That’s A Pleasant Surprise!

CONFERENCE SOUTH

Att: 640



EASTLEIGH – 1    [Oliver 85]

SUTTON UNITED – 2    [Montague 36. 68]

Today is a first for me. My first ever trip to Eastleigh.  For whatever reason, I’ve not been able to make the last two trips to this little place by Southampton Airport, fortunately it seems, as those 2 results have produced two apparently frustrating defeats and no goals scored in our favour. Oh dear.

Which when you consider our start to this season compared to theirs (0 wins in 5 against 4 in 5 and no goals conceded at home), you can probably understand why I’m not looking forward to crossing this place off the ‘done’ list as much as I probably should be.

Still, what else is there to do on a Saturday afternoon??

The mood dictates it’s a small party today, with just Windy, PC, myself and the missus heading down. We’re really not that into getting down to Eastleigh in a great hurry, so we jump on a train to get us down there for about 12.

For some reason, despite having not exactly sung the praises of Eastleigh as a drinking venue, PC & Windy persuade us (and probably themselves) that heading there for a pint instead of the much more appealing sounding Southampton is a good idea. I’m not convinced. My fears are soon realised when we get outside the station. Inside a minute, I’ve seen as many chavs as you would at the annual “Innit bruv!!” convention in Croydon.

And there’s, seemingly, no fucking pubs. At all. Well, none that even the most unfussy pisshead would bother with.

My opinion remains unchanged when we end up wandering into a Litten Tree. Now Sutton used to have one of these before the chain went bust. About 3 years ago. Obviously the news hasn’t filtered down to these parts just yet. Still, it’s much like the rubbish pub we used to have at home in that it’s dingy, shite and does fuck all in the way of even vaguely interesting beer. My word this place is a dump!

A quick pint later and PC is keen to catch whatever the live premiership game might be on the telly this afternoon. SKY? Round here?? You’ll be fucking lucky mate!

Little do I realise, I’m really not far off the mark there.

PC seems to think that the shit looking bar we’d passed on the way to the shit Litten Tree will be screening the game and pops in to find out. Instead of Sky sports, the tv is showing some bad western so old that even my dad would struggle to remember it (probably the Channel 5 lunchtime film). I get the feeling Mr Chalmers is going to be out of luck here, but he asks behind the bar anyway….

It transpires that my earlier flippant comment is closer to the truth that we’d expected and this place does indeed lack even the most basic Sky facilities. In fact, it seems, so does every other pub in town. As a couple of minutes hard thought from the 2 barmen at hand fails to produce a definite option.

Trying to be helpful, one suggests as we turn to leave that there’s a place on the other side of the shopping centre that ‘might’ have what we’re looking for.

Hmmm, somehow one doubts it, but we’ll give it a go given we’ve got sod all other options!

The boozer we find on the other side of the shopping centre, thankfully, does indeed have sky. But only the crap one, meaning it’s showing Sheff Wed v Bristol City and not the heart stopping action of the premiership that PC was looking for. Ho hum. Beggars can’t be choosers. Especially here in Eastleigh it seems! And anyway, this place seems to serve some form of beer. So it’ll do.

A couple of pints and a passable bit of lunch later, we wander back through the shops looking for a cab rank that Windy remembers from the previous year. A bit of information that should have been rendered totally redundant by the fact WE SHOULD HAVE GONE TO SOUTHAMPTON!!!!!

Still, too late now I s’pose. Off to the ground we go.

Ambling into the bar with time for a couple before kick off helps matters and we’re soon catching up with the other people foolish enough to make the trip down for what, on paper, should be a right good dicking.  The side doesn’t change much, with Watkins being the only real absentee on the right. Haze elects to throw new man Malik Buari into the deep end and selects him for that berth.

Oh well, time for the football. Better get it over and done with.

My record of dealing with stewards continues as per normal, with one particularly smarmy young bloke waiting until I’ve got the flag secured before telling me it’s obscuring an advertising board and could I move it.

