ATTENDANCE : 598
SUTTON UNITED – 0
BATH CITY – 4 [Gilroy 22. 41. p69. Holland 40]
It couldn’t last. We sort of knew that. But it was nice for once to enjoy a couple of decent results before we returned to the usual drudgery of getting our arses handed to us regularly. I don’t think anyone ever expected much more than bugger all from the visit of Bath, but suffice to say, we weren’t disappointed in that prediction.
Our 2 wins had rocketed us up both the form and league table (21st in the league, 10th on form!) meaning for once the U’s support had to strain it’s neck a tiny bit in lifting that head slightly to adjust for our lofty new surroundings. But despite such dizzying success, the visitors still posed a difficult prospect. Nicely parked in the play-off spots for much of the season so far, they’d managed to claw back from 3-1 and then 4-2 down at Eastleigh last week. With 10 men. And when you add to that a defence that you could use phrases like ‘generous as scrooge at Christmas’ and ‘tight as a ducks arse’ to describe it, you know you’re in for a tough afternoon.
Rewind a couple of hours and I’m forgoing a much needed pre-home game lie in to go faff about picking up a new cooker for the flat. It proves to be much more hassle than is really necessary and I end up stuck at the folks, planning to drive and take my old dear who runs the famous Roses tea hut to the game. Good job I’m not drinking at the moment or I’d have the right hump round about now methinks.
Still, I get a free-bacon sarnie from Ma as I while away the time before departure. So it’s not a total disaster.
With tea bar set up and open, I depart for the bar, finding most of the mob already hanging about. Unfortunately, my ropey kidneys will only allow me a rubbish shandy to sup. Life is hard sometimes.
Todays job is being made that bit harder by the loss of Paul Honey to suspension. The midfield always seems to lack that extra something when he’s not around, as displayed a couple of times already this season. Nick Greene steps up, but this move doesn’t exactly instill confidence in many.
Never mind, at least we’ve got Ernie’s really quite refreshing programme notes to digest! Which are pretty blunt, to say the least, regarding some recent departures. In fact, the only way we could generally see to make them that bit more honest was to say “They weren’t up for it, so we fucked ’em off. End of”.
I’m really beginning to warm to our new man in charge.
Our pre-match guess on the replacement of Honey proves to be correct as the sides run out. Windy had tried to pre-empt this by asking one fellow supporter if they knew the line up. Unfortunately, it’s the same supporter he’s been taking the piss out of for the last 5 minutes. So we’re not hugely surprised at the reply he receives.
Harsh, but fair I thought.
Things are slow to get going out on the field, with neither side really showing much in the very early stages. But things suddely spark into life when Wilson has a wobbly moment after about 10 mins when a harmless looking looping header finds him a yard or so too far off his line and he has to backtrack a bit rapidly to claim the ball just under his crossbar.
Immediately after, we create a decent chance. McBean wriggles down the left and after having his first attempt blocked, crosses successfully second time round to pick out Henry arriving at the far post. But his solid side-footed volley is firmly beaten out for a corner by the ‘keeper.
Then a Scarborough clearance is blocked and sets up an attack, the forward driving in down the left. But Wilson comes off his line quickly and blocks the 1 on 1 at the expense of a corner. Dundas replies in this little tit-for-tat spell, running onto Greene’s pass down the right and hitting a 1st time effort just a little too high.
From here though, that defence we mentioned earlier settles in and despite the no2 on thier right looking a little suspect, they start to win everything up front, denying Dundas, Henry and McBean any space or time to think. It’s then probably unsurprising that after 22 mins, the visitors go in front.
A long ball forward is flicked on in the centre out to our right. The attacker darts in behind his marker and with Wilson hesitating, he deftly lifts the ball over our stranded stopper and into the net.
From here on in, things are a little depressing for us behind the goal. Try as we might, we simply can’t fashion anything of any note in the final third, with the midfield again sitting too deep isolating Dundas and the likes of Maskell and Greene failing to distribute or hold the ball very well. It’s like watching the football equivalent of a fight in the school yard between a 1st year and a 5th year, where the big kid just has his hand on the top of the younger combatants head, keeping him comfortably at bay while he swings wildly at nothing.
Still, Bath look reasonably happy in a “we’ve nicked a goal, no need to go getting all excited looking for a second” sort of way and we at least look like we’ll be able to go into the break only the goal down and in with a shout of turning things around in the second half.
God, did I really just say that?
39 minutes and a silly free-kick is given away on the right about 25 yards out. Matey swings a fine effort in over the wall that is just sneaking inside the far post when Wilson throws himself across goal to push it onto the inside of the upright. Unfortunately for him, his efforts are rewarded with the ball rebounding out across goal straight to the no5 who fires into the empty net from close range.
Then it’s back to the bad, dark old days of September and October as we go and cave in from the restart. Barely a minute has passed before Scooby makes a mess of controlling a high ball and only succeeds in knocking it on into the channel for the striker. He scampers clear and cooly slots past the advancing Wilson.
As responses go, it’s about as good as finding your house well ablaze and being told “What d’you want me to do about it?” upon calling the fire brigade.
So, when the half time whistle does go, we end up trudging off 3-0 down and not the 1 we’d hoped for a couple of minutes ago. Methinks we’re not going to get a re-run of the second half at Hayes here either. This lot can defend for starters!
A half time pie helps improve the mood a tad, but it’s still disappointing that again, we’ve shot ourselves in the foot rather than make the oppo really work for their rewards.
Unsurprisingly, Bath approach the second half in much the same manner as the first between gifts goals 1 and 2. They allow us to come forward and simply bash our unimaginative and rather weak attacking heads on their defensive brick wall. Even the iffy no2 is made to look really rather comfortable.
Naturally, having created feck all despite having about 80% of the possession, the moment the oppo get within spitting distance of our box, they score.
A simple 1-2 on the left side plays a Bath man in on the left, but going slightly away from goal, there’s really no reason for Alimi to pile in like he does. Naturally, getting nowhere near the ball in such situations means a penalty. Especially so if it’s one of our lot getting nowhere near the ball.
Matey completes possibly his easiest hat-trick ever despite the best efforts of Phil, who manages to get a hand to the spot kick but can’t keep it out and our visitors have a quite flattering, yet rather too easily obtained 4-0 lead. From here, the last 20 minutes is rather predictable, but we fail to make much headway and even a consolation is beyond us. Still, at least the lads keep plugging away to the end, which is something I guess.
But, with tea bar staff to transport, I don’t get chance to head into the bar to dissect the performance. Instead, it’s back to the car to drop the old dear off and get a bus back into Sutton. And it’s not until 6.30 I and the missus stroll back into the club. We’re not the only late show up. It seems that the players have also not long since left the dressing room after what seems to have been a pretty thorough debrief by the management team.
A couple of drinks later and we edge off down the Hood for a quiet evening and some scoff. PC disappears to Kingston to take in a set by the famous Weeblefish, who’ve no doubt jumped on the fashionable reunion tour bandwagon that all the bands are doing right now.
What do you mean you’ve never heard of ’em??
The highlight of the evening from here is Windy winding up with 4 letters at the end of a game of scrabble, that happen to make up a really quite rude word that rhymes with ‘punt’. Even better, he plays it!
Tut tut. Such a vulgar young man.
MoM : Jason Henry. Was about our most effective attacking force….
TEAM : Wilson, Sammut, Bray, Haverson, Scarborough, Alimi, Maskell, Henry, Dundas, McBean. Greene SUBS : Goodchild, T. Hughes, Ottaway, Wright, R. Hughes