ATTENDANCE : 431
CAMBRIDGE CITY – 4 [Midgely 70. Gash 73. 90. Chaffey 75]
SUTTON UNITED – 1 [Gonsalves 10]
So, we’re officially bottom then. Still, despite the fact we’ve been shite for the majority of the past 4-5 years, it’s a position I’m really not used to seeing the U’s occupy. And I don’t like it. I don’t like it one bit.
Oh well, at least we have a nice away trip coming up. And as befits a meeting with our friends from Cambridge, there’s something major going on at Milton Road. The last couple of times have involved some event or other in their long ground sell offdodgy bastards in charge saga. The latest instalment being the club taking the purchasers of their ground to the High Court to get the sale overturned on the grounds that what was paid for it was a bit under what it was really worth.
About 10 million quid under to be exact.
And in a somewhat surprising outcome, the judge has come down on the side of good sense and football, not the greedy money grabbing wankers who usually get the benefit of such proceedings and agreed that the ground is indeed worth quite a lot more than the developers paid for it. Which is good news for our friendly hosts.
And probably bad news for us as they’ll no doubt play our 22nd and dead last arses off the park for 90 minutes this afternoon. Still, we could always get drunk I s’pose.
To make matters worse, the trains are fucked. Only going as far as some place called Royston due to engineering works. No, I haven’t the slightest clue where Royston is either other than “It’s near Cambridge”. So, despite investigating other options and routes, it’s pretty clear we’re a bit fucked and will have to suffer the ‘Rail Replacement Service’.
Oh joy. Just what you want on our mood.
The journey is thankfully relatively smooth, with no problems getting up to Royston (wherever the fuck it is). Heading into the car park, we go in search of our ‘Rail replacement service’ and are directed to some tired looking 52 seat coach. No expense spared then I see!
PC, myself and the other half jump on and take our seats. Windy and Mrs C being smokers lag behind, puffing furiously on their Malboro lights before they have to suffer the horror of another 20 minutes without a ciggie. Sadly for them, the seemingly rather grumpy coach driver suddenly decides he’s in a hurry and wants to do the offski quick sharp and starts telling people he’s full and to “get on the one behind” before closing the doors.
This is strange as there can’t be more than 15 of us occupying a vehicle designed to carry more than 3 times that number.
So, as we roar off out of the car park and head for Cambridge, Windy & Mrs C are left to trudge off to the coach behind us with about 20 other bemused passengers who like them can clearly see that Mr Grumpy’s coach has virtually no fucker on it at all.
See you in Cambridge losers!
25 minutes later and we’re dumped outside Cambridge station and proceed to hang around doing feck all for 10 minutes while we await the arrival of our abandoned smokers, then it’s a cab through town heading to a small cluster of pubs we’ve noticed on previous visits about 10 minutes walk from the ground. The cabbie keeps us entertained, turning out to be a local football fan. Seems he’s quite happy about the judge’s decision during the week as well. Funny that.
He drops us outside the Boathouse pub and we wander in to get some beer. With the sun (mostly) shining, we adjourn to the beer garden and find a nice spot right at the bottom, slap bang next to the Cam. Sadly, there doesn’t seem to be anyone out on a punt, which immediately knackers any chance of calling someone a ‘silly punt’ as they drift past.
Ho hum. S’pose we better drink instead.
Some cracking lunch is also obtained, with Windy and PC opting for the ‘5 rasher bacon sandwich’. Which I have to admit, looks fucking gorgeous when it arrives with what looks like half a pound of bacon between to huge doorsteps of white bread. It truly is a work of art and Windy even goes so far as to declare it ‘possibly the best bacon sarnie I’ve had in years’. No faint praise from a true conniseur of the bacon banjo such as him.
The missus meanwhile amuses herself by finding some fellow Saffa’s on the next table to babble away in Afrikaans to. A language that frankly sounds so rough, it makes German sound almost sing song and poetic. Also she amuses all present by asking a bunch of guys in wedding suits “If they’re going to a wedding”.
No dear, they’re on a cheeky fag and beer break from a very very posh restaurant….
Eventually, we get our arses in gear and head off to find the ground. Windy, decides to further foster the good links between us and the hosts by splashing out on a cheap bottle of bubbly for them to celebrate their good news with. Who knows, maybe they’ll go easy on us this afternoon?
The remainder of the pre-match period is taken up with greeting old faces and catching up, plus trying to find out just exactly what sort of 11 Mr Hazel will be sending out today.
