Twum on target as first's hold off Southall
By Gary Brigden
Sutton Common Rovers picked up all three points in a hard fought 1-0 win away at Southall on Tuesday night.
Darren Salmon and Donny Rennalls made four changes to the side that had beaten CB Hounslow Utd at the weekend, with Phil Page and Neset Bellikli on the injury list, Craig Bradshaw left out and Kevant Serbony back with his parent club. In their place came Ollie Ellaway, Mike Hill (for his first start), Marlon Pinder and Asa Rixon.
It was lively start to the game, and Southall should have been ahead inside the opening seven minutes when a deep cross found Sandro Fernandes but he fired his volley over the crossbar. Hill, on his first start, was influential in the middle of the park and from a probing run forced a corner which came to nothing.
The game settled for a period, but Southall had a great chance to open the scoring on 20 minutes. Craig Hastings was pinged for handball on the edge of the area, and from Adam Louth's low free kick, Ellaway made a superb save low to his left.
Hill looped an effort over the crossbar from 40 yards midway through the half, latching onto a half clearance by keeper Rourke Pickford. A minute later and a Daryl Cooper-Smith cross was headed goalwards by Ollie Twum, but comfortably gathered by Pickford.
Rovers were starting to dominate, and Twum forced a cracking save out of Pickford away to his right, and from the corner Rixon saw his headed cleared off the line by Claudio Owusu. Southall responded positively and a neat move down the right ended with a timely clearance by Hastings.
Half time came with the game scoreless.
Early in the second half and Southall's Edrisa Dampha fouled Twum on the left, and from the free kick Marlon Pinders cross-shot cannoned off the crossbar. We continued to hold the upper hand, and almost forced a chance on 55 minutes. A Matt Tanton cross was fumbled by Pickford under pressure from Hastings, and the loose ball as fired goalwards by Matt Farrell and cleared by Dampha. Pickford received treatment for the knock he received in the collision.
Just after the hour and Cooper-Smith found his way into the book for a slightly mis-timed challenge. Rovers had an escape on 65 minutes when Fernandes was bundled over at the back post by Tanton, but the referee waved away the Southall appeals and awarded a goalkick.
Rovers struck the only goal of the game on 66 minutes, Cooper-Smith won the ball on the edge of the area, and in a challenge with Louis Bailey the ball bobbled through to Twum, and he calmly fired low beyond Pickford, leaving Southall to appeal for an offside flag that never came.
Salmon and Rennalls made a double change on 70 minutes with Cooper-Smith and the injured Hill replaced by Kyle Henry and Aidan Brown. Scores should have been level a minute later when Hastings played the ball straight into the path of 10, but his effort from distance went well wide of the left hand post.
Guy Baskerville thumped a header over the crossbar on 76 minutes, as Rovers looked for the clinching goal. Ten minutes from time and a snapshot on the turn by Darreon Mark bought a good save out of Ellaway, and back at the other end Pinder curled a free kick just over the crossbar.
As the game entered stoppage time Rovers had a great chance to seal the points, but Brown was just unable to get away from Dampha and the chance went begging. Southall ramped up the pressure deep into stoppage time forcing a succession of corners, which came to nothing, but with almost the last kick Rowan Vine curled an effort against the crossbar, and with Ellaway on the floor the rebound was somehow put wide of the left hand post, and Rovers surived to pick up all three points.