Att : 305
LEWES – 2 Beckford (4). Sigere (90).
SUTTON UNITED – 0
One of the darkest moments of a frankly dreadful campaign so far was the 5-1 home defeat to Lewes back in November. 1 down in under 60 seconds, the night got progressively worse from there and Lewis Gonsalves last minute scrambled header was the single bright spot in what was a pretty tortuous 90 minutes.
So, with the U’s having actually managed to get worse since then, the return trip to Lewes wasn’t exactly highly anticipated by the crew. Still, last year was the same after a 5-3 gubbing at home and we nicked a huge 3 points towards safety with a shock 1-0 win. What’s that about lightning never striking twice??
Nah, I wasn’t convinced either.
Managing to skip out of work early, I find myself at Clapham, munching on a cornish pastie when I locate DS in the ticket office. Dinner consumed and tickets bought, we hop onto the train to Lewes.
Well, not so much ‘hop’, more ‘cram’. The guard repeating 18 times in a 2 minute spell over the PA that the reason for us having our oxygen supply limited due to half of South London being on the train at this moment is because there are 4 less carriages than normal, does little to improve the mood!
Thankfully, our discomfort is short lived and it empties out a bit at East Croydon, where Mr & Mrs C join the service and locate a set of seats to make things a bit more comfortable.
An uneventful hours journey down later and we’re stepping into the drizzly night air at Lewes station.
Right, next stop, pub!
A local friend of mine, Colette, has decided to come & meet us for a drink prior to her heading off to a college class and I find her waiting outside the boozer. Drinks are soon ordered and it’ not long before Chalmers is feeding the jukebox money and discovering that members of a band he likes are regulars in this particular establishment.
Before too long, Colette’s curiosity gets the better of her and she decides to bin her class and join us at the game. Being South African and a girly, she’s never seen a live game before. And she decides to break her Association Football duck by watching us.
Windy calls to locate us about 7 and passes on team news. It’s not good. An already uphill task is going to be nigh on impossible now that Paul Honey has pulled out with tonsillitis. This means a start in midfield for Sean Rivers, along with Luke Adams. Carl Emberson also makes his long awaited return from injury, replacing Phil Wilson in goal.
Ho hum. S’pose we’d better go to the ground and get this over with.
Thankfully, it’s about a 2 minute stroll from the pub and even better, it seems like the rain might actually hold off, so that’s something.
As with the game at GGL, things start badly for the U’s. 4 minutes played and a fairly innocuous ball out to our left finds a man a few yards in from the touchline, parallel with the edge of the 18 yard box. Our defence, as per normal, stands off and matey plays a simple pass along the 18 yard line for a colleague to stroke into the near corner past a startled Emberson. For fucks sake. Just when will we sodding learn?? Don’t give ’em space early on and FUCKING CLOSE THEM DOWN!!
Lewes naturally are settled by their nice early goal and stroke the ball around almost at will as the Sutton side stumble around chasing shadows. Thankfully, despite the early settler for the hosts, the expected following goal-rush doesn’t materialise. I guess they’re maybe just plain bored scoring against us?
After 9 mins, a rare foray into the Lewes half where we retain the ball for more than 2 passes eventually wins us a free-kick out on the right, about 30 yards from goal. Gray swings it in across goal to the far post, where a defender has to put the ball out of play with a diving header to prevent it reaching Gonsalves a couple of yards behind him. Staggeringly, the lino awards a goal-kick.
Oh I see, going to be one of THOSE nights is it? Oh goody goody.
There follows a bit of a lull in real action, with the home side moving the ball smartly about and the U’s humping the ball aimlessly all over the place and generally failing to find team-mates with even the simplest 5 yard passes. So pretty much how we’ve been playing for the last 3 months then.
Despite enormous amounts of possession, the hosts fail to really create any serious efforts apart from some pot shots from range that Embo deals with without too much fuss. Finally though, about half an hour in we finally win a corner, with the somewhat jaded U’s support cheering sarcastically as the lino signals with his flag. Gray puts the set piece in and Gonsalves meets it about 10 yards out at the near post, but his header loops well over the target.
And that is about it for the first half. Lewes again have virtually all the possession, while we spend most of our time trying to look as ridiculously hopeless as possible. Some of our ‘passing’ is shockingly bad with most of them either finding touch or a red shirt and it’s a huge relief when the halt time whistle comes. Still despite this, we’re not exactly getting battered. Go figure.
“If I were a Lewes fan, I’d be a bit fucked off to be only 1 up against a shower of shit like us!” I remark as we head round the ground for the second half. No one disagrees.
The second 45 gets underway and it carries on where the first left off. We’re shit, they’re not.
