Blues run riot at the Kingsmeadow

23 Nov

WITH all our decent local away games being thoughtfully scheduled for Tuesday nights this season, it was a last minute decision to take a half day from work and head down to Norbiton to see the Blues against the Wombles, who we thought could be nicely distracted by the unwelcome prospect of an FA Cup tie with the club that stole their identity in 11 days time.
Whether they were or not, after getting into London earlier (albeit not as early as I would have liked due to the predictable incompetence of Greater Anglia) to meet a fellow believer, we reckoned this game would definitely not top the 4-1 win at Kingsmeadow on New Year’s Eve 2011.
He decided not to join me as I went to meet my usual travelling companion at Waterloo, where we crammed onto a train full of city commuters returning home to London suburbia.
Having prised my head from someone’s armpit and alighted at Norbiton, it was off to the Peel, a pub near Norbiton station which has a rather infamous strip bar at the back. Seeing as I was meeting a friend of my girlfriend’s, we eschewed the delights of Eastern European crack-addicts dancing for £1 in a pot to drink in the main pub.
I had agreed to take Francisco, the aforementioned pal of my other half to the game because he had moved here from Chile two years ago and as yet had never seen an English football match despite being a keen fan of Universidad de Chile, from his home city of Santiago. I gallantly decided I would help him avoid the grim situation of paying over £50 to sit with the prawn sandwich brigade at some Premiership Arena and try and get him hooked on the Shrimpers.
It didn’t look like the plan would work for the first 35 minutes. Southend looked lethargic and were dragged down to Wimbledon’s level, which clearly was the bottom end of this division. The football was poor and there wasn’t an awful lot of action. Mark Phillips went closest for us with a header after a rare successful short corner routine. They hit the top of the bar with a long-range shot, Britt Assombalonga collided violently with the advertising hoardings, and that was about it until the resurgent Gavin Tomlin decided he would step up and sort this mess out.
Kevan Hurst flicked on a skidding ball to find Tomlin 35 yards from goal and on the shoulder of the last defender. He was inexplicably not closed down and allowed to advance, and punished the Dons defence ruthlessly, firing a low shot into the far corner of the net from just outside the box. It was the finish of a man bang in form and unrecognisable from the shot-shy scuffer we had seen in the first couple of months of the season.
The mood at half time was confident but the game was by no means over and if anything Wimbledon had just shaded it before we went in front. However, the second half was a completely different ball game.
Blues started to get hold of the ball and cause problems with their work rate and the running of the front two. But it was at set-pieces where the game was won. Kevan Hurst has received a bit of stick for some of his deliveries at Roots Hall but his corner on 61 minutes was begging to be put away and it was, by Ryan Cresswell at the far post who powered the ball into the net from inside the six yard box.
Hurst himself then had a great chance to make it three as he powered through the middle and incredibly found himself bearing down on Neil Sullivan’s goal with three players around him – all wearing yellow shirts. But instead of knocking the ball to the side for someone else to slot into an empty net, he opted for a tame side-footed shot that the former Scotland goalkeeper comfortably saved.
Just as we were all hoping we wouldn’t live to regret that miss, Hurst made amends by whipping in a wicked inswinging free kick for the unmarked Tomlin to glance home with his head from six yards. Criminal marking, but that’s Wimbledon’s problem. Blues were now cruising and it seemed a question of how many. The home side barely had an effort on goal – their most convincing was a ricochet off a Clohessy clearance which went ten yards wide.
Sub Barry Corr had come on with 20 minutes to go for the tiring Assombalonga, and with two minutes left he got onto the scoresheet for the third time this season when a low corner somehow fell at his feet 12 yards from goal and he controlled before drilling a low bouncing volley into the corner of the net.
As we happily made our way out of the ground, Francisco diplomatically said “it was a good score” perhaps meaning the quality of the football hadn’t exactly bowled him over, but Blues really didn’t need to get out of second gear for most of the night. Incredibly, it had also topped last season’s result and was a personal milestone for myself – the biggest away win I had seen, five days after the 15th anniversary of my first ever Blues match on the road.
Jamie Forsyth


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