Exalted triumph this week as plucky Arsenal vanquished the mighty Sutton United in the Football Association Cup!
Much was made of this clash of the South London titans, with Woolwich Arsenal definitely the underdogs owing to their sustained recent spell of irritating underperformance. Mighty Sutton had admittedly not been tip-top themselves, having lost to Boreham Wood, Solihull Moors and Guiseley in their previous three matches, but that did not lull the chaps into a false sense of security.
Other teams might have underestimated the proud, footballing geniuses of the Vanarama National League, aiming to beat them by seven or eight goals whilst wearing clown shoes and evening gowns, but not the Arsenal we know and love.
Mr. Windsor’s canny strategy was to play as cautiously as possible, misplacing passes, and being beaten to lots of challenges by the chaps 108 (ONE HUNDRED AND EIGHT) places below them in the football pyramid. The surface was of course Sutton’s twelfth man, being made of oil slicks, beef dripping and razorwire and underlaid with anti-personnel mines.
Sutton had the extra advantage of their players drawing upon a wide range of life experiences and professions such as teaching, personal training, building, and working in a care home, so Arsenal were more than a little wary of Sutton’s advantage; were there to be a house needed to be built on the centre circle, or some burpees ordered by the referee, or somebody’s backside needing paper attention then Arsenal would be on the back foot, as some of our players have only ever played professional soccer, some earning as little as £20,000 per week to do so. So it was tin hats on for the plucky Gooners!
Mr. Windsor chose a necessarily strong side, rather than sticking out the Under 16s and the reserves and still winning 5-0 like anyone else would. We chose Fenton up front with Malcolm Elleray (£5m) and Graham Shackleton (£30m) were deployed to counter Sutton’s fearsome midfield with Alexander ‘Whizzbang’ Saunders (£35m) was on the bench in case we needed to fight back against the four times runners up of the Isthmian League.
In a bold move, the manager rested Melvin Orwell and Harry Bell. Would Arsenal pay for such a reckless approach?
For a while it seemed like we should have had Mr. Orwell in the squad to unlock Sutton’s canny and perceptive defence and Sutton looked every bit the mighty side who beat Bath City 1-0 back in December. That man Luke Perry, against the run of play, popped in a ‘Crot’ for 1-0 and suddenly the vanquishers of Aldershot Town and Bromley were rocking back on their heels. As expected, they came flying back at us but steadfast Arsenal kept them at bay until the break.
In the second half proud striker Theodore Walcoué struck home his century of goals – and what an occasion for such a feat. As expected, the typically impressive warriors of Sutton came flying back and Mr. Deacon was only denied by the crossbar. Mr. Collins sent a noggin-bobbler over as the enormous crowd of 5,000 or something went wild.
Sadly for Sutton, Arsenal clung on to a memorable victory against one of British football’s giants.