Article by Johnnie Lowery
In a game largely dependent on refereeing decisions, Sutton United’s unbeaten start to the season came to an end with Aldershot always in control after U’s were reduced to ten men on the hour mark.
The early stages were fairly dull with few chances, though Paul Doswell’s men were definitely the stronger of the two sides. It wasn’t until 10 minutes in that even a half chance for either side came about, Josh Taylor seeing an effort from the edge of the box blocked before it could worry the Shots keeper. The closest Sutton came was when a cross from Charlie Clough, playing at right back in the absence of Dale Bennett, was met by Harry Beautyman but his header was well saved by Jake Cole. Aldershot’s first opportunity came after a mistake by Dean Beckwith, though the eventual effort was comfortably saved by Jamie Butler. Indeed it wasn’t until after the game’s major turning point on the half hour mark that the hosts had another opportunity. A Sutton freekick into the box saw shouts for a penalty after Jamie Collins was pulled back by a defender when it looked like he might reach the ball. Referee Carl Brook wasn’t interested, but was very quick a minute later to bizarelly show Collins the red card after a foul on the halfway line that looked to be a yellow at best. From this point on United dropped into a 4-4-1 with Craig Eastmond at right back and were penned in as Aldershot sensed their opportunity. Though there was plenty of pressure disappointingly it was right on half time that the goal did come, Scott Rendell getting free in the six yard box to volley home.
Paul Doswell responded with a triple substitution at half time with Ross Lafayette, Kieron Cadogan, and Tom Bolarinwa all introduced. Despite this it was still unsurprisingly the side with eleven men still creating the better of the chances and Butler was twice called into action with some good saves. The lead was doubled on 65 minutes though, the ball being played through to Jacob Berkeley-Agyepong on a quick break for the striker to neatly slot home. Two minutes later Sutton were nearly back in it as Beckwith got his head to a corner but sent it just over. United continued to press and with five minutes left really should have scored when Bolarinwa’s cross was met by first Cadogan and then Lafayette, but somehow neither could force the ball home. U’s were handed a lifeline in the final minute of normal time however, an off the ball incident in the penalty box whilst the ball was in play resulting in play being pulled back and a penalty awarded. Lafayette made no mistake, and set up a frantic five minutes of stoppage time. There was one final chance, a Beautyman freekick just evading the yellow shirts in the box, but not long after the whistle went signifying the end of Sutton’s unbeaten start to the season.