SUTTON UNITED – 0
BRAINTREE TOWN – 3 [Sullivan 10. OG 58. Archer 90]
God this is getting boring.
It’s bad enough having to watch our lot at the moment, but then having to write up a match report afterwards is just downright masochistic. Like going to the dentist for root canal work, then pulling out a couple more teeth with some pliers when you get home.
So, another Saturday, another defeat. And one that, not quite mid-way through November, is leaving us already seriously staring at the Blue Square South trapdoor. Which, even by the staggeringly shit relegation haunted standards of our near neighbours at Coldsore Ave, really is some going.
Still, at least we’re at home this week. Having played the last 5 games away, at least there’s no travelling to do before witnessing the inevitable beating.
For once, I couldn’t be arsed with an early start and instead amble into Sutton, looking to purchase a bundle of infidel yankee imperialist dollars for a trip to Vegas next month. Having failed miserably at this task, I decide my time would be better spent propping up the bar at the club.
So, just before 2 I’m ordering a bevvy. Chalmers is already lurking and Miller soon appears, having ponced lunch in the posh area as a guest of Millsy who’s sponsoring the game. He returns shortly after having ditched his more formal attire for the standard terrace uniform of jeans and home replica shirt.
Maybe it’s the prospect of suffering another hour and a half of ineptitude, but I can’t even be arsed to get seriously on the beer and instead sup my way through a measly 2 pints before 3pm. Still, at least I’m not sober and can still see straight enough to take notes during the game.
Oh arse. Didn’t think that one through properly did I?
The side this afternoon should be much different from the last home game sometime back in the 18th century, as new manager Ernie Howe scours the land for new faces to boost the squad. Having brought two in for the trip to Lewes, he manages to acquire two more for todays game. Firstly, we have Jack Haverson, a centre back in on loan from Grays (which is handy considering we’re missing both Scooby & Lewis today) and Bryan Glover, a defendermidfielder on loan from Weymouth.
Although it’s not all good news. It seems Warren McBean’s poor time keeping has once again struck, meaning he’s shown up late for an early team meet at the ground and finds himself demoted to the bench. Which normally, we’d not have a problem with. But we’re bottom of the league, he’s the only hope we’ve got of scoring and his replacement, Zak Graham, is about as likely to score as I am to pick up an FA Cup winners medal this season
Slap him on the wrist and dock him half his money. But for the love of god, play him!!
Unsurprisingly, the 2 new boys are straight into the starting line up. Jack goes into defence, with Glover in midfield alongside Bash who takes up the skippers armband. At right back, Jason Goodchild makes only his second start. Up front, Graham partners new man Jallow.
It’s not exactly the most confidence inspiring line up I’ve seen this season I must say, but by god I hope I’m proved wrong.
Those hopes are soon banished from my mind a couple of minutes after the start. A simple bit of pass and move down our left opens up the defence all too easily and a ball is slipped into the channel. The attacker gets his shot off from a relatively tight angle, but it takes Phil Wilson coming off his line quickly to block the effort.
Phil is busy again a couple of minutes later. A corner from the left is headed into the air, then poorly cleared. It’s immediately clipped back over the backline and a Braintree man darts in. But once more, the angle is narrowing and Wilson is blocking the balls path to the back of our net.
Clearly, this slightly inauspicious start isn’t enough for the ref to believe that if he leaves it long enough, we’ll quite happily fuck things up ourselves in good time and decides the visitors needs the advantage of an extra man.
Now, if only we’d make a completely innocuous challenge for him to completely over react to and job’s a good ‘un……
7 minutes played and the same simple ball over the top that’s caught out our lumberingly static defence a million times already this season looks to have done the damage again, with the no9 looking to have a clear run to goal. But, he’s harrassed by Glover and after what seems to be a fairly innocuous shoulder to shoulder challenge, the 9 goes down. Oh.
Naturally, we get 10 minutes of whistle blowing, lots of “that’s got to be a red ref!” posturing from the visitors, a bit of preening from the ref and that red card appears.
Anyone got a programme? Actually, no, don’t tell me. I bet one of his favourite hobbies is popping down to Battersea Dogs home to give the death row inmates a fucking good kick before their number is called. Wanker.
But, don’t worry. I’ve no doubt he’ll of course be completely consistent should the same occur at this end of the field. Oh yes.
Quite how I resisted the temptation to simply write “We were shit again….” in my notebook, call it quits and bugger off to the bar for the remaining 83 minutes of the ‘contest’, I’m still not quite sure. Although with the benefit of hindsight, I really do wish I had.
Just to be sure the job is done properly, the ref proceeds to completely fuck us over 5 minutes later. A perfectly fair tackle out on the left for some reason brings the visitors a free-kick and it’s swung into the box. A looping header beats Wilson and the ball rebounds down off the bar leaving the inevitably unmarked Braintree lurker to nod into the practically unguarded net from a couple of yards out.
