Matt Gray proud of Sutton after avoiding Horsham upset

By Sports Desk December 02, 2023

Sutton boss Matt Gray praised his side after they secured an FA Cup third-round tie for only the sixth time in their history with a 3-0 win over non-league Horsham.

Horsham were reinstated into the second round after it was found League One Barnsley had fielded an ineligible player in the replay.

But Luton loanee Dion Pereira bagged a second-half double in the space of 10 minutes before Omari Patrick’s late goal broke the seventh-tier side’s hearts.

Sutton sit bottom of the Football League but are in the third round for the first time since 2016 and Gray said: “I know we’re not going to go on and win the FA Cup so we just want a big pay day really.”

Sutton overcame a real banana skin with a poor start to the season and a long injury list to contend with.

“There’s certainly pride, I’m bursting with pride,” added Gray.

“We came into the game with nine injuries already and then lost our two main defenders. I certainly didn’t think I’d see a Sutton United team with that back four.

“To show the character and togetherness to get through that adversity and stay patient to show that quality is pleasing.

“There’s relief at getting it done. I’m really pleased to look forward for tomorrow’s draw.

“It’s very important that you stay calm and patient and the longer the game goes on, you would hope they would start to tire slightly with them not being a full-time side and then the gaps open up.

“The quality can then show and that was certainly the case at multiple occasions in the second half.”

The already-depleted U’s had to cope with losing two more defenders on a bitterly cold afternoon.

Gray said: “We adjusted really well. It was all planned and prepared for, it wasn’t panic stations, we were aware of what we needed to do if players went down injured. And unfortunately, we were forced to do it.

“The first goal is always massive and you don’t want it to come against you against the run of play.

“Dion could have had a couple before that. He managed to get one and backed it up with a second. He could have had a hat-trick, so I’m really pleased with his performance.

“I thought the front two were a real handful. There were a lot of good performances and the substitutes added to that as well.”

Proud Horsham boss Dom di Paola, who made history by steering the side into the second round, said: “No-one will ever forget the Barnsley away trip.

“It’s been good. It’s shown what we’re capable of as a group. We’ve said to the boys we have to take this into our league campaign and if we do that we’ll have a good season.

“The boys have been great. Whichever group we’ve put out over the eight or nine games, they’ve done great things for us.

“Hopefully the supporters can look back on it as a good FA Cup campaign.”

The non-league side got a reprieve after Barnsley were found to have field an ineligible player in the replay.

And on the defeat, Di Paola said: “As the game went on, we suffered a bit of fatigue.

“We’re just disappointed we couldn’t come away with something. I just felt some of the things we’re good at we didn’t do.

“When we got in good areas, we just made the wrong decision too many times.
“You’re obviously playing a side of Football League calibre and they’re going to punish you if you don’t capitalise on opportunities.

“There’s a feeling of frustration. I’m not annoyed at the boys, but we didn’t get going second half.”

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