Down but not Down…

CONFERENCE SOUTH

Att: 471



SUTTON UNITED – 0

FISHER ATHLETIC – 2   [Batt 13. Tomlin 30]

Well, this is it. After today, it should be all over. No, sadly I’m not talking about the end of the season, but rather the end of our stay in the Conference South. Yep, after today’s no doubt inevitable defeat, we should sit some 15 points adrift of safety with only the 5 games left to play, a hugely inferior goal difference (about 27 worse off in fact than our ‘nearest’ rivals in fact) and when you consider the we’ve won just 4 games and managed only 27 goals in 37 matches so far, I think you’ll agree that a miracle escape may now be somewhat beyond us.

Although, to be honest, with the fight we’ve shown over the best part of 8 months, hacking our way out of a wet paper bag with a fire axe is probably beyond us right now. Glass half full? Not round here mate. Even the pint pots are long since drained in SM1 and with good reason.

Even more depressingly, it’s not one of the sides we quite like who get to pull the trigger, but old Conference opponents Fisher. Still, they’ll no doubt only bring a couple of fans along, so at least we won’t have to put up with Bognor like gloating at our predicament from wankers in the bar after.

As per normal, I’m into that bar depressingly early, but sadly too late to assist Windy with setting up at the tea hut. Oh dear. That’ll be him in a mood then. Especially as his fluid intake is currently restricted to the non-alcoholic variety thanks to a course of antibiotics for a gum infection. Still, my pint is very nice.

Some of us are luckier than even that. PC and the missus are off on a jaunt to Moscow for the weekend. Ok, so not the most glamorous of locations I’ll give you, but at least it’s a bit interesting. And let’s be honest, most of us would probably quite happily do a tour of duty in the middle east wearing an “Allah loves bacon” t-shirt if it meant avoiding any more football with Sutton United this season.

Such is the malaise amongst the faithful, that for the first time this season I can’t really be arsed to even bother finding out who’ll be representing us today. I think it was the mention that Rob Hughes was starting that did it for me. I don’t need to know the names, I can already guess at what is about to transpire. Despite a decent effort on my part, I’m still feeling far too sober by the time kick off arrives. Which is disappointing to say the least. Oh well, best get it over with.

The match has a really quite dull start, which is unsurprising given that we’re effectively dead men walking and the visitors only have a very narrow chance of making the play-offs themselves. In fact, bugger all happens until about 13 minutes in, when Fisher predictably go and take the lead.

A simple foray down the left exposes our left back and failing to deal with the problem, a ball is pulled back across the box just inside the 18 yard line. With the defence now resembling a particularly unfunny Keystone Cops outtake, the Fisher bloke makes a bit of a meal of a simple chance, hitting it high into the net. Both away fans celebrate vigorously at the far end, bless ’em. A bit OTT if you ask me as most oppo fans these days just yawn, check their watches and mutter “What took ’em so long?” against us.  Oh well, each to their own I s’pose.

A free-kick a couple of minutes later presents us with an opportunity of our own, but despite a decent delivery from the right near the byeline is just headed away for a corner right in front of AJ. The flag kick comes predictably to nothing.

On 19 minutes, it’s once more down to Phil between the sticks to keep things remotely competitive when a low free-kick is hit past the wall and kicks up off a big divot right in front of the U’s ‘keeper. Already grounded, he throws up an arm and somehow gets enough on the ball to push it away from the goal. He’s in action again 5 minutes later. Poor play in midfield easily gives up possession and a simple 1-2 creates an opening through the middle. Wilson diving full stretch to push away the resulting shot for a corner.

We last another 5 minutes or so before it’s effectively game over before half time for the umpteenth time this season. (Umpteenth. An old English word meaning “A fucking lot”). A poor pass across midfield is cut out just inside the Fisher half. One simple pass sets up a quick break on the left and with the full back once again backing off rather than meet the threat, the attacker makes the most of this generous helping of time and space and simply steps inside to curl a first time effort past the stranded Wilson to make it 2-0.

Utter utter shit.

Naturally, having followed the “How to play against Sutton” handbook to the letter and got at least 2 up before the break, our guests start to take things a little easier. We are winding down the season after all and with games coming thick and fast for those in more fortunate positions than ourselves, there’s really no need to go busting a gut against crap sides with the game already won. This allows us a little more time and space on the ball and we at least create a bit more attacking wise. Our best chance comes on 34 mins. A free-kick from the left is headed up into the air and drops to AJ about 8 yards out towards the far post but his shot on the turn is somehow blocked on the line. Another free-kick on 41 minutes, this time from the right, presents another opportunity but Kez’s header lacks direction and he ends up nutting it straight at the ‘keeper.

