FA Trophy 1st Round
Saturday 10 December 2016 - Gander Green Lane - kick off 3.00pm
||O'Leary, Welch-Hayes, Murphy, Andresson, Batten, Hemmings (Watkins HT), Rigg, Artus (c), Harvey (Hunter 72), Morgan (Hutchinson 85), McCootie. subs not used: Marshall, Phillips.
|man of the match:
||Artus (37), Batten (44), Andresson (58), Harvey (64)
|league position: n/a
||next match: Whitehawk (A)
Report taken from
A soft free-kick and a lapse of concentration at the back were the deciding factors as City were eliminated from the Buildbase FA Trophy at Gander Green Lane.
Whereas last year's exit to lower-league Bognor Regis Town was a tough pill to swallow, City can take a lot of positives from their performance against a full-time Sutton United side who have a third round FA Cup tie with AFC Wimbledon on the horizon.
City went into the game with an inexperienced and somewhat makeshift back four - Dan Ball's injury at Welling last week meant Billy Murphy had to start in an unfamiliar position at left back.
Oxford United loan signing Miles Welch-Hayes made his debut at right back, Axel Andresson made only his second appearance for the club at centre-back and Jack Batten made up the rest of the backline.
Murphy was given a baptism of fire in his new position in having to cope with Sutton's pacy winger and FA Cup hero Rory Deacon.
In the first 30 seconds, a punt from defence saw Deacon in acres of space and able to head a through-ball to Maxime Biamou, who shot straight at City keeper Max O'Leary.
Twice more before the first five minutes were up Deacon was able to peel away from his marker easily but couldn't find a telling through-ball in to the box.
For the next 25 minutes, Sutton had the best of the possession, but City were well-organised and matched their full-time opposition for fitness and organisation.
On 36 minutes, however, their hard work was undone. Referee Robert Masset-Ellis judged Franky Artus to have fouled Deacon around halfway inside the City half. It was a harsh decision and looked more of a collision as Deacon skipped past the City man.
Ben Jefford - a first-half substitute for the injured Dan Spence - took a left-footed, swirling free-kick that no City or Sutton player could connect with and the ball drifted in at O'Leary's right-hand post.
City's best chance to get back on level terms came just before half-time when Marvin Morgan picked up a loose cross-field ball and found Nick McCootie in acres of space and screaming for the ball.
He played a perfect pass to the City forward who burst into the box and slotted the ball under Ross Worner but agonisingly wide of the post.
At the start of the second half, City moved George Rigg back to his more familiar position of right-back; allowing Murphy back into the midfield.
Andy Watkins came on for Chas Hemmings to give City some more pace going forward and the move almost brought an instant reward.
Some brilliant vision from Watkins allowed him to pick a through-ball for Morgan who shot past Worner into the net, only for the goal to be ruled out for offside.
Three minutes later, City had a strong case for a penalty as an Artus shot was blasted into the midriff of a Sutton United defender, but the referee waved away City's protests for handball.
As the half wore on City found themselves limited going forward but, on 78 minutes, a menacing McCootie cross from the left just evaded the waiting Morgan, only for Watkins to find his header smothered behind for a corner.
At the final whistle, City could feel proud of their performance against a confident and in-form National League side, but they will now have to focus on a push for the National League South play-offs if there is to be any silverware in the Twerton Park cabinet at the end of the season.