Article by Mark Bravery
Having lost at home to Torquay United on Tuesday evening, in their most disappointing performance of the season so far, Sutton United will aim to get their National League campaign back on track this Saturday (25 November) when they travel to Guiseley AFC, another club currently occupying a place in the division's bottom four.
Sutton lost this fixture 2-1 last season, John Rooney scoring a stoppage-time winner after a Matt Tubbs penalty had brought United level.
The West Yorkshire club went on to finish 20th, thus narrowly avoiding the drop in both their previous campaigns at this level, and a poor start to this season led to the departure of manager Adam Lockwood at the end of August. The appointment of Paul Cox, followed by a switch to full-time status, has brought about a slight improvement in results, although last Saturday's 3-2 defeat at Dagenham & Redbridge, a contest in which the Lions had been 2-0 ahead, left them in 22nd place. Their match at AFC Fylde on Tuesday was called off because of a waterlogged pitch.
Better news for Guiseley is that they are through to the second round of the FA Cup for the first time in their history, having won a penalty shoot-out in their first round replay at League Two's Accrington Stanley. They will now play away at Mansfield Town, the club that Cox led back into the Football League, on 3 December.
Sutton's defeat on Tuesday was their first in ten league games, and saw them slip one place to fourth, but only three points behind new leaders Wrexham. They will still be without the injured Craig Eastmond, though Nicky Bailey is now back in action. There will be checks on the fitness of forward Tommy Wright and centre back Dean Beckwith, who both missed Tuesday's game through concussion and sickness respectively, and perhaps also on leading scorer Craig Dundas who limped off shortly before the end of the Torquay match. Popular winger Ross Stearn, recently re-signed from Eastleigh, is likely to be a substitute as he was on Tuesday.
The Guiseley squad could include midfielder Liam Hughes who has just been signed from Cox's previous club Barrow.
Sutton are back at home next Tuesday (28 November) in the first round of the Surrey Senior Cup, when they entertain Redhill, currently 16th in the Combined Counties League's Premier Division. Last season Sutton fielded a mixture of academy and youth players in this competition, losing on penalties in a first-round tie at Raynes Park Vale. It wouldn't be a surprise if the club repeats that approach to team selection, although with Sutton out of the FA Cup much earlier than last season, manager Paul Doswell might opt for a more experienced line-up.