The Giant Killers

Subtitle

 

All time greatest F A cup giant killings

Number 32

 

Sutton United 1-0 Leeds United

Fourth Round: Sunday January 29th 2017

Gander Green Lane, Sutton

Attendance: 4,997

Scorers: Jamie Collins {53 pen}

 Over one million people signed a petition to ban President Trump from entering the UK, British Prime Minister Theresa May faced the angry leaders of the devolved governments to tell them they had no say in Brexit, Ed Sheeran' 'Castle On The Hill' was being kept off the top of the charts by, well, Ed Sheeran's 'Shape Of You' , The BBC had a hit show with Tom Hardy's Regency drama, 'Taboo'  while James McAvoy was a kidnapper with 23 personalities in the horror film 'Split'

To be a non-league team that once defeated a top flight club in the cup ensured that any mention of Sutton United and the cup in the same sentence naturally took the conversation back to 1989, Coventry City and all that.

Sadly for Sutton, such a prestigious cup result never translated into a bid to make it into the Football League and conversely they suffered relegation from the Conference, as it was then known, in 1991. The club fell further as they slipped into the seventh tier in 2008, which prompted the selection of Paul Doswell as manager.

The new man in charge gradually brought the club back to the fifth tier, rebranded the National League, over an eight season period as they won the National League South in 2016.

Sutton’s National league team was made up of a side with the usual smattering of lower division Football League experience in players like Ross Warner, Kevin Amankwaah, Nicky Bailey, Simon Downer, Jamie Collins, Adam May, Roarie Deacon and the Frenchman, Bedsente Gomis. They also had one player with limited Premier League experience in Craig Eastmond who made a handful of appearances for Arsenal a few years earlier.

The side enjoyed a solid first couple of months back in the National League and were still hanging on the coat tails of the divisional play-off when they faced National League leaders, Forest Green in the final qualifying round of the cup. An early setback was overturned before Deacon won the tie with almost the last kick of the tie.

The first round away draw at National League South Dartford was probably disappointing to most Sutton fans but the tie itself was anything but. The home side came back from a goal down three times in a hectic tie before A Ross Stearn brace, sandwiched by Deacon’s second goal of the game sealed a 6-3 away victory.

By second round day any outside hopes of reaching the play-offs had largely gone as Sutton dipped to a solitary win from eight League games. Ross Stearn was also gone. Taking a move to Eastleigh shortly after the first round win. Sutton’s second round tie was a carbon copy of their previous home tie as they again came from behind to win the tie through yet another Deacon last gasp strike. This time the victims were League Two Cheltenham, putting Sutton into a the hat for round three and a local derby against League One Wimbledon.

Sutton’s best chance of progress to round four looked to have past when the final whistle blew on a goalless draw at Gander Green Lane. The draw for round four offered the winner a crack at Championship Leeds but that prospect seemed a long way off for Sutton when they fell behind for the third cup tie of their run. The League One side were reduced to ten men before Roarie deacon maintained his record of scoring in every round to set up what looked like an extra half hour. Amazingly, for the third time in their fur cup ties, the Chocolate and Ambers sealed victory in stoppage time, this time with a Maxime Biamou goal with six minutes of stoppage time serving only to give the Non-League side time to add gloss to the victory through Dan Fitchett.

Sutton prepared for their fourth round cup tie against the Championship promotion chasers with a victory to take them into the last sixteen of the FA Trophy, although minor concerns were now being raised that the fixture build up could draw them into what had seemed an unlikely relegation fight.

For the older generation of Sutton fans memories were rekindled of the previous time the U’s welcomed Leeds in the FA cup. That was forty-seven years earlier when Leeds were the reigning champions and arguably the best team in Europe. Then manager Don Revie sent out a full strength team that put on a masterclass in winning 6-0. It was worth noting that Revie’s team, fighting for a League, cup and European treble, ended the season with nothing. For 2017 manager, Gary Monk came the same concerns of fixture pile up as his side faced a League game three days after the tie. In his pre match press conference, Monk made note of how important a strong squad was to him and that his squad players had all acquitted themselves well when brought in. Despite labouring to victory in round three at Non-League Cambridge, Monk kept faith with seven of the side that won them their place in round four, which meant none of his eight most regular starting players would take the field.

