After the frustration of the two postponements atGander Green Laneover Christmas, Sutton bounced back to action on New Year’s Day at Bromley in impressive style, recording a sixth consecutive league and cup success and extending the length of time since what would be described as U’s first choice defence conceded a goal. There were moments in the first half when a familiar story might have ensued, Sutton having failed to back up a lively start with a goal and Bromley showing signs of establishing a foothold in the game, but once home goalkeeper Joe Welch had gifted U’s an opener, the visitors were always in control, doubling their lead at the start of the second half and then defending with a degree of comfort as Bromley, after a succession of attacking substitutions, looked for a way in to the game. While the result extended two good sequences, it also ended a less happy one, giving U’s their first league win against Bromley at Hayes Lane since March 1996, although they have twice since then beaten Cray on the same ground.
Sutton started like a team desperate to be back in action after the fortnight’s inactivity, with flu-bound Craig Dundas restricted to a place on the substitutes’ bench but Anthony Riviere restored to the starting line-up, and they should have been ahead inside the first five minutes as Harry Ottaway and Marvin Williams gave an early indication of the problems they would pose the home defence. Ottaway shot just wide of the far post after beating the defence to a pass over the top, but more culpable was Harry Beautyman, scuffing a shot badly wide from close range after Williams had done well on the right and crossed low. Despite having the better of the game U’s were unable to take advantage, and the home side began to enjoy more of the ball, although Kevin Scriven was untested in goal as Ali Fuseini sliced one shot high and wide. Michael Boateng was booked for a tackle in front of the Bromley dugout, but nine minutes before half time U’s were gifted the breakthrough. Welch comfortably held a high free kick from Boateng and came to the edge of his penalty area, but lost control of the ball as he went to clear and succeeded only in lobbing it to Ottaway, who reacted quickly enough to stab it back past the stranded keeper, and although it was rolling wide of the post Williams was quick enough to get there before it ran out of play and squeeze a shot in from a tight angle. Bromley’s defence rarely looked happy with the pace of Williams, and just before the half time he came close to setting up a second, a superb run from the halfway line ending in a shot which was blocked but ran to Sam Rents, who thumped in a 30-yard shot that rattled the crossbar and fell to Williams, who again saw a shot blocked. U’s eventually ended with a free kick just outside the penalty area, but Tom Kavanagh curled his shot over the bar. Less than a minute after half time, though, U’s did have their second when Rents’ low cross from the left found Beautyman, who seemed to have turned back in to trouble but managed to swivel and shoot low and left-footed past Welch from just inside the penalty area.
Stephen Old almost added a third with a glancing header just wide from a corner, but Bromley should have had a goal back within five minutes as Rhule went through the middle but sliced his shot wide, and after bringing Louis Theophanous on at half time they also sent on Pierre Joseph-Dubois, whose goal had won the FA Cup tie at Sutton in September. The two combined immediately as Theophanous set up Marlon Patterson to drive in a cross from the left and Joseph-Dubois met it at the near post with a header that was deflected over. Scriven also touched away a low Theophanous shot, and Joe Pigott sent a 25-yard effort just wide as Bromley looked for the goal that would set up an exciting last quarter, but U’s came equally close when Kavanagh drilled a low shot just wide after Williams had laid an Ottaway cross in to his path. Leroy Griffiths then returned to the Sutton line-up on the same ground on which he had made his original debut against Cray in February 2011, but his immediate impact was not what he might have hoped as he was booked for a rash challenge in midfield. Had Williams been able to finish another darting run with a stronger cross Griffiths would probably have had a goal to celebrate on his return as well, although Liam Harwood’s stretching interception came very close to finding the net anyway, and although Scriven had to hold on to one sweetly struck volley from Danny Waldren Sutton ended the game in control and in good heart for Saturday’s visit to league leaders Salisbury.
Bromley: J Welch, S Ming, M Patterson, A Fuseini, D Waldren, L Harwood, T Finn, M Jones(sub P Joseph-Dubois 52), S Taiwo(sub L Theophanous H-T), J Pigott, A Rhule(sub E Buchanan 52) Subs n/u H Orome, M Malcolm.
I thought it was a fantastic performance from the players at Bromley. We went with the five across the back and felt that was the right way to go. Give Bromley a lot of credit, we’ve watched them two or three times and they’ve been right on top of their game, so to come here and win 2-0 is great credit to the players.
You look at Harry Beautyman’s miss in the first five minutes, and then although we were gifted the goal we had two or three other chances, including Sam Rents smashing a shot against the bar, so we were just a bit disappointed at half time that we hadn’t scored more. We felt they’d come out and be better in the second half, and they just about had four playing up front so with the wind against us and the slope it was hard to defend, so great credit to us and it’s now over 400 minutes since we’ve conceded a goal with this defence, and I thought we looked strong – any away win in this league is a good result. We missed Craig Dundas, who’s been in bed for the past two days with flu but who was in touch today to say he could make it on to the bench which was good.
We needed Harry’s goal just after half time – I thought he’d missed his chance when he was going to hit it with his right foot, but he’s a clever player in the box and spun back for a nice finish, and the hope then was that we could score again, and we had two or three chances, because I felt we might need a third goal because if they’d got one back I think we’d have been under real pressure, but we managed to keep the clean sheet again so that’s really pleasing.
I thought Marvin Williams was outstanding today. I said when we signed him that he was a special signing, and the supporters haven’t really seen the best of him yet because of injuries and a lack of games, but both he and Harry Ottaway were excellent up front, and I thought Anthony Riviere had a great game as well, but actually from 1 to 11 they’ve all stood up at a difficult place, and it’s a sixth win on the spin and we go to Salisbury on Saturday in good heart.
Leroy was keen to come back to us, we’d been speaking for a while and he was happy to come just for expenses which is good because everyone knows we’re on a tight budget at the moment not having had home games, and he’s a great asset to the squad, bringing experience and I think he’ll be a great help on the training ground and be good for the youngsters. He brings much more to the club thatn just what he does on the pitch and I think we saw that today.
Stefan Payne has been released from his contract. He came to see me on Saturday after we’d had a first team v reserves game and said he just isn’t enjoying his football at the moment. It’s nothing to do with us or him really, but just the way he is at the moment and we’ve agreed to release him. Kezie Ibe’s loan at Eastbourne is up today, but the likelihood is that he’ll stay with them. We’ve got to be realistic with the budget at the moment, and without Kezie and Stefan that means we’re closer to where we want to be in that respect. We’ve got a good group of fifteen or sixteen but can’t really afford to bring anyone else in at the moment, so that’s the reason we’ve signed some of the younger players on Blue Square forms this week, as we might need them. Craig Watkins trained yesterday and should be back in a week or two, and as well as Williams and Ottaway, Craig Dundas and Leroy Griffiths can also play up front if necessary so I think we’ve got enough cover there.
We’re very much looking forward to the game at Salisbury on Saturday. I’ve been convinced all season that this team’s good enough to do well, and in our next two games we’ve got Salisbury and then Wrexham and that will give us a good idea of where we’re at, but today was a good build-up to that, and any away point in this league is good, so we’ve got three today and will go to Salisbury and try to put in a similar performance