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  • Writer's pictureBy Dan Evans

Luck abandons spirited Sutton to leave them rooted to the bottom of the Football League

Sutton United (1) 2 Smith 45+4, Goodliffe 62

Morecambe (2) 3 Mellon 29 (pen), Mayor 45+2, Senior 90+1

As the half hour approached during Sutton United’s 11th defeat of the League Two season, in what was just their 14th game, a rainbow appeared over the far side of their Gander Green Lane home.


On an afternoon of sporadic sunshine that somehow always carried the threat of rain, Matt Gray’s side had made a promising start against in-form Morecambe. But just minutes after Ben Goodliffe had almost given away the first goal of the game by clearing the ball into his own face, he gave away a penalty after dragging Jacob Bedeau down at a corner.


Morecambe’s Michael Mellon scored the resulting spot-kick and within minutes, Sutton’s rainbow had disappeared.


They showed ample fight and plenty of spirit to recover from what became a two-goal deficit not long after, but as dark clouds clustered and Joel Senior struck a late Morecambe winner, Sutton ended the day bottom of the Football League.


Gray named the same team that started last weekend’s spirit-sapping 4-1 loss at Doncaster, and he got the response he was looking for. The Sutton boss emphasised the importance of having a full week on the training pitch following a hectic start to the campaign, and a number of summer signings looked far more at ease as the home side looked destined to find the first goal.


Striker Smith has adjusted better than most since his switch from Leyton Orient, and only a brilliant Stuart Moore save denied him during Sutton’s bright start after he connected with Omar Sowunmni’s header at a corner.


Moore then made an equally impressive flying stop from a wayward clearance by Morecambe defender Farrend Rawson as the visitors struggled to cope with the sort of aerial bombardment that typifies Sutton at their best.


However, the strugglers failed to capitalise, allowing Morecambe a foothold in the game, and given Sutton have conceded more goals than any side in the Football League, it did not take much for them to fall behind.


Goodliffe’s tangle with Bedeau was gentle but unnecessary; the emphatic finish from Mellon that followed felt a significant blow for a side in Sutton’s current predicament.


The game lulled with the visitors happy to sit on their lead, Sutton looked increasingly uncomfortable as the familiar feeling of falling behind set in amongst players, staff and supporters.


The ease with which Sutton conceded the second was a glaring indication of a side that seems to be sinking fast. A throw-in, one of Sutton’s primary weapons during their brief spell of superiority was cleared, and within seconds Tom Bloxham had picked out Adam Mayor, who sat Omari Patrick down with a feint for good measure before finishing.


A collective look of resignation among those in yellow was perhaps even more worrying than the simple nature of the goal they had conceded, but a response was mustered before the interval.


Smith, who had become peripheral after the flow of the game shifted to the other end of the pitch, appeared from nowhere to divert Craig Clay’s misplaced header beyond an already committed Moore to notch his fourth goal in three games.


A roar of hope greeted the half-time whistle, and Sutton, improved by the introduction of Dion Pereira, re-found their early groove at the beginning of the second period.


Set pieces began to cause trouble once more and Goodliffe found the perfect way to redeem himself just after the hour mark when he swivelled to turn home a flick-on from a long throw.


All of the late momentum belonged to Sutton as they chased a winner, and they showed more than enough to suggest all hope should not yet be lost, but a manager as grounded in reality as Gray will know that points on the board are required if his side are to enjoy a fourth-consecutive season of League Two football next term.


A point would not have been a fitting reward for their efforts in this contest but even that was cruelly snatched from their grasp as Senior’s effort from distance crept in at Dean Bouzanis’ near post in the first minute of stoppage time to secure three points for Morecambe.


It was just the sort of luck that is usually waiting for teams at the end of a rainbow. Unfortunately, Sutton’s had gone a good while beforehand.


Sutton United (4-4-2): Bouzanis – Kizzi, Goodliffe, Sowunmi, Hart (Milsom 90+6) – Coley (Fadahunsi 90+2), Clay, N’Guessan, Patrick (Pereira 45)– Smith, O’Brien (Beautyman 90+2). Subs not used: Arnold, John, Jackson


Morecambe (4-2-3-1): Moore – Senior, Rawson (Songo’o 45), Bedeau (Stokes 82), Tutonda – Love, Mckiernan – Bloxham, Mayor, Slew (Davenport 75) – Mellon. Subs not used: A Smith, Stokes, Brown, Walker, C Smith

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