The Coasters turn their attention to the FA Cup this weekend after managing to switch their form around in the National League. Two wins on the spin, which included seven goals and two clean sheets, have seen a surprising upturn in form since Chris Beech took temporary charge.
A 4-0 dispatching of Gateshead away from home was extremely impressive, considering the form of the hosts – however, goals from Jon Ustabasi, Siya Ligendza and a brace from Nick Haughton saw the Coasters take all three points from the North East.
Sutton United are the hosts for this FA Cup tie, who themselves haven’t had the start to the season that was expected of them and are currently sitting bottom of the League Two pile.
Matt Gray’s side did, however, manage to pick up their third league win of the season last time out with a 2-1 win over managerless Bradford City.
With both teams having had poor starts to the season, a cup run could be what’s needed. However, Fylde do come into this being the underdog, being a whole league below Sutton United.
The Manager: Matt Gray
Gray is quite a familiar face on the London scene in terms of Football, often plying his trade for many London clubs or having spells as a coach in and around the London area. Gray started his playing career at Spurs before quickly moving on to Cardiff.
He never really made an impression at either club and found himself moving down the footballing pyramid to find first-team football. Gray found himself at Barnet FC, where he stayed for one season before moving on to Hayes.
In 2005, Gray was on the move again, this time to Havant and Waterlooville. He was quickly appointed captain of Havant and almost captained them to promotion, eventually losing out to Braintree Town.
However, at 25, Gray called time on his career after injuries forced him to retire. Gray quickly moved to the sideline with spells as a first-team coach at Aldershot and Crawley before moving to Sutton in 2018.
It wasn’t until May 2019 that Gray got appointed as Manager. In his first season, COVID-19 got in the way and disrupted it, with Sutton finishing 15th.
The following season was something nobody could have predicted, and that was Sutton gaining promotion to the Football League. Since being in League 2, Sutton have enjoyed mid-table finishes and a run to the Papa John’s Trophy Final.
Omari Patrick – The forward signed in the summer and was a key man in Carlisle’s promotion campaign and could be a key man for Gray when it comes to putting the ball in the back of the net against the Coasters.
Craig Eastmond – Mr Sutton has been at the club for nearly ten years and is Captain of the Us. A versatile player who can play at the back or in midfield, he is a key part of Gray’s side.
Harry Beautyman – Two spells at the club that total over 250 appearances and is another midfielder who is key to Gray.
7th October 2017 – Sutton United 2-1 AFC Fylde – National League
Goalscorers: Sutton – Craig Dundas & Simon Grand (OG)
Fylde – Simon Grand
7th April 2018 – AFC Fylde 2-1 Sutton United – National League
Goalscorers: Fylde – Danny Rowe & Jonny Smith
Sutton – Tommy Wright
25th August 2018 – Sutton United 0-0 AFC Fylde – National League
1st December 2018 – AFC Fylde 2-2 Sutton United – National League
Goalscorers: Fylde – Andy Bond & Gime Toure
Sutton – Bradley Pearce & Kieron Cadogan
10th December 2019 – AFC Fylde 0-0 Sutton United – National League
Sutton started the season poorly, with only three wins and were knocked out of the Carabao Cup. However, signs of improvement are showing, with the margins of the losses becoming closer and some draws showing that Sutton aren’t the pushover the league table may show.
A similar start to the season to the Coasters shows that anything could happen this weekend – however, the hosts will still be favourites despite the Coasters’ recent run. All of the hosts’ wins this season have come at Gander Green Lane, so the Coasters may have to work hard to cause an upset.
Match Preview is written by Benji Jenkinson.