After ten minutes of shadow-boxing, in which the two sides tested each other out without incident, the U’s felt confident enough to commit more men forward and never looked back. A Simon Downer long-throw was punched back out to him by goalkeeper Ross and the veteran defender chanced his arm with a first-time effort from twenty-five yards, but with the keeper stranded he saw his shot curl wide of the near post.
The U’s midfield had gained the upper hand and when the visitors had a free-kick cleared, the increasingly influential Roarie Deacon broke free in the middle and fed Maxime Biamou on his outside. The French striker raced down the right before sliding the ball back inside for Deacon, who had continued his run, to surge into the penalty area. The former Crawley man didn’t realise how much space he had and snatched slightly at his shot dragging the ball wide of the near post.
The U’s pressed for a quick second goal and heavy pressure was only repelled by a series of blocks by the away defenders. Deacon, who would deservedly be awarded Man of the Match, did well down the right flank but his low cross evaded everyone; Stearn kept the ball alive and set up Bedsente Gomis, whose low shot was pushed round the post by Ross. The U’s kept the pressure after the corner was partly cleared and won another corner, this time on the right. It was played in short to Stearn who turned and crossed low to the near post where Collins sent a difficult header wide. Dean Beckwith and Jack Sampson were then both shown the yellow card for a clash under a long goal-kick.
Sutton then grabbed the second goal that their approach work had deserved and it was an early contender for goal of the season. A slick build-up which began in the Sutton half with Downer and involved more than half the team ended with a superb exchange between Deacon and Gomis, who sidestepped a challenge and rifled home from close range. The visitors did win a corner but after a spell of pinball in the United box the ball was hacked clear. Ross Worner, who had one of his quietest afternoons in a Sutton shirt, then punched a dangerous cross clear after Downer had got back well to slow down a Macclesfield counter-attack. With injury-time looming Gomis was brought down just outside the box and Nicky Bailey left Ross for dead with a free-kick that bounced to safety off the crossbar.
After the break, playing into a stiff breeze, Sampson headed an early corner well over the bar but after that the U’s were in control and content to bide their time and wait for chances to arise. With an hour gone Stearn whipped in a free-kick and Beckwith hit the bar with a looping header. From a similar position another Stearn delivery from a deadball saw Biamou outjump Ross and the ball was put behind for a corner. A third free-kick in virtually the same position, a few minutes later, saw Halls given a straight red for going over the top on Gomis. Holroyd did put a free-kick over the bar for the Silkmen but that was the closest they came and the U’s coasted to three more valuable points.
The win leaves the U’s third in the table, their highest ever position in the football Pyramid. Of course, there are only five games gone and there is a long, long way to go and with difficult away games to come in quick succession at Chester, Gateshead and Wrexham this league just gets tougher.
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