National League Review 11th March 2017

While Lincoln City’s amazing FA Cup run was coming to an end at the Emirates, the chasing pack had a chance to make up some ground on the National League leaders who had stretched their lead to six points after a 4-0 win at Braintree Town last Tuesday. Forest Green Rovers started the day in second place but drop to third after a 2-1 defeat by Dagenham and Redbridge at Victoria Road. Scott Doe scored an 89th minute winner for the home side after Rovers’ Christian Doige had equalised Jordan Maguire-Drew’s 53rd minute opener. The Daggers move to within five points of Lincoln and replace Forest Green in second place. They also move above Tranmere Rovers who went down 2-1 at Barrow in midweek.

Gateshead continued their march up the table by overcoming Wexham at the Racecourse Ground to record their sixth victory in a row. After a goalless first half, strikes from Jordan Burrow and Danny Johnson secured the points for the Heed who move up to fifth and in to the play off places. Aldershot drop to seventh after their 11 match unbeaten run came to an end with a 1-0 defeat at Guiseley. Jordan Preston’s 54th minute effort made it three wins in three for the Yorkshiremen who are now six points clear of the relegation zone.     

Southport remain rooted to the foot of the table after fellow relegation strugglers Torquay United scored a last minute winner to secure a 2-1 win at Haig Avenue. Luke Young gave the visitors the lead in the 36th minute but Southport levelled just after half time when Jim Stevenson’s powerful strike went in off the post. It looked as though the Sandgrounders might hang on to claim only their second point in eight games but substitute Ruari Keating scored his first goal for the Gulls to move them out of the relegation zone on goal difference. 

York City staged the comeback of the day, scoring two late goals to earn a 2-2 draw at Sutton United. The Us took the lead through Nicky Bailey’s 30 yard strike in the 74th minute and when York defender Sean Newton scored an own goal with just three minutes of normal time remaining, it looked as though the visitors would be leaving Gander Green Lane empty handed. But York fought back superbly through substitutes Scott Fenwick and Jan Klukowski. Fenwick headed in Klukowski’s 89th minute corner and then Klukowski fired in a 20 yard free kick in the 5th minute of added time to rescue a point for the Minstermen who move up to 22nd place but are still five points from safety.

York climb above North Ferriby United who lost 3-0 away at Bromley. North Ferriby were left struggling after Taron Hare was sent off in the 18th minute after a bad challenge on Alan Dunne. The home side took advantage of this and took the lead just after half an hour when Bradly Goldberg headed in a cross after finding himself unmarked at a corner. The second goal came just 12 minutes from full time when another corner caused problems for North Ferriby. This time it was George Porter who stabbed the ball home after the visitors failed to clear their lines. The points were made safe three minutes into stoppage time when Jordan Wynter scored a long range effort from 25 yards to put Bromley 3-0 up. This result moves Bromley up to 11th and sees North Ferriby United move down to 23rd. 

Solihull Moors completed a great comeback to earn a draw at home to Braintree Town. The away side took the lead after just six minutes when Reece-Hall Johnson’s free kick floated past everyone and found its way into the back of the net. Braintree top scorer Micheal Cheek doubled the lead on 17 minutes after the ball was headed back across the box from a free kick and he slotted it home. Braintree then went 3-0 up after Joel Kettle gave away a penalty, bringing down Michael Cheek in the box. Cheek dusted himself off and converted the penalty after 23 minutes. The home side got a goal back three minutes later when Simeon Maye headed in a free kick to reduce the deficit to just two goals. After the break, Solihull got back into the game and with 11 minutes to go Dapo Afolayan drove into the box and fired a powerful left footed effort past Ben McNamara to make it 3-2. The equalizer came with four minutes to go when George Carline headed home Ashley Sammons’ free kick to complete the comeback earn a point for the home side. This point moves Solihull Moors down to 15th while Braintree Town remain in 18th. 

