Article by Mark Bravery
Last Saturday's 2-0 win at bottom club Solihull Moors kept Sutton United in fourth place in the National League table, but they will look to strengthen their position over the next few weeks during a run of other games against sides in the lower half of the table, the next two both at home.
This Saturday (18 November) the visitors are FC Halifax Town, whom Sutton will be meeting for the first time. The West Yorkshire outfit was formed in 2008 following the demise of the original Halifax Town AFC, a club that had been relegated from the Football League twice in ten years. The new club, whose former players include Leicester City and England striker Jamie Vardy, dropped from this level in 2016 but was promoted back via last spring's North division play-offs, defeating Chorley 2-1 in the final.
The Shaymen made a slow start to this season, but a good sequence of results during September saw them climb briefly to second in the table. However, they are without a win in their last seven league games, and have slipped to 16th. Last Saturday they drew 0-0 at home to Woking.
Sutton, now undefeated in eight league matches, will be missing the injured Craig Eastmond, and although Saturday will probably be too soon for Nicky Bailey to have recovered from a groin injury, fellow defensive midfielder Simon Walton should be back. Kenny Davis, Josh Taylor and loanee Alfie Egan are also available to fill the central midfield berths, while the on-loan Tom Bolarinwa, who impressed on his return to Sutton colours at Solihull, will hope to start again on the right wing.
The Halifax squad is likely to include midfielder Daniel Batty and defender Josh Clackstone, both young players on loan from Hull City. Joint leading scorer Matty Kosylo is an injury doubt.
Sutton are back at home next Tuesday evening (21 November) when they host Torquay United. The Devon club are in their second spell at this level, having been relegated again from the Football League in 2014. Paul Doswell's men did the double over the Gulls last season, winning 2-0 at home and 3-2 away, a Maxime Biamou goal and a Bailey penalty settling matters in the home match.
Torquay only narrowly avoided relegation to the South division last spring, finishing 17th, and a poor start to this season saw manager Kevin Nicholson depart after just four games. New head coach Gary Owers, previously in charge at Bath City, has overseen two wins since his appointment in September, but his side remain second-bottom, above Solihull only on goal difference. Last weekend they lost 1-0 at home to Maidstone United. This Saturday they travel to AFC Fylde.
The Torquay forwards Rhys Murphy and Jake Gosling are both doubtful because of foot injuries. Their squad could include defender Jazzi Barnum-Bobb, just signed on loan from Newport County.