Match, January 1989
The Winner! Bricklayer Matthew Hanlan thumps the ball past despairing Coventry 'keeper Steve Ogrizovic to clinch a sensational Cup victory for Sutton.
First blood to Sutton as Tony Rains (second left) flashes a header into the Coventry net.
GIANT KILLERS SUTTON UNITED STORM INTO SOCCER HISTORY
Sutton Guardian, Thursday 12 January 1989
Sutton United wrote their own chapter in fotball's history books on Saturday when they knocked high-flying Coventry City out of the FA Cup.
Sutton were cheered into the fourth round of the compeition by an 8,000 capacity crows at Gander Green Lane with many more enjoying free views of the action from neighbouring back gardens and upstairs windows.
Despite a hesitant start when Coventry, fifth in Barclays League, had several chances to take the lead, Sutton never looked out of their depth.
They were rewarded after 42 minutes when a Micky Stephens corner was flicked on at the near post by Nigel Golley for Tony Rains to head past Steve Ogrizovic in the Coventry goal.
Seven minutes into the second half, the visitors were level. A ball from Steve Sedgley found David Phillips who carved through Sutton's defence to score.
But just six minutes later the U's reclaimed the lead thanks again to a Stephens' corner.
The ball was played wide to Phil Dawson whose cross was met by an unstoppable volley from Matthew Hanlan.
As the final whistle blew hundreds of jubilant supporters invaded the pitch to congratulate their heroes.
Sutton boss Barrie Williams was delighted with his side's performance.
"There's a few tired legs in our dressing room now They gave their all. This result will reverberate through the soccer world."
Sutton's only previous round four appearance was when in 1970 when they were beaten 6-0 by League champions Leeds United. "We have well and truly laid the ghost of Leeds now," said the champagne-soaked manager.
In Monday's draw, Sutton were given an away tie against Norwich City in the fourth round on Saturday, Hanuary 28. Carrow Road based Norwich are second in Division One.
The Informer, January 1989
Sutton United cooked Coventry's goose at Gander Green Lane on Saturday.
And as the final whistle blew, United manager Barrie Williams leapt to his feet so fast he bumped his head on the dug-out roof - a reminder, as if he needed one, that this was no pipe dream.
But at first it looked as though this third round FA Cup tie would run to form. Launching an early onslaught, First Division Coventry created three scoring chances in the opening minutes, while United could only reply by pitching long, futile balls towards their prolific goal scorer, Lenny Dennis, who was neutralised by Kilcline's close marking.
After 20 minutes, Sutton learnt to deal with the combination of Bennet and Borrows on the right and the menace of Regis and Speedie waiting in the middle, and the GM Vauxhall Conference side found confidence in their own ability.
The hoofing ceased, the back four settled into a style which suited Paul Rogers, the midfield visionary whose determined tackling and incisive distribution enabled Sutton to begin pushing Coventry back into their own half. Soon Sutton forced their first corner.
Bringing up tall centre-back Nigel Golley for the near post flick-on made Sutton vulnerable to a Coventry break, creating a phase where either side seemed likely to score. But this calculated risk paide off in the 43rd minute when Golley lured goalkeeper Ogrizovic to the near-post, heading on for Captain, Tony Rains, to head home past the lunging Kilcline.
Buoyed up, Sutton began the second half pushing even further. Coventry seized on this after seven minutes, breaking from deep inside their own half. Bennett cut a swathe down the right, finding Sedgley. His through-ball met Phillips' defence-splitting run and the Welsh international concluded this punishing move by driving past Roffey into the Sutton net.
A lesser team could have lost morale at this point, but United regained midfield composure with Rogers the central inspiration behind his team's renewed endeavours. Within six minutes of the equaliser, Sutton had forced another corner.
As Stephens made ready to take the kick from the right, swarming Sutton players lured the entire Coventry defence to the far side of the box, leaving Dawson free to receive the short corner, which he curled over the flummoxed Sky Blues for 22-year-old Matthew Hanlan to volley home at close range. The scorer's manic rapture said it all.
For a while both sides created more chances. Hanlan nearly scored a second, while at the other end Coventry came close on occasions but lacked any real sense of urgency until the closing minutes. These were harrowing moments for United.
Coventry threw everything forward and from their many corners came frenzied shots on goal which Sutton desperately managed to keep out. Referee Alf Buksh brought United's finest 90 minutes to a close and the celebration began.
The lemonade that a victorious Sutton player sprayed Grand Prix style, was a reminder of the modest status of this club, a fact belied by the exhibition on the pitch. As Kipling would have said - exceedingly good!
MIGHTY UNITED A STEP CLOSER TO WEMBLEY
Newspaper Unknown, by Paul Fernandes, January 1989
The scenes that greeted Sutton United's FA Cup shock 2-1 win over First Division giants Coventry City at Gander Green Lane on Saturday were unforgettable.
Immediately after referee Alf Buksh blew the final whistle a number of fans rushed on to the pitch to chair off their heroes.
This was the start of a night of memorable celebrations. Most of the capacity 8,000 crowd had come to cheer the underdogs Sutton and showed their joy by staying on to give the local side a standing ovation lsting 20 minutes.
The players responded magnificently. Realising that the day belonged to the fans as musch as them, they did not attempt to hurry back to the dressing room, exhausted as they were.
When the fans on the field had finished congratulating their heroes, Sutton skipper Tony Rains led his squad to the top of the main stand to pay tribute to their supporters.
Rains, in the his tenth season at the club, had celebrated his 613th appearance by headind Sutton into the lead just before half time. This is his testimonial year and Sutton's great chievement ensures it will receive great support.
