Campbell strikes clinches three points
By Gary Brigden
Sutton Common Rovers maintained their promotion hopes with a hard-fought 1-0 win over North Greenford Utd.
Darren Salmon was forced into multiple changes from the side that had beaten Godalming Town the previous week, out went goalkeeper Michael Eacott (injured) and the unavailable Joe Mead, Daryl Cooper-Smith and Asa Rixon-Nichols, whilst Jean-Luc Kinsaba dropped to the bench.
Back into the starting line up came U21's captain and goalkeeper Ollie Ellaway, defenders Anson Cousins and Craig Hastings and midfielders Matt Auletta, Matt Ferdinando and Adam Allen, there was also room on the bench for Mason Seagroatt, another of the talented crop of teenagers at the club.
Rovers made a bright start and could have taken the lead in the opening minute when a ball over Carl Bower by Andrew White found Auletta and from his cross Michael Campbell was just unable to force the ball home.
White then did well on the left and after an initial cross was half cleared, Cousins picked out Auletta at the back post but his rushed shot went wide.
Kevin Chakadoza did well for North Greenford holding of the attentions of Craig Hastings, but from his set up Akash Abdollah fired well wide from distance.
Campbell notched what turned out to be the only goal of the game on nine minutes. A delightful ball by Man of the Match Craig Nelson found Auletta and his low cross was turned home at the back post by Campbell.
On the quarter hour Jamal Velinor got beyond Hastings, saw Aaron Bogle only succeed in forcing the ball high in the air, but Ellaway was able to gather under pressure from the forward.
Rovers thought they had a penalty on 18 minutes when Cousins released White, and although he got beyond Austin Schofield, he looked to have been tugged back, but the decision was a goalkick.
Campbell saw an effort well blocked by Guy Ansah-Palmer on 22 minutes, and at the other end Chakadoza almost got through on goal but was well defended by Hastings.
Chakadoza did well to force a mistake out of Hastings, and linked up with Daniel Vincent but Bogle made an initial block with Craig Nelson completing the clearance, and at the other end Campbell was unable to get away from Charlie Connor and North Greenford cleared their lines.
Matt Ferdinando fired an effort horribly wide on 37 minutes, and with just under five minutes remaining Greenford were almost gifted a goal. We gave possession away cheaply to Ansah-Palmer he found Vincent, and a raking ball reached Abdollah who cup inside Jeff Addo-Dankwa but saw his surge on goal ended by Allen.
We should have made it 2-0 just before the break. We nicked the ball off Schofield, White lobbed the keeper and Campbell was just unable to direct his effort on target.
Both sides then hit the woodwork as the half came to a close. A fierce drive by Velinor crashed against Ellaway's left hand post and at the other end Campbell guided an effort over Lucasz Jasiorski, but saw it his the crossbar. Half time came with Rovers 1-0 up.
Auletta turned Bower inside out in the opening minute of the half, forcing a corner but we were unable to fashion a chance and North Greenford were able to clear.
Velinor did well on 50 minutes and found Chakadoza, but his strike on goal was comfortably gathered by Ellaway. Two minutes later and after Nelson sprung the offside trap, Ferdinando was unable to direct his effort on target, and it remained at 1-0.
Campbell then broke free but saw his effort well saved by Jasiorski low to his right. At the other end and Chakadoza fired high over the bar after bundling his way through several challenges. Velinor then beat a couple of players before Hastings cleared his cross, and North Greenford were starting to exert more pressure.
Darren Salmon made his first change just before the hour, with Kinsaba replacing Ferdinando. On 65 minutes Rovers thought they had increased their lead, when a deep Bogle free-kick was knocked back across goal by Hastings and fired home by Campbell, but the flag ruled Hastings offside and the goal chalked off.
Salmon made his second change on 66 minutes with 17 year old Mason Seagroatt replacing White. Campbell bought a good save out of Jasiorski after a neat flick on by Seagroatt.
Nelson found Kinsaba on 70 minutes, he beat Schofield but his low cross was well defended by Ansah-Palmer. Nelson made way for Dan Dean on 75 minutes. With ten minutes to go Chakadoza fired a free kick well wide and the game seemed to be drifting towards its conclusion.
Dean was booked on 83 minutes for what looked to be a superb challenge, and Rovers almost increased their lead three minutes later when Seagroatt released Auletta but he dragged his shot wide. Campbell headed a Seagroatt cross straight at Jasiorski.
North Greenford threw players forward in a bid to level the game, but good defending on crosses by Hastings and Cousins ensured Rovers picked up a vital three points.