Sutton United’s first season in the National League had a blip in the form of fellow promoted outfit Solihull Moors.
After ruining their opening day at Gander Green Lane, we then went and thumped them 3-0 at the ATG as they were busy preparing for Arsenal to come to town.
Both clubs have moved in different directions since promotion. Moors have overhauled the playing staff twice, both during mid-season, while Tim Flowers this season became the seventh man to take charge of a National League fixture for the club. The lack of stability has resulted in survival in our penultimate fixture twice.
Sutton United have become a pillar of consistency with Paul Doswell gradually improving his side season-by-season. The U’s are now one of the strongest sides in the division, one of the toughest to beat and their direct approach makes them an uncompromising outfit, their third-place justification for the faith placed in Doswell.
Both sides have started this season brightly, however, and The Moors come into Saturday anticipating a far tighter game than the 2-0 home defeat at the ATG last term. After all, The Moors have become a similarly uncompromising outfit physically and victories over Eastleigh, Maidenhead United and Aldershot Town have shown those core qualities.
This won’t be a pretty game of football. Neither side will allow the other an inch and it will take either a moment of magic or a set-piece to separate the two sides.
The Moors impressed at Sutton last season but the hosts showed just how far we still have to go if we want to fight in the top-half of the division. This is a chance for Moors to prove we are ready to take the next step in the National League.
Tim Flowers is hopeful that Kwame Thomas, Jermaine Hylton, Alex Gudger and Dan Sweeney are all fit and available for Saturday’s home game.
Hylton and Thomas were ruled out late on in the build-up to the fixture on Tuesday night at Fylde while Dan Sweeney was replaced after 25 minutes. Luke Maxwell scored his first goal for the club and is hopeful
Paul Doswell has no fresh injury concerns ahead of the game but will be without Nicky Bailey still. Left-back Aswad Thomas was sent off against Salford City and remains suspended.
Opposition player to watch
Craig Eastmond has built a career at Sutton United as a ball-winning midfielder but two goals in his last two games, against Salford City and Ebbsfleet United, make him a danger to be aware of in the centre of the pitch. Sutton aren’t the most exciting side to watch so effective players are valued. If Eastmond continues to add goals to his game (he has scored 8 in three seasons) then he will be one of the more valuable midfielders in the National League.
Sutton United 1-0 Solihull Moors
Sutton United were one of only two sides last season to do the double over Solihull Moors in the league and only one of only five sides that kept two clean sheets against The Moors. After a comfortable 2-0 victory at the ATG in Gary Whild’s only league game in charge, Sutton received more of a test in the return at Gander Green Lane but a Tom Bolarinwa goal was enough to separate the two sides. The Moors wouldn’t lose another game until the final day of the season.
Referee: Gareth Rhodes
Another manager that has just made his way into the National League after a spell in the National League North, Rhodes’ first refereeing appointment in the top tier of non-league came in Gateshead as the North East outfit beat Dover Athletic 2-1.
He has never taken charge of a Solihull Moors fixture previously.
Assistant referees: Alan Hull & Robin Cox
Fourth official: Andrew Genders
Solihull Moors 1-1 Sutton United
Solihull Moors’ next 5 fixtures (National League unless stated):
25.08.2018: Harrogate Town (A) – 15:00
27.08.2018: Wrexham (H) – 15:00
01.09.2018: Barrow (A) – 15:00
04.09.2018 – Leyton Orient (A) – 19:45
08.09.2018 – Hartlepool United (H)