Rovers return to the capital this Saturday as they look to bounce back to winning ways in Sky Bet League Two at Sutton United.
This weekend’s hosts at the VBS Community Stadium are looking for their first win of 2024 as they seek to climb out of the bottom two.
THE LAST MEETING
When the two sides met on October 14, Rovers eased to victory at the Eco-Power Stadium as they scored four – their highest tally of the season to date.
Joe Ironside opened the scoring from the penalty spot before adding a second just after the break.
Zain Westbrooke and Mo Faal scored the other two goals in the second half but the hosts were denied a clean sheet in the 99th minute when Harry Smith slotted home.
SUTTON’S RECENT FORM
Since that meeting in the autumn, the U’s have won just twice in 16 attempts in League Two and their last victory came in a 1-0 success at AFC Wimbledon on Boxing Day.
Sutton have lost just once in their last five league matches with the other four games ending in score draws.
On Tuesday night the Londoners fell to defeat against Harrogate Town.
LAST TIME OUT
Sutton United 1 Harrogate Town 2
Sky Bet League Two, Tuesday, January 30, 2024
Line-up: Bouzanis, Adom-Malaki, Kizzi, Sowunmi, Jackson, Eastmond (Lakin 46), N’Guessan (Angol 64), Coley (Duke-McKenna 46), Beautyman, Patrick, Sanderson. Subs not used: John, Arnold, Moore, Hart.
Following the dismissal of Matt Gray earlier this season, Steve Morison was appointed as Sutton manager on January 6.
Notably featuring for Stevenage and Millwall during his playing career, Morison coached in the academies of both Northampton Town and the Lions before a first senior job with Cardiff City.
He left the Bluebirds in September 2022 and spent time in charge of Isthmian League Premier Division side Hornchurch before arriving in SM1 at the start of this calendar year.
THE KEY MEN
Goalkeeper: Dean Bouzanis
Reading-loanee Bouzanis joined Sutton United on deadline day of the last summer window and has played 24 times for the Amber and Chocolates – keeping three clean sheets.
The former Australia U23 international was also part of the U’s National League triumph and picked up silverware Down Under having won the AFC Champions League and FFA Cup with Western Sydney Wanderers and Melbourne City respectively.
Defender: Ryan Jackson
The 33-year-old right back arrived at Sutton in the summer with a wealth of EFL experience under his belt.
The U’s’ number 23 turned out for Gillingham, Colchester United and Newport County over the last decade and has scored one goal in 21 matches so far this season.
In the middle: Harry Beautyman
Beautyman has achieved hero status at the VBS Community Stadium over two spells at the club and has scored 42 goals in 222 appearances from midfield.
He also gained EFL experience with Peterborough United and Northampton Town and was named in the National League team of the year during Sutton’s title-winning campaign.
Up top: Oliver Sanderson
Fulham-loanee Sanderson joined Sutton in the January transfer window after a successful loan spell with Oxford City in the first half of the season, where he scored 13 times in 29 appearances.
As a scholar at Fulham, Sanderson directly contributed to 28 goals – scoring 22 and assisting six – and is now looking to impress on loan away from Craven Cottage.
Formed in 1898, Sutton United were promoted to the EFL in 2021, finishing eighth in League Two and reaching the EFL Trophy final in their first campaign in the league.
Rovers first meeting with the U’s in the November of the 1999/2000 Conference season when Sutton ran out 1-0 winners in the capital before Rovers won the return fixture 1-0 in the January.
The two sides have crossed paths on five occasions and Rovers narrowly lead the head-to-head rivalry with three wins in comparison to Sutton’s two.
All five meetings have resulted in home victories, with Rovers’ last triumph coming in October as they ran out 4-1 winners at the Eco-Power Stadium.
TURNED OUT FOR BOTH
Despite having short spells at each, both sides have enjoyed the services of Kwame Thomas with the striker having two stints with the U’s and one with Rovers.
Thomas was first on loan with Sutton United in 2017 and turned out four times in that period before earning a permanent contract with the Amber and Chocolates just last season. The striker played 14 times for Sutton last term.
The former Derby County apprentice joined then-Darren Moore’s Rovers and scored three goals in 16 appearances, with two of those coming in a 7-1 victory at Southend United.
Now 28-years-old, Thomas is plying his trade with Aldershot Town who currently sit inside the National League the play-offs.
Contributor: Jefferson Hall-Nolan