United waved goodbye to the Ryman League by destroying Basingstoke 5-0 at The Camrose. With Kettering beating Hendon, the U’s victory also secured them the runners-up spot. Eddie Akuamoah returning from injury to start at left wing back was Sutton’s only change from last weekend’s win against Heybridge.
Basingstoke’s hopes of reaching the Conference South were dealt a huge blow in the fifth minute when Tony Quinton timed his run to meet Nicky Bailey’s low corner from the right with a side-footed volley at the near post that hit the back of the net before the ‘keeper could move, 1-0.
With 18 minutes gone Sutton increased the lead to two. After a flowing passing move, Matt Gray’s deep cross was headed behind and, from the resulting corner, Quinton beat the goalkeeper to the ball six yards out and planted a header firmly into the goal for his second of the game, 2-0.
Sutton continued to dominate the match and went close to adding to the score twice in the next eight minutes. First, Paul Honey won possession and passed to Jon Nurse, who played it inside to Bailey but his shot was deflected wide of the right post. Then Glenn Boosey released Jon Nurse with a diagonal ball to the corner of the area and Nurse forced the ‘keeper into palming the ball away for a corner.
Before long, though, Basingstoke’s defence was broken again as Andy Iga’s long punt down field was excellently brought down by Matt Fowler and Jon Nurse took the ball from him, breezed past two defenders and then stroked a low shot into the bottom right corner, 3-0.
Iga was finally forced into making a save with 38 minutes gone but the U’s ended the half in control as Jon Nurse put a diving header wide of the goal after finding room at the back post to connect with a Bailey free kick. Half-time: U’s 3, Basingstoke 0.
The result was put beyond doubt three minutes into the second half when Honey was tripped from behind as he brought the ball towards goal from the right side of the area. Quinton was given penalty-taking duty for a chance to secure his hat-trick and calmly slotted the ball to the right of the goalie, 4-0.
Basingstoke had a good fifteen minutes following Sutton’s fourth goal but could not beat an inspired Iga. He dived to tip a one-on-one effort narrowly around the upright and then reacted to tip over a shot from a tight angle that had been wickedly deflected off of Tobi Jinadu’s right boot. When a ‘Stoke corner eluded the United defence minutes later, Iga was down quickly to block a low shot from close range.
Sutton were soon back in charge of the game and Bailey unfortunately couldn’t hit the target with a header from Jon Nurse’s cross and, after Gray had collected the ball and crossed towards the right post, Jon Nurse was adjudged to have handled.
With the second 45 half over, Quinton almost notched his fourth goal of the match but couldn’t get over a Bailey corner from the right and his header went high and wide of the target.
The rout was completed with fifteen minutes left when Honey scored his third goal of the season, his first since the 6-0 destruction of Carshalton in December. The move began on the halfway line as Jon Nurse controlled a high ball and knocked it ten yards to Bailey. He curled a pass into the path of Fowler down the right wing and he rolled it into the box to Honey, who side-footed past the ‘keeper from eight yards, 5-0.
Basingstoke eventually beat Iga with five minutes remaining but were denied a consolation goal by Gray, who somehow managed to head off of the line and preserve Sutton’s clean sheet.
The U’s may have finished with more but Jon Nurse was denied a penalty after being shoved from behind as he waited to head a Gray cross in at the back post. Final score: U’s 5, Basingstoke 0.
Goals: Quinton (5, 18, 48 pen), J Nurse (28), Honey (75).
Top Right, Jon Nurse beats the last defender before rolling it past the 'keeper for the third.
Bottom Left, Paul Honey is tripped from behind to win a penalty.
Bottom Right, Tony Quinton watches his spot kick beat the 'keeper to complete his hat-trick.
U’s v Woking, Surrey Senior Cup Final (06/05/04)
United pushed all the way to the final whistle but just couldn’t do enough to retain the Surrey Senior Cup against a full-time Woking side who finished ninth in the Conference. Sutton’s starting eleven remained unchanged from the team that won 5-0 at Basingstoke last weekend.
The U’s began the game brightly and had the better of the early play, forcing Woking into a long ball game. Matt Gray drilled wide from the edge of the area after ten minutes and, five minutes later, Jon Nurse planted a header wide of the right post from 20 yards after Gray’s cross from the right.
Minutes later Nurse went close again but flashed a shot wide of the left post after Tobi Jinadu and Matt Fowler had failed to send the ball goalwards.
Woking’s first serious attack gave them the lead in the 25th minute when a speedy counter-attack down the right flank caught out the Sutton back line and Raphael Nade rolled a pass across the box to Amos Foyewa who side-footed home, 0-1.
Sutton responded positively to going a goal behind and went as close as you can get to an equaliser ten minutes after the Woking goal. Glenn Boosey and Nicky Bailey took a corner from the left and it eventually dropped to the edge of the area where Gray ran in and struck a half-volley that rattled the cross bar. Jinadu brought down the ball as it bounced back into the area and it fell kindly to Fowler, but he could only hook it over.
Just before the break a dazzling passing move from United ended with Bailey knocking the ball past the ‘keeper but the linesman’s flag ruled the goal out. Half-time: U’s 0, Woking 1.
After the match resumed, United continued to play most of the best football and very nearly shocked Woking with an early goal when Nurse’s centre from the right was only cleared as far as Fowler and his low strike scraped a coat of paint off of the left upright.
Finally, with 61 minutes gone, the Yellows got the goal their football deserved. A long clearance found Fowler just inside the Woking half and with his first touch he angled a pass out onto the left wing. The pass fell straight into the path of Boosey, who took a couple of touches before swinging a cross towards the 18 yard line. Nurse managed to knock the ball down to Fowler, who held off a defender, turned inside him and then laid the ball back to Nurse, who struck it past the goalkeeper, 1-1.
Within a minute the U’s threatened the Woking goal again but Gray’s run and shot ended with the ball sailing narrowly high and wide.
Woking’s fast-paced counter-attacking football began to cause Sutton a few problems and with 25 minutes remaining, the United defence was very nearly taken apart but for an excellent saving tackle from Ryan Palmer.
Nurse headed over from a Bailey free kick and Boosey struck a sweet shot four yards wide of left post from just outside the box before Woking retook the lead. Once again it was a break down the right that opened up the U’s and Foyewa pulled the ball back from the touchline to Steve Ferguson, who tapped it in, 1-2.
United rallied and Nurse may have doubled his tally for the game but his thunderous drive after running in from the right wing whizzed past the left angle.
The Cards almost added to the scoring themselves but were denied by some inspired shot-stopping from Andy Iga. One amazing save with a minute remaining saw Sutton’s number 1 push a shot over the bar from point blank range.
The U’s tried desperately to pull an equaliser out of the bag and deep within injury time Paul Honey forced a save out of the ‘keeper but Woking had the experience to hold on for the win. Final score: U’s 1, Woking 2.
Goal: J Nurse (61).
Top Right, Nurse goes close again but can't beat the 'keeper to the ball.
Bottom Left, The U's celebrate the equaliser.
Bottom Right, United applaud their fans after collecting their medals.