Sutton United
Macclesfield Town

Emmanuel 85, Wright 86

Wilson 2

15 August 2017
Vanarama National League
Alan Dale (Suffolk)
26 Jamie Butler
17 Dan Spence
3 Aswad Thomas
4 Dean Beckwith 7 John
15 Craig Eastmond
6 Jamie Collins
16 Nicky Bailey
8 Kenny Davis 65 Taylor
9 Ross Lafayette
14 Craig Dundas 69 Emmanuel
20 Tommy Wright
5 Louis John
11 Kieron Cadogan
19 Jeffrey Monakana
21 Moses Emmanuel
23 Josh Taylor

Sutton’s fine start to the Vanarama National League campaign continued in thrilling style as they recovered from the loss of a goal and a key player inside the first ten minutes, and an outstanding performance from visiting goalkeeper Billy O’Brien, to earn their reward with two goals in as many minutes that enabled them to climb to second place in the early National League table. It had seemed as though for all their attacking that U’s had blown themselves out with ten minutes to go, and that O’Brien’s heroics, which made him a prime candidate for Man of the Match despite the late turnaround, would combine with Scott Wilson’s superb second minute goal to send Macclesfield back to Cheshire with the points. Then Moses Emmanuel picked the perfect time to score his first goal for Sutton, and a minute later the excellent Tommy Wright, who along with Ross Lafayette led the Sutton claims to the star player rating, sparked delirium amongst the U’s fans in a crowd of only just under 2,000.

If Sutton went in to the game on a high after the win at Tranmere, the events of the first ten minutes brought them down to earth quickly. First Wilson struck an unstoppable volley from 25 yards that flew past Jamie Butler to give Macclesfield the lead, then Dean Beckwith went down in the centre circle and was immediately replaced by Louis John. Two minutes later and one of the stars of Prenton Park, Nicky Bailey, carelessly gave the ball away in midfield and had to pull Mitch Hancox back, earning what would be the night’s only booking, and U’s fans could have been forgiven for not viewing the next eighty minutes with great optimism. As Macclesfield continued to be the better side in the early stages, Wilson headed over from a left wing cross and Koby Arthur’s shot was saved by Butler.

It wasn’t until the 18th minute that U’s fashioned a chance, Lafayette’s knock down putting Wright in only for O’Brien to race off his line to smother the shot. The goalkeeper had only been drafted in to the starting line up in the pre-match warm-up after Shwan Jalal failed a fitness test, but after Craig Eastmond had sent a low 20 yard shot just wide O’Brien produced a brilliant save to keep out a Lafayette volley almost identical to that with which Wilson had scored, Craig Dundas put under pressure as he chased the rebound and able only to shoot over the bar. Dundas came close to his century of goals again just after the half hour when his shot was deflected wide, John heading over from the corner, and it was John who was next to suffer at O’Brien’s hands as Dan Spence’s cross fell to him ten yards out and his volley was kept out by O’Brien’s instinctive reactions.

As Sutton finished the half well on top Jamie Collins headed over from another corner, and while Macclesfield will have been delighted to reach half time in front they were soon given notice that the second half would be more of the same. Indeed John should have levelled just 36 seconds after the restart, volleying Bailey’s cross over the bar, and minutes later Lafayette met a Spence cross around the penalty spot with a volley which drew the save of the night from O’Brien as he pushed the ball on to the post. It seemed in vain as Kenny Davis dived to head in the rebound, but assistant Matt Morrison spotted an offside and after a brief chat with his assistant referee Alan Dale awarded the free kick.

He awarded Sutton a free kick of their own soon afterwards as Bailey was felled by a high boot right on the edge of the area, but U’s were less than amused as the ball ended up in the Macclesfield net, although any advantage from the referee in that case would have been an inspired one. The referee’s arm seemed to be up for an indirect free kick, which left any arguments about whether the foul was inside or outside the area irrelevant, but also allowed the defence to rush out the moment Davis took his foot off the ball, and Bailey’s shot was easily blocked.

It was a passage of play which epitomised U’s frustrations, and as they pushed forward they were vulnerable to an always lively visiting attack, Gime Toure firing just over after one break out. Emmanuel and Josh Taylor were sent on to freshen things up, but Sutton’s efforts were becoming more desperate, Spence slicing a shot wide from a good position, and without the dual aerial threat of Dundas and Lafayette it seemed as though Macclesfield had just about ridden out the storm. Then with five minutes left the changes were dramatically vindicated as Butler’s long free kick was knocked down by the persistent Lafayette, and Emmanuel reacted quickest to fire low past O’Brien, who this time could do nothing.

The goal gave U’s renewed impetus, and within a minute a rushed clearance by Keith Lowe conceded a throw-in, from which Spence’s cross carried beyond the far post to Wright, who threaded a first time shot through a crowded area and into the far corner of the net, clinching an ecstatically received victory that rewarded U’s persistence and refusal to accept defeat.

Macclesfield: B O’Brien, D Fitzpatrick, K Lowe, S Burgess, C Richards(sub D Whittaker 87), N Baba, K Kennedy,M Hancox, G Youre, S Wilson(sub T Marsh 65), K Arthur(sub R Lloyd 52). Subs n/u A Yates.