Sutton United 2 (Neufville 44, Fadahunsi 82) Mansfield Town 1 (Hawkins 75)
Tope Fadahunsi came off the bench to score the winner for the second game in a row as Sutton recovered from conceding a 75th minute equaliser to record a third victory over Mansfield in three meetings. Brought on with ten minutes to go, Fadahunsi was on the scoresheet within two minutes as he headed in after Kylian Kouassi, who had been introduced at the same time, had nodded on a Will Randall free kick.
It was a deserved win for U's, who had enjoyed the better of the first half and led thanks to a brilliant individual effort from Josh Neufville just before the interval, but having defended a number of set pieces with few problems, U's allowed Oliver Hawkins a simple header from a free kick and for five minutes Mansfield looked capable of going on to turn the game completely, but the triple substitution with ten minutes left, which also saw Enzio Boldewijn replace Neufville, was rewarded as Kouassi and Fadahunsi combined to good effect, and U's could have won by more had Will Randall not pulled a shot wide when clear a minute later.
Randall was restored to an otherwise unchanged starting line-up and was soon showing the form that had made it such a blow for U's when he was injured in the season opener against Newport. After five minutes he combined well with Harry Beautyman, whose pass released Donovan Wilson on the left to fire in a low shot that rebounded off goalkeeper Christy Pym's legs to safety.
Without the injured Rhys Oates, Mansfield had Hawkins up front supported by Will Swan, and they combined to produce Mansfield's most dangerous moment as Swan ran on to a return pass from Hawkins and was pulled back by Coby Rowe just outside the penalty area, the centre back taking the first of the afternoon's five bookings and happy to see Stephen McLaughlin's free kick sail harmlessly over.
Craig Eastmond produced a fine surging run that was ended in the penalty area before he could get his shot away, and it seemed as though an enterprising first half performance from U's would go unrewarded until Joe Kizzi intercepted John-Joe O'Toole's crossfield pass and Eastmond found Neufville inside the centre circle just inside the Mansfield half. A surge of pace took him between two defenders and past two more, and he produced a finish to match, shooting low to Pym's right and staking the first claim to this season's goal of the season.
Mansfield were more of a threat in the second half, and a succession of set pieces required U's to be strong at the back, Eastmond and Louis John dominant in the air. McLaughlin fizzed a low cross shot just wide of the far post, and one wicked corner from Anthony Hartigan flashed across goal, Hawkins unable to control his header at the far post and the ball landing on the roof of the net.
For all Mansfield's increased pressure Jack Rose was relatively untested in the Sutton goal, but with fifteen minutes left the equaliser came after Beautyman was penalised for a foul on Hawkins. There was a delay while Mansfield, who had already had to replace O'Toole and Riley Harbottle, made their three remaining changes, and when play restarted McLaughlin's free kick was headed in simply and powerfully by Hawkins.
For five minutes after the goal Mansfield pushed forward and it seemed as though U's would need to hold out for a draw, but the replacement of Sutton's front two saw U's regain the initiative and yet again Fadahunsi's impact was immediate. It was his pressure that forced Elliott Hewitt in to a handball on the Sutton left, and when Kouassi's header from Randall's free kick looped in to the air it was Fadahunsi who reacted quickest to direct his header down past Pym and inside the far post.
Randall should have rounded off his fine performance with a goal a minute later when he was put clear by Boldewijn's pass, but although his shot beat the advancing Pym it also went wide of the post. It was Randall's last touch as he was replaced by Ali Smith, and his ovation as he came off matched that afforded to Neufville, reflecting how well both wingers had played, but it wasn't to prove a costly miss as U's held on for a fine victory.
After the game manager Matt Gray confirmed that Roman Charles-Cook, Adam Lovatt and Matt Ridley have been loaned out for three months to Cray Wanderers, Dartford and Chesham United respectively and discusses the moves, and that of Tobi Ogundega to Kingstonian which is also on loan, in his post match interview.
Sutton: J Rose, J Kizzi, R Milsom, C Rowe, C Eastmond, L John, J Neufville (sub E Boldewijn 80), D Wilson(sub T Fadahunsi 80), K Thomas(sub K Kouassi 80), H Beautyman, W Randall(sub A Smith 83). Subs n/u J Barden, B House, L Gambin. Booked: Rowe, Kizzi, Thomas.
Mansfield: C Pym, J-J O'Toole(sub K Wallace 65), S McLaughlin, J Perch, A Hartigan(sub G Maris 74), R Harbottle(sub E Hewitt 58), L Akins(sub K Gordon 75), G Lapslie, O Hawkins, W Swan, S Quinn(sub H Boateng 75). Subs n/u O Clarke, S Flinders. Booked: O'Toole, Quinn.
Referee: Lee Swabey
Attendance: 2,664(372 away)