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A look at the opposition: Sutton United

13 October 2023

Club News

A look at the opposition: Sutton United

13 October 2023

Following an impressive 5-1 demolition of Notts County on the opening day of the season, it took Sutton until last weekend to get their next win, with the goals flowing once more as they beat Walsall 4-0.

They did make progress in the Carabao Cup however as they saw off Cambridge United and Wycombe Wanderers to reach the third round.

LAST TIME OUT

Sutton United 4 Walsall 0

Sky Bet League Two, Saturday, October 7, 2023

Line-up: Bouzanis, Kizzi, Goodliffe, Sowunmi, Hart (Jackson 86), Coley (Beautyman 86), N’Guessan, Clay, Patrick (Pereira 86), O’Brien (Angol 75), Smith (Kasimu 88).

THE MANAGER

Matt Gray was appointed in April 2019 and guided them into the EFL and made them contenders for promotion to Sky Bet League One as well as the final of the EFL Trophy in the 2021/22.

The 42-year-old previously held assistant positions at Eastleigh, Aldershot Town and Crawley Town before arriving at Gander Green Lane. As a player, Gray spent time in the Academies of Tottenham Hotspur and Cardiff City before spells at Barnet, Hayes and Havant & Waterlooville. He was forced to retire at 25 due to injury.

THE KEY MEN

The keeper: Dean Bouzanis

Bouzanis embarked on a second spell at Sutton in the summer when he joined on loan from Reading and has recently reached 100 appearances for the club. His first tenure came in the summer of 2020, having previously turned out for Melbourne City in his native Australia. The 32-year-old spent time with Oldham Athletic and Accrington Stanley before joining Reading in 2022.

Defender: Omar Sowunmi

A summer signing from National League side Bromley, former Ipswich Town youngster Sowunmi has plenty of experience in the EFL, having turned out for Yeovil Town and Colchester United in League Two. At a towering 6ft 6in, the 27-year-old is a goal threat and netted eight times for Bromley last season in the National League.

In Midfield: Christian N’Guessan

N’Guessan joined Sutton in the summer from Ebbsfleet, who he helped to claim the National League South title last term. He began his career at Blackpool and while he did not make a senior appearance, he was among the substitutes for an EFL Trophy game against Rovers in December 2016. He switched to Burnley’s U23 group in 2017 and had a spell on loan at Oldham.

Up top: Harry Smith

The 28-year-old has plenty of experience in the EFL having spent time at Millwall, Swindon Town, Macclesfield Town, Northampton Town, Leyton Orient and Exeter City while also enjoying a loan at Motherwell in the SPL. Smith netted twice in last weekend’s win over Walsall to move to four goals for the campaign. Like Sowunmi, Smith brings the aerial threat, standing at 6ft 5in.

HEAD TO HEAD

Formed in 1898, Sutton United joined the Football League for the first time in 2021/22 having won the National League title the previous season.

Their first league meetings with Rovers came last season in League Two. On August 6, 2022, Sutton travelled to the Eco-Power Stadium and were defeated 2-1. Donovan Wilson gave the visitors the lead which they held until second half stoppage time when George Miller levelled the scores and Kieran Agard snatched a dramatic winner for Rovers. 

In the return fixture on February 18, 2023, Sutton won 2-0 with second half goals from Coby Rowe and David Ajiboye.  

TURNED OUT FOR BOTH

Rovers and Sutton United bookended the senior career of goalkeeper Stuart Nelson. Born in Stroud in 1981, Nelson joined Rovers during the 2001/02 season, but had to settle for being understudy to Andy Warrington. In April 2003 he made two senior appearances in the Conference as Warrington was rested before the play-offs. He was released before the following season but was soon picked up by Brentford.

In January 2022, Nelson was signed by Sutton United from Dorking Wanderers and made two league appearances before going on to join Dover Athletic. In all, he made 510 senior appearances.

Contributors: John Coyle, Gavin Hepworth

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