Saturday 22nd February 2020 | 17:20
Gander Green Lane | Attendance: 1,871
Address: Gander Green Lane, Sutton, SM1 2EY
The BT cameras return to Gander Green Lane tomorrow, with the television company doubtless hoping that the game against current Vanarama League leaders Barrow will match the excitement of Yeovil’s visit eight weeks ago, when Sutton came out on top by the odd goal in five.
For Sutton it will just be a relief to be back in action after two blank Saturday’s, the first due to Fylde’s FA Trophy involvement and the second due to the winner, but Matt Gray says the players have worked hard in training and are looking forward to taking on a side that moved seven points clear at the top of the table on Tuesday when Dior Angus’s goal was enough to beat Dover at Holker Street, avenging the Cumbrians’ defeat at Crabble a fortnight earlier which was Barrow’s only league defeat in their last seventeen games. They have won more games than an other side, and having also scored more goals and with no side having conceded fewer their position at the top is well deserved.
That said, Sutton gave a good account in the fixture at Barrow in November (above, Omar Bugiel going close) and, at a time when little was going right for U’s, were unlucky to lose to Josh Kay’s deflected cross . It repeated the game at Sutton a year ago, when a deflected Kay effort also saw the only goal of the game and gave Barrow their only win at Sutton. Tomorrow’s game does match the two most free-scoring midfielders in the division, with Harry Beautyman netting 13 for U’s and John Rooney 15 for Barrow, two fewer than striker Scott Quigley. Sutton will be without Craig Eastmond, serving the fourth and final game of his ban, but otherwise Matt Gray has a fully fit squad to choose from.
Tomorrow’s game is not segregated, but it is expected that less car parking space will be available due to some of the car park being required for BT vehicles, and supporters who usually drive are asked to use public transport if possible – there is a normal Thameslink Saturday service running tomorrow.
BT were again rewarded for sending the cameras to Gander Green Lane as Sutton recovered from a poor start against Vanarama National League leaders Barrow to gain a well-deserved draw with a fine comeback. With five minutes to go to half time it seemed as though Barrow were providing the perfect response to Harrogate’s win earlier in the day and would re-establish a seven point gap after Scott Quigley had underlined his status as the league’s leading scorer with two well-taken goals, but U’s, who would have been aware that five of the seven sides immediately below them in the table had also won, struck with virtually the last kick of the first half to revive their hopes, and could claim to have been as dominant after the break as Barrow had been before it.
It was a relief for U’s to be back in action after a three week lay-off, although Tommy Wright will have to wait a little longer after being laid low by a stomach bug, but his absence gave a chance to Isaac Olaofe and the striker signed on loan from Millwall took it with both hands, his pace a constant threat to the Barrow defence even in the first half, and leading to the penalty with which Harry Beautyman levelled the scores midway through the second half.
The first half was largely about Barrow, though, as U’s struggled to adapt to having the strong wind on their backs, and although Beautyman curled a shot just wide and Olaofe forced Joel Dixon to come quickly off his line on one occasion, it was the visitors who looked by far the more dangerous side. Nik Tzanev kept out a Dior Angus shot at his near post, and Angus was then denied by a marginal offside decision when he headed in a superb cross from John Rooney, but a goal was on the cards and it duly arrived as, after the ball had been played out from the back, Quigley laid a pass off to Angus, raced forward to collect the return pass and slipped the ball confidently past the advancing Tzanev.
U’s had to make a change as Kenny Davis was forced off with a toe injury, Rob Milsom replacing him in a midfield role, and were soon two down when Josh Kay ran from right to left before finding Patrick Brough on the touchline, and his fine low cross was missed by both Ben Goodliffe and Louis John, allowing Quigley to net at the far post.
At that stage it looked set to be a routine victory for the leaders, but deep in to the three minutes of added time at the end of the first half U’s changed the mood of the teams and the crowd as Ben Wyatt’s enterprising run ended with a pass to Beautyman, who turned superbly past Matt Platt and drove his shot past Dixon.
From the start of the second half it was U’s who were on the front foot and they could have been level within five minutes as a cross from Will Randall, every bit as good as Brough’s delivery for the second Barrow goal, ran through to David Ajiboye whose shot came back off the post from a narrow angle.
That set the tone for the half, though, and although Barrow still threatened on the counter their only serious effort was an attempted chip by Rooney that drifted over the bar. Midway through the half U’s had their equaliser as Omar Bugiel brought the ball out of his own penalty area following a Barrow corner before sending the ball down the right towards Olaofe. The striker got the benefit of the bounce as Brough came in with a challenge, but his pace had earned him that fortune and might have been rewarded with a goal had he not been brought down by Jason Taylor as he turned inside. Instead, it was Beautyman who made sure the good work didn’t go to waste with an excellent penalty (above) that took the midfielder to the 15 goal mark in the league.
Soon afterwards Ajiboye was crowded out after Jon Barden’s neat flick had set him up, and one find defensive intervention denied Craig Dundas a goal within seconds of coming on after Louis John had headed back a free kick. It was Dundas, who had celebrated his 39th birthday earlier in the week, who came closest to a winner with a downward header from Randall’s corner that was turned on to the bar and over, none too convincingly, by Dixon, but although U’s finished the game on the attack Barrow also deserved reward for their first half performance and a draw was a fair result.
Barrow: J Dixon, S Hird, D Jones, J Taylor, M Platt, P Brough, J Kay(sub C Brown 75), J Rooney, S Quigley, T White(sub L Hardcastle 63), D Angus (sub J Soule 77). Subs n/u O Dyson, B Harrison. Booked: Kay, Platt, Taylor, Brough.