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Match Reports

Match report for Port Vale 2 Sutton United 1

26 September 2023

Match Reports

Match report for Port Vale 2 Sutton United 1

26 September 2023

Port Vale 2(Thomas 49, Ojo 83) Sutton United 1 (Kasimu 70)

Sutton's best ever run in the Carabao Cup ended at Vale Park, but there was still great credit for U's in a performance that made a side currently fourth in League One battle all the way for their victory which was only secured seven minutes from time by a fine goal from substitute Funso Ojo. One of Sutton's own replacements, Hisham Kasimu, had come off the bench to score for the second Tuesday in a row and cancel out Josh Thomas's opener for Port Vale, and there would have been no injustice had U's at least then had the opportunity to take their chance in a penalty shootout but Ojo's goal, like Thomas's the result of a swift counter attack after a Sutton move had broken down, saw the League One side through to the last sixteen for the first time in seventeen years.

Both sides made changes to their line-ups, with Port Vale's starting eleven containing only two who had played in Saturday's draw at Cambridge, while Craig Eastmond returned to the Sutton starting line-up, with Ben Goodliffe also recalled in a back four that saw Joe Kizzi playing at left back, and at the end of the first half U's will have felt much the happier despite having little more than a quarter of the possession. After Rhys Walters, the only member of the Port Vale side not to have played in League One this season, had sent in an early low shot that was comfortably saved by Jack Rose, the home side struggled to create anything of note, playing all their football in front of the Sutton defence but unable to find any sort of cutting edge. 

The chances that did come fell to Sutton, and there will have been disappointment that goalkeeper Connor Ripley was not forced in to more action as Dion Pereira sent a shot wide from a decent position after being put through by a superb pass from Omari Patrick, and then Harry Beautyman, set up by a delightful lay off from Lee Angol, shot over from the edge of the penalty area when he was under little pressure. Before the break Pereira had another chance, this time put in by Christian N'Guessan, but a slightly heavy first touch allowed Ripley to come off his line to save. 

Port Vale's efforts as the half progressed were summed up by a wild shot from Tom Sang just before half time after a misplaced pass by Eastmond had allowed Vale to break with Kizzi, the intended recipient, out of position, but early in the second half the home side made another swift break count following a Sutton corner that was cleared as far as Eastmond, who looked as though he may have received a nudge but not sufficient to persuade referee Will Finnie to stop play as Walters won possession to send Thomas through. The diminutive striker had had little joy before the break, but now allowed to run with the ball at his feet and the U's defence stranded upfield he made the most of it, staying ahead of Ryan Jackson and arrowing a shot across Rose and inside the far post.

Sutton's response was to replace Eastmond and Angol, the latter having played since the sixth minute with a yellow card, with Kasimu and Aiden O'Brien, and then to put the home defence under real pressure. Patrick saw a shot deflected just wide with Ripley completely wrongfooted, and in a scramble from a corner both Kizzi and Goodliffe had shots scrambled away before O'Brien's close range effort came down off the underside of the bar and was cleared, U's protesting in vain that the ball had crossed the line. The equaliser that U's deserved came with twenty minutes left as Rose launched a clearance downfield and, despite giving Kofi Balmer a five yard start, Kasimu got to the ball before the defender, proved stronger in the resulting tussle, and finished stylishly past Ripley.

At that stage Sutton seemed the likelier winners, but instead it was Port Vale who reacted the better and immediately went close to regaining the lead as Rose saved brilliantly with his feet when Alfie Devine turned Conor Grant's shot goalwards. Devine then set Sang up for a shot that may well have been heading for the top corner until it was blocked, but the decisive goal came with seven minutes to go when Sutton were again caught after an attack had broken down, Devine this time breaking down the left before finding Ojo, who had only been on the pitch for two minutes and curled his shot beyond Rose in to the corner of the net from twenty yards.

U's battled for an equaliser but were unable to create that one chance needed, and in stoppage time James Wilson, one of the substitutes brought on as Vale tried to wrest back control after Sutton's equaliser, might have given the scoreline an even harsher look for U's when he shot over when well placed.

Sutton: J Rose, R Jackson, J Kizzi, O Sowunmi, B Goodliffe(sub S Hart 88), C Eastmond(sub A O'Brien 55), D Pereira (sub J Coley 69), C N'Guessan, L Angol (sub H Kasimu 55), H Beautyman, O Patrick. Subs n/u D Bouzanis, C Dundas, T Fadahunsi. Booked: Angol, Kizzi, Goodliffe, O'Brien.

Port Vale: C Ripley, L Cass, D Jones (sub J Debrah 69), T Sang(sub E Chislett 76), K Balmer(sub F Ojo 81), J Lowe, R Walters (sub J Plant 81), G Massey, J Thomas(sub J Wilson 76), C Grant, A Devine. Subs n/u J Leutwiler, N Smith, M Clark, B Garrity. Booked: Chislett.

Referee: Will Finnie

Attendance: 4,113 (70 away)

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