No no, thank YOU.
The rest of the half then decends into a miserable dirge of rubbish passing and some staggeringly aimless play from the U’s. The visitors meanwhile look very dangerous every time they attack (not hard admittedly) but don’t really test Wilson any further.
With the sanctuary of half time fast approaching, we finally manage an effort on target. The ref awards us a rare free-kick in the Braintree half, about 25 yards from goal in a central position. Alimi takes responsibility and hits a low effort round the wall, but the ‘keeper is down quickly and saves comfortably on his line.
Really not in the mood for a drink, I instead head for Roses’ and a nice reassuring cuppa.
Most of the half time chatter revolves around the hopeful inclusion of McBean in the second half in place of the woefully ineffective Graham. Although quite what Warren is supposed to do about the mess we’re in, I can’t quite work out right now.
The usual misplaced optimism that the second half will bring a renewed vigour from the side, we emerge to play just as rubbish as we had before. Having been under a bit of pressure for a while, we finally crack just before the hour, inevitably having just withdrawn our right back a few minutes before and the visitors sew up the points. The ball is switched from left to right and is quickly fed into the channel. With Graham mooning about in no mans land, he fails to track the runner and the ball is turned across the box where Tanner can only turn it into his own net.
From here on in, it’s basically the efforts of Phil Wilson that keeps the score from getting pretty embarrassing. And on 64 minutes, one particularly outstanding stop earns the appreciation of even the most jaded U’s supporter.
A simple counter down our left and the ball is pulled back across the box from the byeline. It reaches the other Braintree man arriving in the centre and from 6 yards, a tap in is certain. He strikes the ball cleanly firt time and with plenty of venom, but with the visiting supporters already arms up in celebration, Phil somehow manages to get across and stop the ball dead on the line one handed before rolling over to smother it and snuff out any chance of a rebound.
It really is a quality stop and is greeted from our end at least with a cheer almost as loud as that for a goal.
With 72 minutes played, he’s in action again when dithering in attack down the left conceeds possession with Tanner caught miles out of position coming up in support. The visitors counter swiftly and the attackers final effort is hit low towards the near post, Phil getting down to firmly push the shot away for a corner. He’s needed again after 83 mins when a quick break catches us pushing up in a lame attempt to get a goal back and the no14 races clear with the ball. Opara does his best to make up the ground and get goal side, but he can’t prevent the shot. Thankfully, another great stop from the big man keeps the defecit at two as he beats away the fierce effort.
McBean is finally introduced around this time, with Ernie feeling he’s made his point. And the U’s attacker is soon adding a little bit of bite to our forward play. Almost immediately a trademark run from the left takes him past 3 opponents and into the box where he’s blatantly checked by a covering defender.
Now, you might be thinking that this sounds remarkably similar to the offence that got our bloke sent off some 70-odd minutes previously. Well, you’d be wrong you troublemaker. It really isn’t. In fact, it’s not a foul of any sort and certianly not a penalty. Oh no. No way.
Well, that’s I’d say if I were a inconsistent fuckwit Conference South referee.
But I’m not. So I won’t.
Shortly after, Jason Henry almost gets his reward for another tireless effort when another McBean run allows him to ping a cross to the far post, but the diminutive forward’s downward header is blocked at the foot of the upright by the sprawling ‘keeper.
With time almost up, the third goal the visitors have been threatening finally arrives. A simple 2-3 pass move cuts through the heart of our side and ends with a simple ball right for the no14 to nip in and clip over the advancing Wilson and into the far corner. God I can’t wait to get into the bar…….
Thankfully, I don’t have to wait long and I’m soon nursing a pint looking miserably at the other scores roll in. Annoyingly, a couple of the sides immediately above have picked up points once again, cutting us that little further adrift. Did I mention I hated football?
After a while, I and the missus head off to a week-late Guy Fawkes party round the corner, which proves to be most therapuetic as I insist on helping out with fuse lighting duties. Naturally, the combination of fire and small scale explosives proves a rather good way to unwind after a shit game. Especially the fucking huge Silver rocket on display. Which seems to bear the moniker ‘Polaris’.
And judging by the size of the bastard, one would assume this is because it was until recently sat in one of the Royal Navy’s submarines.
A couple of hours later and with more ordnance expended than in a particularly bad week in Afghanistan, we head back into the high street to rejoin the rest of the mob who have adjourned to O’Neills for Mrs Greek’s birthday. Although despite my best efforts, copious amounts of Guinness fail to help blot out the memories of this afternoons latest debacle.
Anyone got any more fireworks?
MoM : Erm……Um……..
TEAM : Wilson, Goodchild, Haverson, Opara, Tanner, Alimi, Henry, Glover, Wright, Jallow, Graham. SUBS : Bray, Honey, McBean, Williams, White