Sutton’s first team returned to action after nearly six months and were grateful to a 90th minute penalty to earn a draw which was probably a fair result after a competitive game in which both sides showed signs of rustiness after a long lay-off but also produced some good moments. U’s played a different eleven in each half, including six triallists, with just Rob Milsom, recovering from a hernia operation, and Bradley Pearce, on loan at Farnborough, missing from the squad, while Eastbourne changed much of their side during the second half, and it was the visitors who opened the stronger, with Dean Bouzanis having done little in a Sutton shirt until he was picking the ball out of the net as Charlie Walker’s head directed a cross from the right in to the bottom corner.
Sutton came closest to an equaliser when goalkeeper Franco Ravazzoli was down quickly to turn away a low first time shot from Tobi Sho-Silva, while at the other end Chris Whelpdale sent a snap shot just too high.
U’s changed their entire line-up after the break and started well, with Ravazzoli making a fine save to keep out Ben Goodliffe’s close range header, and Omar Bugiel denied by a fine clearance as he tried to get on the end of a right wing cross. Bugiel was also unlucky when, after David Ajiboye had collected a superb pass from Coby Rowe and crossed from the right, his shot struck one of his own players when seemingly goalbound.
The triallist goalkeeper between the posts for U’s in the second half made one fine save, tipping a ferocious free kick from Walker on to the bar, while U’s had to make an extra change when Goodliffe came off with a shoulder injury. Craig Dundas came on at centre back, slightly unusual circumstances in which to go past Paul McKinnon in to sixth place in the all time list of U’s appearances, and was the instigator of the move that produced the equaliser, his calm interception allowing Harry Beautyman to send one of the trilalist forwards through only to be brought down by Daniel Blackmore, giving referee Nigel Lugg an easy penalty decision and Beautyman the chance to level from the spot.
Sutton 1st half: D Bouzanis, J Barden, J Mason, W Brown, Triallist, L John, Triallist, C Eastmond, T Sho-Silva, C Kealy, W Randall.
2nd Half: Triallist, Triallist, B Wyatt, C Rowe, B Goodliffe(sub C Dundas), Triallist, D Ajiboye, K Davis, O Bugiel, H Beautyman, Triallist.