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Match Reports

Match report for Gillingham 1 Sutton United 0

29 December 2023

Match Reports

Match report for Gillingham 1 Sutton United 0

29 December 2023

Gillingham 1(Malone 72) Sutton United 0

Sutton's hopes of backing up the Boxing Day win at Wimbledon with more success on the road was undone at The Priestfield Stadium by a first half red card for striker Harry Smith, coming just as it looked as though U's had weathered a good start by Gillingham, and, after a determined defensive effort from U's ten men, a stunning volley by substitute Scott Malone eighteen minutes from time.

U's brought Rob Milsom, Craig Clay, Dion Pereira and Aiden O'Brien in to the starting line up in place of Sam Hart, Dominic Gape, Omari Patrick and Lee Angol, but were on the back foot in the early stages and a mistake by Joe Kizzi allowed Ashley Nadesan through on the right but Dean Bouzanis got a touch on his shot to send it beyond the far post. Oliver Hawkins headed just over from a left wing corner, and Ben Goodliffe was booked for the second of two heavy challenges on Jonny Williams, the first of which in just the third minute could also easily have brought a yellow card.

With Gillingham keen to end a record of three league games without a win or a goal, Williams saw a shot deflected wide soon afterwards, but Sutton survived the early pressure and after getting in front of his marker to meet a Pereira cross Smith failed to get sufficient contact with his header to direct it goalwards. However Smith was soon heading towards the dressing room after referee David Rock produced a red card for a challenge on home captain Max Ehmer.

U's immediately brought on Angol for the unlucky Pereira, and came close when Goodliffe met a Kizzi cross with a firm header that was clutched by Jake Turner above his head. If that was a routine save for the keeper there was little routine about the save Bouzanis produced moments later, a brilliant stop to his right to keep out a Hawkins header from Nadesan's cross. 

Just before half time Gillingham were forcd to replace Williams with Connor Mahoney, while at the break, as had happened at Wimbledon, Omar Sowunmi replaced Goodliffe who had been on a yellow card since the tenth minute, while Christian N'Guessan came on for Tope Fadahunsi. The first chance of the half fell to Angol, whose shot was blocked and looped harmlessly in to Turner's hands, but for most of the time U's were on the defensive. Hawkins just failed to meet a cross at the far post and Tom Nichols, one of three substitutes brought on just after the hour mark, headed wide when he should have done better, but apart from that, with crosses cleared and shots blocked, Bouzanis was relatively untroubled. However with eighteen minutes left a cross from Mahoney following a short corner was headed clear by N'Guessan when it might have been going through to Bouzanis, and as the ball dropped Malone, another brought on in that triple substitution, struck a first time volley that no one was blocking or saving as it flew just under the angle of post and bar to end Gillingham's 349 minute goal drought.

Sutton brought on Sam Hart as an attacking left winger and pushed Sowunmi in to the forward line in the closing stages in an effort to grab an equaliser, but apart from a Patrick shot that was dealt with relatively comfortably by Turner the home side had few other alarms as they held on for the three points that pushed them back in to the top half of the table, while U's only comfort was defeats for the sides around them in the League Two table.

Sutton: D Bouzanis, R Jackson, R Milsom, J Kizzi, B Goodliffe (sub O Sowunmi H-T), C Clay, T Fadahunsi(sub C N'Guessan H-T), A O'Brien (sub O Patrick 66), H Smith, H Beautyman (sub S Hart 77), D Pereira(sub L Angol 31). Sub n/u S Arnold. Booked: Goodliffe, Hart, Clay. Sent Off: Smith

Gillingham: J Turner, C Alexander (sub J Clarke 63), M Clark (sub S Malone 63), C Masterson, M Ehmer, S Ogie, E Coleman, J Williams(sub C Mahoney 45), O Hawkins, A Nadesan(sub T Nicholls 62), D Jeffries(sub G Lapslie 81). Subs n/u G Morris, M Bonne. Booked: Coleman

Referee: David Rock

Attendance: 6,334(309 away)

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