Points dropped in title chase
By Gary Brigden
Sutton Common Rovers dropped two crucial points in the challenge for the Combined Counties title, when they let a two goal lead slip against Camberley Town on Saturday.
Rovers started the game brightly and for 25 minutes popped the ball around the pitch and had the Camberley backline chasing shadows. In truth if it wasn't for keeper Richard Ossai Rovers would have been home and hosed inside ten minutes.
In the first minute a Nes Bellikli delivery was knocked back across goal by Ollie Twum and Kyle Henry saw his close range effort well saved by Ossai, and two minutes later Ossai denied Aidan Brown from point blank range as Rovers up the pressure. Brown then missed a gilt edged chance from a low Twum cross and you wondered if Rovers would break the deadlock.
You wouldn't have waited long though, from the goalkick Asa Rixon won the loose ball and set Brown away, and this time he calmly rolled beyond Ossai for 1-0. Rovers continued to dominate, and chances came and went, whilst at the other end, Camberley's attacks were being well dealt with by Guy Baskerville and Craig Hastings in the heart of the Rovers backline.
It was 2-0 on 25 minutes, the overlapping run of full back Malachi Robinson saw him pick up possession and swing over a delightful cross which Daryl Cooper-Smith guided beyond Ossai. In hindsight it was the worst thing Rovers did, at 1-0 concentration levels and doing the right thing were paramount, but after the second goal went in, complacency set in and Rovers started over complicating things, slowing play down and generally allowing Camberley back into the contest.
The visitors started to put the Rovers backline under pressure and although the recalled Craig Bradshaw wasn't overly tested, there was an air of inevitability to a Camberley fightback. Just after the hour and good work by Samuel Bello-Balogun saw him find Marcus Cousins in the box, and he bought a foul out of Rixon, allowing Brad Smith to reduce the arrears from the spot.
The visitors were now in the ascendancy, and Rovers were struggling to find the rhythm that had been a feature of their opening spell. Just before the break Camberley were handed a chance to level the scores. Rovers failed to deal with a corner and Lamar Koroma theatrically went to ground in the area, earning another penalty. This time Bradshaw guessed correctly to make the save.
Rovers reprieve was only temporary and from the corner James Baxter was left with a free header, which he planted beyond Bradshaw and Bellikli on the line to send the sides in level at the break.
The second half was a much more mundane affair, with neither side really showing their true potential. Rovers were patient in their build up, but found their final ball to close to the impressive Ossai, or overhit, whilst going the other way, Camberley again rarely threatened Bradshaw in the Rovers goal.
Twum beat the Camberley defence on 53 minutes, but was denied by a well timed challenge by Ossai, and a minute later he was hauled down by Carl Garstang but the free kick came to nothing.
Rixon fired well wide on the hour and Rovers were continually frustrated. Darren Salmon and Donny Rennalls made their first change on 75 minutes introducing Phil Page for Brown and the prolific forward almost had an immediate impact, putting a header over the bar from a Cooper-Smith cross.
Cooper-Smith then set up Page, but with defenders closing him down he tried to find Robinson, but Camberley were able to clear. Pinder replaced Bellikli on 84 minutes, and shortly after Koroma went into the book for another poorly timed challenge.
Rovers made their final chance two minutes from time with Mason Seagroatt replacing Kyle Henry, and in stoppage time Page fizzed an effort just wide, via a deflection, and from the corner Ossai did well to turn another close range effort away from goal.
The final act for Rovers on a frustrating day was to see Pinder carded for a mistimed challenge.