Sutton head to the north east on Saturday to take on Hartlepool United, who claimed the other promotion place from the National League at the end of last season through the playoffs. Sutton will play in black.
Hartlepool go in to the game in good form, having won their last three games, most recently at home to second placed Tranmere on Tuesday evening. Those wins follow a run of seven games without a league win, and have moved them to within eight points of the play-offs, albeit still in the lower half of the table. They have been especially impressive at the Suit Direct Stadium, beaten just twice in fifteen games, with Forest Green and Newport the sides to have come away from the ground with three points and,like Sutton, they have reached the semi finals of the Papa John's Trophy where they will host Rotherham the night after Sutton's trip to Wigan.
Ben Goodliffe scored the only goal of the game when the sides met at Sutton in September, while for U's fans the memories remain of last season's 3-0 win that clinched the National League championship. Hartlepool's single goal win in their home game last season is their only victory in nine league meetings between the sides.
Sutton suffered a first defeat of 2022 on Tuesday at Bristol Rovers, affected by injury and illness, but are hopeful that one or two of those who were absent at the Memorial Stadium may be fit to return. U's remained fifth after that defeat.
In charge on Saturday is Andrew Kitchen, who is in his first season as an EFL referee and who refereed Sutton in the National League last season, most recently in the 4-0 win at Altrincham in April.
The team travelled up on Friday, and we have had no suggestion from Hartlepool that the game is threatened by Friday's stormy weather. The Supporters' Club coach is leaving the VBS at 6.30am, while train travellers are reminded that, even without the added problems caused by the weather, services are disrupted on the East Coast Main Line on Saturday, with the last direct train leaving King's Cross at 7.48, and journey times of over four hours on subsequent trains requiring two changes. The last available return train from Hartlepool is at 17.29, again requiring two changes. For drivers, the post code is TS24 8BZ, and the ground is just off the A689, which you can pick up from the A1(M) at junction 60. More detailed instructions are here.
Tickets can be bought on the day at the ground, prices are: Adults £21; Concessions (65+, Under 19, student and armed forces, ID required) £15; Under 16 £6; Under 5 free with paying adult. Our accommodation is in the Simpson Millar Stand, blocks D-F.
If you're not travelling, we will have an audio commentary through our iFollow service. Supporters without a valid monthly pass or a seasonal pass can buy a match pass for £2.50 here.