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Match Reports

U's battle to first point

14 August 2021

Match Reports

U's battle to first point

14 August 2021

Sutton produced a superb battling performance to pick up a first EFL point against one of the pre-season promotion favourites at the Peninsula Stadium

On the defensive for much of the second half, U's rearguard action restricted the home side to only the occasional clear cut chance and it was U's who could easily have taken all three points, Louis John hitting the bar with a header twenty minutes from time and then, in the first minute of injury time, Craig Eastmond going through but denied by a fine save from Tom King in the Salford goal.

U's made just one change from the side that faced Cardiff in the Carabao Cup on Tuesday, John returning in place of Coby Rowe, and he was a key figure alongside Ben Goodliffe in the Sutton back line, particularly in the second half as Salford enjoyed more of the ball, and possession, but were unable to find a way through and had to settle for a second home draw in the league.

Sutton started brightly and Donovan Wilson tested King early on, taking a shot early as he collected Omar Bugiel's through ball 25 yards out and forcing the keeper in to an untidy, sprawling stop. It was King who was the busier goalkeeper in the first half hour as he also had to collect a low shot from David Ajiboye, but in the closing stages of the half Salford began to pose a threat and Goodliffe had to block a goalbound shot from Jason Lowe.

The first save of note for Dean Bouzanis came three minutes before half time as he dived to punch away a shot from Josh Morris, who had been prominent for Salford in their midweek Carabao Cup tie at Derby, and it sparked a counter attack which saw the lively Ajiboye eventually and illegally stopped inside the Salford half by Ibou Touray, who was booked.

It was Salford who came closest to a first half goal in the last minute when Matthew Lund arrived to meet a Liam Shepherd cross with a volley that flashed just past the post with Bouzanis beaten, and early in the second half Brandon Thomas-Asante, who U's fans would remember from a loan spell three years ago which included a spectacular goal in the FA Trophy at Bromley, tried to repeat that feat but cleared the crossbar by some distance. 

That set the tone for much of the second period, and the home fans were frustrated when Conor McAleny, having done well to create space on the edge of the penalty area, then tried to put Ian Henderson through rather when he seemed well placed to have a shot himself. Thomas-Asante also saw an opportunity break down through a poor pass on the edge of the area, and the biggest scare for U's was when a low cross from Morris flashed across goal without a touch from anything except the tip of Bouzanis's fingers.

U's were also guilty of carelessness in possession when they had the chance to attack, but having worked so hard to keep their goal intact, they were nearly rewarded with twenty minutes left when Harry Beautyman's corner found John escaping his marker at the far post and he may be disappointed that he didn't do better than see his downward header bounce up and hit the bar before being scrambled away.

Salford continued to probe and Bouzanis showed great reactions to push away a dangerous cross from substitute Ash Hunter, although the offside flag against Henderson would have come to U's rescue anyway, and Lund headed just over from a Shepherd cross. 

Last week U's had conceded a late goal as the game entered stoppage time, and the comments about such occurrences evening themselves out was almost borne out within a week as a lovely flick by substitute Richie Bennett left Eastmond clear with just King to beat, but the keeper was up to the challenge with a fine save low to his right.

Salford's desperate last efforts saw substitute Tom Elliott, whose last appearance against U's been a scoring, but ultimately losing one for AFC Wimbledon in the FA Cup, booked for simulation after going over under Goodliffe's challenge, and Goodliffe blocked a header from the same player before referee Sam Barrott's final whistle signalled that U's were on the board.

Sutton: D Bouzanis, J Barden, R Milsom, C Eastmond, B Goodliffe, L John, D Ajiboye, K Davis(sub A Smith 88), O Bugiel(Sub R Bennett 77), H Beautyman, D Wilson(sub E Boldewijn 65). Subs n/u B House, C Rowe, J Kizzi, R Korboa. Booked: Davis

Salford: T King, L Shepherd, I Touray, J Lowe, A Eastham, J Turnbull, B Thomas-Asante(sub A Hunter 65), M Lund, I Henderson, C McAleny(sub T Elliott 77), J Morris. Subs n/u L Carroll-Burgess, T Golden, Z Jeacock, J Melhado, M Willock. Booked: Touray, Lowe.

Referee: Sam Barrott



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