Sutton United’s convincing home win over Crawley Town once again proved there is no place like home for the Us.
Since losing to Walsall at the end of October, Sutton have remained unbeaten at Gander Green Lane and possess an impressive home record of 14 wins, five draws and three defeats overall.
In comparison, the Us have only picked up 26 points on the road, losing 10 games and conceding over twice as many goals (33) as on home soil (16).
Tuesday night’s win against Crawley came on the back of a poor away defeat to Barrow, helping to position Matt Gray’s side nicely for the final two game run-in with the minimum of a Play-Off place still very much in the offering.
On paper, a home game against Bradford City followed by a 480 mile-round trip to Harrogate Town both seem winnable but as the Barrow defeat suggests, nothing can be taken for granted.
Bradford, although having nothing to play for, snatched points off fellow promotion hopefuls Tranmere Rovers and Northampton earlier this month and have already collected 27 points on the road – one more than Sutton’s away day exploits have produced.
Meanwhile, Sutton have already beaten Harrogate twice this season – two slender 1-0 wins at Gander Green Lane – one in the league in December and another in the EFL Trophy in January.
Lying seventh in the table, confirming at least a Play-Off place is very much in Sutton’s own hands but with Mansfield, Port Vale and Northampton all facing fellow promotion rivals in their final two games, a win over Bradford at Gander Green Lane may just be enough for Sutton.
However, assessing all the potential permutations is not something manager Matt Gray is thinking about, as he tells London Football Scene: “I just want wins.”
“We’re just taking it one game at a time and all that matters to me is the three points, it doesn’t matter how they come.”
Sutton’s home comforts aren’t a new phenomenon though, with the Us also exceptional on their own patch last season when they achieved their historic promotion from the National League.
At the time their success was based on an artificial pitch with many non-league detractors claiming it was a fundamental reason why the club reached the Football League for the first time in their 123-year history.
But, after being forced to rip up the astro-turf and install grass in order to meet EFL regulations, the South Londoners are proving they are more than capable of playing without their ‘plastic pitch’.
Last season, Sutton collected eight more points at home (46) than they did on their travels and only conceded four more goals away from home.
Whereas this campaign, they may have lost the same amount of home games but have already bettered their Gander Green points tally with the Bradford game to spare.
Furthermore, Sutton’s shut-out over Crawley was the side’s 16th of the campaign and is only two away from equalling last season’s total – despite playing in the league above.
Another factor behind Sutton’s continued Gander Green Lane success is their ability to score early with that crucial opener often being enough to seal victory.
Coming off the back of the Barrow defeat, two goals in the opening seven minutes from Alistair Smith and Richie Bennett set the tone against Crawley and ensured no-one of a Sutton persuasion had any promotion push palpitations.
Sutton will be aiming for a similar fast start against Bradford and, should they find themselves sealing a Play-Off place, will once again be hoping they can rely on home comforts to keep their incredible journey going.
‘LONDON FOOTBALL UNITES FOR UKRAINE’
Liaising with the UK Ukrainian Sports Supporters Club (UKUSSC) and the Association of Ukrainians in Great Britain (AUGB), London Football Scene has launched ‘London Football Unites for Ukraine’ – a fundraising campaign to provide as much relief to those in need.
We are urging all the Capital’s clubs, players and fans to raise as much money as possible for British-Ukrainian Aid (registered charity No. 1164472).
Please visit our JustGiving Page to give as much as you can and look out for more events and fundraising activities over the coming few weeks.
London Football Unites for Ukraine: www.justgiving.com/fundraising/londonfootballunitesforukraine