Saturday 7th September 2019 | 15:00
Gander Green Lane | Attendance: 2,059 (437 away)
Address: Gander Green Lane, Sutton, SM1 2EY
After visiting Yeovil on Tuesday, Sutton face the other team to have been relegated from the Football League at the end of last season when Notts county are the visitors to the Knights Community Stadium. It won’t be the Magpies’ first game on the ground, as the teams have twice met at Sutton in the FA Cup in fairly recent times. In 2008 County won by the only goal, a Richard Butcher header, in the first round , and three years later, in the second round in front of live TV cameras, won 2-0 with both goals from Jeff Hughes. Craig Dundas, who played in both games, is pictured above in the 2008 fixture.
Going back to January 1994, Sutton also visited Meadow Lane in the third round, recovering from conceding two early goals to come back and tie things up at 2-2 before a late and controversial goal gave County the victory.
Having lost their Football League status at the end of last season Notts County have a similar record to Sutton after nine games, having won twice, drawn four games and lost three. Their one win on the road came at Harrogate, since when they have also beaten Chorley at home, and they come to Sutton with one defeat in their last six games, and two places above U’s in the table thanks to a better goal difference.
After the club’s off the field problems were resolved, former Wimbledon manager Neal Ardley has been able to add to his squad and this week added two names who will be familiar to Sutton supporters, full back John Brindley joining after being a regular for Bromley last season, and midfielder Sean Shields arriving from Ebbsfleet on a season long loan.
Sutton will be looking to reverse a run of four games without a win, and are still to win at the KCS this season and manager Matt Gray will be hoping that the injury problems which affected the line-up at Yeovil may have eased, with Rob Milsom, who was with Notts County last season, one of the players to miss the defeat at Huish Park. Omar Bugiel is still away, having won his sixth cap for Lebanon as a second half substitute in Thursday’s World Cup qualifying defeat in North Korea.
A reminder that, on this international weekend, season ticket holders at Premier League and Football League clubs can gain admission for £10 (concessions £5) on production of their season ticket. Segregation will be in force tomorrow, with the Collingwood end reserved for Notts County supporters.
Despite a fine start which yielded one goal and should have brought a second, Sutton were still left waiting for their first home Vanarama National League win as Notts County came back strongly either side of half time. Indeed it might have been a third consecutive home defeat but for Jamie Butler, making his 100th appearance for the club, who made two saves that can rarely have been bettered during that time.
U’s opted for a 4-4-2 formation, with Tommy Wright joining Aaron Jarvis up front, and Rob Milsom fit to return against his former club, and the first half hour was arguably their best at home this season. Reward came after just eleven minutes when David Ajiboye whipped in a superb cross from near the right corner flag which Jarvis couldn’t quite reach at the near post but a sliding Harry Beautyman was able to convert at the far post, the ball clipping the upright on its way in.
At this stage Notts County were unable to gain any fluency, causing early murmurs of discontent among their 437 following, and that mood should have been darkened when Ajiboye raced down the right, taking advantage of left back Damian McCrory having received an early booking, and pulled the ball back in to the path of Wright, whose usual accuracy deserted him as he shot over the bar from twelve yards out.
A second goal at that point might have given the visitors too much to do, but as the half wore on they were able to have more of an impact on the game and carved out their first chance when Kristian Dennis went through on the left and fired in a shot which Butler beat away, and as Regan Booty tried to force the rebound over the line Jamie Collins was well positioned to clear from inside the six yard box.
The change in momentum continued in to the second half and within seven minutes Notts County were level as Kyle Wootton was allowed time and space to fire a powerful shot past Butler from 25 yards. From that point Sutton were on the back foot as the visitors became much more of a threat. McCrory shot wide from a good position, and Booty headed past the post when he arrived late on a right wing cross and should have done better, but he was blameless soon afterwards when his fine effort from outside the penalty area was heading for the roof of the net until Butler managed to tip the ball over the bar.
If that was a good save, what followed soon afterwards was in a different category as Dennis found himself with a free header little more than six yards out and was left holding his head in disbelief as Butler produced an amazing reaction save to turn the ball away.
Having weathered the storm Sutton started to turn things round again towards the end and finished the game with chances of their own. Beautyman volleyed wide from a right wing cross, and in stoppage time there was almost a dramatic winner as Craig Eastmond’s cross flashed across goal inches away from the diving Jarvis.
Notts County: S Slocombe, D Kelly-Evans, D McCrory, M Rose, B Turner, C Rawlinson (sub S Graham 89), E Boldewijn, M Doyle, K Dennis(sub W Thomas 76), R Booty(sub S Shields 76), K Wootton. Subs n/u J O’Brien, Z Bakayogo. Booked: McCrory.
Referee: Lewis Smith