Sutton United (Coley 4, Beautyman 87) 2 Bradford City 1 (Cook 57)
Following two agonisingly close games that saw Sutton just fall short to late goals against Morecambe and Wrexham, a well-taken goal by Josh Coley in the opening stages of the game and a late goal by Harry Beautyman ended Sutton’s three-match winless run and, to the delight of the supporters, secured all three points and a first ever win against Bradford, who were hoping to record their fourth win in six games under caretaker manager Kevin McDonald.
There was one change for Sutton going into the game from their 2-1 defeat at Wrexham on Tuesday, with Coley coming into the team and Ryan Jackson reverting to the bench, although he would replaced Coley with twenty minutes left and make an equally significant contribution, while new signing Dominic Gape was included in his first matchday squad.
The first half couldn’t have started better for Sutton when Harry Smith helped on a Kizzi throw to the feet of O’Brien who slotted Josh Coley in behind the defence on the right, and he calmly converted past Harry Lewius to score his first competitve goal for the U’s. The home side continued to force Bradford to sit back, with their hunger and desire to fight for every ball outmatched the visitors, and a succession of dangerous crosses by the likes of Coley and O’Brien underlined that Matt Gray's side were on the front foot and looking for another goal. Omar Sowunmi came close to doubling Sutton’s lead when he headed a corner by N’Guessan narrowly wide of the right post. Coley carried on posing a threat for the U’s, drilling balls into dangerous areas, and latching onto a stray pass to drive wide and get a corner as his shot was diverted away inside the six yard box.
Despite having lots of possession, Bradford had yet to fashion a clear-cut chance, but the West Yorkshire outfit began to threaten towards the end of the half, with the visitors coming to life in added time. Sutton remained resilient to ride a series of threatening crosses as Kevin McDonald’s side looked to get back into the match. Substitute Ash Taylor, who had just replaced the injured Matty Platt, flicked on a header at the near post and it needed a fine intervention from Omar Sowunmi to prevent it reaching Andy Cook before the half concluded, with Sutton deservedly in the lead.
The Bantams started the second half with intent, and a shot from Alex Gilliead deflected off the face of Sowunmi and signalled the end of Sowunmi's contribution to the game, Louis John coming on as substitute. Sutton looked disciplined, but Bradford began to create more chances as a long throw from Ash Taylor found its way into the penalty area, Osadebe tried to connect, but it deflected off Joe Kizzi and over the bar for a corner. Despite defending so well for nearly 60 minutes, the U’s switched off, and Cook rose above everyone else to nod in Oduor's flag kick.
Bradford’s talismanic striker went close to a second when his superb volley from outside the box beat the on-looking Bouzanis and rattled the bar, and after Coley had an effort inside the box blocked, Cook, who looked lively and threatened to be the difference between the sides, went close once again with a diving header that missed the target after Osadebe drove into the box and delivered a cross into the deep.
Both teams were searching for the winner as a dangerous run from substitite Tope Fadahunsi was matched by some excellent defending by Brad Halliday, and Harry Smith had a low driven cross from the right intercepted before it could find the feet of Fadahunsi, while at the other end Ben Goodliffe hauled down Jamie Walker and picked up a yellow card, his fifth of the season that will keep him out of the game at Colchester in a fortnight. Smith was also booked for venting his frustration at the lack of sympathy he was getting from referee Oliver Langford.
Going into the final three minutes of the match before added time, it was set to be another good performance without the result to match for U’s. This was until Harry Beautyman rose majestically to send a superb header down in to the net from a fine Craig Clay cross after Jackson had done well on the right to set Clay up for the cross. With the fourth official indicating six minutes of added time, it was a tense finale, but Sutton were able to lose the game out and claim all three points, moving U’s level on points with Tranmere and three points behind Forest Green in 22nd.
Sutton: D Bouzanis, J Kizzi, R Milsom, O Sowunmi (sub L John 50), B Goodliffe, C Clay, J Coley(sub R Jackson 70), C N'Guessan, H Smith, H Beautyman, A O'Brien(sub T Fadahunsi 70). Subs n/u S Arnold, D Pereira, D Gape, O Patrick. Booked: Goodliffe, Smith
Bradford: H Lewis, B Halliday (sub D Oyegoke 79), L Ridehalgh, S Stubbs, M Platt(sub A Taylor 45+1), R Smallwood, J Walker, E Osadebe(sub T Smith 79) A Cook, C Oduor(sub B Pointon 66) A Gilliead. Subs n/u C Doyle, A Wilson, R Tulloch.
Referee: Oliver Langford
Attendance: 2,866(648 away)