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Sutton begin FA Cup march with narrow win
Sutton took the first step on what they will hope will be a lucrative FA run on Saturday when they overcame Whitehawk for the second time in the space of four weeks, winning 1-0.
Whereas a comfortable Skrill South victory had been at Gander Green Lane, this one came on their opponents’ sloping ground with a firm pitch and gusting wind.
But having grabbed an early lead Sutton controlled the game as far as a team can when only a goal up, and Whitehawk had only one clear chance to prolong their interest in the competition, former Sutton striker Sam Gargan failing to direct his header as he would have wanted with 15 minutes left.
Victory ensured progression to the third qualifying round where United will host Ryman Premier League side Lewes.
The match-winner was Kane Haysman, who a week earlier had looked certain to miss the game as Gillingham refused permission for him to play in the FA Cup, but a change of heart at the Kent League One club during the week saw him take his place in an unchanged Sutton line-up.
And in only the third minute, the Us had reason to be grateful for the decision. The instigator of the goal was Dale Binns, a threat to the home defence whenever he had the ball at his feet, and after his incisive run his low cross found Dean McDonald, who was unable to get a shot away but laid the ball back for Haysman, whose cleanly struck low shot from the edge of the penalty area gave Chris Winterton in the home goal no chance.
It was to be the high spot of a mixed afternoon for Haysman, who was spoken to for one foul, booked for another and then involved, albeit seemingly as the innocent victim, in an incident that sparked a brief free-for-all just before half time.
And when twice in the first five minutes of the second half home centre back Sami El-Abd made it clear to referee Paul Harris that he felt he had been fouled again by the Sutton midfielder, Paul Doswell took the pragmatic course of action to ensure that Us retained 11 players on the pitch.
After the boost of the early goal, Sutton played well in the first half despite going up the slope, with the home side kept a good distance from Tom Lovelock’s goal.
Twice desperate interventions by home defenders prevented crosses from Binns and Haysman from reaching Jamie Slabber, and five minutes before the break Craig Dundas met a corner from Sam Rents with a powerful header that was cleared off the line by Danny Mills.
Just before the interval tempers became heated as Haysman appeared to be scythed down on the touchline by Tommy Fraser, with players of both sides and occupants of the nearby technical areas becoming involved.
When the dust had settled Slabber and the home side’s Lewis Taylor were singled out for yellow cards, at which point Taylor had good reason to be grateful for an earlier leniency not shown to Haysman when, after being spoken to for one late challenge, he used his hand to charge down a Sutton clearance without being booked.
The decision to restart play with a free kick to Whitehawk seemed bizarre, but the decision to blow the half time whistle soon afterwards very sensible, and the interval allowed the temperature to drop.
Us at times found it hard in the second half to adjust to having the wind behind them on the firm surface, the ball often carrying further than intended, but there were few moments when Whitehawk looked likely to haul themselves back in to what became an increasingly scrappy game.
With 15 minutes left though, and just after Anthony Riviere had sent a 20-yard shot just over the bar, Gargan showed a superb touch to control Matt Lawrence’s clearance, turn and set James Fraser free on the left before making ground to meet the resultant cross with a firm header, but one which went straight at Lovelock.
Despite throwing players forward, and a few flurries around the penalty area, Whitehawk never came closer than that to an equaliser, and Sutton really should have killed the tie inside the last 10 minutes.
Firstly when Dundas was superbly found by Ali Fuseini and rolled a pass in to the path of Dean Sinclair, who went for placement rather than power and allowed Winterton to save, and then when a quick counter-attack, again with Fuseini involved, ended with Binns bursting through on the left before firing across the face of goal.
Sutton: T Lovelock, M Nelson, S Rents, J Stuart, C Clough, D McDonald (J Taylor 72), A Riviere, C Dundas, J Slabber (D Sinclair 80), K Haysman (A Fuseini 52), D Binns. Not used: P Telfer, S Downer, J Folkes, W Shaw.
Whitehawk: C Winterton, M Boateng, T Cadmore, H Adelakun (J Robinson 63), M Lawrence, S El-Abd (M Sawaibu 80), L Taylor, D Mills, S Gargan, J Fraser, T Fraser. Not used: D Da Silva, A Pearson.
Referee: Paul Harris (Maidstone)
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