1st 2-3 Sutton Common Rovers
Close encounter ends in a loss for Bridges
Due to the recent balmy weather in West Sussex, Jubilee field was deemed too dry for this fixture and therefore unsuitable to play on so the fixture was moved to Gander Green Lane, home of Sutton United and to Bridges' opponents, Sutton Common Rovers. In a tight game, Sutton just about came out on top, but with some last minute action almost winning it for Three Bridges.
Bridges started the game off really well with some heavy pressure in the first five minutes which really unsettled the Sutton defenders. The first chance of the game fell to Bridges, but the Sutton No. 2 was quick to intercept to stop what would have been a great chance for Bridges to take an early lead.
This seemed to wake Sutton up as they then took the turn to apply pressure on Bridges, in the space of just two minutes they flashed two low crosses into the box one excellently intercepted by captain Jamie Crellin. The next fell straight to Sutton's No. 9 but he couldn’t get the ball out of his feet and Bridges were able to clear their lines.
In a half of few chances it seemed the first goal in the tie would come from a set piece with many free kicks being given away in dangerous positions by both sides. Sutton had a good chance to take the lead with a free kick just on the edge of the box in the 18th minute which was struck hard and low and goalkeeper Kieron Thorp gathered at the second attempt. Bridges then had a turn in a similar position but Nathan Simpson fired just over the bar in the 24th minute.
The deadlock was then broken in the 28th minute when Sutton No. 11, Rob Hendry, took a corner which looked to be a poor one as it barely got off the ground but the ball managed to bounce its way through a sea of players and take an unfortunate deflection off captain Jamie Crellin and dribbled in past Thorp to make it 1-0 Sutton.
This set the tone for the next 10 minutes as Sutton piled on the pressure towards half time with the centre backs for Three Bridges, Bradley Peters and Jamie Crellin, making many important interceptions to stop Sutton adding another before the interval.
Bridges then turned up the tempo and ended the half as they had started, with lots of high pressure and a few shots that weren’t troubling the Sutton Goalkeeper. But a positive end of the half for Bridges.
Three Bridges kept up the pressure after half time, having made a number of substitutions, including four trialists, and it looked like only a matter of time before they grabbed an equaliser. After 10 minutes of hard work and a good defensive display by Sutton, Bridges finally got their breakthrough with an over the top ball played to No. 10 Alex Laing who lobbed the outcoming keeper. It looked destined find the net but came crashing off the bar to deny a well-deserved equaliser on the 55th minute.
The pressure continued with the Sutton goalkeeper forced to make a great save from close range in the 57th minute. Then in the 61st minute a lovely ball crossed in by Alex Laing, which looked destined for a Bridges player waiting in the box, was dubiously cleared by Sutton’s No. 12 nearly smashing the ball into his own net.
Completely against the run of play in the 67th minute Sutton’s Ollie Twum was slotted through with a delightful pass which he got on the end of and proceeded to slot is past Thorp into the bottom left to make it 2-0 to Sutton.
Sutton then began to settle for the first time in the half creating chances, and in the 69th minute they won a corner which was whipped in by the No. 11 and, headed towards goal, it looked certain to go in and make it 3-0 but Thorp made an outstanding reaction save to keep the score at 2-0.
In the 72nd minute Bridges thought they found a lifeline as they had the ball in the net following a cross to the back post but it was deemed to be offside by the assistant referee.
Three Bridges felt hard done by but soon got what they deserved in the 73rd minute after a dreadful tackle in the box led to a penalty being awarded. This was despatched by Connor French, despite Sutton’s goalkeeper Ollie Ellaway’s best efforts.
This looked like a turning point in the game for Three Bridges but in the 76th minute Sutton's Daryl Cooper- Smith had the ball just inside Bridge’s half. He didn’t have many options but looked up to see Thorp off his line and proceeded to lob him from almost the half way line. A truly outstanding goal to make 3-1.
This didn’t knock Bridges confidence and only seemed to spur them on with Ami Glloga scoring the first attack from kick off with a lovely finish.
Three Bridges mounted on lots of late pressure but this was not enough and all too late to stop Sutton riding out as 3-2 winners.
Man of the Match: Alex Laing
Match Report by Sam Gadsdon