SUTTON UNITED – 1 [Dundas 13]
WELLING UNITED – 2 [Ryan 25. Smith 67]
With our stay in the Conference South now officially over, we’re left with 4 games to endure that really mean nothing. And when you consider how we’ve performed when the games HAVE meant something, we’re not feeling that there’s not going to be much to shout about in the last couple of weeks of the season.
Still, I suppose there is also the thought that the players might relax now as there’s nothing to lose and no pressure on them. We’ll see.
Today is a good example of seeing what sort of improvement JD can actually make with this lot as we face fellow strugglers Welling at home. Well, when I say ‘fellow strugglers’ I mean they’re in relegation bother as well. As for us, we’ve long since given up struggling……
The main thing today is catch up with and have much beer with the travelling support. It could be the last time for a little while now. I’m especially keen to see some old faces, especially as I missed the apparently largely dire 0-0 draw at their place in December when I was swanning about in Vegas.
Trust me, I had the better time. No doubt about that.
But, as per normal, saturday starts with a trip to the ground to ensure that Roses is all up and running before the staff arrive and we then head into the bar just after 1.30 to get a couple of beers in at least prior to kick off. As the audience will well know, we’re not keen on watching our lot sober at the best of times. And this is nothing like the best of times! Here, the main talking point is the return of our current striking enigma, Mr Warren McBean. Who despite having bags of ability, has seemingly been in a mood all season and was eventually shipped out on loan to Eastleigh in return for Karim El-Salahi (who has now returned to the south coast).
Naturally, he twatted in several goals within 5 minutes of his arrival. Bah!
But, I s’pose with Jim wanting to check out what we’ve got available to us and Wazza still being our player, he’s recalled him. Although the word is he’s unlikely to feature today as he’s just getting over a bout of flu. Guess we’ll find out shortly!
The main body of Welling drunkards roll in shortly before two and we catch up briefly before trading final pre-match insults and heading out for the contest. Jimmy has stuck with the 4-4-2 that seemed to do ok in the second half at Havant last week, so Dundas and Ball lead the attack. As expected, McBean isn’t selected, but he’s at least out on the pitch pre-match warming up with the likes of the suspended Paul Honey. One other interesting selection is 16 year old Jerson Dos Santos (who should be in the side for his name alone frankly!) taking the right midfield role.
Our afternoons entertainment gets off to a slow start, with neither side really showing a great deal. Which is a bit surprising from the Welling perspective as they can still save themselves. At least any lethargy from our lot could be explained by the fact that we’re already fucked. But, suddenly after 13 minutes, life!
Greene puts a good ball out right for Dos Santos and the youngster shows off his touch by calmly bringing the ball down and getting to the byeline. Steffan is probably a bit better placed about 10 yards out & unmarked in the centre, but instead, the teenager’s low ball across the 6 yard somehow evades 2 defenders and to the feet of a seemingly startled Dundas. He thankfully keeps his cool and controls before lifting the ball high into the net from close range.
Well fuck me. We’ve scored. And we’re in the lead! When was the last time that happened against another Conf South side?
Sadly, it’s so long ago, no one can recall exactly. But we do know it was a fecking long time ago!
After this swift burst of action, the game kind of slips back into it’s rather mundane state. Although the goal does seem to have stung the visitors into life a bit and there’s now at least a little bit of urgency about their play. This pays off on 25 minutes when a silly foul on the left corner of the 18 yard box results in a free-kick. The red shirted bloke steps up and whips a fine looping effort up over the wall, beyond the outstretched hand of Phil Wilson and into the far corner.
With the scores level, the game seems to start upping a little in tempo and opening out a touch. Neither side is as cagey as before and this leads to a bit more action worthy of going into the notepad for tapping up later (much later!) on here.
30 mins gone and a free-kick of our own isn’t far off restoring the lead. Rob Hughes effort from a centralslightly to the right position clips the wall on it’s way over and has the visitors ‘keeper scrambling as it dips just narrowly wide of the near upright. Another opportunity comes our way a couple of minutes later when a left sided corner is headed away as far as Jerson. He picks up the ball and feeds Greene, who hits a firm effort into the crowded box. Dundas manages to get a touch on the ball as it flies in, but it’s a little too close to the ‘keeper and he dives to his right to claim the shot on the line.
