HAMPTON & RICHMOND BORO – 2 [Godfrey p9. Hodges 45]
SUTTON UNITED – 2 [Haverson 4. Wright 73]
With Saturday’s vicious mugging at GGL reported and the local constabulary collaborating with colleagues in Essex to track down the 11 blokes in blue shirts responsible, we fortunately get to head into the slightly safer and less crime ridden part of the London suburbs over in Hampton for the traditional boxing day fixture.
Admittedly, a nice day out within spitting distance of the Thames doesn’t quite get the pulse racing like a good old fashioned abuse filled derby tear up against the Scummers, but it’s no less important. Mainly as we’re in seriously dire fucking need of some points.
Like Stortford, Hampton aren’t providing an easy route to what we require. They’re one of the form sides in the league right now and most recently nicked a 0-0 down at Eastbourne. A result we could have easily have suprassed a couple of months back had we not defended like retards. Ho hum.
Bellies full of turkey and quality street, we’re all assembled surprisingly on time for the first leg of the journey down to Kingston aboard the X26.
Sadly, for non-locals reading this, the rather mysterious sounding X26 is sadly not a top secret NASAUS Airforce prototype hypersonic aircraft, but a bus. With is quite dull really I think you’ll agree.
Still, it’s a red one, which if you’re a bird makes it a bit sporty.
Despite horror stories of the traffic on the way to Hampton for the Kempton Racing up the road resembling the Iraqi retreat out of Kuwait in 1991, it actually only adds a barely noticeable 5-10 mins onto the trip aboard the 111 bus to Hampton. In fact, so unnoticeable, we’re into the Jolly Coopers a shade after 11.
We like the Coopers. It’s a favoured watering hole that never seems to change and where the welcome is always warm. Today is no exception.
The guv’nor politely takes the round and enquires about our progress this season and then graciously refrains from doing what everyone else does when we tell them we have 7 points so far, “Seven? Is that it? Really?? Boy are you fucked!” and instead gives a little grimace, like he’s just picked up a particularly heavy crate of light ale.
Not only that, he offers a cash back facility without me actually having to make a purchase, turns a blind eye to Windy & PC’s less than discreet game of Connect 4 for money and then without complaint provides cheese & ham toasties to the girls when the complain of having no brekkie that morning. Despite the fact that they’re not actually serving food today.
Top fucking pub. When you go to Hampton, visit the Coopers. Tell ’em we sent you. Good beer as well.
The landlord’s hospitality is rewarded as by 2pm, we’ve been joined in the establishment by at least another 15 other U’s fans, popping in for a pre-match pint. I and Belly ponder quite when the last time was that such numbers of our support was gathered in a public house not attached to a ground prior to a game. Unfortunately we fail to deliver an answer after a few seconds and promptly give up, turning back to the crap West Ham v Reading game on the telly and of course our beer.
Also handy is the pubs location close to the ground. Even leaving the boozer at quarter to means we have time to snaffle a quick short before kick off in the clubhouse. Nice location.
The U’s again change their frontline today, giving a debut to Bernard Collignon alongside Dundas, with Wright dropping to the bench. Opening exchanges are fairly innocuous until after 4 minutes, we win a corner. Hughes swings it in from the left and Haverson gets up highest at the far post to guide a header back across goal and just inside the far post.
Fuck me, we’re in front!
Unfortunately, our reaction isn’t a good one. The side suddenly looks like a 11 pretty shitscared rabbits caught in headlights and Hampton really should be level almost immediately. And we have their no10 to thank that they’re not. First he takes advantage of some shocking defending to tear clear through the centre. But with the goal at his mercy , he screws his shot horribly wide of the target. Miles wide.
A minute later, he arrives perfectly in the middle to meet a pull back from the left after some more AWOL defensiveness, but again with the target begging, he blazes miles over the target. Oh dear.
More comedy comes after 10 minutes when we again defend like crap and Mr 10 goes ambling through. Wilson comes off his line to close out the threat and matey runs into him. Despite the fact he’s heading away from goal and the ball heads out that same way, the ref points to the spot. Arse.
Thankfully, having awarded the penalty, he doesn’t go the whole hog and only shows a yellow to our ‘keeper, who is still busy protesting. Naturally the designated taker sends Phil the wrong way and it’s all square.
Oh well, that was fun while it lasted.
Our disjointed performance continues for much of the half, with Hampton having loads of the ball, but never quite managing to produce any real chances. Then in the last 5 minutes, we manage to show a bit of life again and a strong run from Dundas down the left and cutting in ends with a shot at the ‘keeper.
