Tuesday 4th May 2021 | 17:00
Address: Meadow Lane, Nottingham , NG2 3HJ
Sutton will bid to keep pace with National League leaders Torquay in today’s televised game at Meadow Lane, looking for a third consecutive league win. The visit to Notts County having been put back a day so that it could be covered live by BT, Torquay moved four points clear at the top on Monday with a win at Chesterfield but a draw or win this evening will leave U’s still in control of their own destiny.
Rated by many as pre-season favourites for the championship, it’s been a turbulent season for Notts County, particularly in recent weeks after the departure on manager Neal Ardley, with Ian Burchnall taking over, and a run of six league games without a win has seen them drop off the pace to such an extent that even victory today would still leave them a point short of the play-off zone, albeit with at least one game in hand over the sides immediately above them. They go in to todays game with Ian Burchnall’s assistant Maurice Ross having left the club on Monday.
After two 1-1 draws last season, Notts County took the points at Gander Green Lane in October thanks to Kyle Wootton’s goal deep in to stoppage time.
The game kicks off at 5pm and is live on BT Sport, so due to league regulations there is no live stream being provided by Notts County. We do have a Mixlr commentary live from the ground and you can listen to this at mixlr.com/sufctv.
Having grabbed a winner in the fourth minute of stoppage time when the sides met at Gander Green Lane in October, Notts County repeated the trick at Meadow Lane to consign Sutton to a defeat which left U’s four points behind leaders Torquay, and losing the initiative in the title race to the Devon side. The winner in October was eminently avoidable, and the same could be said here as Craig Eastmond’s rash challenge on Mark Ellis following a free kick conceded a penalty which Ruben Rodrigues converted to give the home side, who had played the last quarter of the game with ten men after Dion Kelly Evans’ red card, the points to keep their play-off hopes alive.
Infact all three Notts County goals were disappointing for U’s to concede, Harry Beautyman caught in possession on the edge of his own penalty area to give Rodrigues the chance to open the scoring early on, and Dean Bouzanis making a rare error to allow Kyle Wootton to restore County’s lead at the start of the second half, and having fought back twice through Isaac Olaofe and Omar Bugiel, U’s would have hoped to benefit from Kelly-Evans’ dismissal, but with Olaofe limping off with what looked like cramp ten minutes from time their chief threat was lost, with the home side finishing a fluctuating and entertaining game the stronger and being rewarded at the death.
Rob Milsom’s injury robbed him of the chance to face his former side but his replacement Ben Wyatt almost made an immediate impact with a darting run on the left which set up Bugiel only for his shot to be deflected for a corner, but generally Notts County started the better and Rodrigues gave them the lead when he took the ball off Beautyman and drove a low shot beyond Bouzanis in to the far corner of the net. It took U’s a while to recover, but when they did it produced a superb equaliser, Bugiel turning just inside the Notts County half and sending a fine pass through to Olaofe, who outpaced Ellis and lifted a shot over Sam Slocombe and in off the far post.
That heralded a good spell from U’s, with Olaofe outstanding on the left and attracting a foul from Kelly-Evans which earned him his first yellow card, and after one run in from the left he set up Bugiel for a low shot that was well saved by Slocombe. However it was County who could have led at the break when Kelly-Evans swung in a cross that was headed over by Jimmy Knowles, who might have done better.
It was Knowles’ last significant involvement as he was replaced by Elisha Sam at half time, giving County a more physical look up front, and they started the second half on the attack, regaining the lead within three minutes as a period of pressure ended with Kelly-Evans squaring a pass to Rodrigues, whose shot was spilled by Bouzanis to give Wootton the easiest of chances to become the first player to score against Sutton home and away in the league this season.
Again Sutton responded well, Donovan Wilson slicing a shot wide after the ball had been knocked down in to his path, and just after the hour mark, after David Ajiboye did well to spread the play wide to the left, Olaofe again proved too good for the right side of the home defence before crossing low and although Beautyman was unable to make contact at the near post Bugiel was behind him and made no mistake.
The initiative was now with U’s, and looked to be even more so when Kelly-Evans clattered in to Wyatt and gave referee Scott Tallis no option but to show him a second yellow card. It might have been a double blow, as Beautyman’s free kick was perfectly delivered on to the head of Louis John, whose downward header was too close to Slocombe, who made a good save. County reacted to the situation by bringing on former Bromley defender Richard Brindley, and having survived a tricky ten minutes they finished the game looking the more likely to win. They had the ball in the net twice, Sam diverting in Brindley’s shot from an offside position and Wootton penalised for handball before he shot low past Bouzanis, but it looked as though the points would be shared and few would have argued at that being a fair outcome. Then Wyatt was harshly penalised midway inside the Sutton half, and when U’s failed to clear the free kick Eastmond’s challenge got something of the ball but also something of Ellis, and Rodrigues coolly sent Bouzanis the wrong way from the spot. His reward was to be immediately substituted for a defender, but there was no time for U’s to find a reply for a third time.
Notts County: S Slocombe, D Kelly-Evans, C Miller(sub R Brindley 72), M Ellis, A Chicksen, C Rawlinson, J Reeves, M Doyle, K Wootton, J Knowles(sub E Sam H-T), R Rodrigues(sub B Turner 90+5). Subs n/u E Boldewijn, R Griffiths. Booked: Reeves, Kelly-Evans, Miller, Rawlinson. Sent Off: Kelly-Evans(second yellow card).
Referee: Scott Tallis
Above picture courtesy of Chud Photography