“The sponsors pay a lot of money for that” he informs me, just to be doubly fucking annoying.

Lucky ol’ them! I bet our flag cost a damn sight more than their shitty sign.

Our start to proceedings is less than impressive, with the defence pushed back from the off as the home side look to do some early damage. After only a couple of minutes, Wilson makes a very goodstop, fingertipping over a fierce drive from the left corner of the 18 yard box. The corner that follows is also a tad worrying, a header being won and with Phil caught in no mans land, it’s down to Charles to hoof the ball off the line.

We survive this initial rush, but find life difficult for a while, struggling to make any real impression on proceedings. After 12 minutes, Hudson is outstripped down the right and the low centre is blocked twice by Wilson coming off his line before the rest of the defence can recover and clear the danger.

For a while, things thankfully tail off a bit and whilst we’re still not really looking like we could punch our way out of a wet paper bag, the home side don’t seem to have much in the way of ideas on how to break us down. And after half an hour, we finally start to show some vague signs of life. A short free-kick on 30minutes is played along the 18 yard line. Tanner receives towards the left, turns back to the centre and hits a swerving shot that flashes comfortably enough wide, but has the ‘keeper scrambling nonetheless.

Encouraging signs indeed!

Then after 36 minutes, we suddenly find ourselves a goal up. Courtesy of a little bit of that luck stuff we rarely seem to see….

A big kick down the centre, as with all the others before it so far, drops towards the completely unmarked no 6, who looks set to head it straight back whence it came. But, this time, the ‘keeper calls for him to leave it, which he does, not realising how close Montague is. The ball drops and before he can gather, the Brentford man is upon him. He tries to shield it, but fails and collapses to the ground hoping for a bit of ‘keeper protection from the ref.

Sadly for him, the ref is having none of it and allows play to continue. Ross simply takes a couple of strides and rolls the ball into the empty net.

Hang on? Did we just catch a break there?? Surely not! Quick, check the lino. Bet he’s got that flag up…..er, no. he hasn’t! And no foul given by the ref. So that can only mean one thing…

We’ve bleedin’ well scored!

This unexpected little gift seems to really give our lads confidence a boost and knock the wind out of the home sides sails somewhat. And we manage to see out the last 10 mins or so in a relatively calm and relaxed manner. Which makes a nice change. 1 up at the break. Wasn’t quite expecting that….

Think we need a half time snifter to help clear the head and ensure we’re not imagining things.

Round to the other end and Chalmers does his best to break my neck when we’re putting the flag up, but fortunately for you dear reader, he fails.

The goal it seems certainly has boosted the confidence of the side as we come out after the break and begin in a much more determined and organised manner. Within a minute of the restart, McBean causes trouble down the left and delivers a clever little Ronaldo-esque cross into the box. Montague gathers, but can’t get a sight of goal and instead lays it back to Greene arriving on the edge of the box. His low shot comes through a crowd, but is straight at the ‘keeper and he gathers without too much fuss.

We keep up the tempo and with Tanner and Greene running midfield along with Ug, things are looking far more promising than they did at just after 3pm. But, the home side are still around and on 59 minutes, really should be level except for an excellent bit of goalkeeping.

The big man between our sticks hasn’t had the greatest start to the season it must be said, but he redeems himself with this stop. An attack down our right and an inviting cross is hung up towards the far post. The Eastleigh man gets highest and heads back across goal. Just as we’re all thinking “Bollocks, thats 1-1 then….” Wilson adjusts in mid-air to throw out an arma and tip the goalbound effort over his crossbar.

The save is made even more vital a little under 10 minutes later when our persistance pays off. McBean is again the catalyst like he has been for so much already, down the left flank. And even despite the attentions of 2 defenders, he manages somehow to wriggle through and finds himself clear with a sight of goal. But his instincts to shoot are suppressed and he rolls the ball past the ‘keeper and across the 6 yard box for Montague to thump home from close range.

