Our penultimate league fixture, and our last home fixture of the season, saw us host Sutton District in a midweek fixture. We would be without several key players today seeing as it was half-term week plus we still had a few players carrying knocks. Captain George Clark, the towering Louis and the influential Elvis were all unavailable today, and things took a turn for the worse when Preston injured himself on the morning of the game and was not fit to play.
This meant a ‘bare bones’ squad and, with George, Louis and Preston all missing, it would seriously affect us defensively. But Sutton were equally depleted, so we hoped for a good competitive game.We lined up with John in goal, and a back three of Zach, Muno and Freddie. Tom would join Alfie in the centre of midfield whilst William and Conor would provide the width leaving Blake to lead the line.
Despite the disruption to the squad, especially defensively, we urged the boys for yet another big effort as the season draws to a close. We also wanted the boys to start the game well, as despite some intense warm-up’s recently we rarely start games well and it usually takes the opposition to have a few chances or score a goal before we kick into gear. We tend to save our efforts for the second half, so today we really wanted the boys firing from the first minute.
I couldn’t really complain today though, as within 10 minutes of the start we were 2-0 ahead. Stevenage were awarded a free kick in a wide right position and Alfie delivered a cross that eventually fell to Blake to the left of the goal, but he somehow managed to loft his effort over the keeper and into the far corner of the net for the first goal. And then Conor Grehan maintained his recent good form with a second goal from a wide angle to leave us two up.
Unfortunately, the game was held up for 10 minutes with a nasty wrist injury to one of the Sutton defenders, and it seemed to knock the momentum out of our positive start. We mention every single week, without fail, the need to be patient when defending and to stop giving away needless free-kicks – especially around our own penalty area. But we did exactly the same again this week and the opportunity was gratefully accepted by Sutton with a fine strike to make it 1-2.
This really knocked the stuffing out of the boys, you’d have thought we were 3-0 down by their faces and their demeanour, and it was a very lethargic end to the first period, though to be fair it was a very hot morning and the grass was very long making it difficult for us to play any good football – but the conditions were the same for both teams.
I thought we started the second half brightly again, and started to play some better football, but our chances weren’t helped when we lost a player taking us down to 8 on the pitch. Having said that, during this period we managed to increase the lead when Conor was brought down in the box and he dusted himself down to convert confidently for 3-1.
But fair play to Sutton, they kept plugging away and reduced the score when another unnecessary free-kick allowed them to pump the ball into the box and somebody was adjudged to have handled the ball, allowing Sutton to make it 2-3. To be honest the game could have finished any score, we created a flurry of really good chances some of which were right on front of goal but succeeded in missing them all or finding a keeper in good form. And the game was never comfortable during this period, despite our chances, as Sutton remained dangerous on the break and had a couple of chances themselves to have levelled the game.
In the end we were happy to have another win under our belts, given the circumstances and the boys that were missing, but it wasn’t our best performance of the season and it practically hands the Eastern Division to Luton now with one game remaining. All we can do is go again on Saturday, and give it our best shot despite what happens elsewhere.