Eastleigh secured their first win of 2017 when they won 2-0 against Barrow. Sam Togwell gave the home side the lead when he fired a half volley past Jonathan Flat into the net after 20 minutes. The second goal of the game came when Matt Tubbs, making his first appearance since re-joining the club from Sutton, pounced to score a rebound after Barrow keeper Flatt failed to keep hold of the ball. This result sees Eastleigh move up to 13th in the table and Barrow remain 8th. 

Woking and Boreham Wood played out a 0-0 draw at the Kingfield stadium. The opening 45 minutes saw few chances but the visitors came closest to breaking the deadlock when Kenny Davis hit the bar with a header just before the break. In the second half both teams created good chances but neither side could break the deadlock. This point means that Woking move down to 21st in the table meanwhile Boreham Wood drop to 14th.

The first FA Trophy semi final is all square after the opening leg, with Macclesfield Town coming from behind to earn a 1-1 draw at home to Tranmere Rovers. Lincoln City travel to York for the first leg of the other semi final on Tuesday and both second legs will be played on Saturday.

“Twelve times FA Cup winners Arsenal kicked off the 5th round tie, but it was Sutton who began more brightly”

The away dug out at Gander Green Lane

By Remy Sylvester and Ben Eltham

Twelve times FA Cup winners Arsenal kicked off the fifth round tie, but it was Sutton who began more brightly, with confidence in their play and a determination in their tackle. Arsenal looked to move the ball quickly on the well-watered 3G surface but lacked quality in the final third, Mohamed Elneny summing up their first fifteen minutes with a shot high and wide from the edge of the box.

Sutton had their chances too, winning the ball in midfield and using Roarie Deacon as a dangerous threat wide on the right-hand side. The ball flashed across the Arsenal box on more than one occasion in the first twenty minutes, but fortunately for those in red, there was no-one to put the ball into the back of the net. The first Arsenal corner of the game, gave Roarie Deacon his first chance to run at the arsenal back line. A composed run and turn on the edge of the box, wasn’t matched by the shot, sailing high and wide of the Arsenal goal.

Just when Sutton looked to have control of the game, the premier league side struck.  A run down the Arsenal right hand side by Xhaka, saw the ball crossed in for Lucas Perez to get the faintest of touches and take the ball past Ross Warner in the Sutton goal.

A thunderous tackle by Jamie Collins on Alex Iwobi, left the Arsenal player in a heap on the floor, but thankfully for the Sutton skipper, he took the whole of the ball as well. Pockets of space left by Arsenal’s ever advancing full-backs, gave the Sutton players room to break, and just like against Leeds United in the last round, Roarie Deacon looked the most likely to take advantage.

A Sutton free-kick lead to a dangerous break for Arsenal, with Theo Walcott showing his pace down the Arsenal right hand side. Sutton did just about enough to deflect the shot for a corner to the visitors, which eventually came to nothing.

What should have been a standard clearance for David Ospina, saw him play the ball straight to Adam May, who fired his shot just wide. Sutton were pressing high, and looking to take advantage of any mistake by those in red and white. Michael Oliver blew the whistle on an entertaining first-half, where Sutton could count themselves unlucky to be behind.

Arsenal started the second half by controlling the game the way you would expect of a team four divisions senior. Slowing the pace and taking more care in possession, Sutton were finding it harder to get out of their own half, and were winning less of the second balls, that had proven so fruitful in the first half.  Seemingly from nowhere, Bedsente Gomis then made a run into the Arsenal box, and with a drop of the shoulder and turn managed to find the space to fire a shot, that was blocked by a mele’ of Arsenal bodies.

Continued Arsenal pressure and great play from Nacho Monreal on the left hand side, saw him play the ball across the box and into the path of the on-coming Theo Walcott, who tapped home for Arsenal’s second. But Sutton’s evening was by no means over, and the influential Roarie Deacon once again drove at the Arsenal back line, this time with some ‘Ronaldo like’ step overs to beat his man and drive the ball high across the six yard box, forcing Nacho Monreal to put the ball out for a corner. A well delivered corner found the head of Jamie Collins, who powered the ball towards the Arsenal goal, but he couldn’t keep it down, and it blazed over the bar.

