Sutton Town overcame a tough challenge from league newcomers Ilkeston to win their first competitive match on home soil this season.
The match began on a quiet note, with much of the opening football being played out in midfield. However, it took just 16 minutes for the home side to find the decisive breakthrough. A superb through ball by Jonathan Jones found Mark Bellingham on the edge of the box, and the striker made no mistake chipping the Ilkeston goalkeeper to score his first goal of the campaign.
The following ten minutes saw some pressure on the Sutton Town defence, with an Ilkeston free kick from Will McCall flying just over the bar. It was Sutton who would double their lead on 28 minutes though, as Bellingham once again found himself clear of the Ilkeston defence and slotted home to make it 2-0 to the Royals.
The remainder of the first half saw several chances for Sutton to further increase their lead. Craig Marshall was denied a goal on three occasions by the Ilkeston goalkeeper, while Jones also had a long-range effort saved. The end of the first half saw the Royals fully deserving of their 2-0 lead.
The second half began in a much more attacking tone to the first, with Bellingham narrowly missing out on his hat-trick with a shot just over the crossbar. Ilkeston also saw a shot fly over, and a minute later Craig Marshall rattled the woodwork in what was becoming an end-to-end game.
Ilkeston found a way through the Sutton defence on 65 minutes, with Darryl Thomas slotting past Cooper to provide the away team with a lifeline. It was Sutton who would come closest to scoring a further goal however, as a corner swung in from the right was met by the head of McNaught, only to be denied by the woodwork.
The remaining 15 minutes saw efforts at both ends but with Ilkeston ploughing forward in numbers the Royals defended strong and came out on top at full time.