Essex Ram Raiders


Att: 428


BISHOPS STORTFORD – 1   [Pearson 90]

Sheesh, almost Christmas already.

And what a pain in the arse it is. Have you ever tried to fit in writing up some load of old pony about the exploits of a currently rubbish non-league team amongst all the eating, drinking and general merriment that you have to endure at this time of year? It’s not easy I can tell you. Especially when you’re a bit of a lazy bastard as well. Like me.

On top of all that, our Xmas program looks quite daunting. With today’s visitors Stortford having spent much of the season in the top 5 so far and our Boxing Day oppo Hampton currently sat in a somewhat surprising 3rd place after a good first few months in their new surroundings.

Which means with our lot needing points about as urgently as I’ll need a dose of alka-seltzer with a gaviscon chaser on Christmas Day, they’re not the sort of opposition that you want to be running into at this the busiest time of the footballing year.

Naturally, with the yuletide period about to reach it’s zenith, I have other things on my mind. Like actually getting off my arse and buying some shit. Especially as my planned shopping efforts in Vegas came to nought thanks to blackjack, beer and other non-present buying distractions.

Right, Sutton high street it is then.

Up early and out with the missus we set about blitzing our shopping list with the sort of ruthless speed and efficiency that would draw a nod of approval from your average Panzer Division. Before too long, we’re loaded up with bags of assorted goodies and settling down for some German sausage and a welcome shot of gluhwein before heading home to deposit our hard bought loot.

This brutal assault means we’re back into sunny Sutton with more than enough time to get a pint in and engage in some pre-match abusebanter with the visiting support when they arrive. My own mood is somewhat darkened when Windy reveals the extent of our losses on the playing side. Illness or injury rules out 2-3 starters, meaning we’re going into a quite important home game more than a little understrength. Such news somewhat dampens the enthusiasm after Stortford’s recent mini-slump in form.

Oh well, lets get on with it……

Despite the absentees, we actually start the match quite brightly, with Liam Wright in particular looking very bright eyed and bushy tailed down the left. Inside the first couple of minutes he has 2 surging runs, the second of which ends with a exchange of passes to the left of the box and him receiving the ball back in space inside the area. But rather than get his head down and hit it, he tries a clever little clipped effort and it drifts wide of the post, clipping the outside of the stanchion.

With 4 minutes gone, he again breaks clear from midfield and this time in space, elects to play a cross into the box. But the ball is a bit too high and Nick Greene leaping at the far post can’t quite reach it.

This seems to kick the visitors into life and a minute or so later, we’re allowing far too much time & space from a corner played short and the resulting shot flashes across Wilson’s goal from the right.

Unfortunately, the rather open end to end contest that this opening 5 minutes seems to promise never quite materialises and we get bogged down in a midfield battle that neither side is really able to break. Bash almost prises an opening after 24 minutes, but his surging run from deep into the box and pass finds Dundas just offside. Annoyingly, the ‘keeper also spreads himself well to save the shot as well.

Stortford enjoy a good spell of possession for a short while, but like a lot of sides we’ve seen this year, don’t seem to have much in the way of ideas in the final third. No doubt they’re just waiting for our inevitable cock up to gift them some chance or other! They should do better from 2 openings though, the first after 28 minutes comes originally from a left sided corner that we fail to clear very well and is whipped straight back into the danger area. The unmarked man in the middle really should be at least testing Wilson with his header, but instead loops it a good 5-6 feet over the bar. The next chance 4 minutes later requires the intervention of Craig Dundas, popping up on the far post to nod away a pacy left sided free-kick, with the attacker arriving in front of him.

Fortunately though, we see out this spell and proceed to have something of a purple patch ourselves, one that come half time has us scratching our heads trying to work out just how we’re not in front.

First Greene whips a ball across the face of goal that no one can quite reach after a free-kick is half cleared in his direction after 40 minutes. Then Honey hits a fierce drive through a crowd from 20 yards that the ‘keeper sees late and does well to get across and push out for another corner.

That such a shot came from Ug is quite amazing, not only because he’s not particularly renowned for such efforts, but because he really should be off the field after two very silly challenges and a raised hand to an opponent in the course of the first half. Quite how the ref fails to send him off is beyond us, but we’re rather grateful nonetheless.

From the corner Mr Honey has won us, Hughes swings it in across the face of goal and a reaction from a defender at the near post sees him knee the ball over his shoulder and goalbound. But somehow his ‘keeper gets him out of the shit, turning and managing to throw himself backwards to fingertip the ball over the bar. The next corner is equally as flabbergasting. This time played to the far post, Haverson gets up highest and powers a header back across goal a’la Hayes, a goal looks certain yet somehow a defender on the line manages to flick out a leg and deflect the ball over the goal and not into the roof of the net.

