shy of the half hour mark. A corner from the left is nodded on at the near post. A defender tries to clear, but makes a total mess of it, instead slicing the ball into the air. It drops on the 18 yard line to a completely unmarked Peter Fear and he returns it with interest, crashing a textbook volley past the completely stranded Gareth Howells in goal.

A goal! We’ve actually scored a goal all of our own! No OG’s required and no fucking dimitted officials with no idea of the laws to rule it out!!

Game on perhaps?

The equaliser clearly lifts the lads and a couple of minutes later our first clean passing move of the match materialises. A Havant free-kick is cleared and drops to Fear about 25 yards out from our goal. His ball to halfway finds Luke who clips it to the right. Gray collects and charges up the line, before slipping a pass inside for Douglas just on the corner of the box. He holds off his man, but delays the pass a split second too long and lays it behind the onrushing Akuamouah behind him.

A disappointing end to a promising move perhaps, but it’s probably the most incisive bit of football we’ve played in bloody weeks!!

The half soon becomes a keen contest, with the Hawks pressing wherever possibe and sticking to their pass pass pass ethos. We try & play a bit ourselves, but mostly concentrate on the bread & butter side of our game, namely shutting the other lot down and not letting ’em have the complete freedom of the park. Which makes a nice change!

Chances are sparse for the remainder of the first 45 minutes, although Fear does have an opportunity to repeat his goal shortly before the break. A long throw from the left is again nodded on and then poorly cleared. This time though, Havant unfortunately manage to ge bodies in the way and Fearo’s well struck volley is blocked 6 yards out on it’s way to goal.

Still, it’s a mildly less depressed crew who trudge to the bar at half-time. But, still ever the cynics, we know there’s 45 minutes stll to play. And that’s more than ample time for us to fuck things up!!

Our mood is not helped by the fact that our useless neighbours are drawing 1-1 at home to Accrington in the Trophy.

Yes, you know. Accrington ‘full time and top of the Conference National’ Stanley.

“Fucking useless northern monkeys” mutters Chalmers in the bar. And despite being of Lancastrian blood myself, I can’t say I disagree with him on this particular occasion!

The second half starts brightly for the U’s. Our kick off being hoofed forwards only to be clumsily nodded out of play for a corner by a Havant defender with not a single Sutton player within 10 yards of him. From the resulting flag kick, Scooby gets up highest in the centre, but his header is too high and drops over the crossbar.

If anything, we’re having slightly better of the play after the break. Havant are still certainly getting a fair bit of the ball, but aren’t finding it as easy to get their game going as in the first half as the lads work hard chasing down at every opportunity.

On 57 mins, a Havant attack breaks down on the right. Scarborough feeds  Cornwall and he sets off upfield. Around 25 yards out from goal, he tries to play a pass into the feet of Douglas on the edge of the box, but the ball is cut out. Still, it comes back to him and he tries a snap shot himself from the 18 yard line, but scuffs it and Howells gets across to make what is in the end a pretty comfortable save.

We keep plugging away though and on 66 mins, a golden chance falls to Douglas, who is having probably his best game up front. A huge ball forwards drops just behind the defence and a defender just gets there ahead of the young striker to nod it back to Howells, but his momentum takes him on and he crashes into his startled ‘keeper and the ball breaks free.

With the goal gaping and only a split second to dig the ball out for a shot, Douglas stabs at it and sees it screw agonisingly wide of the near post. A great chance, but one that really had to be taken there and then.

Douglas is invovled again on 70 mins when he chases another high ball forwards. The defender messes up a routine header under Steve’s challenge and the ball runs invitingly for our man. From the corner of the box, he fires off an instinctive low drive that fizzes across the face of Howells goal and has the veteran ‘keeer scrambling along his goal line. Again, sadly it zips a fraction wide of the upright.

Mr Howells relieved look and puffed out cheeks as he gets to his feet give some indication to how close the effort came to the target.

The visitors meanwhile have kept plugging away and inside the last 15 minutes, create their first real opening of the half.

Following a good couple of minutes pressure where the U’s are unable to clear their lines, we give away the ball on the right in our final third. It’s immediately centred and finds a white shirt sneaking in between 2 defenders. With only Wilson to beat, he brings a super instinctive block out of the U’s stopper from 8 yards. His intentions of snapping up the rebound being brought to a halt when the ref spots the lino has had his flag up all along.

Thank fuck for that!

Havant press again though and it’s during another little spell where we can’t quite get out of our own half that a bizarre event takes place. A young lad suddenly appears from the crowd on the stand side and sprints across the pitch along the edge of the Havant box.

Unfortunately for him, when he reaches the opposite corner, he finds his escape route cut off by our head steward. No doubt the youthful pitch invader would usually show Mark a clean pair of heels in a straight footrace, but he gets his leg caught as he tries to scramble over the pitch perimeter fence and like a cheetah pouncing on a wildebeest, the yellow jacketed Chief Steward brings down his prey to ironic cheers from nearby members of the crowd.

Sadly, unlike a cheetah, he doesn’t tear the little twats throat out with his teeth and tear him into little pieces. Disappointingly he elects to sling him out via the Collingwood Rec turnstiles.

Booo!! Such a stickler for the rules that bloke……

This silly incident seems to herald a slightly hectic last 5 minutes to proceedings as both sides produce chances to snatch the game.

Havant first up, hit first with a quick break on our right, before a teasing ball is delivered across the 6 yard box. One man fails to make contact at the near post, whilst his colleague just beyond the far upright puts his half volley into the side netting.

Virtually straight afterwards it’s our turn. Douglas breaks clear on the right and puts a good ball into the box. It seems like a defender will cut it out, but he completely mis-controls and presents Cornwall with a snatched chance in front of goal. But again, we fail to take it and he scuffs the effort into the ground and it bounces wide of the far post, watched on it’s way by Howells.

Then at the death, it’s Wilson who preserves the hard earned point. Again we can’t quite clear our lines following some Havant pressure and a shot comes in through a crowd of players from the right. Already grounded, the U’s stopper instinctively throws up an arm and somehow claws the ball from inside the post.

The reaction of the Hawks fans at that end tells how close it was, with a loud “YEEEEEEEAaaaahhhh …ohhhhhhhhh!!!” coming from under the Securicor roof.

Bugger me that was close!

Thankfully, the lads hang on for the last couple and manage to pick up a very valuable point. And also once again show that if we go out there, show some fucking heart and put your foot in occasionally, we’re very capable of getting results.

Whilst the late flurry of chances was happening, Belly had been on the phone to a Scummer contact, during which he had the misfortune to overhear the Bobbins actually taking the lead against Accrington full time and top of the Conference National Stanley.

Fucks sake.

Amusingly, by the time we’ve reached the tunnel to head into the bar after the final whistle, news reaches us that the big boys have snatched a ‘last kick of the game’ equaliser from a reportedly ‘dodgy free-kick’.

Now that’s fucking funny!!!

A few beers later, it’s a short stagger back to the Hood for more beverages and a spiffing steak dinner.

Sadly, the Scummers local contingent are absent and we’re unable to take the piss enquire politely as to what had happened in their big cup tie.

Oh well. There’s always next week I s’pose….

MAN OF THE MATCH : Luke Cornwall. His most effective game for ages.

ENTERTAINMENT : 7. Actually not a bad game as it goes. Competitive and most watchable.

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

THE REFEREE’S A………mostly ok. No major incidents to speak of, although just the usual minor complaints. The lino on our side first half was bloody useless again. Where are they finding these “A small marmoset knows more about the offside law than I do” dickheads from recently???

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