Thankfully, half time arrives with no further damage and I can go get my cup of tea to sip and spend a few minutes of quiet contemplation pondering how crap we are until this rubbish starts again.

The second half is a little more interesting than the first, mostly as the visitors are continuing their policy of taking it easy now they’ve got a couple of goals. And like shortly before, this serves to help make us look vaguely competitive. On 50 minutes, a left sided corner is again headed straight up into the air and once more drops to AJ. This time he tries a slightly ambitious overhead kick. It’s at least on target, but lacks any pace or direction to trouble the Fisher goalkeeper. There’s a couple of ironic chuckles amongst those on the terraces at this outrageously hopeful effort. Most of our lot can’t trap or pass the fucking thing and here we are staring relegation in the face and going for bicycle kicks.

We keep up our improved start and shortly before the hour, we really should make it count when a real sitter goes begging. A defender misses a simple tackle and the ball runs free behind for Dundas to chase on the right. He gets into the box and with the Fisher backline struggling, he squares it to the unmarked Ottaway in the centre who somehow manages to scuff his effort wide of the far post from about 8 yards out. And that ladies and gentlemen of the jury is why we’re going down, the prosecution rests m’lud.

Still, this at least gives us a bit of heart and on 61 minutes, a reasonable bit of play sends Greene free on the right. He plays a teasing ball across the face of goal that Dundas meets less than 6 yards out. But somehow, the ‘keeper manages to spread himself and keep the big strikers header out of the net. Bit unfair really if you ask me, these keepers being good and all…

After the hour a sweeping ball out right from Goodchild sends Dundas clear again and he gets to the byeline to pull the ball back across. But just as Jason arrives in the middle to accept the return pass, a defender sticks out a desperate leg and just manages to divert the ball slightly so that it runs behind the oncoming midfielder. A minute later and a good run down the left from Wright ends with a cross into the box. The no6 makes a complete mess of his clearance and only succeeds in touching the ball to Dundas behind him. But Craig’s fierce first time effort zips inches wide of the far post. Off target again.

With no luck in front of goal, the flurry of activity from our lot seems to conclude here and the rest of the half is somewhat uninspiring. Dundas cements another Man of the Match award with a couple of minutes to go though with another bombing run down the right to chase a ball over the top. He steadies himself and thumps in a shot that the ‘keeper just manages to turn away. The ball runs out of play on the far side for a throw that the ref laughably gives to the visitors.

Twat. Sums up the afternoon quite nicely I think.

Fisher almost manage an undeserved third in injury time, but their attack from the left results in a shot that takes a huge deflection that has Wilson scrambling as it spins narrowly wide of the near post. And that’s that. We’re down. Although, as we find out when we hit the bar, it’s not really and we’re not really. Yet. It seems Maidenhead are on a run of form that would almost make some of us weep and have lost again. Meaning that they are still 14 ahead of us in 19th and thus can, technically, still be caught. But the odds of that would be deemed slim and it would surely take a majorly freak event for that to happen. Like if someone were to launch a nuclear strike on the Berkshire town for example.

Bugger. That means we’re still not yet officially down. Le sigh, just kill us, kill us now.

The evening’s festivities ends very early, as Windy decides he can’t face a night of soft drinks and moping whilst I pour loads of beer down my neck, instead abandoning his latest orange juice & lemonade to skulk off home. Probably to watch X Factor or something. Which I’ll be honest would be marginally less painful than some of our games this season.

While I sup my final, lonely pint before my wander back into town and a bus home, I’m told by a club official, who shall remain nameless, that he “wouldn’t be surprised if that was his last game today” no doubt in reference to Ernie. Hmmmm. Would seem a little strange to part ways now with only 5 games to go if I’m honest, but then again not much would surprise me this season. Oh well, we’ll see.

Right, sod the lot of you. I’m off for a Chinese. And a cry.

MoM : Craig Dundas. Excellent again…..

TEAM : Davies, Whisken, Sammut, T.Hughes, El-Salahi, Goodchild, Greene, R.Hughes, Wright, Dundas, Johnson.   SUBS : Dos Santos, Dunn, Ottaway, Bray, Wilson.

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