Sutton moved in to the last sixteen of the Papa John's Trophy on Tuesday as Dean Bouzanis saved three penalties in the shootout needed after an undistinguished game had finished goalless.
With neither side having posed a consistent threat during the ninety minutes, Bouzanis proved the match winner as, with Stevenage twice one penalty from winning after Ricky Korboa and Isaac Oloafe had failed for U's, he saved from Eliiott List and Luther James-Wildin and then, after Ben Goodliffe had converted U's sixth penalty, Bouzanis plunged to his left to keep out Elliott Osborne's shot.
Bouzanis had only been on the pitch since the mid-point of the second half, Brad House succumbing to one of several injuries that were a factor in the disjointed nature of the game, and had made one fine save just before the end of the ninety minutes to prevent Stevenage winning in regulation time, but it was a game that looked destined for a goalless draw for long spells, the blustery wind, this time down the pitch towards the Collingwood end, for the second game in a row proving an impediment to the entertainment.
U's had the wind on their backs in the first half but were largely restricted to shots from outside the penalty area, Richie Bennett just wide with one and denied by goalkeeper Joseph Anang from another, with Anang also keeping out a low shot from Korboa, while U's also failed to make the most of three free kicks in promising positions, Davis and Bennett(twice) failing to hit the target. At the other end House parried away a low Jake Taylor shot, with Louis John reacting quickest to clear the rebound.
The start of the second half proved a sign of what was to come as an aerial collision between Ben Wyatt and Bradley Barry saw both players needing treatment and Wyatt unable to continue, but this time with the wind behind them it was Stevenage who had the greater threat but again, the shots were from distance and House saved from Arthur Read and Luke Norris. Donovan Wilson produced one run and shot across goal for U's, but it was otherwise a scrappy game punctuated by stoppages, House forced off with twenty minutes to go and, with only three opportunites to make the five substitutions permitted, Omar Bugiel brought on at the same time. Three minutes later John was also down injured and had to come off, U's also taking the chance to make a last change and introducing Olaofe, whose first action was to dispossess Terence Vancooten and inject some energy in to U's front line, and the changes meant that U's finished the game with Craig Eastmond at centre back, Jon Barden in midfield and Enzio Boldewijn making a welcome return at right back. It didn't stop Eastmond producing one surge forward, though, that might have taken him all the way until he was just about crowded out, while a late Milsom free kick to the far post was scrambled away.
Having made two changes just after the hour mark Stevenage made their last three with fifteen minutes to go, and they came closest to winning the game in normal time when one of the substitutes, List, broke down the right and crossed low for Norris, who was denied at the near post by a brilliant tackle from Goodliffe, and when James-Wildin swung the ball back in Bouzanis was alert to turn it over the bar.
Eastmond picked up a booking just before the end that will keep him out of the next round, but was the first to take a penalty in the shootout, setting a standard matched by Kenny Davis and Rob Milsom, as well as Norris, Jake Reeves and Jamie Reid for Stevenage, but from there things went downhill as Korboa sent his spot kick high over the bar and, after Bouzanis had saved from List, Olaofe put his penalty too close to Anang. Bouzanis came to the rescue again to deny James-Wildin, and after Goodliffe had returned the quality to that shown at the beginning, the keeper's third save from Osborne was enough to ensure U's hopes of a Wembley appearance remain alive in to 2022.
Sutton: B House, J Barden, B Wyatt(sub R Milsom 50), C Eastmond, B Goodliffe, L John (sub E Boldewijn 73), R Korboa, K Davis, R Bennett(sub O Bugiel 69), D Wilson(sub I Olaofe 73), W Randall. Subs n/u D Ajiboye, C Dundas. Booked: Eastmond.
Stevenage: J Anang, B Barry(sub L James-Wildin 75), M Melbourne, C Lines(sub J Reeves 75), R Marshall, T Vancooten, A Read(sub E List 75), J Taylor, L Norris, J Smith(sub E Osborne 63), J Daly(sub J Reid 63). Subs n/u B Andrade, A Smith. Booked: Lines, Vancooten, Marshall.
Referee: Sam Purkiss
Attendance: 770 (33 away)