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Knees-up Mother Brown #12
Written by wessex_exile on Sunday, 5th Nov 2023 12:42

It’s a wet, windy first weekend of November, which can mean only one thing – it’s the magic of the FA Cup again! Today we face a trip to the New Meadow, home of League 1 Shrewsbury Town. I’ve never been to the New Meadow, my last trip to Salop was to watch the U’s win 2-1 in our FA Cup second round match at Gay Meadow back in December 2005 – and what a day that was too. That match was featured in [i]Matches of Yesteryear #20[/i], and it was pleasing to see it was the focus of a club interview with Greg Halford last week. There is also something very noteworthy about today – unless my calculations are awry, this will be our 200th appearance in the world’s greatest cup competition.

[b]The world outside U’s World[/b]
As Israel’s offensive against Hamas intensifies, it is almost inevitable that the Palestinian citizens of Gaza that are paying the highest price, with an estimated 9,000 already dead since the conflict started last month. Just yesterday, the Palestinian Red Crescent Society reported that an Israeli missile attack on an ambulance convoy killed 15. According to the PRCS, the convoy had been attempting to transport patients to the southern border crossing at Rafah but had to turn back because the road was blocked with rubble. The convoy was hit twice on the way back, the second time literally as it reached the gates of the hospital.

The Israeli military, who do not deny the attack, claim they had killed several Hamas fighters, and that Hamas were using the ambulances to transport militants and weapons – though they have yet to back this claim up with evidence. Don’t get me wrong, Israel has every right to defend itself against attack, and take the war to Hamas, but slaughtering innocent civilians in the process will do nothing to help find a lasting two-state solution in the region – more likely undo what little progress has been made in the last few decades.

In what has been described as bombshell news, Nadine Dorries’ new book (being serialised in the Daily Mail, of course) claims there is a secret “[i]cabal[/i]” that has been controlling the Tory leadership for two decades. The group apparently includes Michael Gove, Dominic Cummings and advisor Dougie Smith (who?), amongst others, and were responsible for the downfall of Boris, IDS, Theresa May and even Liz Truss. Seriously though, Nadine wrote a book – who knew!?

[b]At least she’s got plenty of storage space for the unsold copies…[/b]

…and finally, the world has taken an ominous step towards the vision of Skynet, Terminator and Sarah Connor, with Chinese authorities announcing they are developing humanoid robots that can work in farms, factories and homes within two years. Beijing claims the robots will “[i]profoundly change human production and lifestyle and reshape the global industrial development pattern[/i]”. Yeah, and gain self-awareness and launch a countervalue nuclear attack on mankind, don’t forget that bit. The US, including Tesla, already have programmes in place to develop bipedal robots, but the Chinese announcement suggests they are way ahead in the race to build the first T101.

[b]U’s World[/b]
Following the Etherington-gate malarkey leading up to the game at Accrington Stanley last Saturday, leaving Scott Marshall in command for the brilliant backs-to-the-wall victory over high-flying Stanley, it came as absolutely no surprise (to me anyway) when Robbie Cowling stuck two fingers up at WAGMI-owned Crawley Town and reinstated Matty as interim Head Coach on Halloween.

[b]Courtesy Colchester United Football Club[/b]

In a club statement, Robbie announced “[i]on Friday evening, we temporarily relieved Matty Etherington of his duties as Interim First Team Head Coach while we conducted an investigation into a matter raised by Crawley Town concerning a potential contract violation related to the agreement Matty Etherington signed when he assumed the position of manager at Crawley in November 2022. Following a thorough review of the contract and the events that transpired during the ten months since Matty's departure from Crawley, I have made the decision to reinstate Matty as our first team's Interim Head Coach with immediate effect[/i]”.

As described by a Crawley Town supporter on their forum, it was a polite but firm “[i]put up or shut up[/i]” moment, with WAGMI clearly choosing to shut-up. Within 24 hours the original club statement concerning their alleged control of Matty Etherington’s employment rights had been completely wiped from all Crawley Town social media feeds. I doubt very much we’ll be hearing from Crawley Town again on the matter, but as pointed out by [b]Durham[/b], they have probably made their visit to the JobServe next month a whole lot harder than it was going to be anyway.

[b]Match of the Day
[i]Swansea City v Colchester United
8th January 2011
FA Cup (3rd Round)
Attendance 7,005[/i][/b]

[i]Match of the Day[/i] for KMB12 and whilst I’ve (kind of) let the random memorabilia match selector do its thing, I have restricted the pool to just the remaining few FA Cup games in my archive. It has gone back to our third round match against Swansea City in the 2010/11 season, with the U’s managed by John Ward at the time. By coincidence, this was the very next match after our 4-2 defeat at Leyton Orient and featured in [i]KMB10[/i] a few weeks ago.

After much of our December fixtures had been lost to a combination of snow and/or frozen pitches, the U’s were sitting just outside the play-off zone in League 1. Our journey to the 3rd round had comprised a seesaw 4-3 victory over Bradford City, and an even nervier narrow 1-0 win over non-league Swindon Supermarine. Needless to say, the 3rd round draw away at in-form Swansea City was definitely not the glamour tie we’d been hoping for. The Swans had been holding a Premier League play-off slot since mid-October – we were expecting a hard day to come, and we weren’t wrong.