Then, just as it seems we’ll get into the break level, the ref intervenes again to royally fuck up our afternoon. Alimi is cut down in midfield and as the ball runs free to Honey, the official indicates an advantage is being played. Almost immediately, Honey also finds himself pulled to the ground. But for some reason, the advantage we had about 2 seconds before is suddenly forgotten and Hampton are allowed to break with the ball. It’s worked down the right and with protests still continuing the ball is squared and rolled into the net.
Seconds later, it’s half time.
You. fucking. arsehole.
Naturally, he gets a nice warm welcome as he comes off. Surrounded as he is by some somewhat surprised looking Hampton players still trying to work out where that second goal of theirs came from. One local reckons our summing up as the ref comes off is “a bit harsh”. Then again, his side isn’t fighting for it’s fucking life with 7 points on the board by fucking Boxing Day, all the while having to deal with absolute twats like the guy in the middle.
And he’s from Hampton, so probably a bit posh and only down as Harlequins aren’t playing today.
Ernie is clearly unhappy with the hapless performance of Gonsalves and he’s replaced at the break by Bray, but our hopes that a second half revival might be on the cards are soon dispelled after the restart, with the home side back on the offensive. And they’re looking a tad more dangerous than they were 1st half. Oh dear.
3 minutes in and a ball is sprayed out left from the middle of the park picking out a runner in space. He hits an angled effort that Wilson takes low at his near post. Then the game sort of peters out again, with Hampton having loads of ball, but not really doing a great deal with it. Indeed their next major moment isn’t until the hour. Wilson again saves our hides with a super close range save after the ball is switched right to left and then delivererd low to the heart of the box. The final shot coming in from about 6 yards out and Phil stopping (I think) with his legs.
We have moments here and there, the best being AJ’s persistence down the left resulting in a decent cross into the box that there is sadly no one in a U’s shirt to meet. But just as it seems the Beavers have taken their foot off the pedal and settled for a nice comfortable 2-1 win, we suddenly produce an equaliser from somewhere.
No, I’ve no idea either.
A free kick from deep on the right is swung into the box around the penalty spot. Dundas goes up with a defender and the ‘keeper and just gets enough of a touch to drop it perfectly into a nice bit of space to the right for Liam Wright to dart in and roll the ball into an empty net from 6 yards.
Nope, still no idea where that came from. Oh well, better go mental anyway. No idea when the next opportunity will arise. Could be weeks.
With around 15 left to play, the goal could either trigger a dramatic comeback for the bottom side or just serve to annoy the hosts in the manner of a small child poking a bees nest with a stick whilst blowing raspberries and we’re left to cling on to a point desperately. In this case, it’s the latter.
Anyone got any nails left to bite, I’d suggest you get started.
Almost immediately, Hampton should be back in front. Under pressure, our defence does what it always does and fails to clear it’s lines. The ball is eventually put back in low from the left where an attacker in the middle somehow fails to find the target completely from about 8 yards out. Obviously bemused by the poor quality of the finish, the still rather rubbish ref awards a corner. Yes, well done there. Genius.
A couple of minutes later, a pointless free-kick given away on the right forces Wilson to punch away for a corner at his near post. The resulting corner is played towards the near post where a glancing header sends the ball against the face of the cross bar and drops inside the box. Bouncing high, another attacker tries an audacious overhead effort that is then nodded off the line at the far post before it’s eventually cleared. Got any nails left?
For the last 10 mins, we hang on in there under intense pressure as the play off chasing beavers decide they’d really quite like to avoid losing two home points to a pile of poo like us. But try as they might, they just can’t find that killer touch and the shortarsed fool in the middle finally brings proceedings to an end.
Admittedly, we’ve not played well. But given that we’d been robbed blind on the saturday, we probably deserved to ride our luck here a little bit. Which made a nice change.
Slightly pleased to have got something from proceedings, we head into the bar for an almost celebratory post Xmas pint or two. Eventually though, the weight of Xmas cheer starts to tell and we decide to mosey on down to the bus stop and begin our journey home. In relatively quick time, we’re back in Kingston, followed by Sutton and parked in the Hood, enjoying a nice relaxing pint or two.
Oh dear, Maidenhead saturday. Fuck me do we need to win that.
MoM : Liam Wright. Did well and was right place right time for the vital equaliser.
TEAM : Wilson, Sammut, Gonsalves, Haverson, Scarborough, Alimi, Greene, Goodchild, Collignon, Dundas,, Hughes. SUBS : Bray, Wright, Hughes, Honey, Williams