Steve Harris – @steveharris84
Match details: Sutton United V Torquay United – National League
Venue: Gander Green Lane
Date: Saturday 7th March 2020
Previous NL form (last six):
Sutton United: D – D – D – D – W – L
Torquay United: D – W – D – L – W – W
Last time the two teams met: National League, Torquay United 1 Sutton United 2 – Saturday 16th November 2019
Sutton United upset the National League form book as they ended their seven-match winless league run against promotion chasing Torquay United.
David Ajiboye gave the U’s the lead, which they held until Ben Wynter equalised for the Gulls with his first goal of the campaign, before Harry Beautyman scored Sutton’s decisive second midway through the second half to seal the U’s first win since September 21st.
The Gulls began the game on the front foot as Jean Yves Koue Niate and Matt Buse both saw efforts blocked in the opening ten minutes.
Sutton were in front in the 12th minute through a solo effort from Ajiboye after he cut through the Gulls defence before drilling past Torquay keeper Lucas Covolan.
United boss Gary Johnson was forced into his first change on 28 minutes as Kalvin Kalala entered the fray in place of Frank Vincent, who sustained an ankle injury. Despite this setback, the hosts levelled matters on 32 minutes as leading scorer Jamie Reid teed up Wynter to calmly slot home Torquay’s equaliser. Moments later Wynter found himself well-placed to score a second for United, but his long range effort sailed narrowly wide.
On the stroke of half-time, a cross from Jon Barden picked out Harry Beautyman but Sutton’s leading scorer saw his shot deflected behind for a corner.
In the second half, Omar Bugiel threatened for the visitors as he forced a stunning reflex save from Covolan in the 53rd minute, following a cross from Kyel Reid. From the resulting corner, Bugiel was once again denied by the Brazilian. On 69 minutes Sutton regained the lead when Beautyman latched onto a free-kick from Ben Wyatt, which was flicked on by Bugiel, and ghosted through the Gulls back-line before finding the target with an angled effort.
Towards the end, Johnson threw caution to the wind as he sent Manny Duku on for Koue Niate and even through Robbie Cundy up front. With two minutes to go his decision nearly paid off as Manny Duku was denied by the reflexes of the U’s debutant keeper Nikola Tzarov, as Sutton held on to claim the win.
Manager: Matt Gray
After spells as assistant manager at Eastleigh, Aldershot Town and Crawley Town, Matt Gray took on his first managerial role with the U’s in the summer of 2019 following the departure of Paul Doswell.
He started his playing career with Tottenham Hotspur and then went on to appear for Cardiff City, Hayes and Havant and Waterlooville before he was forced to retire early through injury at the age of 25.
One to watch: Omar Bugiel
Born in Germany, Lebanese international Omar Bugiel played for 1860 Munich at youth level, before moving to England where he appeared for Selsey, Burgess Hill, Bognor Regis and Worthing. It was his form for Worthing, for whom he scored around 50 goals in around 120 appearances, that attracted the attention of Forest Green Rovers, who he joined February 2017. Bugiel helped Rovers to win promotion from the National League in the 2016-17 season, and briefly played for them in the Football League prior to signing for Bromley, initially on loan before signing permanently for the Ravens in the summer of 2018. He is currently in his first season with the U’s and is the club’s second top scorer with ten goals.
Classic Encounter: FA Cup 1st Round replay, Torquay United 4 Sutton United 0 – 22nd November 1989
One season on from Sutton’s famous FA Cup run which included a memorable win over Coventry City in the third round, the Gulls avoided a similar fate in the first encounter at Gander Green Lane thanks to a volley from John Uzzell.
The replay at Plainmoor four days later saw the Gulls run out as emphatic 4-0 winners. Phil Lloyd gave United the lead and then Jimmy Smith helped himself to a brace before Matt Elliott completed the scoring. The Gulls win help to set up a trip to Basingstoke Town in the second round, which was then followed by the famous Paul Hirons inspired 1-0 win over West Ham United in round 3.
Tom Bolarinwa – Coby Rowe – Ben Goodliffe – Ben Wyatt
Kyel Reid – Jon Barden – Rob Milsom – Will Randall
Omar Bugiel – Callum Kealy
Joe Lewis – Robbie Cundy – Kyle Cameron
Ben Whitfield – Connor Lemonheigh-Evans – Asa Hall – Jake Andrews – Jackson Longridge
Ade Azeez – Jamie Reid
COYY – Steve