City were on a real high coming into this
match having dumped league leaders Evesham out of the FA Cup.
Unsurprisingly Cally only tinkered with his side, with the only
significant change seeing Jimmy Cox come in up
front with Rawlins dropped to the bench.
City came charging out
of the blocks from the start, with Sutton Coldfield grateful to
survive the opening few minutes. A blistering shot from Tucks went
narrowly wide, then the searing pace of Jimmy Cox undid the Brummie
defence, only for him to leave the ball behind him at the crucial
point and his shot was scuffed into the keeper.
The opening goal was only slightly
delayed though. A Sutton attack floundered in midfield as Chennas
broke up the play and came away with the ball. He sent Cox free down
the right, and Cox for once got his head up to spot Johnstone belting
through in side him. Having received the ball at pace Kacey
then set himself and fired the ball high to the keeper's left from 25
yards. Three in four games not a bad goal haul from right-back.
City continued to look
in control without perhaps creating the clear chances they would have
liked. Tucker had a good shout for a penalty turned down having been
seemingly pushed while challenging for a Chennas corner. Chennas
was also at the heart of a move which saw Bayliss nudge the ball just
wide after a good run and cross from the left. Just when City looked
to be coasting to the break Sutton Coldfield nipped an equaliser
against the run of play. City's defence were guilty of napping to
allow a run straight through them, and although Hines blocked the
first shot he could not get to Mitchell's follow-up.
City then seemingly were caught
unawares by a Sutton side that had found a new spirit by that
pre-break tonic. The Gloucester defence were slow to respond to the
threat, with Dicks' frantic gestures meeting with blank looks. Hunt
was booked for a full blooded challenge that felled a Sutton player
somewhat needlessly in midfield. We had one let off as a good chance
was skied, but the visitors nabbed the lead on 67 minutes when
Ferguson volleyed in a deep cross.
City hadn't been
totally dormant through this phase of the game, but Cox was once again
doing damage with his charging runs but frustratingly not delivering
end product in terms of crosses or shots. Tucks
had also seen a long drive whistle into the T-End. However it was only
the appearance of Matt Rawlins off the subs bench that really fired
the City rockets.
City began to play some
excellent football with Tucker and Rawlins interlinking well down the
right. It was one such moment which sent Rawlins on a run into the
box. He'd seemed to run into a dead end, but Bayliss took on the loose
ball and showed great determination to make the by-line and send over
a tempting cross. Rawlins had recovered to
meet the ball at the near post and nod in a glancing header from close
Brummie tempers were
beginning to fray and an off the ball incident led to a full melee
just outside the City penalty box. It was difficult to see who had
started the incident, but by the end several players on both sides
could be considered lucky not to have found themselves in deep
trouble. as it was the referee made a gesture of booking one Sutton
player and City keeper Ally Hines who'd come
further than most to throw his punch and join in the fun.
The T-End as always
enjoyed the extra bit of entertainment and were in vocal form as City
were pushing forward and playing some really good football. The third
came again from good play from all three forwards, and again Rawlins
was able to skip past one tackle and hold off another challenge to put
over a low cross met with a neat volley by Cox.
City's joy was short
lived though as once again our rocky defence proved our Achilles heel.
A hopeful high ball was allowed to split the defence, and the hapless Moore
made a clumsy challenge and tug in the box to leave the ref with little option
but to give a penalty converted by Degan. The closing minutes saw more
agony as City could still have grabbed the winner. First sub Meadows
wasted a free header from six yards after good work from Tucks and
Cox, and then Wayne Thorne saw his driven shot smack off the post and
roll across the goal line tantalisingly beyond the lunges of both
Baylo and Rawlins.
Ultimately this was a
match in which City managed to snatch despair from the open arms of
victory. To be anywhere near the top we have to begin winning at home,
and to do that we either need to bag even more goals or find a plug
for the goal drain of our back line.