Sutton United 1 Harrogate Town 0: Same old story for Sulphurites as EFL Trophy run ends

It was the same old story for Harrogate Town as they once again suffered defeat at Sutton United, exiting the EFL Trophy in the process.

By Rhys Howell
Tuesday, 25th January 2022, 10:35 pm
Updated Tuesday, 25th January 2022, 10:48 pm
Brahima Diarra keeps his eye on the ball during Harrogate Town's EFL Trophy quarter-final defeat to Sutton United. Picture: Matt Kirkham
Brahima Diarra keeps his eye on the ball during Harrogate Town's EFL Trophy quarter-final defeat to Sutton United. Picture: Matt Kirkham

The Sulphurites’ fourth visit to Gander Green Lane went the same way as their previous three, the U’s edging a close contest at the quarter-final stage of the competition.

Beaten twice in South London during their National League days, Simon Weaver’s men went down by a 1-0 scoreline in a League Two clash which they had much the better of shortly before Christmas.

And Tuesday’s Trophy tie unfolded in similar fashion, with Harrogate playing the better football and looking the more likely for a big chunk of the evening, only to be undone by a solitary strike from a home side who rarely threatened Mark Oxley’s goal.

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Enzio Boldewijn dispossessed Brahima Diarra and fired an early opportunity narrowly wide for Sutton as they began the better of the sides, though Town would eventually claim the ascendancy.

Jack Muldoon did superbly to steal the ball wide on the right before driving into the penalty area and picking out Huddersfield loanee Diarra, who teed-up Luke Armstrong for an effort which was blocked.

Armstrong was afforded a clearer sight of goal on 27 minutes, though he directed his finish too close to Dean Bouzanis.

The second period began with Oxley pushing away Craig Eastmond's blast, then some lovely footwork from Diarra took him past a couple of defenders and into the United box, but he failed to produce an effort at goal which matched his approach play and Bouzanis was able to make another comfortable stop.

With a disciplined Harrogate back-line picking off Sutton’s attempts to get forwards with ease for the most part, there was little by way of goal-mouth action at that end of the field.

George Thomson was however required to effect a hurried clearance inside his own six-yard-box after Oxley inexplicably dropped the ball as he attempted to claim a looping delivery from the right.

With the visitors continuing to probe away, Muldoon ran onto a lofted pass over the top, cushioned the ball on his thigh and forced Bouzanis into a more meaningful stop.

But, when Harrogate failed to clear their lines following a 80th-minute corner, the ball eventually dropped for Craig Eastmond to crash a first-time shot into the bottom corner.

Armstrong did hit the base of the post with a low strike late on as Town sought a way back into the match, though there was to be no reprieve for Weaver’s side.

And only a last-ditch sliding clearance on his own goal-line by Thomson prevented David Ajiboye from making it 2-0 deep into stoppage-time as the hosts broke on an empty goal after Oxley headed upfield for a corner.