Sutton United 2-0 Aldershot Town
After disappointments on the road in the last week, Sutton were hoping that a return to the familiar surroundings of Gander Green Lane would bring a change of fortune and so it proved as skipper Jamie Collins netted twice to take advantage of Aldershot’s current poor run and ended their own run of six league games without a win.
It’s been a miserable month for Aldershot, who were sufficiently weakened by injury and suspension to only name three substitutes, and lost midfielder Jake Gallagher to a red card on the stroke of half time that handed Sutton the initiative after they looked increasingly likely to pay the penalty for not taking their chances in a first twenty minutes which they dominated. Helped further by an injury to defender Jack Seville which saw the visitors temporarily reduced to nine men, U’s finally grabbed the lead before he had been replaced and were able to close out a valuable victory.
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The opening stages had suggested how pleased U’s were to be back in front of their home supporters as they began firmly on the front foot, and they should have been ahead inside five minutes when Roarie Deacon sprinted on to a pass from Bedsente Gomis but could only shoot in to the side netting as goalkeeper Mark Smith came to meet him. There were other chances as well, notably when Max Biamou met a Gomis cross at the near post with a flick which was saved by the keeper, but the goal wouldn’t come and as the half progressed Aldershot began to pose threats of their own, particularly Matt McClure who might have scored on three occasions. Firstly he was left clear when a pass from Anthony Straker led to a misunderstanding between Simon Downer and Kevin Amankwaah, but Ross Worner saved well, and after McClure had swept a low left foot shot just wide he drew another good save from Worner with a well struck first time volley. U’s keeper was now the busier, and after a low Gallagher cross had been pushed out he did well to deny Idris Kanu and even better to keep out Gallagher’s powerful shot as the ball ran loose, the ball diverting wide off Worner’s face. Deacon found the side netting again with an angled shot, this time from the left, but the game’s pivotal moment came as it entered first half injury time. Gallagher was penalised for a challenge from behind on Gomis, and in the brief flare-up that followed Gomis ended up on the ground. The outcome was a red card for Gallagher and yellows for Gomis and Kanu, the Aldershot player perhaps lucky that referee David Rock had not taken a stricter view of an earlier challenge on Collins.
Another boost for U’s was that it was the lively McClure who was sacrificed at the break as Aldershot reshuffled, and Sutton almost made the extra man pay at the start of the second half when Collins headed a cross down for Chris Dickson, whose wretched run in front of goal continued as he miscued badly wide from ten yards. It might have been an expensive miss as Jim Kellermann then came forward from midfield and flashed a shot across Worner’s goal, but the visitors then went down to nine as Seville took a nasty blow in clearing a cross and was led off with a cut head. This time U’s did take advantage, although Aldershot didn’t help themselves as left back Straker went forward but was dispossessed midway inside the Sutton half, allowing Deacon to run in to the space he had vacated. Deacon’s progress could only be stopped illegally, and when he lifted in the resulting free kick Aldershot’s lack of manpower was further exposed as Collins climbed highest to head down and in.
With Seville unable to continue Aldershot then made their change, which also saw striker Scott Rendell forced in to Seville’s central defensive position, but Sutton now had control and seemed intent on keeping possession and denying the visitors a way back. Substitute Craig McAllister tested Smith with a low shot from just outside the penalty area, but with fifteen minutes to go U’s had a huge scare when the referee played a good advantage as Downer’s foul prevented Kanu reaching a through ball, allowing substitute Iffy Allen to go clear with just Worner to beat, but the keeper came to his team’s rescue by diving at Allen’s feet to block the danger. When play stopped Downer received a yellow card that will keep him out of Tuesday’s game against Dover, but U’s still had the lead and they settled things five minutes later as Amankwaah chased a deep corner out to the left wing, and played in a low cross that found Collins all on his own as Aldershot came out looking for an offside. The flag stayed down, Collins easily beat Smith, and U’s were assured of maximum points.
Aldershot: M Smith, A Straker, J Seville(sub C Walker 61), S Rendell, M McClure(sub J Wakefield H-T), B Mensah(sub I Allan 71), C Alexander, J Gallagher, J Kellermann, D Conroy, I Kanu. Booked: Kanu, Kellermann. Sent Off: Gallagher.