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  • Writer's pictureBy Dan Evans

Matt Gray reveals the three reasons behind Sutton’s recent form

Even though temperatures continued to drop, Sutton United boss Matt Gray was understandably willing to continue talking about his team’s most recent display despite the VBS Community Stadium press room being no more than a portable sponsors' board by the side of the pitch.

His team had just extended their unbeaten run to eight League Two matches in a row courtesy of a dominant 3-0 win against relegation strugglers Crawley Town.

A brace from Omar Bugiel and a late Lee Angol strike ensured the scoreline reflected Sutton’s control of the game, and Gray was honest when outlining the secrets behind a run of form that has moved his side within two points of the play-off places.

“(It’s down to) three things really,” he explained. “I put it down to our training, how fit we are. The injured players coming back. And our January recruitment.

“We’ve changed our training, (including) how hard we’ve worked since mid-October. We had so many injuries in the first half of the season; Harry Beautyman, Alistair Smith, Ben Goodliffe, just to name a few. The signings in January have also really helped us; Matt Dennis, David Ajiboye, Lee Angol, and you could go on.”

Even though the U’s were busy in the mid-season window, bringing in five players, they are still punching well above their financial weight to be competing with the promotion contenders in the fourth tier.

They currently sit just two points behind big spenders Salford City and Stockport County, and just four behind a Bradford City outfit that are currently managed by former Manchester City boss Mark Hughes.

Gray can hardly hide the smile as he talks about why he thinks Sutton are finding a way to compete with the best the league has to offer for a second consecutive season.

“We’ve got no right to be up there,” he said. “We just keep defying the odds here. We had one of the lowest budgets in the National League, we came up last season and finished eighth and now we’re right in the mix again.

“No one wants to play us,” he added.

“We are extremely hard to play against. We’ve got good players; we’ve got so many ways that we can score a goal and we’re putting ourselves right in the mix with 11 games to go.”

Bugiel’s excellent brace included a perfectly placed header just before the interval and a brilliant back-heeled volley into the top corner of the net with less than 90 seconds of the second half played.

The quality of both finishes belied the fact that they were just the striker’s fourth and fifth goals of the season, but Gray was keen to get another look at the decisive second that effectively sealed the victory.

“It was a good finish wasn’t it?” he said with a grin. “I’d like to see it back to see if he really meant to put it in the far corner but it was a really good performance all round (from Bugiel) and I’m delighted he got the two goals.”=


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