SUTTON UNITED – 2 [McBean 20. Gray 24]
EASTLEIGH – 2 [Forbes 11. Watts 53]
With saturdays trip to high flying Stortford out of the way, the U’s have the opportunity to get thier stuttering campaign back on track and go some way to hauling themselves away from the drop zone with a run of 4 games against sides immediately below them.
That run starts tonight with a home clash against Eastleigh, who along with Lewes were the bookies big pre-season promotion faves. Not because of any pedigree you understand, but because they chucked fuckloads of cash at the team and signed half the players released by previously full time Weymouth, for whom they weren’t quite expensive enough.
And like Lewes, they’ve found this particular approach to be less that satisfactory, with their very big investment so far buying them a nice big fat hairy spot in the bottom 3. Sadly for us though, in 3 meetings with them so far, we’ve failed to register a single goal. With last season’s almost trademark 3-0 home defeat being one in a long list of miserable performances.
So plenty of incentive for 3 points tonight then!
Unusually, I manage to skip ou tof work at a strangely reasonable hour and find myself parked in the Hood shortly before 7, with enough time to enjoy a pre-match pint. It seems not everyone was so lucky and has headed straight to the ground.
Ho hum. Nice to have a bit of peace & quiet for a change!
Strolling in shortly before kick-off, I note that the presence of those blue wankers on telly in the not-all-Champions League has once more hit the gate, with what looks like about 150 in the ground. Hopefully, there’s about 400 hiding in the bar, ready to leap out and shout ‘Surprise!’ just as the ref goes to start the game.
No, I didn’t really think so either…..
Having not heard the team changes over the PA, it’s down to me to try & work out the team changes for myself. Which isn’t a good idea a the best of times. Still, I’ve only had the one pint. C’mon Taz, you can do it….
Haze elects to move Harris back into attack at the expense of Jason Henry who drops to the bench and with the return of Paul Honey from suspension, Tony Quinton fills in at centre-back and the Ugmeister partners Bash in the middle.
Also on the bench after a successful 90minutes for the ressies on saturday is full-back Craig Tanner, back from his broken leg inflicted a good 3 months ago against Histon. His return is a welcome sght and also a bit of a headache for the boss man after AJ has flled in more that admirably since being promoted from the stiffs. Naturally prior to kick off, I choose the wrong end and have to walk all the way back round again. Thanks Patsy!
From the off, we look very lethargic. Allowing the visitors to start confidently and dominate the early stages. Although despite having a lot of the ball, they don’t really create much and their first good chance on 14 minutes is taken.
A quick switch of play from right to left picks out the run of the no10 and with loads of space, he calmly lobs the ball over the advancing Hogan and watches it drop inside the far post.
Not exactly the sort of start you’d want in our situation if I’m honest.
It takes several minutes more before we start to find our feet and with reall our own first threat on the Eastleigh goal, we also find the net. Although not quite as decisively as they had!
Gaynor floats in a free kick from the left to beyond the far post. It’s nodded back into the danger area, where it causes the defence all sorts of problems and is headed into the air a couple of times before eventually dropping to Quinton just beyond the other post. He calmly lays it back for Gaynor whose shot through a crowd of legs is just blocked on the line by the ‘keeper, but McBean is on hand to tuck away the rebound.
The goal gives the U’s a real lift and seems to knock the visitors back somewhat. For a few minutes, they find it very hard to clear their lines as we hassle and harry, with Honey & Alimi especially ruthless in their chasing down of their red shirted opponents. With Eastleigh players finding on more than one occasion that having shaken off one of the midfield pairing, they find his partner snapping at their ankles.
This pressure brings a number of set piece opportunities and it’s from one of Harris’ huge throws that we take the lead on 24 minutes.
The ball is bombed in from the right touchline to just beyond the near post. Again the ball in the air causes the defence problems and it’s headed up into the air. Gray jumps highest and manages to nod the ball between a defender and the ‘keeper at the near post and the ball finds it’s way over the line.
Not that Matt is able to celebrate his effort, having been poleaxed in his leap for the ball. But fortunately after some treatment, he’s able to continue.
With the lead, the U’s start to show a lot more life and set about causing the visitors some serious problems. The ref is frustrating with his leinient dealings with some silly jumping in for high balls by the red shirts, but provides a moment of comedy when he rightly books Alimi for a late challenge on halfway.