With just over an hour gone, Deacon picked up the ball again and nonchalantly fired a shot from all of twenty-five yards, that had Ospina beaten, and clattered against the post and back across the penalty spot. Sutton continued to chase and hurry the premier league side, and worked the ball well to create that all elusive chance, but they couldn’t find a way to work Ospina in the Arsenal goal. As the final ten minutes approached, there were signs that the those in yellow were beginning to tire, as Arsenal effortlessly found more space in the Sutton half. Sanchez added a different threat to the Arsenal attack, and their were moments of class from the striker that the gunners fans so desperately want to keep in the summer.

The last moments of the game saw Arsenal another couple of half chances, as both Theo Walcott and Alexis Sanchez went close, but the game finished 2-0, and it’s Arsenal who will face Lincoln City in the next round. Sutton United and their fans can be proud of a valiant effort against one of the best teams in the world, and on another day, it could have been very different.

FT: Sutton United 0-2 Arsenal


Paul Doswell’s full post-match press conference.



1-on-1 with Sutton United Chairman, Dave Farebrother

Sutton United secured their first ever appearance in the last 16 of the FA Cup when they beat Leeds United 1-0 in the fourth round in January. Our reporter Will Stubley interviewed Sutton chairman Dave Farebrother ahead of the biggest game in the club’s history – a home tie against Arsenal (Monday 20th February).

WS: As we speak, Lincoln City have just beaten Burnley to become the first non-league side to reach the FA Cup quarter finals in over a century. Can Sutton join them by beating Arsenal on Monday?

DF: Clearly it’s going to be very difficult for us. Arsenal have a very strong squad and their side will be full of internationals even if they put out a reserve team against us.  

WS: Going back to the day of the draw, where were you when Sutton and Arsenal came out of the hat together?

DF: I’d just got back home from work and I watched it on the television.

WS: How did you and the players react when you saw that you had drawn Arsenal?

DF: I was stunned really; firstly that we were in the fifth round and secondly that we’d got Arsenal! And then my computer suddenly started flickering with e-mails and it hasn’t stopped since. The players were very excited too. Some of them have played for Arsenal in the past including one [Craig Eastmond] who has played for them in the Champions’ League. This game gives them a chance to show what they can do, playing in front of a big crowd and on live television against some of the best players in the country.

WS: Did you ever think about changing venues for this tie?

DF: The FA don’t allow it so it’s not something you can do. We wouldn’t have done it anyway.

WS: If you could force a replay at the Emirates, how would that affect the club?

DF: It would be a magnificent result for the club. If we could get a draw, we would be absolutely over the moon! The chance to go to a ground such as the Emirates is the kind of thing you hope for every year when the FA Cup comes along.

WS: You were promoted to the National League at the end of last season. What are your ambitions for the club?

DF: For this season, we need to get enough points from our remaining games to stay in the National League. Then we need to consolidate our position in that league and we’re going to use the money from this cup run to make improvements to the ground – and to make the match-day experience better for the players. We also want to reduce the impact that we have on our neighbours by increasing the parking and reducing the traffic on the roads. If that happens, hopefully more people will come and watch us and that will give us more chance of staying in the National League. Even at this level, it’s all about money.

WS: Do you think you will be able to turn the club professional?

DF: I’d say that we are already professional in lots of ways but to turn the club fully professional is a big step up. To provide players with enough money to play football when they have another job is one thing, to provide them with enough money to make it a career would mean a considerable step up in wages and we that’s not something we could do with the crowds we are getting at the moment.

WS: If you could get past Arsenal on Monday, who would you want in the next round?