You jammy bastards. You jammy jammy pikey Essex bastards.

A bit miffed, I head round to the tea bar for a cuppa, feeling that an alcoholic beverage might very well make me gag at this moment in time. Makes you wonder though, just when exactly are we going to get a sodding break this season. Still, we’ve done enough to give us some encouragement for the second half, I just hope we don’t come out, roll over and die before proceeding to lose 4-0.

Unsurprisingly, Honey has been withdrawn at the interval and his replacement, Jason Goodchild, is soon in on the action. Bursting onto a ball to the right, he looks up and clips a cross into the box for Dundas. The ‘keeper just claims in front of him and a couple of seconds later the ball is up at our end with a bloke running clear and Wilson well off his line.

We all breathe a rather large sigh of relief when his attempted lob drops over the crossbar and not under it.

It’s a brief moment of worry though as we’re soon back on the attack and looking for the breakthrough goal once more. Green and Hughes combine down the right on 49 minutes and the ball is delivered low to the near post. Dundas guides it onto the target with a little flick, but the ‘keeper once again spreads himself well and blocks the effort. Sadly Bash can’t quite get in quick enough to put away the rebound and a defender just clears in time.

We keep the pressure up and after 55 mins, we really should have a penalty. Some good play on the right gets Dundas in behind the defence and his cross into the box is just flicked away from Goodchild charging in at the near post. It then drops towards the far post where Alimi gathers and hits a shot on the turn that clearly strikes the outstretched arm of a defender on the near post.

Despite possibly one of the loudest penalty shouts ever at GGL, neither the ref or his linesman see anything at all and all we get is a poxy corner.  Oh joy.

Stortford are finding it hard to make much headway in attack, but do manage the odd breakaway and one such moment has alrm bells ringing 69 mins in. Scooby gets sucked in deep and his man flicks the ball on perfectly for a team mate running in behind. He advances on goal and hits a firm low shot from the right that zips across goal and wide.

From here, the game seems to peter out and it looks like neither side is quite able to muster up a moment to break the deadlock. Still, 0-0 isn’t bad, a second clean sheet in a row and a point…..

Bash has a great chance to snatch it with a minute left though when Goodchild wins possession in midfield out on the left. Alimi snatches up the loose ball and charges forwards, squaring the ball, but there’s a distinct shortage of Yellow shirts in attendance and the chance is lost. Why won’t we frigging shoot for fucks sake???

Then with time almost up and a hard earned point looking certain, all those chances missed naturally come back to bite us on the arse. And not just in a nibbly sort of a way either.

We lose the ball in midfield and with the shape gone completely, two quick passes find a runner clear in space to the left. Wilson comes out to try & narrow the angle, but matey goes past him and squares the ball back across for a team mate to crash in just under the bar from 6 yards or so. It’s Play-off chasing Bishops Stortford’s only shot on target in 93 minutes of play. And it’s all they need.

We show a little bit of fight to try & get back level, but there’s never going to be enough time to mount any real threatening attacks, let alone enough for us to actually fucking score from and the ref blows up for time on another frankly miserable defeat.

Our mood isn’t helped much by the ‘keeper rounding on us and celebrating like he’s just won a league title decider in a local derby and not 3 points with a last minute shot against the side rock bottom of the division. Naturally we don’t take to kindly to his histrionics and tell him where to go, which then encourages the no 6 to jog over and join in with some equally unrequired champions league winning style fist pumping and rude gestures.

One wouldn’t mind so much if we’d abused ’em rotten for 90 minutes, but we hadn’t. Still, that’s exactly what they’ll be getting at Easter in the return.  Then you’ll have something to make wanker signs about you pair of cunts.

We head for Roses to do the usual before heading back into the bar for a comforting pint. Before I do, I spot the 3 points being loaded onto the Stortford coach in a large hessian sack marked ‘SWAG’. Thieving Essex bastards. Unsurprisingly, when I do get into the bar itself, the away support are a little sympathetic considering their side has not so much carried out a finely planned ‘raffles’ style pilfering of the points, more reversed a nicked transit van through our front window.

Right, beer. Give me beer. And lots of it. I hear it’s rather good for blotting out misery.

MoM : Craig Dundas. Again ran his arse off and led by example. If only we had 10 more of him…..

TEAM : Wilson, Gonsalves, Haverson, Scarborough, Sammut, Alimi, Honey, Dundas, Wright, Hughes, Greene,   SUBS : Bray, T. Hughes, Goodchild, Williams.

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