Article by Mark Bravery
Sutton United are about to embark on a testing run of festive fixtures in the National League, with games against in-form Tranmere Rovers and Boreham Wood either side of Christmas Day.
First up this Saturday (23 December, kick-off 3pm) is the home match against Tranmere. The Merseyside club, beaten finalists in last spring's play-offs, were pre-season favourites for the title, but got off to a slow start to this season, Craig Dundas's 99th goal for Sutton enough for a 1-0 win at Prenton Park in August. An improvement in home form, and only two defeats in their last eleven league games, have seen Rovers rise to ninth in the table, although they haven't won away in the league since September, and on Monday evening lost 2-0 at Solihull Moors in the FA Trophy.
Last season United won this fixture 1-0 thanks to a Dan Fitchett goal.
A win for second-placed Sutton could lift them back to top spot should leaders Macclesfield fail to win at Bromley. Paul Doswell's men are in decent form themselves, with just two defeats in their last thirteen league games, while last Saturday they beat Truro City 1-0 in the Trophy. There will be checks on the fitness of midfielder Kenny Davis, centre back Dean Beckwith and full back Aswad Thomas, all of whom have missed recent games.
The visitors may be without defender Adam Buxton, who was hurt in a late challenge at Solihull. Winger Jack Dunn is also an injury doubt while fellow midfielder Ben Tollitt is a long-term absentee. Tranmere's leading scorers in the league are Andy Cook and James Norwood with eight goals each.
On Boxing Day Sutton make the short trip across London to Boreham Wood (kick-off 3pm). The Hertforshire club, seventh in the table, are undefeated in eleven league matches, though on Tuesday evening needed a penalty shoot-out to overcome South division Dartford in a Trophy replay at Meadow Park. Their main threat may come from Bruno Andrade, scorer of ten league goals this season. Sutton lost this fixture 1-0 last season, also losing 5-0 at Meadow Park in the Trophy.