DF: I don’t think it matters. The players would probably want to go away to the biggest club left in the competition, whether that’s Manchester United or Manchester City or whoever. Personally, I’d want us to get the tie that gives us the best chance of creating history and getting to an FA Cup semi-final at Wembley.

WS: Claudio Ranieri famously treated his Leicester players to pizza when they won the Premier League last season. Do you have anything special lined up for your players as a reward for this great cup run?

DF: Well, he’s Italian and we’re from south London so we might get them fish and chips! Of course we will do something for them, I’m sure. There will be some sort of party but we won’t let it distract them from the league campaign.

WS: Turning to your league campaign, you have only won one game in the National League in 2017. Are you worried that the FA Cup run has affected your league form?  

DF: I suppose it has a little bit but if you look at our form, we have been winning our home games without too much of a problem and we haven’t had many home games this year because of the cup run. Away from home, it’s just been a continuation of the form we’ve been showing all season – we play really well and we lose! Our game at Guiseley on Tuesday night was a good example. I couldn’t be at the game because of work but people were telling me that it was all Sutton – one way traffic – but in the last minute of injury time the home team scored the winner and it’s been like that all season. The game at Wrexham earlier in the season was the same. We dominated the game but they scored with their only shot of the game and we lost 1-0. Ironically our best away result this season was at Lincoln where we played them off the pitch and won 3-1. Some people say it’s because of the 3G pitch but I don’t think it’s that. Perhaps we attack too much way from home. I think we need to adapt to playing in this league by being a bit more defensive away from home and hitting teams on the break.

WS: I covered your game against Eastleigh for Back of the Net last month. Ross Stearn was playing his first game back at Gander Green Lane since his transfer from Sutton to Eastleigh last year. Did he have anything to say to the players?

DF: Ross was very popular here and I’m sure he said hello to the players. He’s also gone on his twitter page wishing us good luck in the FA Cup.




Everything You Need To Know… FA Cup Fourth Round: Sutton United vs Leeds United

Separated by 84 league positions, can the U’s cause more cupset? By Remy Sylvester.

Sutton United, occupants of Gander Green Lane currently sit 15th in the Vanarama National League, just two points off 14th place Bromley and three points short of 13th placed Wrexham, who have played two more league games. Having only gained promotion this season, the U’s have dug their heels into the league, as well as FA competitions. Earlier this week they progressed in the FA Trophy, making the final 16, after beating Worthing 3-2 AET following two 2-2 draws. Sutton will face Boreham Wood in the next round (Saturday 4th February).

So far in the FA Cup Sutton United have knocked out Forest Green Rovers (2-1), Dartford (6-3), Cheltenham Town (2-1), and most recently AFC Wimbledon (1-3).

Visitors Leeds United are currently storming the Championship under Garry Monk, who was appointed manager of the club in June 2016. On Wednesday night, Leeds played Nottingham Forest at Elland Road, where goals from Wood and Doukara secured another three points. In their recent run of form, they have won eight of their last ten fixtures across all competitions, placing them third in the league, and contenders for play-off promotion to the top flight.

The Whites had a good run in the English Football League Cup, defeating Norwich, Blackburn Rovers, Luton Town and Fleetwood Town, however were knocked out in the fifth round by Liverpool at Anfield (2-0).

Leeds entered the FA Cup in the Third Round and defeated League Two Cambridge United (1-2).


        Leeds United fielded 11 internationals at Gander Green Lane in a 1970 FA Cup Fourth Round tie, and won 6-0. Following the encounter, Leeds manager Don Revie was so impressed by Sutton central defender, John Faulkner, that he signed him as cover for Jack Charlton.

        Leeds United have won three First Division league titles, one FA Cup and one League Cup. It was in 1972 Leeds lifted the FA Cup trophy after defeating Arsenal 1-0, thanks to Clarke’s goal in the fifty-third minute.

        One of the most famous giant killings of the FA Cup was in 1989 when Sutton United defeated Coventry City 2-1 at Gander Green Lane. At the time Coventry City were in the highest tier of English football.