Welling finish the half the stronger though, with a forward wasting a pretty good chance on 39 mins, latching onto a ball down the right channel. But his shot is badly scuffed and trundles across goal, well wide of the far post. The next opportunity comes a couple of minutes later, when a rather aimless ball across the edge of the box isn’t cut out and finds it’s way to a rather unmarked man on the right. He snaps up the loose ball and hits the target, but Phil has got across well to save smartly and snuff out the danger.
I continue with my recent ritual of not bothering with the bar and wander over to the tea bar for a much needed pie and a cuppa. It’s been a reasonable first half by our standards and at least we’re putting ourselves about a bit, which is making things pretty much competitive!
The second half begins as the first ended, with the visitors on top. And but for the woodwork, they should have the game won within about 5 minutes of the restart. First a speculative effort from the right corner of the box takes a big deflection and loops up, hits the bar and comes back out before being cleared by the defence. Then a couple of minutes later, a corner from the right is swung in towards the far post. Phil tries to come through a crowd of players to claim the ball, but gets nowhere near it and the resulting header comes back off the bar before again being hacked away to safety.
With these escapes still fresh in the mind, Liam Wright almost edges us ahead at the other end after 54 minutes. He siezes on a moments hesitation by a defender in the centre around 30 yards from goal and robs him of the ball. He heads toward goal and just as he’s trying to set himself for a shot, he gets a little tug from behind. It’s not enough to bring him down, but does enough to give the ‘keeper that extra step forward to narrow the angle and he makes a sprawling save down to his left to push the resulting toe poke wide for a corner.
Wright almost takes advantage of some more sloppiness soon after, chasing down a backpass, the hurried ‘keeper thumps his clearance against the young midfielder. But sadly everyone else in an Amber shirt has retreated too far to be of any assistance and follow up on the loose ball.
A slightly bitty contest ensues, with both sides huffing & puffing a bit, but with no one really looking like they could perhaps produce that moment needed to snatch something…..until with 20 minutes left.
The Welling no10 picks up the ball in a bit of space on the left and cuts in towards the box. His bumbling run somehow takes him past three defenders, all wary of sticking in a boot and giving away the penalty, especially as matey seems to be chasing the ball rather than carrying it along under any sort of control. He reaches the centre of the box and manages to get a shot off through a crowd that zips past a startled Phil and into the back of the net.
This second goal is loudly greeted by the healthy travelling support and no wonder. A win here today could all but guarantee them their place for next season. The goal shakes us a little and the visitors really should put things out of sight with 15 left. A free kick from the right causes problems and is nodded back across goal. But somehow, the attacker in front of goal about 5 yards out manages to shank his effort wide.
With time almost up, both Jerson and Dundas get into promising positions in the box from the right, but both times a defender manages to get a toe in or force them into taking an extra touch and the chances are gone.
Things get worse in injury time, with AJ piling in a little unecessarily on the Welling no14 down by the corner flag on the left in our half. The ref is right there and is left with little option than to show a red card. Although how the 14 escapes censure for his retaliation, only the ref knows. The fact he escapes scott free is highlighted a minute later when he completely overreacts to Scooby ushering him and the ball into touch and takes a swing at the Sutton skipper. Amazingly, only Scarbs finds himself spoken to!
Still, it’s all academic and again, we find ourselves on the wrong end of a result that could have been a bit better. Oh well, best go get drunk then I s’pose.
The evening passes in a blur of beer, as we get nicely oiled with the Welling gang. Amazingly, despite the intake, the infamous Incredible Sleeping Man stays fully concious until reaching the Hood, where he takes advantage of the more comfortable furnishing and has 40 winks. One of the lads, for some reason, decides that he will only partake of glasses of Pimms and games of ‘Chase the Ace’ keep us entertained. But, all too soon, it’s time to bid farewell to another bunch of friends for the foreseeable future and they dash off into the night to get a train back to Kent.
I’m really going to miss this league next year.
MoM : Jerson Dos Santos. Fearless debut from the 16yo. Shame he didn’t see more of the ball!
TEAM : Wilson, Sammut, Whisken, Scarborough, Dos Santos, Greene, R.Hughes, Wright, Ball, Dundas, Bray SUBS : Cuff, Goodchild, Ottaway, T.Hughes, McLoughlin