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  • Writer's pictureBy Dan Evans

Sutton push League Two leaders Gillingham all the way in narrow home defeat

Sutton United (0) 0

Gillingham (1) 1 Nadesan 10

If a week is a long time in football, ten days must often feel like a lifetime.

When those ten days have included a dramatic penalty shootout, a 450-mile roundtrip to Barrow and more than 50 minutes of injury time, you can forgive Matt Gray and Sutton United for feeling exhausted just four games into the current campaign.

Perhaps it was a sense of tiredness that possessed Omar Sowunmi in just the tenth minute of this even contest with fancied Gillingham. The giant centre-back dithered for just a second too long, Tom Nichols stole the ball from him, and the winger then crossed for an unmarked Ashley Nadesan to turn home the game’s decisive goal.

Sutton showed few other signs of fatigue though against the only side in League Two with a 100% start to the season remaining. They were typically committed and pressed with organisation and vigour from the front, making light of target man Harry Smith’s suspension as the Gillingham backline endured a bruising evening at Gander Green Lane.

It was not all fight and aggression from Gray’s men though, as they crafted enough chances to take something from this encounter against a side with a Championship manager in Neil Harris and a squad that has enjoyed plenty of investment over the summer.

Sowunmi was only denied a first-half equaliser when Scott Malone – over 300 appearances in the second tier over the past decade – hacked his goalbound effort off the Gillingham goalline after goalkeeper Jake Turner had failed to claim one of the numerous wicked deliveries played into his penalty area.

Turner more than re-paid his team-mate before the interval when he spread himself excellently to keep out Scott Kashket as the all-action striker tried to sniff out a goal from a penalty box scramble.

There was a lull at the start of the second half as Gillingham showed their pedigree and brought some order to the chaos that Sutton so often thrive in.

Sutton still had chances to take something from the game though. Kashket volleyed into the arms of Turner with twenty minutes to play and the introduction of Josh Coley as a substitute unsurprisingly created problems given the start he has made to his Sutton career.

Gray’s side continued to push, reverting to throwing balls into the box once more as Sowunmi went upfront and put his head into even the least promising of situations.

The goal would not come for Sutton though, meaning they suffered their first home defeat of the campaign and their second narrow loss in just four days.

They now lie 16th in the early league table having sat first after their opening day romp against Notts County.

Tired or not, welcoming local rivals Wimbledon to Gander Green Lane on Saturday looks the perfect opportunity to lift themselves and go again.

Sutton United: (4-4-2) Rose – Kizzi, Goodliffe, Sowumni, Milsom – Patrick, Eastmond, Clay (N’Guessan 85), Beautyman (Coley 64) – Angol (John 85), Kashket (Kasimu 76). Subs not used: House, Mellor, Fadahunsi.


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