BRAINTREE TOWN – 1 [Bloke p49]
SUTTON UNITED – 0
Right, With last weeks almost abject surrender and the realisation that our Conference South place is now all but lost, you can imagine an already tired and dejected support finding it hard to lift itself for fixtures such as this.
Away games in Essex for us are rarely greeted with much joy, but when you’re as shit as us, heading round the M25 and through the Dartford Tunnel is just that little bit harder to get yourself up for. The thought that we’ll be doing trips like this a damn sight more next season in the Isthmian does little to lift the gloom.
Unsurprisingly, no one particularly fancies the train up there, especially the nigh on 1 hour plod along the single track line to our final destination. So when PC offers to drive, citing a prior engagement Saturday night, we naturally jump at the chance of a lift and a quick arrivalgetaway when things go horribly wrong. And they will.
The later than usual start means I have time to pop to the shops and pick up a pressie for my neices first birthday the following day before departing for some god forsaken hell hole north east of London. The turnaround time is less than half an hour, which is handy as it means the present I’ve obtained remains in it’s box and not played with by yours truly.
Tickle Me Elmos are quality.
PC rolls up about 12 and I immediately notice something wrong. No Windy…..or Mrs C. Er….I’m sure he said he was getting Windy before me and he can’t have forgotten the other half as he lives with her.
Forgotten someone mate?
It turns out that the other two have cried off sick, with Windy in particular laid low by a dose of the Histons. Although stupidly, he’s informed my chauffuer for the day that he’ll attempt to drive up himself a bit later if he feels up to it. Idiot. If I had an excuse like that, I’d be sacking it off at home on the couch waiting for the “We lost” text at about 4.45. In fact, is it too late to go eat a pack of laxatives or take a swig of bleach?
Oh well, I guess with less people the car will go faster and we’ll get there quicker…..oh wait, it’s Essex. So that’s not really a bonus is it? Hmmmmm, I’ll think of something. Drive on James.
PC announces that he’s been advised of a top route by a formerly Essex based U’s fan and thats how we’ll be making our way to sunny Braintree today. Which I have no problem with. What I do have a proble with are his scribbled 3 line set of directions on a 4 inch square of scrap paper. It seems ‘Paul Nav’ has had an upgrade.
Amazingly, the journey goes well and passes quickly with the aid of Man Yoo – Pompey on the wireless. Even a wrong turn in Braintree Town centre works out amazingly well for my driver and he spawns a right turn bringing him out just a short distance from the ground.
Naturally, he claims this was all intentional. Which I doubt. Mainly as the last time Mr Chalmers drove us to a game in this neck of the woods, we wound up driving into a fucking field.
Our arrival at Cressing Road is a little confused as we’re initially greeted by a big block of houses and flats being constructed where we swear there was a car park when we last visited on the opening day of last season. But our alarm is soon cooled by the spotting of a gap next to the aformentioned development and we’re soon in a new parking area off to the side of the ground.
More confusion arises when we get inside the ground itself. As we find that the little awning type covering behind the near goal has been replaced by a chunk of banked terrace, which most importantly means that we no longer know how to get into the bar!
Relying on our keen beer-smell, we eventually find our way in by what was formerly a back door and settle in with a pint to watch the second half of the footy on the telly. It’s not very comfortable though, as someone thinks it’s a brilliant idea to wedge open the door which seperates the bar area from the changing rooms and the tunnel. Naturally, with this open, there’s a nice cosy siberian type draught whistling through. Which is just dandy.
About half 2, a rather ropey looking Windy rolls up. Unable to provide a perfectly reasonable excuse as to quite why he’s left his sick bed to come and watch this absolute shit. Stupid boy.
Team news is unsurprising. Kez is back in defence after being re-loaned from Eastleigh during the week and Ernie has decided to stick with Liam Wright and JJ from the county cup game at Woking. At least we’ll have a bit of pace about us now…..Unfortunately, when we get outside into the cold, the line up isn’t the expected 4-5-1 with Dundas alone up front. Instead he’s partnered by Wright with Nick Greene patrolling the left.
From the off, the ref sets his stall out. And it’s not a very good one. Just a couple of minutes in, he awards a really rather shit free-kick on the right, just on the corner of the area against Al-Salahi, who simply stands his ground as a high ball drops and an opponent jumps into him. Our annoyance at this is almost made worse when the kick is taken, Davies making an excellent flying save to tip the ball onto the bar and out for a corner. Yet the ref gives a goal kick.
You’re a tool you are mate.
The home side continue to pressure in this opening spell, but their defence is tested after 9 mins when JJ and Dundas combine down the right for the midfielder to fling a high ball into the box. The ridiculously tall ‘keeper somehow finds himself out jumped by Nick Greene in the box, but before anything can be made of the loose ball, the linos flag brings the matter to an end.
We continue to fend off the attentions of the hosts, with Davies having to keep his wits about him on a couple of occasions, but our task is made harder after about 20 minutes when Bray is forced off with a knock after coming down heavily in a challenge for the ball. Amusingly, the attempts of a Braintree player to boot the ball out of play are hampered by the stiff wind blowing across the pitch and instead he finds Scarbs. He then tries the same but only succeeds in finding Liam Wright all alone down the left. A little unsure of what to do given that it really should be the ref stopping the game, he runs on past the prone figure of his team mate deep into the Braintree half before the ref finally blows up to stop proceedings.
