CONFERENCE SOUTH | Att: 609
SUTTON UNITED – 0 NEWPORT COUNTY – 1 [Bowen p41]
Another week, another 90 minutes battling to try & get something from a game that’ll aid us in what is our now increasingly futile looking quest to retain our Conference South status this season. The cause isn’t being helped much by the fact that we seem to be playing sodding play-off chasing sides almost every other week at the moment. And they tend to be fairly good at the kicking of the football that we’re not so good at currently, which is causing us one or two issues in the ‘winning games’ department.
Our opponents today are our old friends from Newport in Wales. Unfortunately today isn’t going to be exactly a big group hugging session. After last seasons post-match altercation in the Plough between some of the travelling Welshists and some neanderthal locals who took umbrage to having ‘foreigners’ in the place, we’re going to have to put up with more Met Police at GGL than there was when we played their actual fucking football team a few days ago in the Surrey Cup.
As such, because of the bother last time out the Plough is understandably shut for the day, as is the Gander down on the lights and bizarrely, we hear on the grapevine that even the Prince of Wales in Cheam village isn’t accepting any non-locals today! Fucks sake. Why not just give ’em all a leek to pin to their lapel and an inflatable sheep to carry and be done with it? Best get into Sutton early then I s’pose, before the Met close the High Street down as well on the grounds of public safety, just to be on the safe side. You can’t be too careful!
Still, I do also have an important mission to undertake pre-match as well you see. Very important. I’m all out of bastard socks! The reality dawned on me during the week that I have just 5 operational pairs left, with all the others having holes in ’em. So, it’s a quick dash into the High Street pre-pre-match boozer and with collar up to try & disguise myself, I step into the true shopping chavesty that is our local branch of Primark in the St Nic’s centre.
No, I’m not proud of it. But when they’re doing 5 pairs for two quid, even I’ll swallow my pride. Besides, it’s only fucking socks, I’m not going to shop classy for those! I mean, go to somewhere upmarket like Debenhams? For socks? Do me a favour. Some of us have beer and shit football to pay for you know!
So, with this vital sartorial re-supply obtained, I find myself in the high street, still well short of 1pm and bored. A quick call to Windy finds him just settling down to watch the Mansfield cup game on the box at the club after dropping off some stuff in the tea hut early. Right, I’ll have some of that I think. Club it is.
A brisk stroll to West Sutton later and I’m ambling down GGL. As I pass the Plough, I note that it is indeed shut for the day and most surprisingly of all still has all it’s windows intact. I guess our visitors aren’t local yet. Then I notice something further up, opposite the driveway to the ground. A big white van with a big pole sticking out of the top…….no surely they’ve not gone that far?? Yep, they have. It’s a mobile CCTV van. Jesus, it’s going to be a right laugh today. What next, metal detectors and X-Ray machines at the bar entrance? It’ll be like going to school in America.
Up the drive, I find John ambling round with some final bits for the tea hut and on his way to open up. He too is somewhat perplexed by the presence of the CCTV facility. Anyone would think it was Millwall\Chelsea for crying out loud with the sort of coverage we’re getting. And all because some local bellends couldn’t stand have Welsh accents in a fucking pub. I hope we’re not being billed for any of this nonsense.
As I’m here, I help John get Roses up and running and I eventually take my leave and head for the bar while he waits for the staff to show up. Here I find that the total and absolute no exceptions ban on travelling Welsh persons in the joint isn’t quite as total as I’d been lead to believe, with 30 or so parked around various tables enjoying a drink. Fortunately, it seems some common sense has prevailed and the supporters club members who’ve travelled officially have been given special permission to partake of a few jars prior to the game. Which is as it should be quite fucking frankly.
God only knows where their independent pissheads like us will be getting a drink though. No doubt the High Street is full of lads from Southern Wales trying to put on bad Jeremy Kyle style Saaaahf Landan accents, just to get a pint in. Which would be quite entertaining to see if I’m honest with you. Wish I’d headed to Spoons now. Nah, thinking about it, they’ll either be in town on the Thameslink route or in\around Victoria and will get the last rattler in for kick off no doubt. That’s certainly what I’d do.
No doubt trying to halt the glut of goals that have started to flow at the back again in the last couple of games, Ernie brings in a brand new partnership in defence, handing a debut to Karim El-Salahi alongside Ton Hughes. Scooby and Jack Haverson dropping to the bench.
It seems Warren is also out of favour again for god knows what, finding himself benched as well, along with, rather surprisingly, Jason Henry. Rob Hughes taking his right sided berth in midfield. Harry Ottaway partners Dundas up front. It’s a rather bold move by the manager, considering that we’re once again utterly desperate for points. All I can say is, I hope it works! It probably won’t though.
With pints in us, we head out of the bar shortly before kick-off and it seems some of the independents we were wondering about have shown up. They’re standing on the corner by the main turnstiles and have myself and Windy chuckling away to ourselves, as they look like the Rhhonda branch of the ‘Football Facrory’ re-enactment society. Burberry, stone island and baseball caps pulled tightly down are the order of the day.
Clearly they’ve only just arrived as they made a detour to the art gallery over at North-Dulwich on the way down from London. Definitely cultural looking sorts these.
On the pitch, our afternoon’s entertainment is soon underway and failing to get the pulse racing. Only a weak shot on the turn from Dundas after about 5 mins is worth mentioning, as our play-off chasing guests singularly fail to display much in the way of actual play-off chasing type football. Which is in some way a bit of a relief. It’s not until the 26th minute they get a sniff of goal and that comes as the result of Wilson coming for and missing a deep cross into the box from the left. But even then we manage to clear our lines without too much danger.
