Att : 367
SUTTON UNITED – 1 [Gonsalves 17]
HISTON – 1 [Nightingale p27]
Oh come on now. You can’t be serious. This has got to be some sort of a wind up, surely. The U’s seemingly never ending run of bad form was extended another 90 minutes last night in a largely uninspiring contest with another fellow bottom-of-the-form-tablee, Histon.
Certainly, it was better than Yeading or Basingstoke and we did actually manage to create a couple of chances. And yes, we didn’t actually lose. But that’s certainly why this one won’t be lingering in the memories of the Sutton faitful for years to come.
It’ll be remembered for quite possibly the most horrendous miss any of us has ever witnessed at any level of football by probably the most interesting Sutton United enigma in recent years. Mark Watson.
Despite having a fine goalscoring record for the club (around a goal every other game), he’s always had a love/hate relationship with the GGL public thanks to sometimes looking really rather too ‘laid back’ on the field. Undoubtedly, on his day, he’s a real handful.
He just needs to have more ‘days’.
The sighting of the man at saturdays hopless 1-0 home defeat to Basingstoke and the rumour he was training with us should’ve started alarm bells ringing. We even made the obvious jokey comments about him signing for Sutton once more.
Whats that one about jesting and ‘many a truer word’??
The first I know of our dark humoured comments coming to life is as I step off the train at Sutton. With a text from Windy alerting me to the ‘big’ news. And not only has he re-signed, he’s starting! Slightly confused, I wearily head down to a strangely deserted Hood (Maybe they’ve all heard the news and gone home?) and console myself with a pint before starting a lonely trudge round to the ground.
Fortunately, my luck is in and Greek drives past as I leave, saving me the stroll.
Strangely enough, he’s not too enamoured by our ‘new’ recruit much either, with the word ‘desperate’ featuring heavily in the conversation. As it will throughout the night.
Along with the new signing, JR has once again elected to shuffle his now very dogeared looking ‘pack’ once again and another experimental line up is produced
The back 3 of Elliott, Scooby & Patsy remains unchanged. But the midfeld now consists of a central 3 of Honey, Gonsalves and Conroy. With Eddie & Matt on the flanks with Mr Watson and Cornwall to lead the charge up front. Nope, I’m not convinced either.
The early exchanges are, as to be expected, pretty dull. But it livens up a it after 11 mins when Matt Gray’s low free-kick from the left finds it’s way round the wall. Ex-‘s ‘keeper Lance Key makes a bit of a mess of it and manages to steady his defence’s pulse rate by holding onto the ball at the second attempt.
Our visitors meanwhile are exposing the pedigree of their coach, Mr John Beck, the ex-Cambridge United manager (infamous for his somewhat direct style of play) by thumping huge great long balls into the corners whenever possible. They manage a couple of early corners, but these are dealt with fairly comfortably by our rearguard.
Stll, imagine our surprise when after 17 minutes, we manage once again to score a goal. All by ourselves and without the aid of hopeless defenders.
A throw from the right touchline finds Luke Cornwall who turns away from his man and hooks the bouncing ball across goal. Key comes to meet it, but only manages a very unconvincing punch straight back out to the right. Again the ball is pulled across the box from the byeline and this time, Gonsalves is taking advantage of his more lofty postition and stoops to nod in.
Bloody hell, wonder how long that’ll last then?
Estimates vary. With timings between “less than a minute” to “Ten minutes” from a very optimistic Greek.
Histon continue with their direct style and to some extent we try & emulate them, hitting far too many long balls forward to Watson. But, then again, at least he wins the odd one.
The next chance falls to the visitors. On 22 minutes, a raid down the left results in a dangerous cross into the box. But Gray manages to get ahead of his man at the far post and prod the ball away for another corner. Approximately Histon’s 30th so far.
Our ealier ‘guess how long the lead will last’ competition is won by Greek, with his guess of 10 minutes being virtually on the money.
Another corner, this time in from the right, is headed away by a U’s defender out to just beyond the far corner of the 18 yard box. Unfortunately, it drops straight to an oppo player and his little burst into the box is clumsily ended by Conroy. Penalty.
Wilson goes to his left, but the Histon man keeps his composure and places the spot-kick comfortably to the right.
There now follows a lull in proceedings where neither side really does very much with the ball. Histon are mostly direct, but the balls are usually overhit or comfortably dealt with by the defence. The choice of style is quite strange as when they choose to get it down and play a bit, they’re not half bad.
