Sutton United 1 Harrogate Town 2: In-form Sulphurites finally win at Gander Green Lane
Tuesday night’s 2-1 win in South London was the Sulphurites’ third on the spin and their sixth in eight matches, but saw them end a run of five consecutive losses at Gander Green Lane.
Jack Muldoon netted twice space of 17 second-half minutes to put Town in control, before Ryan Jackson pulled one back for the hosts late, setting up a tense finale.
But the men from Wetherby Road were able to see the game out, with victory maintaining their surge towards the top seven and leaving them eighth in the table.
And, while he is adamant that nobody is getting carried away with their current position, manager Simon Weaver insisted that both he and his players are allowed to enjoy the fact that they currently find themselves very much in the play-off mix.
"I’m happy, it’s a good feeling," he said. “We have been on a decent run and we have got good momentum.
"We’ll not get too excited, but we are entitled to have a good vibe on that bus on the way home.
"We feel that right now we have got a very competitive team who are all working for each other.
“These are two fine goals to go home with and it was thoroughly enjoyable tonight.
"We knew that it was going to be a difficult game. We’d have valued a point here, it’s always a difficult place to visit, so I’m ecstatic.”
After 17 days without any competitive football due to the postponement of scheduled fixtures against Grimsby and Newport County, Town understandably made a slow start to the contest.
But, having taken almost half-an-hour to warm into the game, Weaver felt that his players actually went on to perform very well.
"We found a way to survive those early exchanges, which went in their favour,” the Harrogate chief added. “You know that you are coming here and are going to have to defend your six-yard-box when they throw everything in there from long throw-ins, free-kicks and corners – and there was a bit of a mismatch in terms of physicality.
"We needed to be braver in the first 25 minutes, we didn’t play out from the back as readily as we wanted. Personally, I thought that we were better from 25 minutes onwards and created two or three decent chances.
“We knew that there might be a bit of rust, we haven’t played for a couple of weeks. We can forgive the lads for a bit of rustiness in the early part of the first half, but we had to slip into third, fourth and fifth gears in the second.
"At times, I thought we did that, we looked really good on the counter-attack and really good when we were calm in possession.
"Their goal made it a trickier last five minutes than we wanted it to be. It was difficult. There are not many more difficult places to come in terms of seeing a game out, but we stayed professional.”
Muldoon broke the deadlock on 58 minutes when he netted his seventh goal of the season.
George Thomson’s switch of play from right to left found Abraham Odoh, whose sublime first-time pass picked out Matty Daly. He then delivered a low cross into the penalty area that Town’s lone centre-forward guided home from close range.
The lead was then doubled in the 75th minute as the Sulphurites advanced patiently down their right.
Muldoon laid the ball off to full-back Kayne Ramsay, who advanced infield before showing great poise as he threaded a perfectly weighted return pass in behind for his team-mate to slot past Dean Bouzanis one-on-one.
And although Jackson halved the deficit with just three minutes of normal time remaining, Harrogate were not to be denied a long-overdue success at Gander Green Lane.
On his side ending their wretched run of form on Amber and Chocolates’ turf, Weaver said: "Going home with three points for the first time from Sutton feels like a big achievement.
"Some of our players actually haven’t been here with us. Ibby [Odoh] was one of the stars of the show, I felt, and he’s not been haunted by the experiences here in the past and we didn’t play like a team that was plagued by that [poor record], but we needed to break the duck here.
"We needed to remain calm throughout, and we did that, and when we did get the ball down and play, we were slippery and created chances.”