Not Quite Anfield

CONFERENCE SOUTH

Att: 485



SUTTON UNITED – 1    [Dundas p42]

HAVANT & WATERLOOVILLE – 3    [Taggart 9. Baptiste p20. Elphick 47]

So, here we are. Middle of February, still bottom and our last Tuesday evening home game is about to be played out. Which means the season’s nearly over. Woo hoo! I can’t wait.

Following Saturdays scrappy 3 points against Thurrock, we have a decent chance of adding further to the tally this evening when we welcome Havant & Waterlooville to our humble abode. “What’s that?” I hear you say “Havant? Didn’t they give the Scousers a scare only recently?”. Well, yes, they did and despite indeed causing much amusement a couple of weeks back by leading not once, but twice at Anfield, their usual exploits away from home in the slightly less rarified surroundings of Blue Square South is nowt to write home about.

So bad are they away from Westleigh Park in fact, that their record on their travels is actually worse than ours. And considering we’ve notched only 2 wins away from home all season so far, that’s almost impressive if actually being shitter than us at something could be deemed ‘impressive’.

So, we have a decent chance to really pick up some bonus points tonight then.

With trains being kind to me for a change, I actually find myself stepping out of West Sutton a shade after 6.30 and somewhat peckish. I wander towards the ground and glance at the foody options available to me. The chippy, or Mr Chows. Hmmmm, don’t fancy either of those. Ah, I suppose tonight would be a good opportunity to try out the ‘other’ catering outlet available at the Borough Sports Ground. Have a burger and chips. Check out the competition so to speak.

And it’ll be warm in there. With seats and stuff. Sold!

Having made the decision, annoyingly when I get into the bar, I find the in house catering hatch is still closed. Bugger! Oh well, s’pose I better get a pint in and wait.  A few minutes later, Windy wanders in to find me perched on a bar stool, moaning about the lack of opportunity to buy some pre-match stodge. Not long after that, the away support arrives and naturally, come looking for the tosser who writes all this offensive bollocks.

Ooooops. That’ll be me then.

Still, it has it’s bonuses. One of the lads has read my report from the trip down there last season and all the nonsense in the bar regarding the membership cards and has volunteered to sort out something for us on our next visit to prevent a repeat of me sitting outside refusing to spend any money. Which is nice of him. Although given our current predicament, I remind him that it could be some time before we get to visit their gaff again.

Also, bizarrely, there’s an ever so slightly North Eastern tinge to the evening. First off, there’s an old contact from Whitely Bay I’d conversed with an absolute age ago who has found himself working in Kings Cross and decided (god only knows why) to come down and lend his support for the evening and have a pint. And if you’re thinking that’s a little out of his way, then you’d be wrong. This man was on the supporters coach to Truro in the Vase at the weekend. A trip that took a paltry nine and a half hours. One way.

Still, they won 3-0, so he can’t complain.

Then there’s the bloke from Middlesbrough who was at our FA Cup 3rd round replay up there in 1988. He’s currently working in Leatherhead and living in Sutton and decided to finally visit the scene where the great Mark Golley headed that equaliser in the first game. The circle is completed by his mate from South Shields who it seems can discuss north eastern NL football with the Whitley party.  It’s all very very strange and soon Windy and I are thoroughly confused. Not least by the accents.

Ho hum. Some things never change.

Ernie it seems has decided to stick with the same side he sent out on saturday, meaning that Rob Hughes keeps his spot for some reason ahead of Liam Wright. How, we’re not sure, but there you go. The visitors meanwhile include ex-U Craig Watkins on their bench. Which has us worried as he’s bound to come on and score a late winner and we’ll be forced to call him a ‘poo-head’ or something. Frustratingly, despite waiting patiently, the food hatch in the bar remains steadfastly closed and in the end, I revert to plan B of heading out to Roses and bagging myself a pre-match pie.

It’s a slightly chilly night outside but thankfully the fog of earlier in the day has disappeared, meaning no possible abandonments or wondering what’s going on at the far end of the pitch. The latter being particularly annoying for someone like me trying to write reports.

To my annoyance, the pie I’ve purchased is like saturday and not the steak I’ve asked for, but fucking chicken. With peas. And as briefly discussed in the last report, I fucking hate peas. So I amuse myself once more on the stroll round to the Collingwood End for the first half by picking out the hateful little green bastards and dropping them on the ground for people to squash.

From the off, it’s fairly clear why Havant aren’t that good away from home. Their back four is looking as unsteady and generous as ours. After only a couple of minutes, some pressure from Ball hurries a defender into a poor touch and wins us a corner. From the resulting kick, Scooby gets up well around the penalty spot, but despite a good leap, he directs his header across goal and wide of the far post.

Soon after, another Hawks defender cuts out a low cross in by Ottaway, only to then bizarrely prod the ball straight to a startled Alimi. He looks up, but elects not to try & pull the ball back for 3 Sutton men arriving in the box, but a rather ambitious shot from a rather tight angle, blazing well over the target.

Composure man!

The brght opening continues after 6 minutes when a trademark bit of Dundas muscle and bulldozing on the left sees him disposses a defender and go on a barrelling run down the flank before cutting in. His swerving shot towards the near post is just clawed away by the ‘keeper at the expense of a corner.

