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Coventry Archive:
Sports Mirror, Sunday 8 January 1989

Sutton United provided the sensation of the FA Cup yesterday, blasting First Division giants Coventry 2-1 at Gander Green Lane.
Little Sutton humbled Coventry, Wembley winners two years ago, in the third round.
Skipper Tony Rains and brickie Matthew Hanlan provided the goals for the Vauxhall Conference underdogs, either side of David Phillips’ equaliser.
It slashed their odds of winning the trophy from 5,000-1 to 1,000-1 and manager Barrie Williams said: “It won’t sink in until I pick up a paper and see that we really have beaten Coventry City.”
Tottenham, beaten 3-2 by Coventry in the final two seasons ago, crashed 1-0 at Bradford.
Brian Mitchell’s 42nd minute winner provided Bradford with their second giant-killing feat in a month following their 4-1 Littlewoods Cup triumph over Everton.
Fourth Division Grimsby were also shock winners. The Mariners had top-flight Middlesbrough all at sea as Marc North scored twice.
Manchester United were held to a goalless draw at Old Trafford, and lost England skipper Bryan Robson, who was stretchered off after swallowing his tongue.
Holders Wimbledon beat Birmingham 1-0, thanks to a 28th-minute Terry Gibson goal, and favourites Liverpool, now quoted at 7-2, swept aside Carlisle 3-0.
Aston Villa, trailing 2-0 to Crewe at half-time, recovered to win 3-2, Alan McInally grabbing the winner.
Vauxhall Conference battlers Welling were beaten by Blackburn but, Kettering go into tomorrow’s fourth round draw after holding Halifax 1-1.

IT'S A KNOCKOUT! Coventry's Steve Sedgley tackles Sutton's Paul Rogers as super non-leaguers Sutton United put First Division Coventry City right out of the Cup.


Newspaper Unknown, Sunday 8 January 1989

A Bricklayer by trade and footballer for fun, Matthew Hanlan took up demolition work yesterday.
His 58th-minute goal knocked 1987 winners Coventry out of the Cup and left little Sutton celebrating one of the biggest FA Cup upsets of all time.


Sutton, the GM Vauxhall Conference club who showed Aldershot and Peterborough the door to oblivion last season, are what Cup dreams are all about. Their total wage bill is only about £400 a week.
Their most expensive player cost just £3,000. And their Gander Green Lane ground holds only 8,000.
Skipper Tony Rains, an insurance executive, scored Sutton’s first goal in an historic victory and was one of the players who later soaked manager Barrie Williams in celebration champagne.
Williams, Sutton boss for a decade, said: “It was unreal. We’ve beaten a side fifth in the First Division and we’ve beaten them well.
“The enormity of this result will echo throughout the Football League and will go into the annals of the game’s history.
“I’ll look at the scoreline on Sunday morning and I’ll be pinching myself to make sure it is true.”
Sutton were 2,000-1 outsiders before yesterday’s third round. Now they are 1,000-1.
“We dreamed we could win,” said Rains. “I’ve been with the club ten years and this was our finest hour and a half.”
Coventry manager John Sillett sportingly conceded: “It was a bad day for us and it will be even worse on Sunday. Sutton deserved to win.”

Unknown Source, Sunday 8 January 1989

Sutton have proved that anything is possible.
We have learned, over the years, to expect shocks and upsets at this point in the season but surely it was beyond all probability that an ordinary Vauxhall Conference club, fed a diet of Shakespeare at team talks, would beat a team currently fifth in the First Division.
Upsets, of course, occur each year but almost always involving clubs struggling to find their true form. Coventry limbered up for this apparent work-out with a 5-0 thrashing of Sheffield Wednesday last week.
They had done some homework for this match. Sutton were unlucky to lose to Middlesbrough in last year’s Cup and were bound to throw everything at the First Division club.
But as befits a team that won the competition just two years ago, there would surely be one result.
Instead, Coventry fell to goals from an insurance executive and a bricklayer to make, as manager John Sillett put it, history in the worst possible way. Gander Green Lane will remain a dark memory that will not go away.
Moments after the kick off the imbalance of the tie looked obvious. Steve Sedgley and David Speedie both had clear chances to score within the first two minutes.
Even when Brian Kilcline, who held the Cup aloft in 1987, thumped a header straight at goalkeeper Trevor Roffey after 25 minutes, it seemed a matter of time.
But Sutton, record transfer fee just £3,000, forgot all the laws of logic. Eventual hero Matt Hanlan twice came close to scoring after half an hour, and from that point the underdogs threw their lives into claiming a famous victory.
After 42 minutes mayhem broke out. A Micky Stephens corner was flicked on by Nigel Golley and there was Tony Rains to head home from close range.
And when David Phillips met Sedgeley’s 52nd minute through ball to beat Roffey for the equaliser, Coventry were surely poised to find that extra gear.
But when another Stephens corner was eventually slotted home by Hanlan, it became obvious that it would not be Coventry’s day.
The Sky Blues could not get off the pitch quickly enough when full time came. Sutton could not stay on it long enough to savour their moment with the crowd that had jubilantly invaded the pitch.
Sutton manager Barrie Williams regularly quotes Shakespeare during his team talk. And now he knows that all’s well that ends well.


