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Chris Clapham

SCR 1-4 Spelly report

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Took this from the FF website.


Combined Counties League Premier Division 
Sutton Common Rovers 1 Spelthorne Sports 4 (at Sutton United) 

Admission: £4 (student), Programme: £2 (decent, but nothing special and not really worth £2) 
Attendance: 58 h/c 

The opening stages of the first half set up the pattern that most of the game followed (barring a couple of significant delays for head injuries to Sutton players): Sutton went on all-out attack and placed significant pressure on the Spelthorne defence, while Spelthorne had to content themselves with the occasional breakaway. Most of these attempted breakaways from Spelthorne fell apart fairly easily due to Sutton's quicker decision-making, but despite this the away side took the lead on 19 minutes: Lewis Flatman received the ball on the left wing and was allowed to cut inside, getting a low shot away from 25 yards that crept into the bottom corner despite a touch from Sutton keeper Craig Bradshaw. The home side almost responded immediately, a quick counter-attack giving Phil Page room to shoot from the edge of the box, but his effort went just wide of the post. 

In the 24th minute, Sutton deservedly equalised from a clever set-piece routine: this caught the Spelthorne defence out and, after they failed to clear, the ball fell to Tommy Smith to poke in from close range. At this point, the home side upped their intensity dramatically in an attempt to force the away defence to cave in, but despite attack after attack after attack from Sutton the Spelthorne defence held firm, albeit often having to get bodies in the way to keep out a goalbound shot. As the half progressed and Sutton still found themselves somehow unable to score, their frustration steadily grew and this fed perfectly into Spelthorne's hands, allowing them more and more attempts to counter-attack. While a lot of these still weren't leading to actual chances for the away side, one did in the first minute of stoppage time (out of 9 overall, courtesy of the previous head injuries and numerous other fouls) and they were sure to make it count: after a foul just outside the box broke up a counterattack, Spelthorne took a free kick and Jake Flatman stepped up and kicked it low into the bottom corner to make it 1-2. 

As the second half got underway, it quickly became clear that Sutton were completely throwing caution to the wind and were just planning to relentlessly bombard the Spelthorne goal until something went into the net and that's more or less what happened for the vast majority of the second half. However, despite creating almost a chance a minute at times, nothing would go in for the home side: whether it was because they were flagged offside, or they just missed, or a defender (most notably Joe Dyett - a massively impressive performance from him in the Spelthorne defence) got his body in the way, Sutton simply could not score. This meant that their frustration once again grew (and started to be taken out on the officials on occasion, particularly the linesman who kept flagging them offside), while Spelthorne simply had to weather the storm and wait for an opportunity of their own. I say simply, but many other teams would have undoubtedly folded under a constant attacking barrage, so it was commendable that the away side held firm. 

Then, on 76 minutes, they were able to increase their lead from the penalty spot. The penalty was earned after a goal kick came close to the edge of the Sutton box, forcing Bradshaw to attempt to clear. However, his clearance hit a defender and the ball bounced behind him into the box and, with a Spelthorne attacker chasing it down, he lunged towards the ball and took the attacker out. From the penalty spot, Lewis Flatman made no mistake and place his effort to Bradshaw's left. Then, after yet more pressure from Sutton - albeit a bit more half-hearted at this stage as time was running out - Spelthorne scored a fourth in stoppage time, with Flatman topping off a great performance by completing his hat-trick: he received the ball unmarked in the box, and calmly placed a shot into the bottom corner. 

Overall, this game was thoroughly entertaining (at least when it flowed, as the referee was slightly over-eager to blow for a foul at times), but also very weird: while Spelthorne absolutely deserved to win, Sutton could and would have done so with ease had they been more accurate with their efforts on goal. Ultimately, with how many chances they missed (and, credit where it's due, how many the Spelthorne defence blocked), it felt like it simply wasn't the home side's day in the end: it felt like they could have kept playing well into the night and still wouldn't have scored. 

As for the ground, it's interesting to compare Gander Green Lane to Barnet's ground in the same league, as while I liked Gander Green Lane as a non-league ground, in terms of being Football League-ready (which seems appropriate to consider, given Sutton United's recent promotion pushes), it is worlds away from The Hive (and that's ignoring the 3G elephant in the room). 

Not where I planned to be today by any stretch of the imagination, but an enjoyable and entertaining afternoon out regardless. 

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Good report! The sort of result that SCR could rue come the end of the season. Chertsey's biggest worry now is a fixture backlog given their FA Vase tie was postponed on Saturday, so they now have to rearrange next week's game at AFC Hayes. If this weather keeps on, they could be in that unenviable situation of playing 3 games a week and the 'surprise' results that can sometimes throw up.

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