By now, we’re feeling a little confident on the terrace. Which is a bit stupid really as we’re watching Sutton United, who in the blink of an eye, can turn such promising positions into calamities of the highest order. Disasters of such magnitude even International Rescue won’t answer the phone.

Then lo and behold, 10 minutes gone, the visitors have their first attack and it’s 1-0.

A simple deep free-kick in from the left aimed at the far post finds a man jumping unchallenged to head down past Wilson and into the far corner. Meanwhile, at the other end in a possibly unrelated incident, several of us make a comment regarding four kings and a toe punt. Or something.

Naturally, having started the game about as competently as we usually do, the goal gives our guests a bit of a lift and they start to make more of the running. But, it seems their efforts are just missing that little something to really get them going. Ah yes, a bullshit penalty.

Cue clueless prick in black.

The visitors build up some pressure with a sustained bit of possession around the box. Eventually, it’s worked left and as AJ moves to close down his man, he has the ball blasted at him from about 2 yards away. Despite having his arms down by his side (as we can plainly see from the other end), the ref (in a much poorer position) decides that this is in fact handball, points to the spot and at the other end we’re back to talking about the kings and toe punts mentioned earlier…..

The resulting spot kick is driven down the middle and we’re two down.

Now, this season, I’ve tried to stay away from coating off refs. And I think I’ve done rather well all considered. But I really must say, the people assigned to our last 3-4 games have been utter fucking bell ends.

From here on, we struggle a bit. The visitors seem to have found the confidence from the Anfield trip and are playing far better. We naturally, struggle. Although, you do wonder why as being 2-0 down at home really isn’t exactly new territory for us. Our visitor from Whitley then cheers us all up by letting us know his own side are 4-0 up in about the same amount of time. You poor bastard. Remind me why you left that pub in Kings Cross again?

Despite having most of the running, Havant fail to create much that troubles the defence or Phil between the sticks, although Wilson is called into action on 39 minutes, reacting superbly to get down low and touch wide a first time shot from a runner in behind a rather static looking back line.

With half time fast approaching, we do manage to find our feet a bit again and have some sustained periods in the oppo half. This leads to stupid thoughts of “If we can just get one back before half time”. Yes, I know. Daft isn’t it?

But, daft or not, with 3 minutes to the break, the ref obviously realises that his earlier penalty decision was a bit shit and decides to even things up a bit. A throw from the right bounces about a bit before Alimi nods on to Dundas who in turn helps it on into the box for Bash who has continued his run. This comes to an end as he tries to bring the ball down and is checked by the rather high foot of a defender.

The ref points to the spot and Dundas steps up to send the ‘keeper the wrong way and slot home.

Ok, a soft pen it may have been, but it was a damn sight more of a pen than the load of old shite he awarded at the other end! Unfortunately, there isn’t time to manage another and we go in at the break just the one behind.  Right, time for a cup of tea methinks. It’s getting a bit bloody cold out here now.

As per normal, having given us a rare glimmer of hope going into half time, we defend like twats at the restart and immediately undo all the effort that has gone before. A corner 2 minutes into the half is swung in to the near post area and another unchallenged header loops into the top near corner, despite the presence of a man on the line.

Which is pretty fucking frustrating.

The blow sets us back a bit and it takes about 15 minutes or so to muster any kind of reply. Scarborough meeting a left sided free-kick at the far post, but his firm downward header is smothered at the foot of the post by the ‘keeper. The damage should be worse soon after, as we suffer another iffy few moments. First a simple 1-2 opens up the defence on the right, but Wilson does well to keep out the initial shot with his legs and the defence sweeps up to clear the loose ball from in front of an empty net. Then a minute later, a free-kick whipped in from out on the left is met on the penalty spot with a glancing header that for Scooby on the line at the far post to block, would have found the mark.

Probably our best chance of the half, if no the evening is wasted with around 15 minutes to play, a lovely clipped ball out right by Goodchild finds Greene. He controls and fizzes a low cross in that the ‘keeper fumbles at the near post under pressure from Dundas. Steffan arrives to back up his strike partner, but from a couple of yards out, manages to blaze his shot over the target.

Havant have relaxed now with the 2 goal cushion restored and we have a lot more of the ball as the half wears on, but find it difficult to fashion many decent chances. One of the better efforts arrives after 83 minutes, Scarborough heading back from beyond the far post a deep free-kick from the right. The ball falls to Dundas and on the turn, he whips a first time shot low across the target and narrowly wide.

Unfortunately from here, things peter out as they tend to do for us when we’re chasing games and only a blistering free-kick from Ball that’s well held by the ‘keeper is all I have to note and Havant collect only their second away win of the season, now making them just as shit as us.

So, sadly, our Whitley Bay fan club has to go away disappointed, but still it seems his lot have completed a routine 5-0 win so things aren’t a total loss. Wishing ’em well for the Vase and vowing to try & join them for the piss up should they make the final, we head into the warmth of the bar for a swift pint.

Things are looking bleak, but D-Day is still the trip to Dorch a week on saturday. We just simply HAVE to win there to even have a chance of staying up. Anything but 3 points and the fat bird will start doing her scales to be honest.

MoM : Paul Honey. Another all action display from the Ugster.

TEAM : Wilson, Sammut, Bray, Scarborough, Al-Salahi, Alimi, Honey, Ball, Dundas, Ottaway, R.Hughes   SUBS : T.Hughes, Wright, Greene, Goodchild, Davies

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