Macclesfield Town succumbed to their first defeat of the season last night after two late goals handed Sutton United all three points at Gander Green Lane.
The visitors made the best possible start as early as the second minute when Kobi Arthur created space in the centre of the park, before he exquisitely set up Scott Wilson who smashed a thunderous half volley past Jamie Butler from twenty yards out.
The Macc fans who had congregated behind the goal went wild, yet for many the early strike had been a tad too early due to the fact that they were still walking around the non-segregated ground to join their fellow compatriots.
With only a couple of minutes on the clock, it was thought that the match would be played out in one of two ways – either Macc would build on their early strike and put the game beyond the home side, or a barrage of Sutton pressure would put in doubt the three points which the away following now thought was increasingly possible.
Following on from the early goal, Macc had a fair amount of good possession, and in the minutes that followed the visitors looked good value for their lead, as they looked for a decisive second.
On 11 minutes David Fitzpatrick broke free down the left hand side before launching a pinpoint cross to the far post which was met by Scott Wilson, yet he could only manage to send his ten yard header just wide of Butler’s goal.
A minute later Wilson proved to be the danger man again, this time skipping through the Sutton defence down the right hand flank before sending a teasing cross along the six yard line which agonisingly evaded both Toure and Fitzpatrick.
Gime Toure was then brought down on the edge of the penalty area, and despite Fitzpatrick’s free kick being easily blocked by the Sutton wall, the rebound fell back to him and he rifled a twenty yard effort which sadly flew straight at Jamie Butler.
On 18 minutes Macc were awarded a corner on the right which was whipped in by Scott Burgess. The Sutton defence were all at sixes and sevens and struggled to deal with the Macc onslaught, yet they would finally breathe a sigh of relief when Nicky Bailey hoofed the ball clear.
A minute later ‘keeper Billy O’Brien came to Macc’s rescue when Tommy Wright breached the Silkmen defence, yet the former Manchester City ‘keeper made himself big and managed to dilute the danger with a fine stop which was reminiscent of Peter Schmeichel in his heyday.
With twenty minutes gone, the hosts began to turn the screw a little as Craig Eastmond hammered a low twenty five yard drive just wide of O’Brien’s far post.
Sutton then claimed their first penalty of the night when Keith Lowe was accused of upending Craig Dundas in the box, however with a cheery wave Referee Alan Dale signalled that the protests were to be in vain.
On 23 minutes, O’Brien proved to be the hero again – this time Ross Lafayette’s stunning half volley from twenty five yards was acrobatically tipped over the bar when it looked for all the world that parity had been restored.
Five minutes later, Macc were back on the offensive as Scott Burgess launched a threatening run through the Sutton defence, yet he could not manage to square the ball to Scott Wilson who surely would have doubled our lead from close range.
Craig Dundas was proving to be one of Sutton’s main threats, and as he searched for his hundredth goal for the club Macc seemed to be content with containing our hosts as the first half edged towards it’s conclusion.
On 33 mins the away continent breathed another sigh of relief when a corner from the right was met by the head of Jamie Collins, yet O’Brien was equal to it despite the fact that the U’s defender really should have equalised.
Five minutes later, O’Brien was again the hero as Sutton began to terrorise his goal on a far too regular basis. This time he launched a phenomenal save to deny Ross Lafayette’s point blank header, much to the bewilderment of all supporters in the ground irrelevant of their allegiances.
Two minutes before the interval, Toure found space thirty yards out and looked to play Scott Wilson in, yet Butler was marginally quicker to the ball and as the first half ended the visiting heroes knew that one goal would probably not be enough.
Sutton signalled their intentions right from the restart as Lafayette smashed a fifteen yard drive just over Billy O’Brien’s bar – it was going to be something special to beat the Welshman but maybe that was just too special to try and pull off!
On 49 mins the home faithful thought that they had equalised when Lafayette brought another astonishing close range save from O’Brien, with the rebound being acrobatically headed in by Kenny Davis
As the midfielder celebrated Referee Dale was in deliberation with his linesman Matthew Morrison, who returned Macc to the ascendancy by stating that Davis had been offside when striking the ball home.
Jamie Collins then went down for the hosts, and despite my live updates stating that he was the 150th U’s player to do so, it did make me think about why Sutton play on a plastic pitch when so many of their own players seem to be struggling on it!
On 53 mins the home fans once again thought that they had equalised when Dundas shook the crossbar with a close range effort which dropped towards the goal line – yet our good friend at the time Matthew Morrison raised his flag once more and quelled the immediate danger at least.
In a bid to lighten the mood somewhat, I reported that Macc were defending like Wayne Shaw with his last Ginsters (Wayne was the pie eating ‘keeper for Sutton when they took on Arsenal last year). To be fair I was pretty much bang on at that time, as wave after wave of Sutton pressure was being unleashed on Billy O’Brien’s goal.
Yet the Welshman’s house was not for sale, and a number of glares at the Sutton forwards told them that incase they were in any doubt.
On 56 minutes, Macc launched a counter attack which could well have doubled their lead when substitute Ryan Lloyd’s long pump upfield was collected by Gime Toure whose fifteen yard screamer went wide of Butler’s near post.
Three minutes later Sutton threatened again when Tommy Wright sublimely chested down a cross from the right, before hammering a half volley just over the crossbar.
We really were living on a tightrope at this point.
Macc did have the odd isolated opportunity to pull further ahead however, and on 65 minutes Ryan Lloyd left the Sutton defence standing as he flew clear – only to see his low drive desperately deflected behind by Louis John.
Gime Toure connected with the resulting corner, yet his header could only be sent well wide of Butler’s upright.
Dan Spence and Aswad Thomas then went close for the hosts and as they began to run out of time, they abandoned their flowing football and went for the route one option by pumping balls in to the Macc box at every opportunity.
The Silkmen actually began to press in the latter exchanges with some decent build up play, yet unfortunately this did not really trouble Jamie Butler in the Sutton goal.
Despite holding out for 83 minutes, the hosts got back on level terms five minutes from time when Moses Emmanuel swept through the Macc defence before smashing an unstoppable drive past O’Brien.
Worse was to come under two minutes later when a deep cross from the right found Tommy Wright in space, and he made no mistake by drilling the home side in to what has to be said was a deserved lead
Captain Courtney Richards was then replaced by Danny Whitaker but it was too little too late for Macc, and as their loyal fans began the mammoth trek home Scott Wilson’s opener seemed like a lifetime ago.
Sutton United: Jamie Butler, Aswad Thomas, Dean Beckwith (Louis John 6’), Jamie Collins, Kenny Davis ( Josh Taylor 65’), Ross Lafayette, Craig Dundas (Moses Emmanuel 69’), Craig Eastmond, Nicky Bailey, Dan Spence, Tommy Wright.
Macclesfield Town: Billy O’Brien, David Fitzpatrick, Keith Lowe, Scott Wilson (Tyrone Marsh 65’), Courtney Richards (Danny Whitaker 87’), Noe Baba, Kieran Kennedy, Mitchell Hancox, Gime Toure, Scott Burgess, Koby Arthur (Ryan Lloyd 52’)
Referee: Alan Dale