Article by Mark Bravery
Less than four weeks ago Sutton United sat on top of the National League, but a haul of only one point from their last five matches has seen them slide to fourth, and they now face a difficult trip to Ebbsfleet United this Saturday (21 April), still needing points to be sure of participating in the end-of-season play-offs.
A jaded-looking Sutton have won just one of their last seven games, and that was against relegation-bound Chester. Tuesday evening's 2-1 defeat at Maidenhead saw them slip below Aldershot, their visitors on the last day of the regular season. A change of fortune in the final two matches could still see United finish third, but a continuation of their poor form, combined with unfavourable results elsewhere, might mean they finish eighth or lower and so outside the play-off places.
Ebbsfleet,whom Sutton beat to the South division title in 2016, were promoted last year via the play-offs, and have spent most of the season in mid-table. However, they are now unbeaten in eleven games, sending them on a gradual upward path, and Tuesday's 1-0 win at Eastleigh saw them rise to seventh. They are now only three points behind Sutton, with a game in hand, and a home win on Saturday would take them above Paul Doswell's team on goal difference. Sutton have lost on their last four visits to Fleet's Stonebridge Road ground. When the two sides met at Gander Green Lane in October the match ended goalless.
Sutton will check on the fitness of winger Tom Bolarinwa, who has missed the last three games with a sore achilles tendon. Midfielder Simon Walton is likely to remain sidelined by a strained hamstring. Sutton can though count on the experience of Nicky Bailey and captain Jamie Collins, both of whom have recently returned to first-team action. Ebbsfleet will be missing injured midfielder Jack Payne.