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Back-to-back defeats on the road leave United feeling they are the Havants and not the haves
After the encouragement of three consecutive home wins in Blue Square Bet South, Sutton’s momentum has stalled with two away defeats.
The second came on Saturday when United produced arguably their poorest performance of the season against a side four points below them before the game.
There was little to choose between the teams in an uninspiring first half hour, but after some calamitous defending and a touch of deserved fortune had conspired to gift Havant the lead, Sutton struggled to make any great impact on the home defence, with too many of the players who had been instrumental in the successes choosing the same day to be some way below their best.
On a soft surface which both teams seemed to find difficult, the first half hour was scrappy and untidy but even at this point the liveliest contributors were in white, with the pick being Chris Arthur, marauding down the left flank.
With 20 minutes gone both Simon Downer, preferred to Michael Boateng in the right back position, and former Havant centre back Tom Jordan were left trailing in his wake before his fiercely struck cross just evaded Perry Ryan at the far post.
Sutton’s best effort was a Sam Rents free kick that was just too high, but with seven minutes to go to the interval Havant went ahead in bizarre circumstances.
The goal stemmed from a Sutton free kick after Sahr Kabba, another familiar and persistent threat to United, had been booked for handball.
The free kick was cleared downfield where Jamie Stuart and Rents seemed to be under little pressure, but after collecting Stuart’s header, Rents played a pass back to Tom Lovelock that was sufficiently underhit to encourage Ollie Palmer to close Lovelock down, and Palmer’s reward came when the keeper’s clearance rebounded off him and rolled in to the unguarded net.
Sutton soon had another free kick, closer to goal, which saw Harry Beautyman’s shot saved low to his left by Clark Masters, but just before the break Havant almost scored a spectacular second from a rehearsed corner move which saw the flag-kick pulled back for Arthur, whose thunderous first time shot flew inches wide.
Playing down the slope in the second half Sutton had plenty of the ball, and forced a number of corners, but there was still a listlessness about the performance and for all their possession the only direct threat came when Rents hit a long-range shot that dipped enough for Masters to feel it needed to be tipped over the bar.
There was energy and promise from Chris Benjamin when he came on for his league debut, and some lively contributions from James Folkes, but little to worry a home defence that always seemed in control.
Havant had doubled their lead 10 minutes in to the second half when Kabba cut in from the left before slipping a neat pass through to Palmer, who easily beat the advancing Lovelock.
Kabba had a goal disallowed for offside after a swift break by Christian Nanetti following a Sutton corner, and also sent a 20-yard snapshot straight at Lovelock, but with seven minutes to go Sutton again conceded a goal after having the ball deep in the Havant half.
Rents and Leroy Griffiths were dispossessed by Jake Newton, who immediately swept a superb crossfield diagonal pass from right to left that allowed Arthur to surge through the open spaces on the right of Sutton’s defence, and he shot past the oncoming Lovelock to give substitute Kelvin Bossman the chance to tap in to the empty net.
Sutton host Bromley on Tuesdat night, looking to return to winning ways.