Sutton remain unbeaten in 2022 after Tuesday's goalless draw with Salford, a game that will not live long in the memory of most spectators but one in which U's emerged with another clean sheet and a hard earned point.
U's best spell of the game was the first fifteen minutes, when Donovan Wilson and David Ajiboye might both have scored, and Wilson hit the post just before half time. Apart from one scare in the first half Dean Bouzanis had a relatively untroubled evening, but it was an increasingly scrappy game with the ball spending a lot of time in the air, and although substitute Isaac Olaofe went close with two minute to go a goalless draw seemed the likeliest outcome from some time before the final whistle.
The game did not have an auspicious start, referee Lee Swabey stopping the kick off on two occasions due to players being in the wrong half of the pitch and an ironic cheer greeting the successful third attempt, but the early stages saw U's on top and Wilson, starting up front alongside Omar Bugiel, sent an effort just wide after Bugiel's shot had deflected in to his path. Craig Eastmond, who had Jon Barden returning to the line-up alongside him in midfield, then seized on a poor clearance and gave Ajiboye a chance to run at the defence, and having created space on the outside his shot flashed in to the side netting. Ajiboye was away again soon afterwards, put through by Enzio Boldewijn, and this time his pull back from the by-line was again diverted in to the side netting, this time by Wilson's flick with the outside of his left foot.
Brandon Thomas-Asante, who had had a loan spell at Sutton three years ago, was Salford's liveliest attacker but on the one occasion he worked a shooting opportunity his effort lacked any power and dribbled through to Bouzanis. However he was almost gifted a chance when Bouzanis was sold slightly short by a Ben Goodliffe back pass and Thomas- Asante charged down the clearance. He was in the process of running the ball in to the empty net when the referee came to U's rescue by ruling that he had used his hand in the challenge on the keeper.
It was U's who came closest to a half time lead when, in stoppage time after Bugiel had received attention following a clash of heads, Wilson's one-two with Bouzanis saw him clear and he pushed the ball past the advancing Tom King, only to see it come back off the foot of the post.
Salford carried more of a threat with the wind behind them in the second half, often looking for recent signing Matt Smith to use his aerial strength, although Ben Goodliffe and Louis John both excelled in the heart of the U's defence and largely nullified the threat. It was Thomas-Asante who posed a bigger danger, and after one good run on the right his cross was cleared as far as Ryan Watson, who shot just wide from the edge of the penalty area. Watson saw another low shot deflected for a corner, and when a rare slip from John allowed Thomas-Asante the chance to break clear, the U's defender was forced in to a foul that earned him a yellow card.
U's lost Eastmond to injury with twenty minutes left, Rob Milsom moving in to midfield and Ben Wyatt on at left back, and struggled to make any great impact on the visiting defence in the second half, with two penalty appeals turned down as first John and then Joe Kizzi felt they were impeded at the far post as they tried to get on the end of free kicks. However with two minutes to go John nodded a Bouzanis free kick down in to the path of Olaofe, but King was off his line quickly to divert the striker's chipped attempt wide for a corner (above). Richie Bennett, on for the last couple of minutes, volleyed over from a Wyatt cross and at the other end Smith failed to keep a header down as both sides had to settle for a point.
Sutton: D Bouzanis, J Barden, R Milsom, J Kizzi, B Goodliffe, L John, D Ajiboye, C Eastmond(sub B Wyatt 72), O Bugiel(sub R Bennett 89), D Wilson(sub I Olaofe 73), E Boldewijn. Subs n/u W Randall, C Dundas, R Korboa, S Nelson. Booked: John, Milsom.
Salford: T King, J Lowe, J Turnbull, A Eastham(sub T Vassell 31), C Ndaba, S Kelly, R Watson, L Shepherd, M Smith, A Hunter(sub L Bolton 70), B Thomas-Asante(sub C McAleny 86), Subs n/u M Lund, T Golden, L Loughlan, J Torrance. Booked: Ndaba
Referee: Lee Swabey
Attendance: 2,491(58 away)