First's pick up unlikely three points
By Gary Brigden
Sutton Common Rovers secured all three points thanks to a hard-fought 1-0 win over Guildford City on Saturday. Rovers were never at their fluid best, and relied on sheer will to get themselves over the line, courtesy of a 78th minute Daryl Cooper-Smith st
Darren Salmon handed debuts to young goalkeeper Callum Hodgson, and full back Malachi Robinson, in place of the injured Michael Eacott and Tommy Smith, who had moved to Chipstead.
It was the hosts who started brighter and on three minutes Hodgson pulled off a good stop from a close range Kieran Campbell strike. Three minutes later and another Campbell effort flashed across the face of goal, as Guildford dominated the early exchanges.
Matt Auletta was almost created a chance on the right when his looped cross was cleared by Nemo Adams, as it seemed destined for Malachi Thomas. From the quick break Jordan Gallagher and Kieran Campbell linked up and Campbell saw his shot go just over the crossbar.
On the quarter hour Cooper-Smith and Robinson linked up well, with a low Cooper-Smith shot being saved by Mohammed Sampat away to his right. At the other end, Dan Stewart and Gallagher carved us open, only for a superb challenge by Joe Mead to clear the danger.
Hodgson did superbly on 17 minutes to turn aside a low drive by Stewart which seemed destined for the bottom corner.
Auletta did well to get beyond Josh Burrowes on 26 minutes, but his cross was cleared, and we were struggling to make any real in-roads against a Guildford backline, well marshalled by former SCR skipper Nemo Adams.
Burrowes and Stewart did well on the left, with the ball eventually being transferred to Gallagher, he cut inside Matt Tanton, but we got bodies back and were able to block the shot. Cooper-Smith had a shot deflected into the arms of Sampat. Back at the other end and a 9 shot on 35 minutes flew harmlessly wide of the SCR goal.
Cooper-Smith found his way into the book for an altercation with Guildford's feisty Louie Downey, and that was the last meaningful incident in the half, and we went in at the break grateful to be level.
Two minutes into the second half and a Matt Farrell effort from distance was comfortably gathered by Sampat, as we started brighter in the second half.
Guildford forced a couple of chances on fifty minutes, after we had struggled to clear a free kick, with the danger only being over once Hodgson had bravely gathered at the feet of Kiye Martin.
Shaun Clement-Peter fired over on 52 minutes, and Tanton then did really well to deny Gallagher after Guildford had worked an opening for the winger.
From the corner there was a huge scramble in our area with players from both sides throwing themselves at the ball, and Hodgson was eventually able to pounce on the loose ball.
We started putting Guildford under more pressure as we approached the hour mark, with good work by Thomas forcing a corner, which was cleared and just after the hour Cooper-Smith saw a shot deflected behind for another corner.
Guildford City made their first change on 65 minutes with George Pilbeam replacing Campbell. Five minutes later and we really should have taken the lead when a deep cross by Farrell found Asa Rixon-Nicholls but his header from close range went over the crossbar.
On 74 minutes, Gallagher did well on the right and neat link up between him and Martin ended with a foul by Tanton on the edge of our area. It was Gallaghers last action as he was replaced by Evander Lopes. From the free kick by Stewart, SCR skipper Aaron Bogle was able to clear, and eventually we smuggled the ball out of play.
Darren Salmon made his first change on 75 minutes with Mead making way for Danny Fernandez. Three minutes later and we opened the scoring. Auletta drifted passed four players and found Farrell who in turn set up Thomas, his shot was well saved but Auletta picked up the loose ball, squared to Cooper-Smith and he drilled the ball home.
Cooper-Smith then fired just over after more good work by Thomas. Craig Hastings hauled down Stewart on the edge of the area and saw yellow, and from the free kick by Clement-Peter, Adams headed over the bar.
Hastings then immediately spoke out of turn to the referee and picked up second yellow card, leaving us with ten men for the remaining minutes.
We replaced Cooper-Smith on 88 minutes, handing a debut to the combative Samuel Johnson, as Salmon looked to shore things up.
In the dying seconds Martin saw a free kick hit our wall and deflect behind for a corner, and from the corner Rixon-Nicholls did superbly to clear the danger and we held out to pick up a vital three points.