Eventually, we find out that Mr Tanner is well enough to participate, but Pestle is once more favoured over Hudson. Nick Greene thankfully returns to the midfield to hopefully give us that little bit of creativity we’ve been missing. Up front, we unsurprisingly stick with the McBeanWatkins partnership.
But to our surprise, our understandable pessimism is dispelled once we get underway, as the lads come out and make a rather bright bustling start. Ok, this has usually led to us then being 2 down inside 15 mins, but this time, we just look a little more solid.
10 minutes in and a long ball down the right plays Watkins in behind the defence. His low angled shot being beaten away at the near post for a corner by the ‘keeper. Greene whips the set piece in and Lewis Gonsalves gets up highest in the centre to power a header into the back of the net.
Well fuck a doodle do! We’re in front!
As at Eastleigh, the goal seems to give us a bit more belief and we start to play like it. Although the home side do have what looks to be a pretty good shout for a pen waved away after Lewis (who else!) appears to cut down his man from behind in the box a few minutes after the goal.
Apart from this, we proceed to play really quite well, with Bash and Honey buzzing about with Tanner and dominating the middle of the park and the defence holding firm. Chances come as well.
After 22 mins, Tanner slides the ball from a central position out to the right for Nick Greene. He cuts in past his man, but with a good sight of goal his shot is weak and easily saved by the ‘keeper. 3 mins later, a rather iffy offside decision denies us. Watkins lays the ball across the edge of the box for Alimi, who clips it past a defender and bursts into the box. A clearly offside McBean suddenly finds himself potentially in the way and immediately backs off to allow Bash the shot. But as the midfielder prods the ball past the keeper onto the post, the lino raises his flag, much to the displeasure of the travelling support on the terrace behind him.
To be honest, I can see why he flagged, but for christs sake, we need every break we can get right now!
A couple of minutes further down the line, McBean bursts in down the left past his man, but the defender does just enough to put Warren off his shot and he lifts his effort just over the target from about 6 yards out.
Cambridge remind us they’re still on the pitch after half an hour when a rare raid forward reaches the byeline on the right. But Lewis is on hand to cut out and club clear the low centre for a corner.
Watkins almost adds to the lead after 38 minutes when he races in on the left and just reaches a seemingly overhit through ball just before the ‘keeper. His little flick over the stoppers head loops towards goal and looks in, but drops just in front of the far post and a defender manages to get back and clear before our man can follow in and finish off the opportunity.
Cambridge manage one more dangerous low ball into the box from the right shortly before half time, but AJ continues the theme of getting there before the opponent and intercepting the danger before clearing.
So, my word, we’re 1 up at the break, playing pretty well and not really looking in any trouble.
Can’t last, surely.
Our main worry is that we come out for the restart and deliver one of those shockingly lifeless second halves we seem to have made something of a trademark out of in the last couple of years. Fortunately, we needn’t have worried as the lads come out and play equally as well from the start of the second 45.
5 minutes in and Watkins really should all but end the contest. McBean is the creator again, allowed a bit too much space down the left, he cuts in and delivers a teasing low ball between keeper and defender. Unfortunately, Craig slides in and somehow manages to skew his touch wide of the mark from about 5 yards out at the far post.
Fear not as shortly after, we’re on the attack again. A corner from the right is poorly headed away and AJ acrobatically volleys the ball back into the danger area. Again it’s only prodded clear and this time Tanner tries his luck from 18 yards, but the shot hits the luckless Watkins in the back and deflects harmlessly back to the ‘keeper.
56 minutes gone and another chance. Again a corner from the right isn’t cleared and finds it’s way back to Greene. He whips it back into the box and picks out Watkins, but his flicked header drops narrowly over the target at the far post.
The hosts remind us they’re still about 3 minutes later when a long ball forwards is nodded on into space behind the defence. But Gareth is off his line sharply and smothers the chance just inside his area.
Watkins then has another chance to put us further ahead a couple of minutes after, running onto a ball over the top down the left, but his fiercely hit rising drive from just inside the box is just the right height for the ‘keeper to extend himself and beat away.
And then, it all goes Pete Tong. Big. fucking. style.
20 minutes to go and we’re still looking good, albeit with the hosts finally starting to show some concerted signs of life as opposed to the odd flash here and there. We defend a corner well from our left, McBean chasing down the loose ball on the far side and advancing to halfway. But, rather than knock it past the man coming across to cover and beating him for pace, he checks and in trying to play a silly flick to Pestle going past him on the overlap, loses possession. Cambridge immediately make the most of the space and a little lay off on the edge of the box ends with a fierce effort crashing into the top far corner of Gareth’s net.
