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Match Reports

Match report for Tranmere Rovers 1 Sutton United 0

2 March 2024

Match Reports

Match report for Tranmere Rovers 1 Sutton United 0

2 March 2024

Tranmere Rovers 1 (Apter 87) Sutton United 0

Sutton were once again on the wrong end of the scoreline in a tight game when Rob Apter's goal three minutes from the end of normal time gave Tranmere the points. U's had battled hard enough to deserve a draw, although failed to make the best of the chances that were created, while Steve Arnold's superb performance in goal, including saving a Connor Jennings penalty, also deserved reward but he was helpless when Apter's low shot from the edge of the penalty area came through several pairs of legs and found the far bottom corner of the net.

There was only one change from the side that had won at Notts County, Craig Clay starting in place of Stephen Duke-McKenna, and in a tight first half of few chances at either end Sutton had the ball in the net early on but Craig Eastmond was adjudged to have handled as he burst through before shooting past Tranmere goalkeeper Luke McGee, who then pushed out a low cross shot from Charlie Lakin, but Harry Smith's instinctive effort to turn in the rebound as the ball came to him quickly only found the side netting.

Tranmere's best chance came eight minutes before half time and provoked controversy as Arnold pushed away a shot from Apter and Harvey Saunders sent the rebound goalwards only for Joe Kizzi, on his 150th Sutton appearance, to block the shot on the goalline. There were loud appeals for handball, but referee Ruebyn Ricardo waved them away and awarded a corner after Ryan Jackson had diverted a second effort from Saunders in to the side netting. Saunders ended up in the referee's book, the third Tranmere player to be booked for protesting in the first half, Brad Walker and Jennings both booked for suggesting that Nino Adom-Malaki deserved more tan a booking following a clash with Tom Davies and a handball almost immediately afterwards.

U's had to make a change soon afterwards, Ben Goodliffe limping off to give Jack Taylor an EFL debut, his performance over the next fifty minutes suggesting there will be many more to come, and early in the second half a poor touch from Olly Sanderson wasted a good opportunity, allowing McGee to save.

Tranmere then enjoyed a spell of pressure in which they found Arnold in their way as he twice saved from the dangerous Apter and, after the rebound from the second save had found its way to Regan Hendry, dived to his left to turn that shot round the post. Two minutes later he was required again as, after a right wing corner was flicked on, Jackson and Saunders tangled at the far post and this time the referee granted Tranmere's penalty appeals. Jennings struck his spot kick low and straight, and Arnold's boot sent the ball spinning away for a corner, from which Jennings' glancing header was also saved by the U's keeper.

Sutton wasted a few promising openings by looking for an extra pass or touch, and when there was a sight of goal Josh Coley's header from a Jackson cross was too close to McGee. Charlie Lakin, Stephen Duke-McKenna and Coley were all off target with optimistic efforts from outside the penalty area, but when Arnold made another fine save, tipping over a Saunders shot after the striker had got in behind the Sutton defence, it seemed as though U's would be returning home with a point. However the persistent Apter had one more attempt to create something on the right, and this time he cut in and sent a low left foot shot through the crowded penalty area and inside the far post for the winner.

Sutton: S Arnold, R Jackson, N Adom-Malaki(sub D Moore 59), J Kizzi, B Goodliffe (sub J Taylor 39), S Hart (sub C N'Guessan 90+2), C Eastmond, C Clay (sub J Coley 60), H Smith, O Sanderson(sub S Duke-McKenna 60), C Lakin. Subs n/u D Bouzanis, J Williams. Booked: Adom-Malaki, Lakin, Coley

Tranmere: L McGee, L O'Connor, C Wood, B Walker (sub C Merrie 60), T Davies, J Turnbull, K Morris(sub L Norris 60), R Hendry, C Jennings, H Saunders (sub J Hawkes 85), R Apter. Subs n/u J Murphy, J Yarney, P Lewis, D Pike. Booked: Walker, Jennings, Saunders.

Referee: Ruebyn Ricardo

Attendance: 5,423 (146 away)

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