Sunday, 20 February 2011

Angels Need Acute Victory but Lose to Obtuse Sutton

Home support in the North Stand (First Half) ...
... and Away support in there for the Second Half

Hopperational details
Date & Venue
Saturday 19 January 2011 at Longmead Stadium
Tonbridge Angels 0 Sutton United 1
Isthmian Premier League (Step 3)
On another day when plans were disrupted by weather, I was here because of early tweeting confirming that the game would be on.  Credit to the club, as the entire step 5 Kent Premier League was wiped out.
This match in one sentence
In front of a crowd of over 750, Sutton United got their proverbial noses in front early in the second half and held on for an important win over a potential championship rival.
So what?
After this first home defeat since September, Tonbridge stay 3rd although Lowestoft Town can overtake them by winning a game in hand – they were smacking Hendon 8-1 as we watched this game.  Sutton have at least a two-point cushion at the top – they have a current lead of eight over Bury Town but the Suffolk side have two games in hand.  Sutton United v Bury Town on 9th April might turn out to be a key fixture!
The drama unfolds
The first two clips are taken from my position in the North stand among the Tonbridge faithful.
The first half was pretty even, with plenty of goalmouth incident to keep the large crowd entertained.  There was a good atmosphere in the ground, with vocal support at both ends of the pitch.

Sutton keeper Kevin Scriven made one notable double save to earn his eventual clean sheet.  Tonbridge beat his counterpart Lee Worgan twice.  On the first occasion, he was rounded but the pull-back from the byline drifted out with an unguarded net gaping.  On the second, Tonbridge’s top scorer Frannie Collin’s shot rebounded to safety off the post.

The only other incident of note in the first 45 was the dismissal of visiting manager Paul Doswell from the field of play after the intervention of the referee’s assistant.  0-0 at half-time, which was fair enough from my position of neutrality.  Sutton were looking marginally stronger physically, I thought.

The deciding goal came after 56 minutes.  A blocked shot pinged around in the area and eventually fell nicely for Leroy Griffiths to finish with a low shot.  0-1.  After that the game became more tepid for a while, until it perked up after substitutions for a frantic final ten.  The next two clips catch some Sutton attacks.

For a few end-to-end minutes, scores of 1-1 and 0-2 looked equally likely and Kevin Scriven was again called upon to make a sharp save in the closing moments.  On balance he would be man-of-the-match for me because he did as much as anyone to decide the result.  Final score 0-1.

Dark Arts of Defending #1
I'm not touching him, look ...

What, ref?
Alternative activity of equal excitement for tourists in Tonbridge
Pretend to be from Le Puy-en-Velay, Tonbridge’s twin town in France, and go round to all local supermarkets in turn complaining loudly in a Frenglish accent about the price and quality of lentils in particular and systematic discrimination towards vegetarians in general.
A snippet from the programme
A very well-designed programme by the way, produced to a high quality.  “Kaptain Kinch” wrote about an unexpected defeat at bottom club Croydon Athletic last week.
“(The performance) was better than we’d played in the last couple of games.  The chances we created in the second half were enough to win three or four games but their goalkeeper was in inspired form.  He just got behind everything and will probably look back and think (this) was the best performance of his career.  I don’t think I’ve played against a goalkeeper who’s played as well as he did.  But that’s not to make excuses.”

For the record, the goalkeeper under discussion is Charlie Mitten.

One can only assume the programme editor didn't do the signs.  He'd have noticed this catapostrophe!
What I learned today
Lots of discussion today about non-league clubs in the FA Cup, as the Manchester United v Crawley Town tie kicked off soon after the final whistle here.  Tonbridge Angels have been in the first round proper on five occasions, the last time being a 5-0 defeat by Charlton Athletic in 1972-3.  Sutton United got plenty of mentions today for their famous third-round win over Coventry City in 1988-9.  They lost 8-0 at Norwich in round 4, which was not mentioned at all as far as I know.  Finally, the aforementioned Kevin Scriven was between the sticks for Havant & Waterlooville in 2007-8 as they progressed with wins over Notts County and Swansea City to Anfield, leading twice in a 5-2 defeat by Liverpool.
Something random
This made me wonder tangentially whether the League Cup ought to be repositioned.  I believe that there are several options for making it a more interesting competition from a sporting perspective.  In all cases, I would get rid of the carrot of European competition and turn it into a competition that more clubs could win.
  1. Exclude the Premiership clubs who are engaged in European competition.  This would mean that ties could be scheduled in European weeks and help with the fixture calendar.
  2. Exclude the Premiership clubs altogether and make it a competition for the 72 football league clubs.
  3. Exclude the Premiership, but add the Conference (who are increasingly full-time clubs with FL experience anyway).
  4. Keep the Premiership and/or add the Conference but put some age restrictions in – Premiership sides must be U23, Championship U25, League One U27, League Two U29 – so that it becomes a stars-of-the-future tournament in the latter stages.
I also suggest that ALL FA Cup ties, not just replays, should go to extra time.  I might even be persuaded to get rid of replays altogether.  I don’t have a problem with competitions evolving over time to meet new circumstances.  At some point in history, WBA (for example) stopped making the Birmingham Senior Cup a first-team priority.  Even non-league teams face these priority dilemmas – many of them are engaged in League Cups or County Cups of varying relevance alongside their league fixtures.
What Next?
I am writing this at 5am (long story), therefore … sleep!  (PS sorry about the angels/angles thing in the title - at least it's better than fallen angels ..  ;)

No comments:

Post a Comment