Sutton United keep the ball rolling - Slabber does the job
Sutton United's excellent run of form in all competitions continued with a 1-0 over Bromley in the Skrill South.
The visitors to Gander Green Lane had started the day four points ahead of United in second place, but Jamie Slabber's delightful goal early in the second half cut their lead down to a single digit.
The game took a while to get going, with defences on top in the first half hour.
Sutton found it difficult to break through a strong defence in which Rob Swaine was outstanding early on, while Bradley Goldberg, one of the Bromley stars of the division so far this season, was equally well patrolled by the Sutton back-line.
It did not make for thrilling fare, though, and the only moment that might have produced a goal was when Mitchell Nelson’s 30-yard shot slipped through the hands of goalkeeper Joe Welch, who was grateful to recover in time to stop the ball crossing the line.
There was light relief of sorts when referee Constantine Hatzidakis, who had a fine game without producing a single card, reversed the direction of a throw-in three times as a succession of players refused to take it from the right place, but as the half progressed Sutton began to assert themselves.
Jamie Taylor found himself free of the back line but pulled a shot wide, Anthony Riviere sent a volley off target, Dean McDonald twice hit long range shots past the post then Craig Dundas also tried his luck from distance.
This time Welch took no chances, pushing the ball wide and then diving to catch Jamie Stuart’s header from the resulting corner.
Sutton needed to survive the first minute of the second half to reach 500 minutes since they last conceded a goal, and they almost did not make it.
Immediately the half had started Jay May broke through, shrugged off Stuart, but could not beat Tom Lovelock, who diverted the ball for a corner.
Assist: Craig Dundas provides the cross for Jamie Slabber to score Picture: Paul Loughlin
Moments later, Brendan Kiernan also found himself bearing down on Lovelock’s goal, but again the United keeper was up to the job, this time judging his dive at Kiernan’s feet to perfection to push the ball away from the midfielder.
Having twice almost gone behind, United then achieved the breakthrough themselves. Slabber found himself in an unaccustomed position on the left wing but still swung in a good deep cross which was headed back by Nelson, sparking a scramble on the edge of the penalty area.
By the time the ball reached Dundas on the right of the area Slabber was back in more familiar territory so that when Dundas crossed low, he was well placed to turn the ball in at the near post with a delicate backheel.
Boosted by the goal, Sutton could have taken an even firmer grip as Nelson drilled in a free kick that was beaten away by Welch, and Taylor just failed to make sufficient contact as he threw himself at a Dale Binns cross.
The second goal would not come, although Sutton continued to pass and keep the ball well, but Bromley rarely threatened an equaliser, their one moment of hope coming when a low ball in from the left found Goldberg in space, but a poor first touch allowed Lovelock to come out and make another good intervention.
Charlie Clough came on to replace Slabber when the striker felt his hamstring tighten, playing up front rather than in his more usual central defensive role, and it was Clough who came closest to a goal near the end when his powerful shot was turned asde by Welch after fine work by Nelson had created the opening.
United are now unbeaten in 10 games, winning seven of those, and have not conceded a goal in six consecutive outings.
They go to Hemel Hempstead this weekend in the FA Cup.
Sutton: T Lovelock, M Nelson, A Fuseini, J Stuart, S Downer, D McDonald(sub D Scannell 75), A Riviere, C Dundas, J Slabber(sub C Clough 78), J Taylor (sub S Rents 68) D Binns.
Subs not used: J Folkes W Shaw.
Up front: Charlie Clough is about to have a shot on goal blocked Picture: Paul Loughlin
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