The Surrey Senior Cup: Sutton United’s Proud History in One of English Football’s Oldest Cup Competitions
By Athif Riyas
On Monday the 14th of November, Sutton United travelled away to Merstham FC for the first round of the Surrey Senior Cup at Weldon Way. This cup competition, which was introduced in 1882, is contested between teams playing in the top 9 divisions of English football, affiliated with the Surrey FA.
Two goals within the first 20 minutes for Sutton United and another in the 76th saw the U’s comfortably progress to the next round, with the starting eleven made up of academy players impressing in front of first team manager Matt Gray.
Sutton started the game quickly and a lovely strike from Jack Taylor gave them the lead after just 8 minutes played. A sweet hit with Taylors left foot found the top corner, leaving Merstham goalkeeper Jordan Olds with little chance of stopping it from going in.
A quickly taken free kick in Sutton United’s attacking third led to a smart cross which was headed in by forward Daniel Olabiyi, doubling the U’s advantage just 20 minutes into the first half.
Merstham FC offered very little in an attacking sense in the first half, however Sutton United goalkeeper Filip Chalupniczak was forced into a smart save after Lewis Barker Bateman’s low driven shot skidded across the wet surface.
Sutton United continued to make chances in the second half, with Roman Charles-Cook’s effort in the 60th minute deflecting just over the bar. Jordan MacNally secured the victory with a goal in the 76th minute, getting himself on the end of Olabiyi’s low ball and slotting it away at the back post.
The young Sutton United side showed energy and character as well as holding a sense of control over the game throughout the ninety minutes. Matt Gray will be hoping his side can go deep into the Surrey Senior Cup this season, having been knocked out of the FA Cup in the first round earlier in the month.
The U’s have a proud history in the Surrey Senior Cup, having won the competition 15 times, the first of which came all the way back in the 1945/46 season, where Sutton ran out 1-0 winners over Woking, in front of a reported 6000 spectators at the Richmond Road Stadium. The U’s have also been runners up 13 times, making them one of the most successful sides in the long history of the competition.
Sutton United also hold the impressive record of most successive wins in the history of the competition, lifting the cup 6 times in a row between 1983 and 1988.
Gander Green Lane has hosted the final of the Surrey Senior Cup on 10 occasions, including the U’s 12th final victory in the competition in 1993, where they beat Carshalton Athletic by 2 goals to 1. Another notable final the stadium has hosted is the 2000/01 cup final which saw current Premier League side Crystal Palace beat Tooting & Mitcham United to claim their second of three Surrey Senior Cups.
The U’s latest cup win came in the 2002/03 season with a 2-1 win over Kingstonian FC at Imber Court being enough for Sutton to lift the trophy for the 15th time – only 1 side has lifted the cup more – Dulwich Hamlet (16) whose last cup victory came in 1975.
With the draw for the next round coming up shortly, will this be the year for Sutton United to equal the all-time record of cup victories?