Oxford City 0 1 Sutton United
It wasn’t a game that will live long in the memory in terms of quality, but that mattered little to Sutton’s supporters who contributed to Oxford City’s biggest league crowd of the season and enjoyed an afternoon of celebration as U’s finished the season with a seventh consecutive victory and a fifth consecutive clean sheet.
On a bone dry and dusty surface that made control difficult, U’s led early through Tom Bolarinwa and were then able to defend their position reasonably comfortably, with Denzel Gerrar, given an outing as Ross Worner spent the afternoon on the substitutes’ bench, given little chance to show what he is capable of as Oxford, play-off contenders for much of the season, limped over the finishing line without a win in their last eight games.
With little riding on the game except the desire to extend U’s long unbeaten run, manager Paul Doswell opted also to leave out Craig Eastmond, for whom a booking would have caused him to miss the first three games of next season. Shaun Cooper made the most of a rare start, and U’s began the game brightly, with Jamie Collins, playing at left back, seeing a header from a free kick saved by Laurie Walker. There was a threat soon afterwards from Bradley Bubb, who has a good record against Sutton and looked for a moment as though he might extend that with a fine individual run only for Louis John to produce a superb challenge just as Bubb was about to shoot, but U’s then took the lead. Home skipper Jose Lapoujade played a lazy pass out of defence that was seized on by Dan Wishart, and was made to pay as Wishart, Dan Fitchett and Bedsente Gomis fashioned a swift move from left to right which ended with Tom Bolarinwa firing a shot past Walker.
Fitchett was lively throughout and twice might have added to the lead, one shot being diverted for a corner after the ball had fallen for him following a free kick, and Walker off his line quickly to deny the striker after a mistake by Reece Fleet, but clear chances were at a premium as both sides struggled to control the ball at times on the dry surface.
Any opportunities that came after half time were mainly from distance, with Fitchett volleying over the bar and substitute Craig Dundas just too high with a venomous long range shot while Wishart, who had earlier fired in a cross that just eluded Fitchett, thumped a free kick narrowly over with the last kick of the game. Apart from having to claim a difficult cross under pressure, and fly-hacking the ball away after coming to the edge of the penalty area to challenge Connor McDonagh, Gerrar had little to do at the other end as the second half passed to an accompaniment of celebratory songs and a conga as U’s fans enjoyed the afternoon and appreciated a side that finished the season with more wins, fewer defeats, more goals scored and fewer conceded than any other team in the league, and as undoubtedly deserved champions.
For full details of all of the club’s activities go to SUTTON