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  • Writer's pictureBy Dan Evans

Comfortable win over Swindon caps perfect Easter weekend for resurgent Sutton

Sutton United (1) 3 Lakin 9’, Coley 47’, Smith 70’

Swindon Town (0) 1 Glatzel 90+3’


On a weekend synonymous with comebacks, Sutton United continued the resurrection of their League Two survival hopes by comfortably seeing off Swindon Town at Gander Green Lane and moving out of the relegation zone for the first time in 2024.


A final scoreline of 3-1 hardly did justice to the dominance Steve Morison’s side enjoyed, but this second victory of the Easter weekend, extending a winning run to four matches in the process, was brimming with quality and conviction.


“It was a really good performance,” said Morison, showing few signs of getting carried away. “I’m pleased with how the players played and they got what they deserved. We’ll keep grinding and working. On to the next one.”


Despite some good early performances under his charge, it took Morison until his 10th game to register his first win as Sutton boss, and just one from his first 13 matches at the helm made a return to the National League look inevitable.


But having beaten Forest Green Rovers a little over two weeks ago, the perennial non-leaguers seemed to find a new determination in their quest to secure a fourth consecutive season in the fourth tier.


The way Sutton started the game was indicative of their recent form rather than the predicament they find themselves in. “We needed to change the culture and the environment and the processes from a day-to-day point of view,” Morison explained.


“It takes time for that to bed in and feel comfortable. The performances have been there, but I’m really pleased we’ve now managed to put a few results together.”


Confidence is perhaps football’s greatest intangible. It’s near enough impossible for a manager to inspire through their actions alone, yet once it has begun to spread throughout a club it can make a group of players look considerably more than the sum of their parts.


With wins on the board and an manageable target to achieve, Sutton possessed the sort of belief that can bulldoze opponents such as Swindon, who had little to play for, before the question of quality even arises.


Yet there was plenty of class about the way in which Morison’s side took the lead in the first 10 minutes. After Josh Coley had picked up a loose clearance, the ball was worked wide to Harry Smith on the right.


Smith has been one of the great enigmas of Sutton’s season, leading the goal-scoring charts by a distance but also missing eight games through suspension and squandering a crucial penalty in the 1-1 draw against Colchester United at the end of February that looked to have all but confirmed relegation.


But when he took Harry Beautyman’s pass into his stride and took a quick glance at a Swindon penalty area that was fast becoming occupied, he managed to pick out the optimal patch of space in which Charlie Lakin could meet his perfect cross.


Former Millwall striker Morison was certainly pleased with his target man: “When he’s performing he’s unplayable. Charlie Austin said to me as we walked off the pitch that he was excellent today. The funniest thing was that he came in at half-time and was frustrated.”


Smith was surely not the only Sutton man to feel disappointed at the interval as they continued to flex their newfound belief. The towering frame of Omar Sowunmi directed a Coley cross just over the bar not long before Lakin forced a save from Jack Bycroft with a stinging shot from the edge of the penalty area.


Smith was next to test Bycroft as he stabbed a bouncing ball towards the bottom corner. The goalkeeper saved to keep the deficit at one, yet Sutton’s dominance could not be doubted despite chances to score drying up as half-time approached.


For all Bycroft’s good work in preventing a first half rout, he was to blame for the goal that eventually extended Sutton’s lead.


Coley fired towards the target from a tight angle - a miscued cross-come-shot if such a thing is possible – yet the power on the strike combined with the ‘keeper’s unconvincing positioning saw Bycroft carry the ball over his own goalline.


Smith was on the scoresheet eventually, positioning himself perfectly to nod home an accurate cross from Coley. The former Leyton Orient man now has 10 for the season - the first-ever Sutton player to reach double figures in the football league.


Paul Glatzel pulled a goal back in stoppage time with a deflected free-kick, but it did little to dampen Sutton’s mood on the day and you sense it will be little more than a minor inconvenience as they chart a route to safety In earnest.


Colchester’s three games in hand mean the U’s are unlikely to have their destiny in their hands until the season’s final throes. However, having points on the board and good form flowing throughout the squad could end up being far more important.

Their manager certainly does not intend to think about what he cannot control: “I’m not going to worry about it, might go and have a beer.” That is surely the least he will deserve if he is leading Sutton in League Two next season.


Sutton: (4-4-2) Arnold – Jackson (Goodliffe 21’), Sowunmi, Kizzi, Hart – Coley (Patrick 75’), Beautyman (N’Guessan 75’), Lakin, Adom-Malaki (Duke-McKenna 84’) – Sanderson (Clay 84’), Smith. Subs not used: Kerbey, John


Swindon: (3-4-3) Bycroft – McCarthy, Brewitt, Godwin-Malife – Elbouzedi (McKirdy h/t), Aguiar (Cain 74’), Ofoborh (McEachran 56’), Kokolo (McGregor 74’) – Glatzel, Austin, Drinan. Subs not used: Brann, McGurk, Hunt


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