City Progress in League Cup
By Martyn Sexton
Canterbury City edged their way through to the quarter-finals of the Southern Counties East Challenge Cup with a tight 1-0 win over Division One Sutton Athletic, writes Eddie Allcorn
Canterbury City edged their way through to the quarter-finals of the Southern Counties East Challenge Cup with a tight 1-0 win over Division One Sutton Athletic. On a cold and windy evening in Hextable it was never going to be a classic game, but a mix and match City XI did just enough against opponents that boasted an unbeaten home record in the League (ten wins and a draw).
Sutton Athletic were never going to be easy opponents, they only lost 2-1 to Cray Valley (PM) in the Vase and City became the first side to stop them scoring at the London Hire Ground this season. In truth it was not a game blessed with numerous goal scoring opportunities as both sides rather cancelled each other in a scrappy first half.
Sutton began the brighter and created the first half chances, McGinty shooting straight at debutant keeper Roberts and again City’s keeper was forced to save with his legs on eight minutes. At the other end on 19 Froggatt saw a promising shot from the edge of the box parried by Sutton keeper Nash but Turner was ruled offside going for the inviting rebound as City finally perked up. McGinty then lobbed just over the keeper in the 21st minute but his effort went wide.
City began to enjoy more luck down the right wing and an excellent run and pull back by Barkaway to Dawodu but Rob Lawrence put the loose ball over the bar on 28. It typified a frustrating spell where City carved out a string of moments in the Sutton area but failed to get a proper shot away.
This was exemplified by a free-kick on 31, Lee met it at the far post with the goal at his mercy, but he failed to get a proper connection on it and Sutton smuggled it away. Another set piece on 36 caused further Sutton panic but they survived. Dan Lawrence’s fine play on the wing and tantalising cross into the area was unrewarded on 41 meaning despite the City pressure building, the sides went in all square at half-time. Very 0-0 and the cold fans were not enthusiastic at the prospect of extra-time!
City began the second half on the front foot and a far post corner on 52 was scrambled away from Turner. Thankfully the deadlock was then broken on 55 minutes with a messy goal in keeping with the match. The ball finally ran free on the left wing and was crossed low and hard for Josh McCallum to bravely bundle home from two yards amid the flailing boots. 1-0 to City.
The goal stunned Sutton into action and they then enjoyed their best spell of the game. A series of set pieces and corners forced City to hang on. Sutton really should have scored on 63 but their shooting boots were left back in the changing rooms. Sutton then thought they had deservedly equalised on 70 minutes when a looping effort was brilliantly tipped onto the bar by Roberts and the rebound was dispatched only for the flag to give offside.
Thereafter City began to dominate again, hitting Sutton on the break as the game opened up. Unfortunately, they didn’t make the most of the opportunities to kill off the tie, Keyne going closest with a fine overlap down the left on 76 but his cross-cum-shot caught the corner of post and bar and flew wide. On 82 there was a huge shout for a City penalty when Sutton defender Hill appeared to handle a high hopeful ball into the box, his only defence was ball to hand, but it looked blatant. Referee Collins thought otherwise.
City then saw out time giving brief debuts to substitutes Cairns and Harvey. The Sutton team appeared to get a bit ratty with each other as the minutes ticked down. City should have added a second two minutes into added time but Turner blazed over the bar when a cool head was required. No damage done though as the final whistle saw City through. They now host Chatham Town in the last eight on Wednesday the 6th of February, hoping for fourth time lucky against the Chats!
Sutton Athletic: Dean Nash, Joe Hill, Thomas Menditta, George Bryan (George Reed 46), Tom Hammond, Michael Mills (Darren Wheeler 63), Eli Graham, James Sutherland, Christopher McGinty, Conor Evans, Dan Gunner (Callum Flynn 80).
Booked: Christopher McGinty 59
Canterbury City: Tom Roberts, Harry Barkaway (Henry Harvey 87), James Nurden, Dan Keyne, Josh McCallum, Ollie Lee, Rob Lawrence, Dan Lawrence, Mobolaji Dawodu (Renford Tenyue 67), James Turner, Josh Froggatt (Charlie Cairns 86).
Subs: - Gary Sayer, Kyron Lightfoot
Goal: Josh McCallum 55
Referee: Mr Howard Collins
Assistants: Mr George Reed & Mr Harry Graham