Sutton United
FC Halifax Town

Lafayette 45+3,73, Dundas 58

Denton 64, Garner 85

18 November 2017
Vanarama National League
Neil Hair (Cambridgeshire)
26 Jamie Butler
5 Louis John
3 Aswad Thomas
4 Dean Beckwith
23 Josh Taylor 73 Bailey
6 Jamie Collins
30 Tom Bolarinwa 78 Egan
8 Kenny Davis
9 Ross Lafayette
14 Craig Dundas 75 Wright
11 Kieron Cadogan
16 Nicky Bailey
20 Tommy Wright
22 Simon Walton
27 Simon Downer
31 Alfie Egan

Sutton moved to within one point of the top of the Vanarama National League table but not for the first time at the Knights Community Stadium this season a game that they seemed to have made safe on more than one occasion proved a lot more difficult to finish off as Halifax refused to admit defeat and finished the game pressing for an equaliser. Anything other than a Sutton victory would have been harsh on U’s, though, as they provided most of the good moments in a full blooded game and one outstanding goal which turned things their way on the stroke of half time.

The game started in controversial fashion when in only the third minute a clash between Ross Lafayette and visiting skipper Matt Brown off the ball but in front of the assistant referee ended with Lafayette on the ground, but claims of a headbutt fell on deaf ears, with both players spoken to briefly and the longer warning reserved for U’s manager Paul Doswell for his protests.

It set the scene for an ill-tempered half in which the referee often seemed to be struggling to keep control, one tackle by Halifax’s Billy Middleton on Josh Taylor, which earned one of Halifax’s six bookings, sparking a brief all-parties flare-up. By then Taylor might have put Sutton ahead when his low shot on the turn came back off the foot of the post, and U’s also struck the woodwork when Kieron Cadogan ended a darting run with a powerful 25 yard shot which crashed back off the bar. Between those near misses, though, Halifax enjoyed a good five minute spell in which Jamie Butler had to turn round a Middleton free kick, and from the resulting corner both Tom Denton and Brown both had goalbound efforts blocked in the six yard box before Daniel Batty volleyed wide from close range.

U’s took the initiative, though, right at the end of a half that Halifax must have thought they would finish on the attack when they had a free kick. U’s cleared the danger, though, and instantly turned defence to attack. Kenny Davis played a superb crossfield pass that allowed Cadogan to run at the defence before laying the ball wide to Lafayette, whose thumping shot found the net off the inside of the near post.

Having had the boost of going in at the break a goal up, Sutton seemed to be in control in the second half and doubled their lead when more superb work by Davis on the left of the penalty area ended with a chipped cross which was met by Dean Beckwith, whose shot was blocked. Lafayette followed up to hit the bar, and Craig Dundas  finally forced the ball in to the net. Moments later a pacy and incisive run from Tom Bolarinwa was ended by the most cynical of hacks from Brown, who picked up an overdue card, but just as it seemed the momentum was unstoppably with U’s Denton headed in a Batty cross to give Halifax hope.

That hope seemed to have been extinguished with seventeen minutes left when Lafayette headed in a Davis free kick, and Bolarinwa was unlucky not to extend the lead further with a well struck volley that was saved by Sam Johnson. The game still couldn’t be put to bed, though, and Halifax had more hope when Louis John caught Josh MacDonald late after MacDonald had crossed from the by-line, conceding a penalty which Brown squandered by crashing his spot-kick against the bar, the rebound ending up safely in Butler’s hands. Two minutes later Halifax did score, Scott Garner firing in from close range after Denton had headed on Josh Clackstone’s long throw, but despite having to face a long throw and a corner in stoppage time U’s held on for the points they deserved, the closest to a goal actually coming at the other end when Lafayette controlled a cross from the right but was denied his hat-trick as Johnson saved what wasn’t the cleanest of volleys.

Halifax: S Johnson, J Clackstone, S McManus, J MacDonald, M Brown, S Garner, H Middleton(sub C Oliver H-T), N Hotte, T Denton, B Tomlinson(sub D Clarke 28), D Batty(sub A Morgan 71). Subs n/u C Moyo, T Nicholson. Booked: McManus, Middleton, Clarke, Brown, Garner, Oliver.