Saturday 4th January 2020 | 15:00
The Proact Stadium | Attendance: 3,283 (90 away)
Address: 1866 Sheffield Road, Chesterfield, S41 8NZ
It’s been a stunningly successful Christmas period for Sutton, with four consecutive Vanarama National League victories lifting U’s in to the top half of the table and within four points of the play-offs, and the hectic fortnight continues tomorrow with a visit to Chesterfield, whose recent form has been as poor as Sutton’s has been good, with manager John Sheridan parting company with the club after Wednesday’s 3-0 defeat at Solihull.
Widely tipped as championship contenders in the summer, Chesterfield have been in the lower reaches of the table for much of the season, and were on the end of a heavy defeat at Sutton in September (above, Tommy Wright makes it 2-0). A run of three wins in four games following that 4-0 reverse suggested a corner may have been turned, but since then a run of one win in twelve games, at Torquay just before Christmas, has left them in the relegation zone, five points adrift of Fylde in 20th place. Academy manager John Pemberton, the former Crewe, Crystal Palace, Sheffield United and Leeds defender, has taken temporary charge.
That win over Chesterfield in September was U’s last until the win at Torquay in mid-November, but following the subsequent defeat to Bromley an unbeaten run of nine games has seen a rise up the table.
Will Randall will miss Saturday’s game after injuring his ankle on Wednesday but Aaron Jarvis should be fit to return to the squad after missing that game through illness. Nik Tzanev will continue in goal after his loan was extended until the end of the season.
Full ticket and travel details are here, but note that tickets bought at the ground on the day will now NOT carry a £1 increase from the on line prices – tickets bought on the day must be bought at the ticket office before entering the ground.
We will have the usual commentary from the Proact Stadium on our Mixlr
channel tomorrow afternoon.
Sutton weren’t quite able to finish what had been a spectacularly successful Christmas period in the manner they would have hoped at the Pro-Act Stadium, but were unfortunate to come away on the wrong end of the scoreline after Jonathan Smith’s goal early in the second half gave Chesterfield, under the caretaker-management of John Pemberton, a win which kept them in the bottom four but within two points of Wrexham.
Apart from the first fifteen minutes of each half U’s, who were without the injured David Ajiboye and Will Randall, will feel that they had the better of things, and they shrugged off the hectic Christmas schedule with a storming finish in which Ben Goodliffe was denied a goal by a handball decision and several other opportunities to grab what would have been a deserved equaliser. The bigger disappointment, though, was the flare-up after the final whistle which saw Craig Eastmond shown a red card along with home striker Mike Fondop, and facing a four match suspension which would rule him out until mid-February.
Chesterfield started keen to impress their new manager, and Fondop put a header wide inside the first minute, but having survived that start U’s began to look dangerous and Tommy Wright twice got the better of the home defence, but on the first occasion hit the side netting at the near post and then drove a shot across goal and wide of the far post. However U’s should have been behind when Fondop went through with just Nik Tzanev to beat but lifted his shot horribly over the bar and in to the crowd, although U’s would have felt justice was served as he appeared to foul Goodliffe in the build-up.
Omar Bugiel saw a powerful run ended crudely on the edge of the penalty area by Sam Wedgbury, who became the first of three Chesterfield players booked for fouls on Bugiel, but Harry Beautyman’s free kick was too close to Shwan Jalal. Even though, it was U’s who ended the half on top and Wedgbury got the benefit of the doubt from referee Declan Bourne when he again fouled Bugiel just before the interval, the referee deciding that a free kick was sufficient.
As in the first half, it was Chesterfield who started the brighter after the break and within five minutes they struck what proved to be the decisive blow after some uncertain defending from Sutton as Jon Barden headed away despite Tzanev appearing to call for the ball, and when the attack continued Fondop crossed low from near the left corner flag and Smith, who had scored in both meetings between the sides last season, met the ball first time with a left-footed shot that looped over Tzanev in to the net.
It took U’s a while to recover from the blow, and with Tom Denton adding his height to the Chesterfield effort in both attack and defence they struggled at first to look for a way back. However, belying any fatigue that may have been setting in after such an intense schedule, U’s produced a rousing finish, as Kyel Reid saw a shot diverted just wide and then, after Craig Dundas had replaced Reid, spent the last fifteen minutes pressing for an equaliser. It looked as though it had come when Goodliffe bundled the ball over the line after Jalal had made a fine save from Beautyman’s header, but the referee ruled that Goodliffe had handled, and Wright was booked for his protests in the aftermath.
Jalal made a superb save low to his right to keep out a deft header from Beautyman, and Dundas hooked just over from close range (above) as the leveller refused to come, and there was more frustration after the final whistle as players from both sides clashed and Eastmond was shown a red card by the referee, who then pursued Fondop to the other side of the pitch to show him the card as well. It was the second season in which the two players have been sent off in the same game, with both dismissed at Maidenhead in March, albeit in separate incidents.
Chesterfield: S Jalal, R Weir (sub T Denton 65), D Buchanan, S Wedgbury, W Evans, H Hollis, J Smith, C Weston, M Fondop, S Boden(sub J McKay 81), L Mandeville(sub J Sharman 61). Subs n/u J Sheridan, D Wharton. Booked: Wedgbury, Smith, Weston. Sent Off: Fondop.