Rochdale 4 (Rodney 8,56, Brierley 25, Keohane 50) Sutton United 1 (Boldewijn 38)
Sutton's disappointing end to the season continued with a heavy defeat against a Rochdale side already relegated from the EFL but determined to sign off from their home campaign with a performance that would give their supporters enthusiasm for the challenges ahead in the National League. For all the credit that the home side deserved, though, it was a tired display from Sutton, for whom everything went wrong in the first half hour. Susceptible every time the ball was played through the middle of the defence, U's conceded twice and then saw Brad House, starting a Football League game for the first time, sent off. Although Enzio Boldewijn's well taken goal sent U's in at the break more optimistic than might have been the case, two goals in six minutes early in the second half put the game beyond reach.
House got his chance as U's tried to protect the toe injury that has troubled Jack Rose recently, while with Omar Bugiel and Matt Dennis both unwell Kylian Kouassi was given a start alongside Donovan Wilson, but the House dismissal denied Kouassi more than half an hour as he was sacrificed for the introduction of Rose.
U's had conceded twice by then and there could have been more. Devante Rodney opened the scoring after being set up by Ian Henderson, who had been put through by Liam Kelly's pass over the top. Rodney should have had another when he failed to connect with Kelly's chip to the far post, and D'Mani Miller shot just wide after a long clearance by goalkeeper Richard O'Donnell had again caused U's problems. When Rochdale did score a second it was from a Sutton corner as Joe Kizzi's header was scrambled away and Rodney made the most of a slip by Ali Smith to launch the counter attack that ended with Kelly crossing low and Ethan Brierley slotting past House.
It hadn't been a great start for House, blameless though he was for both goals, but it got worse four minutes later as another long ball from the back cause hesitation between Rob Milsom and his keeper, who collided with Sinclair on the edge of the penalty area. There was debate as to how easy it would have been for Sinclair to go on and score, but once referee Ben Toner had blown for the foul House was in trouble and the red card ended his, and moments later Kouassi's afternoon. Coming straight on to face the free kick, Rose deserved great praise for his save low to his right to keep out Owen Dodgson's low shot, and Sutton then sprung back with a fine team goal, Kizzi, Coby Rowe, Ben Goodliffe, Smith and David Ajiboye all involved before Boldewijn found Milsom on the left and continued his run to turn Milsom's cross neatly in to the net, his first goal of this season and his third for U's in the EFL, all of which have come against Rochdale.
The first half had finished in torrential rain but drier conditions welcomed the players as they came out for the second half, and Rochdale had soon regained any control they had lost. Jimmy Keohane climbed above Boldewijn to head in Dodgson's corner despite the combined efforts of Rose, Milsom and Harry Beautyman to keep the ball out, and six minutes later, a promising counter attack led by Boldewijn ended with a misplaced pass that was cut out before it could reach Wilson, who had battled in vain on his own up front since House's dismissal, and Rochdale broke again with Sinclair putting Rodney through to beat Rose as U's appealed for offside.
At that point U's seemed to be heading for a trouncing, but one fine interception in the six yard box from Goodliffe and some good blocks kept the score at four. Substitute Abraham Odoh scooped Rochdale's best chance over the bar, and an undistiguished appearance for Odoh also included a booking for diving over Rowe's challenge in such a way that it sparked heated exchanges which also saw U's substitute Sam Hart shown a yellow card, joining Smith and Beautyman in the book. Sutton kept battling to the end, but any moves of promise broke down before O'Donnell could be tested, Ajiboye dispossessed by Sam Graham when Smith's pass seemed to have given him U's best chance, and a sixth successive defeat never looked likely to be avoided, with U's hoping to end the run in front of the VBS Community Stadium crowd next Monday against Carlisle, who are all but assured of a play-off place.
Sutton: B House, J Kizzi, R Milsom, C Rowe, B Goodliffe, D Ajiboye(sub S Hart 85) E Boldewijn, A Smith, K Kouassi (sub J Rose 31), H Beautyman, D Wilson(sub L Angol 74). Subs n/u C Dundas, M Ridley, R Charles-Cook, L Gambin. Booked: Beautyman, Smith, Hart. Sent Off: House
Rochdale: R O'Donnell, J Keohane, O Dodgson(sub G Nevett 88), S Graham, E Brierley(sub J Ball 89), E Ebanks-Landell, L Kelly, T Sinclair(sub A Odoh 65) D'Mani Mellor, D Rodney, I Henderson(sub D Lloyd 82). Subs n/u J Eastwood, F Seriki, C John. Booked: Rodney, Odoh.
Referee: Ben Toner
Attendance: 3,148(112 away)