Royals 2 v 3 Matlock Town
A damaging defeat for the Royals, writes Jamie Brannon.
Sutton Coldfield Town's survival prospects were dealt a severe blow when they lost 3-2 to a Matlock side chasing a play-off berth, a result combined with Corby's win at Stafford, leaves The Royals back in the relegation zone with two games to play, and knowing that survival is very possible but not in their own hands.
The early exchanges were robust and the referee was perhaps a little generous in allowing a couple of meaty challenges to go unpunished. This combative start to the match negated the quality of the football on show, as neither side exhibited any fluency when in possession.
Matlock broke the deadlock when, in the 10th minute, a superbly looped pass created an opportunity for Marcus Dinanga to score. The Matlock striker has been in prolific form all season, and was rewarded with the Young Player of the Season award at the recent Evo-Stik ceremony. Ex-Wales and Liverpool striker Dean Saunders presented him with his trophy.
Sutton were having some joy by releasing Ryan Robbins through the centre but he couldn't quite get on the end of the passes. Sutton also had an Aaron Birch header scrubbed off for an offside infringement.
Eventually Sutton did find an equaliser: Robbins (pictured) pouncing on a ball that had ricocheted off a Matlock defender ran through to shoot past the onrushing Phil Barnes.
Moments later and Robbins almost added a second but his volleyed effort on the run was thwarted by a timely deflection. The St Kitts and Nevis man was a big presence in the first half with his attacking forays, and he also saw a header go just over.
Matlock reasserted themselves near the end of the half, producing a one-footed save from James Wren, before taking the lead on half-time through Dwayne Wiley.
Ashley Vincent was impressive for Sutton, using the ball intelligently and offering advantageous width descending the right flank. He went close with an acute shot but it was headed off the line by Adam Yates.
The game started to lack a little penetration until Marc Newsham popped up in the 69th minute to extend Matlock's lead to 3-1. At this point, however, Sutton were still outside of the relegation zone as Corby were drawing at Stafford.
Sutton couldn't force their way back into the game and with the contest petering out Coles Lane was rocked by the news that ex-Sutton midfielder, Phil Trainer, had put Corby ahead. It was a lead they held onto, and it meant sub Pa Njie's stoppage time effort was a little forgotten.
After the match I spoke to the gaffer, Richard Sneekes: "I'm gutted, angry and experiencing lots of different emotions. There's still lots of twists and turns to come but we need to better on Monday than today. We know we can't rely on other results."
Corby's goal difference is -23 and Sutton's is -31 meaning that with just two games left, the chasm is too much to bridge at this stage of the campaign. Sutton will need to best Corby's points tally over the next two games to stay up.
The good news for Sutton is that Corby face fifth-placed Grantham at home on Easter Monday. At the same time Sutton will be entertain Halesowen, who are safe, in a derby game that could well attract a crowd in excess of 400. If Sutton lose and Corby win, The Royals will effectively be demoted.
It is now make or break time for Sutton, a situation that will require the fans' support and the players to display plenty of defiance and to be composed in the key areas of the pitch to keep alive their hopes of staying up.