Sunday Mirror, Sunday 8 January 1989

Bricklayer Matthew Hanlan wrote one of the most glorious chapters in FA Cup history by demolishing First Division Coventry.
The 22-year-old striker hit a 60th minute winner to cement a sensational victory for the part-timers against the 1987 winners.
But Sutton boss Barrie Williams, the former English teacher who lifts his players with quotes from Shakespeare, was nearly lost for words after this incredible upset.


“The enormity of this victory will take time to sink in,” said Williams. “It’s all unreal.”
But Williams can’t wait to discover who Sutton’s fourth round opponents will be in tomorrow’s draw.
“We’d like a big club, but we want them at home,” said Williams.
“I said before this game that beating Coventry was a dream. Now the dream has become reality anything is possible.”
But brickie Hanlan has his sights set on a trip to Old Trafford or Anfield.
“We want a big club but I’d like the chance to play at a ground like Old Trafford,” he said.
“Nobody frightens us now. Coventry weren’t as good as I thought they’d be, though they were a lot fitter than us. We were dead on our feet at the end and just managed to hold out.”
It was poetic justice that Williams’ courageous part timers should topple the team fifth in the First Division to write the club’s name amongst the Cup’s legendary giant killers.
After an early storm, when City looked ready to blow away the gallant GM Vauxhall Conference side, Sutton steadied and struck with a goal from skipper Tony Rains just before half time.
When City hit back in the 52nd minute through Dave Phillips normal pecking order seemed to have been restored at the tiny Gander Green Lane ground.
But Williams’ men picked themselves up and brickie Matthew Hanlan’s goal on the hour demolished the Sky Blues.
In a frantic final 30 minutes Sutton continually hung on by a thread but now their only worries are who will be the next victims in round four.
Coventry manager John Sillett was magnanimous in defeat. He said: “We’ve got no complaints. All credit to their players and the best of luck to them.”
Man of the match: Matthew Hanlan (Sutton).


Daily Mail, Sunday 8 January 1989.

They were reluctant to let the moment go, so celebrations spilled into the evening as they toasted one of the most astonishing results in 117 years of FA Cup upsets.
Giddy fans saluted players, hugged supporters, remnants of the starry eyed 8,000 gathered for the video replay that proved miracles can happen.

Miserable trek

And, in a deserted stand, away from the reveries, Sutton manager Barrie Williams collected his thoughts and shook his head in disbelief long after Coventry, fifth in the First Division and Wembley winners two years ago, had set out on the miserable trek back up the M1. They were beaten by a team of part-timers who have won only seven of their 22 GM Vauxhall Conference matches this season.
While the articulate, knowledgeable Williams was quoting Kipling in his programme notes, his players were reading Roy of the Rovers and memorising all the best moves.
“Yes, it’s pure schoolboy stuff,” agreed the former Essex English master. “Who, for instance, could have believed that my captain, a full-back with 600 games behind him and in his testimonial year, would score the first goal?”
Not 28-year-old skipper Tony Rains, who sat at his insurance company desk during the week and dared to daydream. “I pictured us winning, me scoring the goal… but then you have to put it out of your mind and get back to reality.”
Reality for once bordered on fantasy. Not only did Rains find himself virtually unmarked to head Sutton in front from a much-rehearsed corner, but when Coventry finally produced a David Phillips’ equaliser, they were level only six minutes. Then bricklayer Matt Hanlan topped another set-piece surprise by blasting a winner past Steve Ogrizovic. “It was our day,” said the 22-year-old. “We probably wouldn’t beat them again in 20 games.

No regrets

“I must admit I was surprised they didn’t get stuck in more and have a go. We play much more physical teams in the Conference.”
Rains, released by Fulham as a youngster, has no regrets. “Professionals have a hard life of training and travelling,” he said. “I have a secure job, I spend a lot of time with my family and friends and I still have my football. I’m happy.”
He was joined in a genuine, heroic performance by ten more players who made made nonsense of the gulf between third round protagonists from either side of soccer’s tracks.
Paul Rogers and Phil Dawson forced weary legs to sustain a killing midfield battle. Jamaican international Lenny Dennis forced Coventry captain Brain Kilcline into repeated fouls, for which the centre half was fortunate not to become referee Alf Buksh’s only booking.


And Vernon Pratt, robbed by injury of a part in last season’s losing duel with Middlesbrough, responded to an 11.30am alarm call by giving former England striker Cyrille Regis more to cope with than the lingering after-effects of flu.
Coventry manager John Sillett, as generous as the Midland fans who gave Sutton’s shattered warriors a ten-minute ovation, said: “We maybe let them off the hook, but they deserved to win. We’ve no complaints.”
Sutton – Rains (41 min), Hanlan (58). Coventry – Phillips (52).

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