Another aspect of the tie was it bringing artificial pitches back into the public eye. The plastic pitch, as it was termed, was tried out by four League clubs in the early 1980s but the unnatural bounce of the ball was cited as giving the home team an advantage. QPR and Luton prospered on their plastic before the FA banned the surface in 1989. In the 21st Century the 3G pitch, as it was now known had come a long way and was a common site across Europe. Gradually it had now crept into the English game with Sutton’s pitch only being approved by a change of rules in the National League last season. The FA had allowed its use in the cup since 2015. The use of 3G was still not allowed in the Football League however so Leeds players only rarely played on such a surface.

 As at Cambridge in round three, Gary Monks fringe players struggled to get to grips with Non-League opposition. Sutton started the much better side and Roarie Deacon was controversially denied his record of scoring in every round when his first minute goal was chalked off for a very marginal offside decision. It was perhaps not surprising that Leeds’ best player was one of their regular first teamers, Stuart Dallas. The Northern Ireland International had cut his teeth as a player on the 3G pitch of Crusaders in the Irish League and found no issue with the surface as he forced Worner into a good save.

The goal came early in the second half and was a calamity for Leeds as Lewie Coyle and Marco Silvestre got in a tangle on the edge of the penalty area with Coyle bringing down Deacon to give away the pot kick. Any temptations to let Deacon take the kick were quickly discounted as captain, Jamie Collins stepped up and calmly broke the deadlock. Gary Monk called on his bench to bring on the experienced Kemar Roofe and Hadi Sacko to add a bit extra to his disjointed team. His final substitute raised eyebrows as teenager, Malik Wilks came on to make his Leeds debut just two days after his brother had been shot dead.  

The changes didn’t spark Leeds into a recovery and when captain, Liam Cooper picked up a second yellow card with eight minutes to go, their fate was sealed. All that remained was the pitch invasion as those fans under the age of thirty got to feel what it was like all those years ago when Coventry came calling.

Leeds manager, Gary Monk was among a clutch of manager accused of not taking the cup seriously for making too many changes to his team but even Sutton manager, Paul Doswell acknowledged an understanding for Monk’s position in his desire to take the Yorkshiremen back to the Premier League. However, Doswell was also keen to point out that while it may not have been Monk’s best starting eleven it was still a Championship starting eleven and nothing should be taken away from his team.

Monk for his part took defeat on the chin stating that perhaps he had gone too far with the team rotation and maybe it was one or two changes too many.

 

Either way Sutton were through to the fifth round of the cup and, for the first time since the formation of the old Third Division almost a century earlier, had the prospect of being drawn against a fellow Non-League side as Lincoln City joined them in the last sixteen. The draw threw up an amazing scenario of not one single all Premier League clash with Sutton getting a dream home tie against title chasing Arsenal, which instantly raised suggestions of the National league side moving the tie to Crystal Palace’s Selhurst Park to boost the attendance. 

Sutton: 1:Ross Worner, 2:Kevin Amankwaah, 27:Simon Downer, 6:Jamie Collins, 17:Dan Spence, 24:Maxime Biamou, 15:Craig Eastmond {Replaced by Baboye Traore 90 +1}, 16:Nicky Bailey, 12:Adam May, 21:Roarie Deacon, 8:Bedsente Gomis. {Manager: Paul Doswell}

That stop set up a tense finish as a rare Ipswich attack resulted in a dangerous free kick as the game ticked into stoppage time with all in 
Attendance: 9,054
Attendance: 9,054

Leeds: 12:Marco Silvestre, 31:Lewie Coyle, 34:Paul McKay, 6:Liam Cooper, 33:Tyler Denton, 16:Matt Grimes, 37:Billy Whitehouse {Replaced by 7:Kemar Roofe 73}, 15:Stuart Dallas {Replaced by 24:Hadi Sacko 57}, 23:Kalvin Phillips, 10:Marcus Antonsson, 11:Souleymane Doukara  {Replaced by 36:Mallik Wilks 64}. {Manager: Gary Monk}

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