Rovers triple threat
By Gary Brigden
Sutton Common Rovers picked up all three points with a comfortable victory over Cobham on Saturday, thanks to goals from Aidan Brown, Ollie Twum and Marlon Pinder.
Darren Salmon and Donny Rennalls were forced into four changes from the side that had somehow won at Raynes Park Vale the previous week, with Aaron Bogle, Craig Hastings and Tommy Smith all suspended, and Asa Rixon-Nicholls unavailable. Into the line up came fit again left back Matt Tanton, and teenage centre halves Guy Baskerville and Ryan Green, there was also a recall in the middle of the park for the influential Callum MacLean.
Understandably with so many changes it was a slower start than Rovers are used to, and it was Cobham who had the better of the opening exchanges. Twice in the first ten minutes debutant Green gifted possession to the visitors, but Rovers were able to get bodies round the ball and clear the danger.
Craig Bradshaw was called into action on ten minutes, when a snapshot from 12 yards by the lively Gary Abigosun forced the Rovers keeper into an excellent tip over the crossbar.
Rovers were starting to get on top, with their neat intricate passing causing the Cobham backline problems, and it was only good defending by James King and his teammates that helped keep us at bay. With debutant Green and Baskerville dealing well with the two big Cobham forwards, it looked as though the half would end scoreless.
Rovers did go close on 37 minutes when good work by Nes Bellikli, Pinder and Brown eventually set up skipper Matt Farrell but his effort curled just wide of the left hand post. Three minutes later and a Rovers corner was only half cleared to Malachi Robinson, but his effort from distance flew harmlessly wide.
Rovers opened the scoring on the stroke of half time, Bellikli dispossessed a Cobham player and found Farrell, his pass split the Cobham backline allowing Brown a run on goal, and a calm finish took Rovers into the break 1-0 to the good.
The second half saw an even more positive approach from the hosts, with the Cobham backline put under pressure from the off. Indeed Rovers increased their lead five minutes into the half, when Tanton and Bellikli combined on the left to cut the Cobham defence apart, and although Tanton's cross was well defended by Samuel Taylor, the loose ball dropped to Twum and he curled a delightful effort beyond Andrew Westphal for 2-0.
Brown made way for Reyon Dillon on 68 minutes, and Rovers increased their lead on 71 minutes. Twum looked to have been fouled by the Cobham left back, but a corner was the outcome. Quick thinking saw Twum find Bellikli who beat two players before squaring to Maclean, his shot was turned home by the predatory Pinder for 3-0.
Ben Senior and Phil Page entered the fray for the final 15 minutes, in place of the excellent Bellikli and the hard-working Pinder, but aside from a half chance for Page, Rovers were unable to trouble Westphal again.
At the other end Francis Sey almost got through to the Rovers goal, but was denied by another decent stop by Bradshaw and Rovers picked up all three points.
Next up for Rovers is Wednesday night's Premier Challenge Cup tie away at Division 1 side FC Deportivo Galicia