04.03.2023 vs Coventry Rangers



Two goals from Joe Gildea and a vital penalty save by Reiss Wagstaff gave Sutton United 1st Team an important point against title rivals AFC Coventry Rangers.

The two promoted teams from last season have been flying high in the MFL 2 with both in the mix for back-to-back promotion. AFC Coventry come into the match sitting fourth in the table but have five games in hand over leaders Sutton and three points today for either team would have been a huge boost. In the end, both teams had to settle for a hard-earned point, with both having to come from behind in an enthralling encounter.

The first half was closely contested with Sutton having the better of the early opportunities. Tom Massey blasted a long-range effort that the Coventry keeper, Jack Hartopp did well to tip over his cross bar, captain Josh Duggan fired over the bar from a corner kick and striker Gildea headed over from a set piece.

It looked like they would rue their missed chances when Rangers were awarded a penalty for a push in the 24th minute, however, Wagstaff dived the right way to make a crucial save from Connoll Farrell’s spot kick.

Chances then fell to both sides in a pulsating first half, with Joe Gardner’s volley at the edge of the box landing wide of the post for Coventry and for Sutton, the lively Gildea had a close-range effort saved by Hartopp with Jonny Grigg’s follow up hitting the side netting.

United finished the half strongly, with another chance falling to Joe Delaney on the left that had Hartopp saving once again and Grigg’s rebound was deflected away from goal.

It was Sutton who broke the deadlock early in the second half, when Delaney delivered the perfect cross from the left for Gildea to finish at the near post.

The visitors responded with two quick goals that turned the match on its head. First, they were awarded another penalty in the 59th minute when Rory Turnbull was caught with a high boot after Fola Fagbemi’s effort crashed off the crossbar and this time it was Turnbull who stepped up to blast the spot kick down the centre and bring the scores level.

Just two minutes later, Gardner scored an individual goal when he won possession just outside Sutton’s penalty area and curled a great shot that tucked inside the near post to give the visitors the lead.

Sutton were shaken and Wagstaff was called into action soon after when he made a strong block with his legs to deny Fagbemi from the right of goal.

United soon recovered to finish strongly, scoring a well-deserved equaliser in the 74th minute with a swift move from one end of the pitch to the other, including a strong run by Kaine Donald before finding Pete Bannister on the right wing, and he picked out Gildea in the box to tuck away his 30th goal of the season.

Sutton had the best chances to win at the end with Gildea’s 25-yard free-kick drawing another fine save from Hartopp and an even better chance in the last five minutes, when Gildea should have had his hat-trick with a shot that curled narrowly wide of the post.

On balance it was probably a fair result as both teams worked extremely hard in an entertaining match between two very good sides. For Sutton, Gildea was a constant threat up front as the team edged the opportunities, and it was good to see the return of Shane Smith who came on for the last twenty minutes and looked sharp after a lengthy absence. Unfortunately, a concern for Sutton will be an injury to influential midfielder Massey, who hobbled off in the 35th minute and for the visitors, an injury to Curtis Cutts who was forced off just before half time.

Next Saturday Sutton travel to Fairfield Villa for the first meeting of the season between these two clubs.

Team: Sutton United
1. Reiss Wagstaff
2. Brad Gregory
3. Jake Murrell – Lewis James 63’
4. Finlay Ballantyne
5. Kaine Donald
6. Josh Duggan (c)
7. Tom Massey – Matty Lewis 35’
8. Jonny Grigg – Pete Bannister 67’
9. Leyton Hines – Shane Smith 67’
10. Joe Gildea
11. Joe Delaney

Richard Heath
Matt Gough
Louis Singh
Derrick Cullen

Team: AFC Coventry Rangers
1. Jack Hartopp
2. George Swain
3. Toby Curran
4. Callum Regan
5. Phil Chesters
6. Curtis Cutts – Jaydeep Vim 42’
7. Fola Fagbemi
8. Ryan Alexander (c)
9. Connoll Farrall
10. Joe Gardner
11. Rory Turnbull

Kevin Kingham
Darren Dickson
Ian Clarke

Match Officials: Connor Brooks, Ryan Byrne, Daniel Hill

Sutton UnitedStatisticsAFC Coventry Rangers
7Attempts on Target4
7Fouls Committed11
0Yellow Cards1
0Red Cards0
Reiss WagstaffMan of the MatchFola Fagbemi

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