Naturally, this cops him some more abuse. As does his rather baffling choice of restarting the game with an uncontested drop ball for the Braintree keeper. Where on earth do they find these clowns? Being crap is bad enough, but when games are run by retards, it makes the whole thing really rather unwatchable.
Greene has an effort blocked following a corner on 24 mins, Honey’s effort not being fully cleared and finding it’s way back to him for a second chance. This time, the headed clearance drops to Nicky and his driven effort is just headed away in the 6 yard box with the ‘keeper stranded.
From here though, we struggle to make much impact and Braintree really should go in ahead at the break with a flurry of chances immediately before half time.
After 39 minutes, a low shot from 25 yards out on the right takes a huge deflection and has Davies scrambling across his goal to get down and desperately push it away from his net. Thankfully an offside flag prevents any attackers from snatching up the loose ball. A minute later, a header on in the centre sends a man clear on the right, but again Kevin is equal to it and pushes away a fierce shot for a corner. Then right on the whistle, Wright conceeds possession cheaply on halfway and this allows Braintree to break. The man who dispossed him bursts forwards and hits an effort from range. Another big deflection again has Davies scrambling across his line to just help the ball round the post and out for another corner.
With the bar being about as warm as a polar bear’s fridge, I decide that heading inside would be a waste of time and wander round to the other end instead to while away the few minutes respite from what is looking to be another dour 45 minutes.
The second half isn’t quite as dour as I’d expected when we get underway with a flurry of activity from the whistle. First Braintree surge down our left with an attack that ends with a low angled shot straight at Davies. We retaliate a minute later with a raid of our own down the same flank, Nicky Greene putting in a good cross that Wright meets in the centre but guides just narrowly wide of the far post.
With the way things are going, my money is almost certainly on another 0-0 stalemate. But then I’d forgotten about the SUFC defensive charity, the one with more gifts than bloody Santa Claus.
Failure to close down sufficiently on the right exposes Sammut and a ball inside him sends the no11 darting in behind. Dean tries to make up the ground and dives into the challenge. But despite looking to have got some of the ball, he’s come from behind his man and taken him as well. Even for a fuckwit ref like this one, it’s a simple decision and the umpteenth penalty we’ve conceeded this season is awarded. The Braintree skipper steps up and sends Davies the wrong way to open the scoring.
And with our record in front of goal, that means we’re royally fucked.
But from here, things seem to go downhill for the home side. They lose a man to injury, which seems to upset their shape somewhat and we’re soon on top in our search for an equaliser.
Just after the hour, a Honey free-kick is swung to the far post. It’s headed back across goal where a defender manages to get a touch and half clear. Liam collects the loose ball and hooks it back towards goal but it flashes wide of the near post. Wright has a better chance a couple of minutes later when some typical Dundas persistance down the right produces a great chance.
The big man gets to the byeline and his attempted ball across is blocked and flies striaght up into the air. As it drops, rather than let it go for the inevitable corner, Craig hits it first time from right on the byeline back across goal. Wright is arriving near post and it really only needs a touch goalwards to level the scores, but the ball bobbles over his foot and the chance is gone.
We keep plugging away though and with the hosts now almost completely spent as an attacking force, we’re seeing plenty of the ball. The only contributions being made so far are the attempts of the no3 to kick JJ wherever possible and the no6 displaying what a total woman he is, by screaming like a tart every time an opponent so much as attempts to challenge him. On 75 mins, JJ manages to evade the chopping for once on the right and gets to the byeline to deliver a great cross to the far post. Again the chance falls to Wright, but he puts his angled volley into the side netting.
Ernie throws on Steffan to try & give us some more firepower and after a quiet few minutes, the big striker really should level the scores with 8 minutes left when an absolute sitter comes his way. A corner from the right is headed down in the centre by Kez and it causes panic amongst the defence as they try to clear. One wild swing just succeeds in nuding the ball towards Steff and from about 6 yards, all he has to do it hit the target. He doesn’t. His shot flashing wide of the near post.
And that ladies and gents, is why we’re bottom.
We keep going, but tired legs are starting to show and for the last few minutes, we toil away but without really creating much in the way of chances and the ref’s whistle brings the curtain down on yet another U’s brave failure.
The whistle also signals a rapid exit for a terminally ill Windy, whilst PC and I take our time strolling out. Our mood at yet more points gone begging isn’t helped by the comedian of a PA bloke announcing “Just for the Sutton fans….” that St Albans have won 4-1 against a Basingstoke side that is in utter disarray.
Yeah, thanks mate. Do stand up in your spare time do you? Fucking twat.
Not feeling like a bevvy, we decide to motor back homewards to have couple in the Hood and catch the second half of the Barnsley-Chelsea game on the telly. We make good time and stroll into the pub shortly after the half time whistle and make ourselves comfortable for a second half of relentless Chelsea pressure and a shock Barnsley goal.
Which I must say, I find jolly amusing!
But at full time, with PC off to his prior engagement, Greek not appearing and Windy no doubt dead from his horrible disease, I’m left strolling along the road home at the horribly early hour of 8pm. Right, may as well spank the beer money in my pocket on a dirty great pile of chinese grub I s’pose.
Mmmmm, Duck……I just hope it’s not a lame one like our team.
MoM : Kevin Davies. Couple of good stops kept us afloat 1st half.
TEAM : Davies, Sammut, Bray, Scarborough, El-Salahi, Honey, Alimi, Dundas, Wright, Greene, Johnson. SUBS : T.Hughes, R Hughes, Cuff, Dunn, Ball