The curse of the Manager of the month award struck at the Aspect Arena on Saturday afternoon as the Beachboys winning run was halted by Sutton Utd writes Chris Clark.
The game kicked off in wild and windy conditions as Concord defended against the wind in the first half. Today was not a day for pretty football, it was a case of get it clear it for the Beachboys. Despite having the wind behind their backs the visitors failed to create any worthwhile opportunities in the opening stages. The Concord defence were resolute. In fact the Beachboys had the best chance in the early exchanges, Ben Greenhalgh on a great run of form, twisted and turned in the box and fired a curling effort on eleven minutes which Worner in the Sutton goal did well to tip away. No quarter was given or taken by either set of players and today’s referee dished out some early bookings to both teams, which were undeserved and not taking into consideration the swirling conditions and the difficulty in getting the ball under control.
The first half was attritional and tough and the only chance worthy of mention was an excellent shot by the Sutton left back Dan Wishart, who again had an exceptional match. He fired in a low drive from twenty-five yards which dipped just in front of McNamara in the Concord goal…Ben who earlier in the week had deservedly won the Player of the Month award, dived and pushed the ball over the bar. It was another in a long line of superb saves made by Ben in his performances for the Beachboys.
Concord Rangers 0 Sutton United 0
Into the second half and with the wind with them, could the Beachboys exert some pressure on the Sutton defence. Well in fact Sutton started the half the strongest, and the opening ten minutes it was the Dan Fitchett against Ben McNamara show. On fifty minutes, Fitchett broke the Concord offside trap and was one-on-one with Ben…Fitchett tried to take it round McNamara when a shot would have been the better option and McNamara blocked him. Three minutes later and Fitchett had a free header from eight yards which was well saved by McNamara, and just two minutes after that Fitchett lashed in a volley which McNamara blocked with his face to clear!
The game took a controversial twist on fifty-eight minutes. Concord were awarded a free kick wide on the right hand side and it gave Greenhalgh an opportunity to swing the ball into the Sutton box. The ball was whipped in, it was caught by the wind and smashed against the Sutton bar…the ball dropped to James White who fired in the rebound, which was blocked on the line…Bailey-Dennis tried to force the ball home and ended up in a tangle with Sutton captain Jamie Collins, there was a skirmish off the ball and Collins disgustingly bite Bailey-Dennis on the arm. It was a cowardly and unsporting act and the Sutton captain should be ashamed by his actions. The referee failed to get a clear view of the incident and just spoke to both Bailey-Dennis and Collins and the game continued.
Both sides pressed for the decisive goal, and Gomis of Sutton should have done better with a header on sixty-one minutes, he headed wide from four yards and likewise Jordan Cox should have got his header on target from a corner on sixty-nine minutes. The Beachboys determined to find the opening goal, pressurised the Sutton defence on seventy-seven minutes and Jay Dowie’s never-say-die spirit earned a free kick on the edge of the Sutton box. Perfect for the left-foot of Greenhalgh. He struck the ball beautifully, it had Worner beat in the Sutton goal…but just, and I mean just wide of the far post.
The game really looked like it was going to end goalless, but on eighty minutes Craig Dundas of Sutton scored a magnificent goal. He picked the ball up just inside the Concord half and drove at the Concord defence, a lovely piece of skill and he was in un-opposed…one on one with McNamara and calmly struck the ball home. It was a wonderful individual effort, and Sutton led.
Concord pushed for the equaliser, but in doing so left themselves exposed at the back and on eighty-five minutes Sutton substitute Gomis headed home to double Sutton’s lead, and to rub salt into the wound Gomis took advantage of a slip in the Concord defence to get Sutton’s third on ninety-two minutes.
Sutton had halted Concord’s unbeaten run, however the actions of the visiting captain had left a nasty taste in the mouth for everyone concerned at the Aspect Arena.
Concord Rangers 0 Sutton Utd 3
McNamara, King, Stephen, Easterford (off 44mins Lee), Bailey-Dennis; Dowie, White (c), Gardner, Taaffe; Greenhalgh, Cox (off 72mins Cawley)
Subs Not Used – Cornhill, Ranger, Bantick