Sutton United 0 Mansfield Town 2 (Quinn 25, Akins 75)
Sutton's first game since the departure of Matt Gray as manager ended in defeat as a goal in each half saw Mansfield keep up their promotion challenge and keep U's rooted to the foot of the League Two table, nine points adrift of 22nd placed Colchester. After dominating the early exchanges Mansfield went ahead just after the midpoint of the first half, and although Sutton had moments when an equaliser might have come, a second goal fifteen minutes from time eased the visitors to victory and the three points needed to keep within touch of the top three, who all won this weekend.
With Omar Sowunmi, Ben Goodliffe and Louis John all unfit, Sutton paired Joe Kizzi and Sam Hart at centre back,with Rob Milsom at left back making his 200th Sutton appearance. There was plenty of action for them early on as Mansfield had much of the possession in the early stages, but apart from a wild shot from Jordan Bowery there was little immediate threat to the Sutton goal as U's cleared most of what came in to the penalty area. The defence was breached, though, in the 25th minute when Ollie Clarke sent Callum Johnson, who had needed little encouragement to get forward, down the right and his cross evaded the diving Dean Bouzanis and was headed in from a narrow angle at the far post by Stephen Quinn.
Davis Keillor-Dunn almost added a second six minutes later when he drifted in from the right and hit a twenty yard shot that clipped the top of the crossbar, but having no more than Quinn's goal to show for their general dominance, Mansfield could have gone in at half time level when just before the interval Milsom's free kick was headed across goal by Kizzi, and Harry Smith's close range header was superbly tipped on to the bar and over.
It was a crucial moment, because although U's would barely have deserved to go in level it would have been a huge boost to confidence. A double change at half time, with Josh Coley and Christian N'Guessan replaced by Dion Pereira and Aiden O'Brien, saw U's continue the improvement and after Pereira had seen a shot blocked, Clay returned a fine cross in from the right and Smith, having got in front of his marker, will have been disappointed not to have kept his volley down. At the other end Keillor-Dunn kept looking to add to his tally for the season, curling a shot wide from twenty yards and then trying his luck with two free kicks, the first wide after Hart had been booked for fouling Lucas Akins just outside the penalty area and the second punched away by Bouzanis.
Pereira did cause Mansfield some concern with a volley which landed on top of the net, but the visitors' worries were soon settled as Bowery muscled Pereira off the ball in midfield, and George Maris put Akins through to hammer a left foot shot in off the underside of the bar and make the points safe.
Sutton: D Bouzanis, R Jackson, R Milsom(sub T Fadahunsi 78), J Kizzi, S Hart, C Clay(sub L Angol 78), J Coley (sub D Pereira H-T),C N'Guessan(sub A O'Brien H-T), H Smith, H Beautyman, O Patrick. Subs n/u S Arnold, D Gape. Booked: Hart
Mansfield: C Pym, C Johnson(sub W Swan 88), S Quinn (sub S McLaughlin 70), L Brunt, A Flint, B Cargill, L Akins(sub R Oates 77), O Clarke (sub G Williams 88), J Bowery, G Maris, D Keillor-Dunn(sub L Reed 70) Subs n/u C MacDonald, S Flinders. Booked: Clarke
Referee: A Chilowicz
Attendance: 2,762(442 away)