Sutton United 1 (Randall 38) Rochdale 0
There will be victories achieved with more stylish attacking football, but Sutton will have been delighted at a battling, gritty three points that ended a run of four league games without a win. It was an afternoon on which the defence took most of the plaudits, keeping a clean sheet in the face of increased Rochdale pressure as the game went on, and ensuring that Will Randall's goal direct from a corner seven minutes before half time would be the winner.
U's defensive qualities were needed early on as Rob Milsom's well judged tackle forced the ball back to Jack Rose as Ian Henderson threatened to break through, and Joe Kizzi blocked a Scott Quigley effort, but as the half went on Sutton looked more threatening, and came close to the lead when Randall met Enzio Boldewijn's cross with a downward header that was scrambled away by Richard O'Donnell down by his post, and when Randall hooked the rebound across goal O'Donnell held Kylian Kouassi's header under the crossbar.
Donovan Wilson twice got in behind the Rochdale defence but on the first occasion his shot was deflected across goal and the second time a block diverted the ball over the bar, but Randall's resulting inswinging corner drifted over everyone and went in off the far post.
The woodwork frustrated Sutton again early in the second half as Milsom diverted Wilson's deflected shot goalwards with his head, and saw the ball bounce back off the post, but for much of the rest of the half U's were forced on the defensive as they looked to hold on to the lead. There was one escape when Henderson was left unmarked to meet Ethan Brierley's cross with a diving header but put the ball wide of the post, and Rose was down well to save from Quigley and the lively Abraham Odoh.
U's did have chances, substitute Tope Fadahunsi's first touch a glancing header from a Craig Eastmond cross that went just wide, while Randall and Wilson both failed to get shots away in an attack when well placed, but the closing stages were a case of U's making sure Rochdale couldn't force an equaliser, with Louis John producing one superb block to divert a Henderson shot over the bar, and then stretching to reach a long cross from the left with a header that again frustrated Rochdale's record goalscorer. O'Donnell joined the attack for the resulting corner, but U's remained solid and were soon able to celebrate a hugely valuable win.
Sutton: J Rose, J Kizzi, R Milsom, A Lovatt, C Eastmond, L John, E Boldewijn, J Neufville, D Wilson(sub T Fadahunsi 78), K Kouassi, W Randall. Subs n/u L Ward, S Hart, T Ogundega, C Dundas, C Kendall, K Thomas.
Rochdale: R O'Donnell, J Keohane, C John, T Diagouraga(sub T Sinclair 87), S Graham, E Ebanks-Landell, E Brierley, J Ball(sub D Rodney 56), S Quigley, I Henderson, A Odoh. Subs n/u O Seriki, B Nelson, C Malley, J Scanlon, B Kelly.
Referee: Sam Allison
Attendance: 2,954 (241 away)