Sutton United 0 Crawley Town 0 (Sutton win 5-4 on penalties)
Sutton followed up their emphatic display against Walsall at the weekend by beating Crawley on penalties in the EFL Trophy . It was a tight affair, and there was nothing to separate the two sides after ninety goalless minutes, but Josh Coley provided Sutton with the win from the spot and secured the extra point for the U’s to to keep alive hopes of qualifying for the knockout stages, with next month's visit to Charlton Athletic now effectively a knockout game following their 4-2 win over Aston Villa.
Sutton welcomed Steve Arnold back in goal for the first time since the Carabao Cup tie with Cambridge United, and with U's making a number of changes to Saturday's squad there were two players on the substitutes' bench, Craig Dundas and academy striker Joden Trickett (below), separated in age by 26 years.
Arnold was in immediate action as U's suffered an early scare in the opening seconds of the game when a lofted ball in behind caught the home side off guard and found Klaidi Lolos, whose attempt to lob Arnold narrowly missed the post. Following their nervy start to proceedings, U’s gradually settled into the match, with the energy of Matt Gray’s forward players (DMani Mellor, Lee Angol, Hisham Kasimu, and Tope Fadahunsi) particularly evident in the first twenty minutes, Mellor twice impressed with some wonderful skill on the left flank to beat his marker and drive towards the Crawley goal to create some opportunities, and had one shot blocked.
Crawley began to fashion more chances as the first half went on, testing Arnold on a couple of occasions. Once again, a ball in behind caught Sutton flat-footed, Kamarai Simon-Swyer latched onto it on the left flank, drove into the penalty area from Arnold’s right and tried to side-foot the ball across the U’s keeper, however, he was denied by Arnold’s outstretched leg Not long after, Arnold was called into action again when Harry Forster also got in behind on the left, lifted the ball deep into the box, and Kellan Gordon, arriving late, caught his volley perfectly but it was matched by a superb one-handed save by Arnold at his near post.
The half time whistle concluded what was a relatively open affair, and it was Sutton who enjoyed a lively start to the second half and, not too dissimilar to Crawley's opening to the game. A long ball over the top eventually found the feet of Fadahunsi, who drove in a low shot that was safely gathered by Luca Ashby-Hammond to his left. Two minutes later, Crawley’s Rafiq Khaleel rattled the bar from distance after Angol had been dispossessed just inside his own half. Chances for both sides continued, as Kasimu latched onto a stray back pass to cut in from the right and shoot left-footed, but it found the clutches of Ashby Hammond, diving to his right. Lolos continued to threaten in the forward areas for Crawley, with a shot outside the area straight down the throat of Arnold and then another long-range effort dragged wide of the post.
Midway through the half, Crawley players screamed for handball after a shot came back off Beautyman, who was on the floor in the box, but referee Kirsty Dowle waved away the appeals. U's made changes as Coley and Christian N'Guessan replaced Mellor and Craig Clay, while Dundas made his 584th Sutton appearance in place of Kasimu, feeling the effects of an earlier knock. Despite Crawley pushing for the win, U's defended well and Fadahunsi had a chance in added time, but his effort on goal was blocked, so the game headed into penalties as neither side could find the breakthrough.
After Crawley won the toss for choice of ends, the spot kicks were at the Collingwood end in front of their supporters. The Red Devils took first and scored through Ade Adeyemo; N’Guessan then stepped up for the U’s and calmly converted, finding the bottom corner. Jack Roles for Crawley then made it 2-1, Lee Angol levelled for 2-2, Arnold came close to saving Aaron Henry's spot kick but it just squeezed under him, 3-2. Beautyman converted for 3-3; Will Wright for Crawley, brought on immediately before the shootout, made it 4-3 and Fadahunsi found the roof of the net for Sutton to level at 4-4. The perfect run was ended unluckily for Crawley as Forster seemed to lose his footing as he made contact with the ball and and sent it high over the bar, and with Sutton having the advantage Coley found the net for the winner to give U's a second win on the bounce at the VBS.
Sutton: S Arnold, R Jackson, R Milsom,(sub B Goodliffe H-T) O Sowunmi, J Kizzi, C Clay(sub C N'Guessan 75), D Mellor (sub J Coley 75), T Fadahunsi, L Angol, H Beautyman, H Kasimu (sub C Dundas 78) Subs n/u B House, J Trickett. Penalties: N'Guessan, Angol, Beautyman, Fadahunsi, Coley. Booked: Angol
Crawley: L Ashby-Hammond, K Gordon, T Omole, T Johnson, H Ransom(sub W Wright 90+3), J Mukena, R Khaleel (sub A Henry 75), K Lolos(sub A Adeyemo 61), K Simon-Swyer, H Forster, J Roles. Subs n/u C Addai, J Brown, N Tsaroulla, F Kastrati. Penalties: Adeyemo, Roles, Henry, Wright, Forster (missed - over the bar). Booked: Khaleel, Roles
Referee: Kirsty Dowle
Attendance: 928 (126 away)