The fact is, even though this is in my memorabilia archive (the only evidence to show is the usual calendar entry), I have no firm recollection of this game. As Alfie was with me, I must have driven over for this one, and if so, would have parked up in the housing estate opposite the Liberty Stadium. I can’t remember how many others made the trip, but a reasonable guess would have been maybe 2-300. It was certainly a poor turnout by the home supporters, with less than half of their usual attendance turning up – so much for the magic of the cup eh? So, I am reliant on match reporting for this game, which fortunately is still widely available on the internet, even though it was nearly 13 years ago.

Looking to bounce back from the disappointing defeat at Brisbane Road on Bank Holiday Monday, John Ward’s U’s lined up:
1….Ben Williams
3….Lee Beevers
6….Paul Reid
25..John White
28..Matt Heath
10..Kemi Izzet (26. Lloyd James 55’)
14..Andy Bond (11. Simon Hackney 77’)
17..David Perkins
22..Anthony Wordsworth
16..Ian Henderson (15. Kayode Odejayi 55’)
19..David Mooney

Although Swansea City, under manager Brendan Rogers, were riding high in the Championship, I’ll be honest there aren’t too many names in their squad that day that stand out to me. Garry Monk perhaps, and certainly Scott Sinclair, but no one else really. Not that it mattered I suppose, when you’re at the right end of the table, you’re doing well, whether anyone knows your name or not.

For the first 20 minutes or so, the match was reasonably even, but without too much by way of goalmouth action. It was a fairly niggly match too, with a swathe of free-kicks awarded to both sides early on. The moment of note, and almost certainly the first attempt on goal for either side, came in the 14th minute, when Andy Bond managed to gain a yard on his marker, but his shot was comfortably saved by Swans keeper Yves Ma-Kalambay.

On 22 minutes referee Rob Shoebridge finally tried to get some control on the game, showing Darren Pratley a yellow for a foul on David Mooney with the U’s in an attacking position. Sadly the Wordsworth free-kick came to nothing, but within three minutes the Swans had the lead. A corner by Mark Gower was cleared by Andy Bond, but the Swans recycled the ball well, and with the U’s repeatedly failing to clear their lines, a Mark Gower cross was headed home by an unmarked Garry Monk in the 25th minute.

I’m not certain if Monk injured himself in scoring, in his celebrations, or there was some other incident, but four minutes later he had to be substituted for defender Alberto Serran. Despite the change, Swansea City now had a much firmer control of the game, with the U’s sitting deeper and deeper. Just after the hour mark, and in rapid succession, Pratley drilled a decent effort at goal that was narrowly wide, and then sub Serran had another on target that Ben Williams did well to save.

The pressure was mounting though, and in the 35th minute Swansea had their second. After a great run down the right wing by Cedric Van der Gun, he pulled the ball back smartly to Pratley on the edge of the box, who made no mistake with a sharp shot into the bottom left of Ben’s goal. It had been coming, the question was how many more would there be before half time? To their credit, the U’s actually tightened things up after the second goal, and even forced a succession of corners (to no avail) as the half came to an end.

All in all, 2-0 at half time wasn’t a complete disaster, it could have been a lot worse. The question was though, could the U’s even grab a goal to get back into the match? Almost straight from the restart Matt Heath nearly provided the perfect answer, but his drilled effort from the edge of the area was wide of the target. Still the niggly fouls persisted, with Kemi the second player to go into the book in the 52nd minute.

The way the second half was going, it was hard to see any way back into the game for the U’s, so on 55 minutes Ward made a double substitution, bringing on Kayode Odejayi and Lloyd James for Ian Henderson and Kemi Izzet. However, it did little to change the momentum of the game, and 13 minutes later Swansea City dashed any final hope that the U’s could pull off any sort of FA Cup shock. In an almost carbon-copy of his assist in the first half, Van der Gun was on the receiving end of a cut back pass from Scott Sinclair, and easily beat Ben Williams to give the Swans an unassailable 3-0 lead with barely 20 minutes to go.

The U’s huffed and puffed, with John White also collecting a yellow card in the process, but Swansea were easily a match for anything we had to offer. A final roll of the dice by John Ward saw Simon Hackney coming on for Andy Bond in the 77th minute, but the gulf in class between the top of the Championship and play-off fringes of League 1 were put into stark relief in the 82nd minute. Joe Allen ghosted into the U’s penalty area far too easily, laid a perfect pass off to Scott Sinclair, who again made no mistake to make it 4-0.

And that was that, a slow, steady but inevitable rout by the Swans.

[b]Swansea City 4 (Monk 25’; Pratley 35’; Van der Gun 68’; Sinclair 82’) Colchester United 0[/b]

For anyone that cares about these things, the post-match stats make interesting reading. They appear to reflect a tight, even contest, when this one couldn’t have been any further from that.

Swansea City were surprisingly dumped out of the FA Cup in the 4th round, beaten 2-1 at home by our fellow League 1 side Leyton Orient. However, I’m sure they were more than happy with their consolation prize, a third place finish and promotion to the Premier League via the play-offs.

There’s a YouTube highlight reel still available, for those that can bring themselves to watch it.

[b]Up the U’s![/b]

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