Despite twice bravely coming from behind, underdogs Sutton Town AFC were beaten 5-2 by Carlton Town in last night’s Notts FA Senior Cup final at Eastwood, writes Peter Bough.
But for 60 minutes, the Snipes, plying their trade in the Central Midlands League, more than lived with their Evo-Stik opponents, fitness the telling factor in the destination of the cup in the end.
Sutton looked tired and not surprisingly so, this was their fourth game in a spell of just nine days.
En route to the final, though, Sutton had dumped out cup holders from the Evo-Stik League Eastwood Town as well as Rainworth MW in the semi-final, but in the end it proved to be a bridge too far in their bid to bring the famous old cup back to the Hosiery Mills.
Carlton took the lead after just three minutes. Nathan Hollingworth sliced a clearance out for a corner. Sutton failed to clear their lines from the resulting flag kick and Carlton’s leading striker Julian Topliss drilled the loose ball past the outstretched arms of Gavin Saxby.
Sutton where finding it hard to get a foothold in the match, but almost hauled themselves level on 14 minutes.
Thomas Wiggings was lucky to escape a caution when scything down James Whitehead down the left flank. Whitehead’s delivery was superbly met by Hollingworth, and his low drive had the beating of Carlton’s custodian Grant Brindley but his goal bound effort was franticly hooked away by Daniel Fletcher.
However, just three minutes later they were level - and what a superbly taken goal it was.
Andy White played a sublime ball inside to Dale Gilliatt, and his deft ball through carved open Carlton’s rearguard, leaving Craig Mitchell to race through and calmly thread the ball past the advancing Brindley.
Carlton soon resumed the ascendancy, having numerous chances to regain the lead, and on 38 minutes, through a succession of corners, they did just that.
The first corner saw Saxby tip Blair Anderson’s vicious drive onto the post and out for another flag kick, from which Alex Troke guided his header past the outstretched arms of Saxby.
On 53 minutes Sutton were back on level terms again. They’d earned a free kick down the right flank. Whitehead’s teasing ball in was met by Andy White, his bullet header was superbly tipped onto the bar by Brindley and the rebound fell nicely for a simple tap-in for substitute Matt Milnes.
To Sutton’s horror Carlton immediately regained the lead - and what a gift it was.
Gary Whitehurst must have thought it was Christmas as, not for the first time in this game, Sutton had failed to clear their lines. They passed the ball out from defence directly to the feet of Whitehurst. He couldn’t believe his luck and still Sutton sat back has he drilled a low shot past Saxby.
Five minutes later it was game over as far as Sutton were concerned. Dean Gent played the ball through to Wiggins, who dribbled his way past three defenders before simply tapping the ball past Saxby.
Just three minutes later they added a fifth. An innocuous ball forward found man of the match Blair Anderson who superbly lobbed the ball over Saxby from 20 yards out.
SUTTON: Saxby, Webster, Hollingworth, Charlesworth (Sweeny 65), Hewett, Ludlow (Milnes 50), Gilliatt (Guest 58), Rhodes, White, Mitchell, Whitehead. Subs not used: Batty, Short.
CARLTON: Brindley, Darkin, Fletcher, Troke, Nightingale (McAnulty 75), Smithson, Thorton, Gent, Toplis, Wiggins, Anderson. Subs not used: Martin, Kearney, Henry, Hunter.
SNIPES MAN OF THE MATCH: Rhodes.