​It was stalemate at Gander Green Lane on Saturday as the Wood failed to take advantage of a Sutton side that played 60 minutes with 10 men and the last 15 minutes with 9 men after Ben Jefford saw red in the first half for two bookable offences and then Craig Eastmond saw a straight red for a dangerous tackle on Danny Woodards.

Garrard reverted to a more familiar 4-5-1 formation, which saw a recall to the side for Bruno Andrade and Woodards. Ben Nunn and Angelo Balanta dropped to the bench whilst Joe Devera missed out owing to injury. There was also a place on the bench for Jai Reason who signed on Friday from Eastleigh FC.

It was a cagey opening to the game with both sides being cautious yet very wasteful in front of goal as several half chances failed to test either keeper. Andrade caused ex-Wood loanee Ben Jefford all sorts of problems and it was no surprise to see him go in the Referee’s notebook early on after a poor challenge on the Wood winger.

A Sutton corner from the right whistled across the front of goal, Jamie Collins got closest to getting a touch which would have seen the home side take the lead.

Kenny Davis broke up play well in the centre of the park, playing the ball out wide to Andrade who took a touch and knocked it past Jefford before being hauled to the ground. The Referee took a moment before brandishing the left back a second yellow card reducing the home side to ten men.

The home side continued to push forward, however the Wood were guilty of continuously giving away free kicks in poor areas allowing Sutton to send their big defenders forward.

Andrade with lots of space down the right put in a dangerous ball towards the back post but the ball had too much zip for Anthony Jeffrey.

The home side then thought they should have had a penalty after Matt Tubbs fell to the ground after a scramble in the box however the Referee waved away their appeals.

Wood, who were seeing plenty of joy in the wide areas, had a great chance when Jeffrey raced down the left, cut back onto his right foot whipping a ball into the box which Morgan Ferrier got on the end of. It seemed destined for the bottom corner until home keeper Ross Worner produced an unbelievable save.

Just before the break Wood were presented with another great chance as Jeffrey beat the offside trap, the ball was delivered into the box, half cleared by the Sutton back line and Davis squared the ball but no white shirts were around to put the ball away.

Wood came out and looked bright in the second period and again had plenty of joy in the wide areas. Jeffrey combined well with Ferrier, with the former’s cross cum shot going agonisingly wide of the far post.

Simon Downer won a 50/50 battle with Ferrier playing the ball into Dan Spence who shot from distance failed to trouble Grant Smith.

Despite being down to ten men Sutton looked to be positive and Adam May in the centre of the pitch drove towards the box. With the Wood defence retreating rather than closing him down it opened up a nice space for a shot that was again off target.

Under no pressure Downer played a back pass to Worner who first time struck the ball sweetly that saw Grant Smith rush out of his goal although the Wood keeper was going to get nowhere near it. Maxine Biamou nipped in ahead of David Stephens and looped the ball towards goal but thankfully the big defender got himself back to head off the line for a corner.

Sutton then found themselves down to nine men with 15 minutes plus injury time left. Just outside the Sutton box Eastmond launched himself into a tackle on Woodards with force and his studs showing which again left Referee Trevealen no option but to produce a red card.

It was very much backs against the wall for Sutton after that, Garrard had made positive changes bringing on Balanta, Tom Hitchcock and Reason yet the creativity to produce an opening was missing despite crosses into the box.

In the closing stages Balanta was fouled right on the edge of the box. The ball was floated into the box and cleared to Reason who struck the ball first time which was blocked by a Sutton arm but the referee waved away all penalty appeals.

Balanta had a chance right at the death after a cross in from the left which went over the bar and so both Sutton and the Wood will have to do it all again on Tuesday for a place in the last eight.


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