Rob Hughes slots a pass in for Dundas a couple of minutes later, but again his shot on the turn is unspectacular and fails to trouble the ‘keeper greatly at his near post. As per normal, the big striker is our only really credible outlet up front, as for all his hard work, Ottaway still lacks that experience and guile to get the better of opposition defenders at this level. Dundas causes problems again after 34 minutes, once more out muscling a defender to win the ball on the right. But the angle defeats him and he bangs his shot into the side netting.
He’s at it again soon after, spinning in behind the defence to get under Alimi’s hook back into the danger area following a corner, but his first time effort on the turn is always rising and clears the crossbar by a couple of feet. Of course, having had the better of things and the visitors provided literally bugger all threat, they’re in front shortly before half time.
A silly free-kick is conceded out on the right and it’s played in at pace. Ironically, it’s allowed to bounce in the box and hits the outstretched arm of Craig Dundas back helping out on the set piece and the ref has little option but to point to the spot. No doubt we’ll now get Mr Bowen stepping up, stopping and then continuing to step up for his customary pen against us now, just to add insult to injury.
He doesn’t disappoint and does the usual of taking a stride, stopping to wait for the ‘keeper to dive and then tucking it away into the opposite corner. Quite how it’s allowed every fucking time is infuriating, but not quite as infuriating as the fact that we keep giving the bastard the chance to do it seemingly every time we play this lot.
The break is soon upon us and with the bar closed at half-time (no no, thank YOU Met Police), it’s a slow amble round to the far end with a cuppa and some scoff instead. When we get to the far end, we discover some chav-looking fellows haven’t moved from the spot they’ve occupied all through the first half. At first, we think they might be some Welshy persons looking to be annoying, but it turns out that they are in fact local numbskulls in for the afternoon, no doubt hoping to provoke a reaction from the visitors.
They don’t stay very long though and as the second half begins, they stroll off past the away support (no doubt to wish them jolly good luck and a spiffing journey home) and depart the premises with their hardman reps enhanced 1000% no doubt. Thanks for the tenners lads.
Our start to the second 45 is a little more promising, but no less frustrating. Alimi takes advantage to dart into the box, taking advantage of a poorly cleared right sided free-kick, but there’s no one there to meet his useful looking pull back across the box after 51 mins. Liam Wright gets down the left a few minutes later, but again, numbers in the box are lacking and a defender gets across to cut out and head away his driven cross at the expense of a corner.
Newport are displaying little attacking threat despite having a reasonable share of the ball and for a play-off chasing side, are also somewhat lacking urgency in their play. Although, against us these days quite whether this is due to simply a bad day at the office or us dragging them down to our level is hard to tell.
Just after the hour, a steady build up of pressure around the box works a gap, but the nice turn and shot is bravely blocked out by Hughes. The young defender then provides a moment at the other end, getting up highest in the box for a right sided corner, but his downward header lacks the sting to seriously test the ‘keeper. We keep plugging away, but chances are at a premium. Rob Hughes makes a rare contribution on the right, crossing well for Dundas, but the strikers header at the near post flashes just over the target.
And with 20 to play, what we really need is an injection of fresh legs. But for some reason, Ernie decides to keep his powder dry and the McBean\Henry combo stays firmly on the subs bench. This I must admit, is somewhat frustrating. The oppo aren’t really offering much and there is a nailed on point (at least) up for grabs here, we just need someone to add that little X factor in attack. So quite why we don’t throw on at least one of the the two attackers we have available and have a go for it escapes me.
For me, having a go and conceding a second on the break as you throw bodies forward and going down 2-0 is far more preferable to a stoic yet, fruitless meander to a 1-0 loss in my eyes. Same fucking result end of the day, no points. Which when you need points, seems daft.
Dundas again has a shot saved with about 15 to go when Hughes and Ottaway combine to produce a ball into the box, but once more the stopper is equal to Craig’s angled effort. And from here the game, rather inexcusably on our part to be frank, just peters out to an inevitable conclusion.
Frustratingly, when we finally do make a change, it’s with only 5 minutes remaining and only Henry is introduced for Hughes in a wide position. Sadly a case of far far too little far far too late I’m afraid. And so we end up losing by that single shitty goal when any points earned from having a go would have been a huge bonus for us. Which is most annoying in our position.
Having forlornly shut up shop at Roses, I adjourn to the bar and find that at least a couple of results have gone our way today. Bognor and Welling continue to stay in touch with the bottom 3, having both lost. Dorch have also failed to record victory, although their failure is tempered a tad by the fact they have been stuffed 3-0 at home by fellow strugglers St Albans. Who despite being managerless at the moment, seem to have made more signings in the last week than we’ve made all season. And are picking up vital points to boot.
All in all, this does little to help the sense of frustration we feel at the lack of fresh blood to help our rather sickly looking survival bid. Even Dorch and the currently managerless Welling have picked up new bodies in the last few days to boost their hopes, while we stumble about failing to even get as much as a fucking loanee.
C’mon guys, we’ve got the readies there, lets stop fucking about eh and go get in who we need. And fast.
So with WW3 averted thanks to the brave sacrifice and tons of overtime paid out to the Met Police, we settle in for drowning of sorrows with the rest of the evening being pretty low key stuff as you could probably imagine. A few beers are sunk and then we show our SUFC trust faces for a quiz\fundraiser we’ve helped organise for a load of local little league committees next door in the old Times Square.
Naturally, in true Sutton United form, we’re absolute pony in every category. Wouldn’t have felt right otherwise.
MoM : Craig Dundas. He really is the only man keeping us barely afloat at the moment….
TEAM : Wilson, Sammut, Bray, T. Hughes, El-Salahi, Alimi, R. Hughes, Honey, Dundas, Wright. Ottaway. SUBS : Davies, Scarborough, Henry, Haverson, McBean