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Sutton almost through in Papa John's Trophy

12 October 2021

Sutton all but secured a place in the knockout stages of the Papa John's Trophy on another memorable night for the U's supporters as they saw their side outplay League One Portsmouth to record a second win thanks to second half goals from Isaac Olaofe and Louis John, and qualification will be confirmed unless Crystal Palace win at Wimbledon in two weeks time, with U's goal difference giving them a further advantage should it be needed.

As hinted before the game, manager Matt Gray made a number of changes from the side that had beaten Port Vale so thrillingly on Saturday, and while the back four remained largely unchanged, with Ben Wyatt replacing Rob Milsom being the only difference, of the rest of the outfield players only Ali Smith of Saturday's starting line-up was also in at the kick off here, with Harry Beautyman taking the captain's armband. Perhaps unsurprisingly given that U's attack included several players who haven't seen a lot of action recently there was a lack of real menace from U's going forward in the first half and in a sign of things to come the biggest threat to Portsmouth came from Louis John, who three times got his head to a set piece without troubling goalkeeper Alex Bass, and also strode forward after breaking up a Portsmouth attack before having a shot deflected for a corner.

That was still more than Portsmouth managed, though, with former Bromley winger Reeco Hackett's free kick in to the wall their only real sight of goal. They were forced in to two changes at the back, the first just before half time when Paul Downing limped off to be replaced by Kieron Freeman, and then at the interval with Shaun Williams replacing Haji Mnoga, who had also required treatment in the first half after a goalmouth scramble.

Little more than a minute of the second half had elapsed when Tobi Sho-Silva's snap shot was saved by a sprawling Bass, and within ten minutes U's had the lead when a free kick quickly taken by Beautyman found Ricky Korboa in space on the right, and his low cross was met by Olaofe, whose first shot hit Freeman but the second hit the back of the net.

The goal was Olaofe's last meaningful action as both he and Sho-Silva, having enjoyed a good hour, made way for Enzio Boldewijn and Richie Bennett but having responded to the goal by bringing on striker Ellis Harrison, Portsmouth found themselves playing with ten men when Harrison limped off again just ten minutes later, and within four minutes, as well as a player down, they were two goals down. Will Randall was fouled on the left and sent over a deep free kick which was headed back by Joe Kizzi and this time John made no  mistake, firing high in to the net.

U's made a third change, Beautyman replaced by Craig Eastmond, who was booked for a foul on Louis Thompson with eight minutes left, and Bennett might have added a gloss to the scoreline, firstly with a long range effort which caught Bass off his line but drifted just wide, and then a header from a Kizzi cross which he put over when he should have hit the target. Apart from a Hackett shot that went across the face of Sutton's goal Bouzanis had little to worry him as U's saw out another fine victory.


Sutton: D Bouzanis, J Kizzi, B Wyatt, C Rowe, A Smith, L John, R Korboa, I Olaofe(sub E Boldewijn 60), T Sho-Silva(sub R Bennett 65), H Beautyman(sub C Eastmond 74), W Randall. Subs n/u D Ajiboye, A Lovatt, H Palmer, R Milsom. Booked: Eastmond

Portsmouth: A Bass, P Downing(sub K Freeman 43), L Brown, L Thompsom, H Mnoga (sub S Williams H-T),S Raggett, M Romeo, M Jacobs, G Hirst, G Ahadme(sub E Harrison 56), R Hackett. Subs n/u R Tunnicliffe, I Kaba, H Hughes, T Steward. Booked: Jacobs

Referee: Lee Swabey

Attendance: 2,490 (198 away)

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