Sutton's manager Barrie Williams, who has made a name for himself in the national Press with his quotes ranging from King Lear to the Venerable Bede, had chosen something from Kipling in the match day programme:
Nor the Army as a whole
It's the everlasting team work
Of every bloomin' soul."
He could not have chosen a better verse to mark Sutton's greatest feat in the club's history.
The last time Sutton were drawn against a First Division side in the FA Cup was in the 1969/70 season, when they were drawn at home to Leeds United. They received a 6-0 mauling.
On Saturday, the Leeds bogey was finally laid to rest.
SALUTE OUR CUP HEROES
Newspaper Unknown, by Paul Fernandes, January 1989
Sutton's heroes survived a pulsating last 20 minutes before producing one of the greatest FA Cup shocks in this third round tie at Gander Green Lane on Saturday.
Sutton are one of only six non-league sides to have knocked out First Division opposition since the war. The last team to do it were Altrincham who beat Birmingham in 1986. Eight thousand delirious dans gave Sutton an unforgettable reception after they had ousted the 1987 FA Cup winners.
When Coventry neutralised Sutton's first half lead even the most loyal fan must have thought the minnows' FA Cup dream was over.
But Sutton then showed courage and character to battle back and ensure a fairytale ending.
Coventry started off with such a flurry it seemed just a matter of time before the local side would capitulate. The crowd seemed to think so too. Every 50-50 tackle won and every clearance raised a cheer. It looked like the fans were merely trying to delay the inevitable.
But Sutton had other ideas and they gradually composed themselves to pull off one of the biggest feats in FA Cup history.
Coventry looked threatening on the right with Dave Bennett causing all sorts of problems. Unfortunately for Coventry he received little support from David Speedie from whom so much was expected as was the case with Cyrille Regis.
Regis, in particular, was well below form and was finally replaced by Keith Houchen after missing an opening goal.
Sutton struggled earlier to cope with the withdrawal of central defender Stuart Hemsley who failed a fitness test in the morning. Replacement Vernon Pratt looked uneasy at first but settled down to play an important role.
Coventry's early dominance earned them a number of corners but Sutton's defence held firm. Goalkeeper Trevor Roffey was first called into action in the 25th minute when he easily gathered a headed effort from Brian Kilcline following a free kick.
Soon after this Sutton got their first corner and it nearly gave them the lead. Micky Stephens' inswinger was knocked on by Steve Rogers and Lennie Dennis saw his effort blocked for another corner.
It was from a corner that Sutton stunned Coventry three minutes before the break. Stephens floated the ball to the near post, Nigel Golley it flicked it on and skipper Tony Rains headed home despite a despairing lunge by Kilcline.
Sutton left the field at hald time to a tremendous roar returning to an even bigger one.
Paul McKinnon and Dennis both caused problems for Coventry before the visitors hit back on the break in the 51st minute. McGrath, Bennett and Steve Sedgley combined to set up David Phillips who drew out the helpless Roffey before firing home.
But five minutes later the unbelievable happened, Sutton forced a corner and used a set-piece they had rehearsed all morning. Stephens slipped the ball to the edge of the box completely catching out the defence. The waiting Phil Dawson aimed goalwards and Matthew Hanlan volleyd gome as a deafening cheer went round the stadium.
As Coventry piled on their reserves of strength in the closing minutes Sutton's rearguard gamely held out. Jones headed the ball clear after Roffey was beaten at a corner, Roffey himself making a good save from Houchen in the last minute.
50 GREATEST FA CUP UPSETS EVER!
No. 2 - SUTTON 2 COVENTRY 1
Four Four Two, January 1998
Death and taxes are said to be the only two certainties in life. A third is that the FA Cup third round will produce a result as bizarre as it is unprecedented. The Sutton manager created the right mood by quoting Kipling in his team talk. Where Shankly abused the opposition and Alex Ferguson abused crockery, Barrie Williams reflected on the 'everlasting teamwork of every bloomin' soul.'
At the time Coventry were a creditable second in the First Division and their defeat of Spurs in the 1987 final was still fresh enough for the Sky Blues to be referred to as a 'good Cup side' - in Coventry, anyway.
But Sutton's attention to set pieces in training (they spent the morning practising them in a local park) paid off with two goals from corners. The first came from 613-game veteran Tony Rains, the second from Matthew Hanlan. With First Division pride at stake, Coventry launched an assault on Sutton's goal of the type normally seen by English teams in Europe attempting to reverse a massive aggregate. It proved equally futile.
Tony Rains and Matthew Hanlan, the duo who did for Coventry in 1987.
'THE LAST 15 MINUTES WERE A BIT HAIRY'
MATTHEW HANLAN ON SUTTON 2 COVENTRY 1
Our preparation was the same as usual except that the morning of the match we went to a park to practice our set-pieces. It didn't go too well to be honest.
Before the match our manager Barrie Williams was running around quoting the great bards - he wrote something in the programme as well. The press loved it. He never did it in the dressing room though - I think he thought it was wasted on us simpletons.
Ironically, after being so bad at them in the morning, both our goals came from corners. Tony Rains got the first about half-way through the first half, but they pulled one back when David Phillips went through. Bit of a nightmare that - I should have been marking him.
My goal came on about 58 minutes. Another corner was pulled back to the corner of the box, the cross came over and I volleyed it in.
The last 15 minutes were a bit hairy - I still don't know how they didn't score. The final whistle was a big relief. I missed most of the celebrations in the dressing room because Tony and I were dragged off to do live interviews on Grandstand but we eventually got to the bar. They had to throw us out in the end.