Despite immediately blowing up and reaching for the cards, the Eastleigh bench are not happy and Mark Dennis storms 10 yards to the touchline to deliver a volley of abuse into the lughole of the poor linesman stood there.
That’ll be Mark ‘Sent off more times than you’ve had hot dinners sunshine’ Dennis then?
What do you expect him to do about it you has-been clogger? Go on and spank his arse with his fucking flag?
Amazingly, the lino fails to have the excitable old bloke removed from the dugout, despite being called some really quite naughty names. One can only assume he’s either deaf, or related.
Harris loops a header just over on 34 minutes from Gaynor’s left sided corner and McBean takes a super Gray forward ball on a great run forwards, but without any support he has to hold the ball up and when it finally arrives, the danger is snuffed out and we go in at the break just the one goal to the good.
Still, it’s enough to once again give us some half-time optimism and hope for a second 45 that will see us confirm the 3 points.
Sadly, as seems to be a now fairly regular occurance, our lot emerge from the dressing rooms like they’ve had a 2 week bender in Ibiza rather than a nice 15 minute sit down with a cup of tea.
In other words, we’re a bit shit.
The visitors pile forwards and like the first 20 minutes, we look completely out of it. 48 mins gone and Hogan slices a clearance from the edge of his box to a man 35 yards out on th right. He tries his luck and lofts the ball towards the seemingly unguarded goal, only to be thwarted by the quick thinking of Gonsalves, who has got back to cover for his ‘keeper and hacks the ball off the line.
A couple of minutes later more poor marking allows a deep ball from the right to find a man unmarked just inside the box in the centre. His directed header beaing pushed away by Hogan for a corner. The corner is swung in and despite some slightly illegal ‘climbing’ and a blatant handball at the back post, the ref allows play to continue, with the defence eventually clearing their lines.
The ref it seems, having had a reasonable 1st half, has had the same ‘2 week trip to Ibiza’ half time break as our lot and is apparently still feeling the effects of some particularly potent recreational pharmaceuticals, as some of his decisions are beyond belief.
Gonsalves earns himself a caution after 53 mins, hauling down an attacker on the edge of the box as he bears down on goal. But the offence is punished further when one of the visitors rather expensive recruits whips the free-kick over the wall and off the inside of the near post before it comes to rest inside the opposite upright.
The visitors from here on in dominate possession and bombard our goal, aided by our efforts to break the ‘most free-kicks conceeded in your own half of the field in 45 minutes’ world record. Thankfully, despite a couple of scary looking moments for us lot up the other end, no real clear chances comes their way.
Just short of the hour, Gray has the ball in the net after another huge Harris throw is turned back into the box by McBean, but the effort is flagged offside.
Gray also fires a volley across goal from right to left and wide of the far post on 68 mins and Gaynor takes advantage of some fierce battling on the edge of the box from Ug & Bash to clip a little effort on goal, but the ‘keeper plucks it out of the air just in front of his goal-line.
And thats about it really!
On the bright side, we didn’t lose. And had the oppo been better, we almost certainly would have given the amount of sodding possession and set pieces we gave them in our half. On the minus side, the second half performance was quite frankly, dreadful.
So once again, we come away from 90minutes and head for the bar muttering the now well worn words about ‘big improvement next time’.
For me, it’s a quick beer and then a relatively early night as I have to sort out my finery for a trip into the posh part of London for work in the morning. But I stick around long enough to find out that Hayes have got a 5-1 gubbing at Bognor.
Excellent, after a little revival, they’ve now let in 9 in their last 2 games.
0-0 saturday anyone??
MAN OF THE MATCH : Lewis Gonsalves. Only defender to emerge with much credit to be honest.
ENTERTAINMENT : 5. Really not very good at all…..
TEAM : Hogan, Palmer, Quinton, Gonsalves, Bray, Gray, Alimi, Gaynor, Honey, McBean, Harris.
SUBS : Fear, Akuamouah, Tanner, Henry, Naughton
THE REFEREE’S………Really really really quite poor. Jesus christ. Where do they find these c*nts? Ruined a reasonable first half by being so unspeakably bad in the second 45, it’s actually quite difficult to come up with words to describe.it. His second half “give a yellow card for absolutely any offence by the home team” was particularly bewildering. Please, give up. You’re shit.