Get fucking in there! Now we really have got something to keep a hold on!

Our job should be made that little bit easier a couple of minutes later when Buari plays a sliderule ball down the right for Hudson on the overlap. He’s well clear of the defence and races in towards the box. The ‘keeper comes out of his box to narrow the angle and the U’s right back tries to push the ball past him. But having spread himself as ‘keepers do, the ball inevitably strikes Pullen on the arm.

To be honest, it really should be a red. There was no way a defender was going to get back in time to stop Ash from rolling the ball into the empty net. But for some reason, the slightly fussy ref decides that a caution is adequate punishment.  It’s bollocks really. And you just know that had it been Phil in that position, he’d have walked.

Naturally, we’re not particularly happy with this.

Within a minute, the hosts have launched a promising attack down the right, but again Wilson is sharp to the danger and is on hand to get down quickly to save the narrowly angled shot after the attacker has managed to skip past 2 defenders into the box.

On 78 minutes, Ug really should put the game beyond doubt when he finds himself on the end of a wonderful flowing one touch move puts McBean in down the left and his pull back finds the midfielder. But unaccustomed to being in such territory, Honey delays for that vital second and a well timed tackle robs him of his chance 6 yaards out.

With time running out, the home side finally make their mark. 5 minutes left and Hudson has to leave the field for treatment. Naturally, seconds later, a deep ball from halfway picks out a man in the right back slot. He hits a fierce low ball frist time across the 6 yard box and it’s touched beyond wilson and inside the far post.

Now, I have to be honest here and admit to feeling a tad nervous at this point. But these feelings prove unfounded as the late onslaught we expect just simply fails to materialise and the last few minutes are played out pretty much up and around the Eastleigh box. McBean has a chance to seal things with a minute to go after a fantastic surging run by Tanner sets him up. But his rising effort is the perfect height for Pullen to beat away.

Much to our relief, we play keep ball down in the left hand corner, even giving us an opportunity for a bit of ‘ole!’ to amuse ourselves. Still, quite where the ref gets his 7 minutes extra is beyond most people and naturally has us calling loudly (and really quite rudely!) for the official to blow his fucking whistle.

Thankfully, he soon does and we’re celebrating our first win of the new season. Not bad, only the six games in.

Having once more put my life at risk with a Chalmers ‘boost’ to get the flag down, we amble happily round to the bar for a much needed celebratory drink or two and catch some other results. Amusingly, the Bobbins have suffered a 4-1 beasting against Horsham. Excellent! Their misery never seems as amusing when you’re losing shitloads yourself.

A quick chat with the hosts cult ‘keeper and ice cream man Wayne Shaw keeps us further amused for a while before we decide to get ourselves a cab back into town and hit the train home. With time to kill before boarding, we find Sainsbury’s a valuable resource for a few beers to keep us refreshed on the trip home although we have to ask the nice lady ticket checking person if we can use her bottle opener as we seem to be seriously lacking in that department.

Windy also keeps himself amused by texting some codes from his Bud bottles to get himself some ‘bud bucks’ that you can apparently redeem for tat on some website. It seems the going rate for 8 bottles of the Yank booze is 60 ‘bud bucks’.

Yeah, thought that would keep you interested. I found it fascinating too.

Sadly, my own piss up celebrations must be curtailed as I have a dinner date with the other half and her folks up in London and we have to leave a mildly pissed Chalmers and Windy at Woking to get their train back to Sutton.

Oh well, normally god knows how many beers would be called for here, but I guess a couple of bottles of Tiger and some Crispy Duck will have to do.

MoM : Ross Montague. Two goals in easily his best game for the club. Looking good!

TEAM : Wilson, Hudson,Scarborough, Gonsalves, Charles, Greene, Honey, Montague,Tanner, Buari, McBean   SUBS : Pestle, Henry, Williams, Bray, Wright

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