This was a Southern Counties East Football League Division 1 clash, between two Sides who both see the London Hire Stadium at Hextable as their home ground. The game was played on a mild post-Christmas Bank Holiday Monday afternoon.
Sutton Athletic, managed this season by Daniel Kelly, have performed way above expectations and sit currently in fourth place, just two points behind leaders, Stansfeld. Arlie Desanges is their current top scorer, going into the match, with 16 goals in 15 league games.
FC Elmstead had made a slower start to the season but have recovered somewhat, to sit in thirteenth place. Akolawole Salami is their top scorer this season with eleven goals, from ten league games.
The London Hire Stadium is in Hextable, near Swanley, in Kent. The ground is simple in layout. Entrance was £7 including a really high quality Matchday programme. Parking was free on site and the clubhouse had a bar and refreshment stand.
There is one main seated and covered stand. The step upto the top row where I sat was quite a climb!! The pitch is grass and was in good condition, even on a day when other grounds had seen games abandoned due to waterlogged pitches.
Sutton Athletic play in green and white striped shirts and green shorts. FC Elmstead were in pink and white striped shirts and white shorts.
The game started with Sutton Athletic in the ascendency. They were building nicely through the midfield and finding space for their front two. it was no surprise when in the 14th minute they went ahead with a fine left footed finish, from top scorer, Arlie Desanges.
FC Elmstead showed they weren’t prepared to give in. From the point of the opening goal they battled their at back into the game and deserved their equaliser on 40 minutes when Otis Blaine, headed in from a corner, to make it 1-1 at the half time break.
The second half started evenly with both teams creating chances.
On 57 minutes FC Elmstead missed a simple chance, which could easily have put them 1-2 up. You sensed immediately that this could be a crucial moment.
In the 65th minute Connor Evans was sent through after some quick Sutton Athletic passing, to put the home side 2-1 ahead.
FC Elmstead threw everything into the attack as they looked to claw themselves level again. Then in the 79th minute Callum Flynn slid in from the left to tuck the ball home and create a two goal cushion for Sutton Athletic with a 3-1 lead.
Then with four minutes of added time on the board at the end of the game, FC Elmstead had a free kick which Dekklund Wallace curled into the goal, to reduce the deficit to just the one goal at 3-2.
Sutton Athletic then locked the door and played out the last minutes to secure a 3-2 victory in their efforts to win promotion. This was an entertaining game on a wet pitch and the ground was well worth a visit today, for the crowd of 43 who attended.