With half time looming, a foul prevents them from possibly claiming a second when a deep ball in from the left is met by an attacker illegally holding down Scarborough. Wilson has to dive full stretch to the far post to push it away and the ref’s whistle saves us as a red shirt looks to gobble up the loose ball in the 6 yard box.
The first 45 minutes closes with another recent rarity for us. A quick counter-attack. A good ball out from midfield finds Eddie on the left and his short run ends with a sweeping pass across field to Cornwall. He gets away from his man, but the terrible surface makes a clean strike impossible and as it is, he does well to keep his effort down, on target and force a save from Fat Lance.
Still, at least we’re not losing when we head down the tunnel to the bar at half time. And if we actually impose ourselves a little more, we might actually win this one.
Our hopes are initially answered at the start of the second 45, with a bright start. We’re certainly showing a little bit more in advanced positions anyway.
But, the wind is pretty much knocked out of us about 10 minutes after the restart. A ball over the top from the right catches out the Histon defence and despite loud appeals for offside, no flag comes. Watson chases onto the ball and with no cover, Key has to come off his line. A brief hesitation costs him dear though and Watso gets there first, chesting the ball past the oncoming stopper.
For once, the ball runs kindly for us and it bounces towards the now totally unguarded net. Watson follows it in and about 6 yards out, dead centre attempts to apply the finishing touch. A finishing touch that’s not needed. The ball is on it’s way in. With arms already raised in celebration (along wth most of our team), to our absolute horror, he instead only succeeds in somehow lifting the ball a foot over the crossbar.
People react in different ways to this event.
Personally, I turn my back on the field and drop to my knees with my head in my hands. Chalmers punches the fuck out of the metal panelling behind us and Windy slumps in despair over the perimeter railing.
Players pull shirts over their heads, seemingly wishing the ground would open up and swallow them, even Fat Lance in the Histon goal has his hands on his head in utter disbelief.
All around us, fellow U’s fans stand and laugh like maniacs as the shock turns to amusement at the absurdity of the miss. That wild cackle you produce when you know for absolute certain that it really just can’t get any fucking worse than this. Chalmers, finished with his assault of the fence, is the first to speak.
“Ronnie fucking Rosenthal!” he exclaims.
“Fuck off. At least that fat cunt hit the fucking crossbar!” Windy & I reply, strangely suffering a sense of humour failure at this particular moment.
One thing is for certain, I’m going to have to retire that ‘Miss of the Season’ award in May. There’s just no way that’ll ever be beaten.
Oh, and by the way Watso. Welcome back.
The game resumes, with an air of utter resignation hanging over Gander Green Lane. Sutton, to their credit, having just suffered the footballing equivalent of deliberately setting fire to a 10 times rollover winning lottery ticket, stick at the task. And just beyond the hour, Scooby gets up well to loop a right sided Matt Gray corner onto the target, but Key tips it over the bar.
3 minutes later, you know who gets his chance to redeem himself. Bundling his way through in that familiar style, he latches onto a short pass into the box, despite the hint of handball in controlling the pbasll, he advances on goal and from a slight angle fires the ball from virtually point blank range into the more than ample midriff of Key on his goal-line, before ending up in the back of the net.
No Mark, that’s where the ball is supp……..oh never mind.
The U’s keep plugging away, but despite having a lot of the ball, fail to really make the most of it. Matt Gray does well to recover one cross thats been headed away, and drills it low toward the near post from the byeline, but with plenty of bodies in the 6 yard box, it’s cut out by a defender.
With that spectacular miss and us not making the most of plenty of the ball, that nagging feeling that our guests will nick the points is always there.
As it happens, the closest they get comes with about 15 to play. A corner from the left causes problems in the box and after a brief scramble at the near post and 2 attempted shots blocked, one red shirted man manages to scuff an effort over the grounded Wilson and on goal. But, thankfully, Gary Elliott is on hand to appear and chest the ball away right on the line.
After this, the match kind of slips towards the inevitable conclusion of a draw and our disasterous run continues. Back in the bar, naturally talk turns to that chance.
How?? Just how???
Someone please tell me we at least got it on film. The club would make a frigging fortune selling it on the Xmas footy blooper DVD market.
MAN OF THE MATCH : No one. Not a single player stood out.
ENTERTAINMENT : 3. Another in a long line of frankly non-existant showings.
TEAM : Wilson, Scarborough, Palmer, Conroy, Elliott, Gonsalves, Honey, Akuamouah, Boosey, Awuah, Douglas SUBS : Fear, Rivers, Cornwall, Gordon
THE REFEREE’S………couple of frustrating moments, but by and large, we were so fucking awful, he really can’t be blamed for anything. Which is a shame as it might have brightened up another miserable bloody report.