A Richie Bennett double ensures Sutton United’s first EFL victory comes over ten-man Stevenage…
Alex Revell named two changes to the side that drew with Swindon Town last Saturday, with Bruno Andrade and Jake Reeves coming into the starting line-up in place of Elliot Osborne and James Daly. The goalkeeper, back four, midfield two and strike partnership remained the same.
On a sunny day in South London, 270 travelling Stevenage supporters filled the Collingwood Road End, jumping at the chance to tick off a potentially new ground. The last time Boro visited Gander Green Lane was in 1999, with a 2-0 win in the Nationwide Conference. A replica result today would not go amiss.
Freshly laid in the summer, the pitch at the VBS Community Stadium had been transformed from AstroTurf to grass in line with EFL regulations. As the sun shone onto the lawn, both sides would have a tough opening few moments of the game, getting used to and clocking each other’s every move.
Midway through the first half, Stevenage went their closest to an opener thus far, and Ben Coker’s by-line cross was an inch away from being converted by the boot of Bruno Andrade’s boot.
Luke Norris had a header at goal then cleared, before Sutton’s Richie Bennett tried his luck from distance and tested the hands of Joseph Anang for the first time this afternoon.
Five minutes later, Tobi Sho-Silva had the chance to nod the hosts in front and would have done by directing his header either side of Anang – but fortunately fell straight to the loanee goalkeeper.
Just after the half hour mark, Stevenage had the best chance of the first half when Ben Coker reached the by-line once more, before aiming his cross towards the back post. Luke Norris rose highest to get his head on the ball, but a combination of crossbar and Dean Bouzanis’ fingertips kept the ball from goal.
David Ajiboye forced Joseph Anang low into another good save just after, before Sutton’s Louis John picked up the occasion’s first yellow card with an obvious foul on the blistering Elliott List.
Luke Norris had another effort saved by Bouzanis just before half-time, but the score remained goalless as the sides went in level at the break.
A minute into the second period, Stevenage thought they would be given the golden chance to take the lead after Jake Taylor took a tumble in the Sutton United area, only for the referee to brandish Taylor with a yellow card for simulation.
Bruno Andrade and Enzio Bouldewijn both had chances for their respective sides within five minutes of the restart without causing any change to the score line, before a last-ditch Terence Vancooten tackle on Richie Bennett did the same.
Stevenage withstood several Sutton chances following on from that, before Jake Reeves’ effort fell just wide of the near post from the edge of the area.
An energetic start to the second half, and it was not long thereafter before the first goal of the game. As Sutton continued to press high, Chris Lines found himself with the ball at feet in the middle of the park, before playing an exquisite ball through to the lightning quick Elliott List. Racing through on goal, Stevenage’s top scorer made no mistake in finding the back of the net, firing past Bouzanis and sending the travelling faithful into raptures.
Delight was short lived, however. Three minutes later and just before the hour mark, Joe Kizzi’s cross from the right was met by the head of the hosts’ Richie Bennett to head level.
Matters were made worse for Stevenage a minute later, when the referee awarded Sutton a penalty for handball inside the area less than five minutes after taking the lead. Following discussions with the linesman, the handball culprit Terence Vancooten was also shown a red card for his efforts. Stevenage were shellshocked to say the least after a roller-coaster of emotions in five minutes, with around half an hour left to play.
Jamie Reid and James Daly were introduced midway through the half as Stevenage worked to get anything from this uphill battle.
With fifteen minutes left to play, Luke Norris’ effort stung the hands of Bouzanis and escaped a rebound. A minute later James Daly thought he had put Boro level with a fantastic finish from the left, much to the dismay of seeing the linesman with a raised flag.
Bradley Barry came on with ten minutes to play, before both him and Luke Norris had efforts off target as the clock ticked towards the ninety.
Five minutes of stoppage time were added on, but it would be Stevenage who Sutton United’s first ever win in the Football League would be recorded against.