Still, several minutes in, another 2 bob, overhit pass forwards looks to be easily fielded by the defence. But the ‘keeper makes a right mess of his clearance and hits it straight to Rivers 30 yards out towards the right. But the young striker returns the ball first time rather than take a touch and his effort drops well short and trundles away from the target before the ‘keeper recovers it on the byeline.
Within a minute, the home side are once again opening up our rearguard, with 2 simple passes sending an attacker free through the middle. Just as a goal seems certain, Palmer makes a great saving tackle inside the box and Gray follows up to try & clear the danger.
Sadly, he thumps his clearance against another oncoming attacker and can only watch as the ball rebounds past him and narrowly wide of the open goal behind him.
The attacks increase in frequency and not long after, another quick break has us floundering. This time a ball down the left really should be cut out by Gonsalves, but he only succeeds in helping it onto the attacker who pulls it back from the byeline. Elliot manages to turn in time and cut it out at the expense of a corner.
A minute or so later, another build up on the left isn’t shut out and eventually the ball is worked inside for an unmarked Lewes man. But Embo is equal to his low skidding drive towards the near post, getting down smartly to save one handed before gathering up the loose ends.
Our own efforts meanwhile, remain somewhat hampered by our inability to hold the ball when needed and pick out even the simplest of passes.
So, you can imagine our shock when one ball through on the left gives Douglas a bit of space to run into, before delivering a teasing cross under the bar that the ‘keeper is forced to push over the bar for a corner. Sadly, the set piece, like so many others, comes to nothing.
More poor defending in the 73rd minute allows the home side another opportunity, with a midfielder just allowed to go as far as he wants with the ball before driving an effort in on goal that swerves away at the last moment and flashes wide of the near post.
Despite the poor performance, JR rightly elects to throw on Glenn Boosey to try & bolster our offensive options. Despite hardly having had a kick all game, it IS still only 1-0 and we only need one opportunity to nick something.
Well, actually, we’d probably need several dozen, but you can see what I’m getting at.
Still though, it’s the hosts making all the running. On 82 minutes, Emberson is in action again, saving with his legs after a ball down the right isn’t dealt with and is worked into the channel for a runner to try his luck from a narrow angle.
The home side then introduce ex-Scummer Luke Fontana to the action. Naturally, we boo his arrival and serenade him with a quick chorus of “Here for the money, you’re only here for the money” which I’m sure cheered him up no end.
Naturally, seconds later, he misses a sitter.
A red shirt as far too much time & space down the left and whips a low ball right across the face of the goal from the byeline. Quite how no one gets a touch, including Mr Fontana, escapes me. With yet another let off, that little nagging feeling that we could indeed pinch an undeserved reward from this game grows steadily. As always, it’s the hope that kills you.
And with 3 minutes left, a golden chance to do just that comes our way. Some persistance down the right pays off and the ball comes infield for Boosey, he steps over and lines up a strike from 18 yards, but it’s half blocked by a defender who diverts it to a completely unmarked and on-side Mark Watson 8 yards out.
Naturally, with the whole target to hit, he hits the ‘keeper square in the midriff.
Still, we have a little purple patch around this moment and for the first time all night, the home side look a little uncomfortable at the back.
But with time running out and pressing for the goal, we naturally fuck up and give ’em a killer second.
Again, persistance pays off down the right, with Scarborough stretching desperately to pull the ball back across for Cornwall just inside the box. But, rather than hold onto the thing, he tries a silly flick to Douglas that is cut out and before we know it is being launched upfield.
Our tormentor from the game at GGL, Sigere, legs it off unopposed right to the edge of our box before stepping inside a last ditch challenge from Palmer and tucking a low shot between Emberson and his near post to seal the win.
Right, can we go home now??
The whistle goes shortly afterwards and we can indeed finally head for the exits.
Goodbyes are said and before long, Miller is propelling us along the A23 at a rapid rate of knots in the usual midweek away game dash home for last orders.
45 minutes later we’re back in Sutton and there’s enough time for a couple of beverages back in the Hood to drown our sorrows and realise that the match programme isn’t all that great.
Oh well, only full time league leaders Weymouth on Saturday! Any chance we could have this new manager in charge by then??? No??
MAN OF THE MATCH : Carl Emberson. Only player to come of the match with any credit!
ENTERTAINMENT : 3. Terrible again. Changes really can’t come soon enough…..
TEAM : Emberson, Scarborough, Elliot, Gonsalves, Palmer, Rivers, Adams, Gray, Akuamouah, Douglas, Watson SUBS : Wilson, Cornwall, Boosey
THE REFEREE’S………mildly annoying with some of his decision making TBH. Seemed like the advantage rule only applied to the home side at times! Linesman we had our end was shocking (Again!).