Tuesday, 1 January 2013

Report: Sutton Coldfield Tn 4-3 Kidsgrove Ath - NPL One South

AT THE DOUBLE: Sutton striker
Mark Danks

SUTTON Coldfield Town may have a reputation for falling at the final fence when trying to snaffle a play-off place, but that all may be about to change for the Royals.

Coles Lane has witnessed its fair share of last ditch heartache in recent years with Sutton twice pushed out of the Southern League play-offs on goal difference, the second time by a single goal on the last day of the season in 2009-10 before blowing a promising position in their maiden Northern Premier League campaign in 2010-11.

And after a season of inconsistency saw Sutton slip to a 13th place finish last season, locals could be forgiven for thinking the chances of Step 3 football were about as likely as local MP Andrew Mitchell remaining as Chief Whip.

However, after a shake-up both on and off the pitch and Neil Tooth’s surprise promotion to the manager’s role, the Royals have been on the up.

Tooth’s reign started with some patchy results, but since reshuffling his squad, the man who served as assistant to former boss Chris Keogh has overseen a run of 10 wins in 13 league matches, propelling the men in blue up to 3rd in the Evostik NPL One South.

And this latest victory is testament to a change in mentality for the Royals.

So often routine wins against struggling sides have evaded Sutton through poor performances or defensive lapses, but a bold tactical change along with a generous dose of character saw Tooth’s side recover against a dogged Kidsgrove outfit.

A vital cog in Sutton’s results machine has been enigmatic striker Mark Danks. With Blue Square Bet North pedigree during his time with Worcester City, the at times feisty striker had plundered eight goals in six starts prior to this match before adding another two against an Athletic side that just couldn’t handle his movement.

Danks’ ninth of the season came after a clever bit of footwork outfoxed two markers before turning back inside to drill a low shot beyond Dave Dyson’s left hand to seemingly put Sutton in control.

But Kidsgrove hadn’t read the script and with lively front pairing Liam Shotton and Andy Kinsey giving the Royals plenty to think about, it allowed the rest of the side time and space to retain the ball well on the synthetic surface.

Ten minutes to go before the break and Kidsgrove were level as Shane Reaney’s low ball found Shotton who took full advantage of Phil Male’s slip to cross for Kinsey to rifle home.

And within four minutes, the Royals found themselves behind when Kinsey rattled in the goal of the day, collecting Paul Donnelly’s airborne ball with a single deft touch before volleying past stunned keeper Lee Evans.

Things got no better for the shell shocked hosts at the start of the second half as Shotton cut inside and saw a swirling effort fizz past the far post with Evans stranded before the third came courtesy of a horrible mix up at the back. Louis Keenan wasted the chance to clear his lines before Evans made a hash of collecting with Daniel Skelton tapping home the loose ball.

But it was from there that Sutton’s performance stood out from their previous endeavours. The crowd stayed with a side that remained purposeful. Tooth went three at the back with substitute Jamie Sheldon adding impetus to the attack, and the former Leamington livewire got the Royals back on track driving a half cleared corner across Dyson and into the bottom far corner with his first two touches.

With over half an hour to play the pendulum had swung – Kidsgrove were tiring with Shotton and Kinsey steadily drifting out of the game.

The Royals continued to probe and that man Danks was again in the thick of the action to equalise, peeling away from his marker to tuck a neat finish into Dyson’s bottom right corner following Lee Parsons’ long throw.

As Sutton sought a winner Kristian Ramsey-Dickson’s thumping header was cleared off the line by James Curly, but Tooth’s charges weren’t to be denied as Luke Chapman picked up a loose ball and hit a speculative shot for all of 30 yards, beating Dyson at his near post.

As well hit as Chapman’s effort was, Dyson will be disappointed not to have kept it out, though it was no less than the home side deserved with Kidsgrove offering little in response.

There may still be flaws in this Sutton side, but with Danks on board it is hard to bet against them finally making that top five this time, and in such free scoring form the Royals could yet be this season’s surprise package.

SUTTON COLDFIELD TOWN: Evans, Lycett, Keenan (Sheldon 54), Parsons, Kettle, Male, D Taylor (Leek 86), Edwards, Ramsey-Dickson, Danks (McNaught 90), Chapman. Unused subs: Thompson, Bedford (g/k).

Goals: Danks 17, 71, Sheldon 56, Chapman 81.

KIDSGROVE ATHLETIC: Dyson, Curly, P Taylor, Donnelly, Parkinson, Espley, Reaney (Nagington 86), Skelton, Shotton, Kinsey, Sherratt (Johnston 77). Unused subs: Hill, White, Street.

Goals: Kinsey 35, 39, Skelton 52.

STAR MAN: Daryl Taylor (Sutton Coldfield Town)

A difficult decision, but Taylor was instrumental in the way that Sutton played. The width he gave the Royals allowed Danks the space to work his magic as well as working hard without the ball. Danks and Kinsey were at their prolific best and ran Taylor close, but the wing wizard takes the plaudits for showing the courage and ability to prize Kidsgrove open despite them shielding a two goal lead. 

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