FA CUP 3rd QUALIFYING ROUND
Att : 693
LEWES – 1 [Wormull 25]
SUTTON UNITED – 0
Having scraped past the might of Woodford United in the previous round, we were a little worried what the FA Cup 3rd Qualifying round held for us. Most sides would probably ask for a ‘winnable tie’, probably at home. Problem is, there’s aren’t many ties left in there that we’d consider winnable right now.
In fact, we’d be hard pressed to get a convincing result against Hackbridge Brownies 2nd XI at the moment. Thankfully, it seems they’re already out, so we at least won’t have to worry about being humiliated by a team managed by ‘Brown Owl’.
Still, the FA decide to have a bit of a giggle and give the hardest draw possible on paper.
Annoyingly, the Sussex outfit currently sit top of our division and are unbeaten. Mostly thanks it seems to their manager Steve King going against his usual formula of replacing 75% of his expensively assembled side every summer and then discarding most of those after a month when they’ve unsurprisingly failed to gel as a unit. The cunning bastard.
Even more annoyingly, some cock at the FA thought it would be a great idea to have England play a Euro 2008 qualifier on the same Saturday as the ties. Genius.
So, naturally, our match ends up getting shifted. To the Sunday. At 2pm. Which, given that I PC and Windy all play on a Sunday morning, is a bit of a shit. Even more so when some initial investigation reveals the only train we can possibly get arrives in Lewes a minute before kick off.
Ok, who’s driving then?
Fortunately, Mrs C voluteers, along with Greek saying he’ll make the trip down in his new motor. So, that’s the draw and transport down there moaned about and subsequently sorted. S’pose we’d better get onto the subject of how much chance we have of actually winning this tie……
Right, that’s that covered then.
The morning’s action provided by Sutton United Supporters Reserves proves to be more entertaining than most actual U’s games as we run out 5-2 winners, not ably supported by my good self, who has a shocker in midfield before buggering his ankle and limping off.
Unusually for a Sunday morning match, we only kick off a paltry 5 minutes late, so we’re showered and out heading for the cars at 20 to 1 and soon on the road, hoping that the M23A23 doesn’t throw up any nasty surprises.
Thankfully, it doesn’t and despite some minor traffic just by a turn off I’ve insisted to PC all the way down is the ‘quicker’ way into town (which incidentally makes the scruffy haired one moan like an old woman), we park up in the Station car park with a good 20 mins to KO.
Usefully, the hosts have just the one turnstile open when we get to them with 15 mins to kick off, but before we can really start grumbling about all things ‘tinpot’ and ‘two-bob’, they fortunately open a gate at the end and we’re safely into the ground with a bit to spare.
Team info isn’t immediately forthcoming, mainly as the PA seems to ignore the traditional read out of the line ups until the teams are actually out on the pitch and by then we’ve pretty much worked it out already for ourselves. Instead it plays a lot of shit pop music. Cheers mate. Very informative.
Craig Tanner returns to the midfield, with Ash at right back. Jason Henry keeps his wide right spot from Tuesday, with Watkins on the other side and Warren up front on his own. The rest of the side, is pretty much as we’d expected.
From the off, the home side are soon showing why they’re top. Quick movement of the ball, precise passing both to feet and into space they know a team-mate will immediately occupy. Which is pretty much the opposite of us recently to be brutally honest! Naturally, we seem to struggle with this cunning plan and they soon carve out their first chance.
4 mins on the clock and a ball is swept across the field around 25 yards out from goal. The pass finds their no4 in a bit too much space for our liking and he blasts a fierce first time rising drive on goal which whistles just narrowly over Wilson’s crossbar. After 7 mins, they really should be in front when a first time ball from the centre out right sends the no11 Binns away. He skins Ash for pace and then steps inside to avoid the desperate challenge of Gonsalves. Yet, with a great sight of goal, he hits a rather weak side foot shot wide of the far post from about 15 yards.
Ooooh. Thats a touch! Cheers mate….
Lewes keep up the pressure as we struggle to really get any sort of play going. Our hurried, overhit passes either are too far in front of their intended target or straight to the oppo, while they play like they could find their man round a street corner. Blindfold.
On 23 minutes, another let off. A ball over the top sees the no10 turn Scooby like he’s not there and race in on goal. But with only Wilson to beat, the leagues top scorer scuffs a weak effort straight to our relieved ‘keeper from about 12 yards out. Oh dear.
Still, they make amends a couple of minutes later when another passage of play cuts us open on the right and a little pass is pushed in behind the defence for the no8 to nip onto and clip under Wilson. The ball rolling really slowly inside the far post, just for emphatic dramatic effect.
Oh well, it was nice while it lasted!
But, rather than trigger the usual collapse such a moment usually brings, the goal seems to give us a little bit of a kick up the arse. Well, either that or the home side think they can just toss it off in the 20 minutes until half time. I’m not too sure!
But within a couple of minutes, Greene has whipped in a free-kick from the right and picks out Gonsalves between two markers. But his header flashes just over the bar. Fuck me. Are we actually going to have a go at this then lads?
Lewes do continue to have most of the ball from here on, but it’s actually us who make the better chances. And on 37 minutes, some dogged pressure around their box forces a small error, when 2 defenders both go for a bouncing ball on the edge of the box and miss. This allows Watkins to nip in and with the angle narrowing rapidly, he manages to get off a shot that the ‘keeper manages to block.