Typically, before we can even draw breath and encourage the lads to go again and get the second goal their performance more than deserves, we go majorly AWOL from the restart. We kick off, lose the ball on the left and it’s untidily pushed into the channel for a runner to get in and clip it past the exposed Williams.
For fucks sake. 30 seconds ago we were cruising. And now we’re behind. We must be the only side in the world who can concede twice from one frigging mistake.
To be fair, despite suffering the most monumental setback since Sir Edmund Hilary got to the foot of Everest and asked “What do you mean we didn’t bring any fucking rope?”, the lads continue to look the better of the sides. And on 74 minutes, only a desperate bit of defending blocks Watkins snap shot on goal from 12 yards. Then a minute later, a high ball from the centre to the far post drops to McBean about 6 yards out. His touch and turn, followed by a snap shot could only have been better had it not hit the ‘keepers legs instead of the back of the net.
One minute later though and we’re done and dusted.
A silly free-kick is conceded about 25 yards out on the right. It’s hit low through the wall and Williams fails to gather at the foot of his far post. The rebound being inevitably rifled into the far corner.
I make that 3 goals in 5 minutes. Arse biscuits.
Still, almost seemingly in denial at the fact they’ve just pissed away a pretty comfortable looking 3 points in somewhat stunning fashion, the U’s keep plugging away, still looking for that second goal as if we’re still 1-0 up.
But, with a 2 goal cushion of their own, the hosts seem content to sit back more and try to fend us off. The last 10 minutes or so being completely one way traffic as we commit more and more bodies to the attack in a vain hope we can still rescue something from the contest.
But, with injury time approaching, the fat lady doesn’t so much start singing, more hocks up a big fat greenie and gobs it in our faces.
Another desperate ball into the box is cleared anywhere by the home side and drops to Pestle on the halfway line. His touch is poor and the ball gets away from him allowing the oppo striker closing him down to nick it, avoids his desperate tackle and leg it into our half of the pitch, now solely occupied by Gareth Williams. We try to get back and avert the inevitable, but with a 4 on 1 break we’re a bit fucked in that respect and the bloke simply rolls the ball to one side having draw Williams out and a team mate tucks the ball into an empty net.
Well, at least it can be said we never do things by halves.
Soon after, our misery ends with the final whistle and the side largely departs towards the tunnel in a rather bewildered state, with Paul Honey positively sprinting off just to get away from the scene of a major disaster.
We trudge round to the bar, trying to make sense of it all, with home fans commiserating with us almost every step and telling us we won’t go down if we ‘keep playing like that’.
Like what? Conceding 4 in the last 20 minutes? Yeah, I’m sure that’ll do wonders for our chances of avoiding what is looking more and more with every passing week like a feeble march towards certain relegation. We’re bottom and we’re bottom for a reason. And that’s why. We’re fucking shit.
Beer is the only cure it seems and we get stuck into the pints quick sharp back in the bar. The home fans continue to commiserate and proceed to celebrate their legal victory with Windy’s bottle of bubbly. We gratefully neck great mouthfuls from the remainder after it’s been liberally sprayed around the bar.
A few pints later and we decide it’s really time to be heading back to Royston, which we still don’t know the location of to try & get our train back to London.
Cabs secured, we make a stop at the offy for some much needed refreshments and we’re off. The journey home is uneventful and we stumble back into the Hood around 10, requesting a hell of a lot more booze to try & rid our memories of that shocking last 20 minutes.
To be honest, we weren’t that bad today. But until we stop acting like Santa Claus on acid and giving away copious amounts of gifts to every passing football club we can find, we’re in one huge fucking world of trouble.
And to make matters worse, we’ve got the FA Cup next week. And we all know just how astoundingly good we’ve been in that competition over the last few years. Especially against lower ranked oppo. The opponents next week? Woodford United.
Nope, never heard of ’em either.
Are the FA doing a ‘losers plate’ this year do we know??
MoM : Paul Honey. Back to his hard tackling best until it all went wrong….
TEAM : Williams, Pestle, Scarborough, Gonsalves, Bray, Watkins, Honey, Tanner, McBean, Alimi, Greene. SUBS : Hudson, Henry, Wilson, Taiwo, White