An ‘FA Cup-set’ was avoided this afternoon, with three second-half goals proving enough to see Sutton progress to the third round of the FA Cup, despite a gutsy display from non-league Horsham who see their cup run ended for the second time this season.
A fortuitous entry into the second round after Barnsley’s fielding of an ineligible player saw lucky losers Horsham, make a solid account of themselves against League 2 opposition, with the away end singing their side all the way to the final whistle.
A second-half brace from Dion Pereira, and a late goal from Omari Patrick sealed the tie, as the substitute propelled the U’s into the hat for the third round.
A 1200-strong chorusing army of yellow and green descended on the London suburb this afternoon to see Horsham take on Sutton United, in the second round of the FA Cup. A bitter frost enveloped Gander Green Lane as the visitors eventually succumbed to the quality of superior opposition.
“It has been good and we showed what we are capable of, but ultimately, we are disappointed. Some of the things we are good at, we didn’t do today,” said Hornets boss, Dominic Di Paola, after this afternoon’s defeat.
Sutton will be struggling for space in their medical centre. Prior to the whistle, the U’s could have fielded an entire side of injured players, and an early first-half knock to defender, Omar Sowunmi, saw his afternoon cut-short, and adds to Sutton’s injury woes. It ultimately called on manager, Matt Gray’s creativity, as he flung together a make-shift backline.
Despite having the ball in the net twice, Sutton’s joy was barely temporary, with the referee ruling out both.
Horsham could not be more grateful to their man between-the-sticks. The towering presence of U’s top goal scorer Harry Smith, and the nimble, neat feet of Pereira forced Hornets keeper, Lewis Carey into three fine first-half saves, ensuring the scores remained level.
When he eventually was beaten, a navy shirt came to the rescue, hooking Joe Kizzi’s header off the line to keep the scores goalless as the half-time whistle went.
The best chance of the match so far came just before the hour mark. Sutton shot-stopper Dean Bouzanis’ long hoof was nodded on by Smith, leaving Aiden O’Brien through on goal, but the Irishman failed to convert, poking his effort narrowly wide.
Nerves had begun to jangle round the ranks of the Sutton faithful as dusk entered in, with the home supporters anxiously longing for the warmth and comfort of a spot in the third round.
Dion Pereira finally broke the deadlock in the 64th minute, sliding his first U’s goal past the sprawling Lewis Carey from close range.
Superb work down the left from second-half substitute, Patrick, saw Pereira double his tally, latching on to a scuffed clearance and drilling his effort into the bottom corner.
Moments before the clock ticked over to 90, Patrick slotted home into the bottom right-hand corner to the relief of those donning Sutton’s yellow.
Pereira said: “It was a really good second-half for me, we needed the goals.”
Horsham will be pleased with their efforts, keeping a League 2 side at bay for over an hour. Sutton ultimately reach the third round for the first time since their memorable run in 2017.
The draw for the third round takes place tomorrow, Sunday 3rd December on ITV1, prior to the match between Reading and Eastleigh.