That’s two now. Come on!
Then, with the half almost up, a moments hesitation costs us an almost certain equaliser. Greene makes a run and cuts inside. He tries his luck from 20 yards, but his rubbish shot is going well wide of the near post when it runs to McBean. But it seems he has half an eye on the lino’s flag, which doesn’t come as the ball rolls agonisingly under his foot barely 6 yards out and trundles harmlessly out of play for a goal kick.
Still, only 1-0 down. That’s good for us!
Deciding against the tiny bar, we head up to the far end to have a go on the new terrace that has replaced the grass banking. If any Lewes fans are reading, that’s the big steppy thing that’s appeared in place of the grass behind the goal at the far end. Maybe you’d like to check it out next time you’re shooting that way and the sun is shining, rather than hanging about at the covered end next to the bar annoying the fuck out of away fans?
Just a suggestion of course.
Our new found confidence (or the hosts disinterest, we’re still not sure!) gets carried over to the restart and we set about making a bright start. After just a minute, Jason Henry is showing off some fancy footwork on the right and works himself enough space to get a decent cross into the box, which a defender rather hurriedly heads out for a corner.
We continue to compete a lot better as the home side seem to have given up their dull, uninteresting style of trying to walk the ball round us and into our net, by simply banging long balls up to their 2 strikers, or out to the right for Binns. It causes a couple of nervy moments, but nothing that really causes Wilson too much concern in the end.
It’s not until the 70th minute that we really manage another moment of note. Greene takes advantage of a decent little ball into the right hand channel and darts in to play a low ball back to the near post. But the ‘keeper is alert enought to smother out the danger before Watkins can take advantage. And then from here on in, it’s pretty much all us.
Now, there’s something I didn’t expect to be writing in a report for a while!
Ok, so the home side do break a couple of times, but Wilson deals with most things simply enough or the defence recovers the situation, but it genuinely is mostly us on the attack for the last 20 minutes.
On 74 mins, McBean, who’s been really too quiet since he’d switched out left, finally has a proper go at the full back and gets past him, firing a low ball across the 6 yard line. It misses everyone in the box, including two Sutton men and finds Hammond coming in on the other side. He immediately fires it straight back across and despite it needing only the slightest touch to send it goalwards, it zips through unmolested and is eventually scrambled clear by the defence.
A few minutes later, Warren again gets in down the left and this time he works a shooting position and his effort is saved. As we’re pushing up, the ball is immediately sent back the other way and finds the no10 in acres of space and seemingly no one to stop him from running in on goal to finish us off. But, just as he rounds Wilson about 8 yards out, Gonsalves appears from nowhere to make an unbelieveable saving tackle. This is enough for AJ to get back as well to block the follow up shot on the line and Wilson to find his feet and gather the loose ball.
The moment is celebrated almost like a goal at the far end. We’re still in this!
Watkins soon after bursts clear down the right, superbly riding two challenges and squares a perfect ball for McBean across the box. It’s a tap in. But sadly, Warren’s not there. He’s still some 20 yards away having not bothered to get up in support at all after he’s spent the last few minutes practically standing out on the left doing very little indeed.
Naturally, this does not go down to well amongst the U’s support.
The last 5 minutes is pretty much exclusively played out in the Lewes half, with us moving the ball around, trying to find that little chink of light that would enable us to nick, what is by now, a deserved equaliser. One late corner even has Phil Wilson making the customary jog up field, but it’s nodded away to the right, finding Hammond. But rather than steady himself and put it back into the danger area, he takes a touch and off balance skews a shot into the U’s fans on the terrace behind the goal.
Still we keep trying though and well into injury time, one last corner is won. Again, Phil makes the trip upfield to help boost the attack and the ball is whipped in from the left. Scooby gets up first at the near post and his glancing header is somehow kept out by desperate mix of ‘keeper and upright before the ball then bounces about in the box a bit and a defender finally gets under it to nod it onto the relative safety of the roof of the net.
It’s the last action of the game and immediately after, the ref blows his whistle for full time. Sadly, once more we’ve fallen short at the end, but it was at least heartening to see the lads give it a go, especially those last 20 minutes. But as we well know, when you’re struggling, feck all rarely goes your way.
So, disappointed, but slightly encouraged by the teams efforts, we trudge off up the hill to the Brewers Arms for a nice civilised pint or two, some scoff and a couple of games of pool.
Well, it is sunday after all.
Then it’s back in the wagons and back off up the A23 to Sutton and further refreshment back at the Hood, where it seems the excesses of celebrating the Rugby triumph has taken it’s toll on the locals, with a practically empty bar greeting us upon arrival. Bloody lightweights.
Right, time for a tired ickle Taz to hobble off home to beddy num nums I think……right, who’s it next week? Eastbourne? They’re second right?
Pah! Be a piece of piss I reckon.
MoM : Craig Watkins. Again. Still the best hope we’ve got of getting goals.
TEAM : Wilson, Hudson, Gonsalves, Scarborough, Bray, Greene, Alimi, Tanner, Henry, McBean, Watkins, SUBS : Hammond, Goodchild, Beard, Graham, Williams.