Matt Gray heaped praise on his Sutton side for grinding out a 1-0 victory against a Harrogate team that made four half-time substitutions and changed their system three times.
On-loan winger David Ajiboye, who has returned to Sutton following a summer move to Peterborough, grabbed the game’s only goal after eight minutes during a dominant first-half display by the visitors.
Ajiboye was also denied an early penalty when Matty Foulds appeared to bargee into the back of him and also clipped the crossbar from 15 yards.
But a much-changed Harrogate rallied after the break, with visiting goalkeeper Jack Rose making an excellent save to keep out Danny Grant’s fierce, deflected effort, and Gray was delighted his team showed the character needed to pick up a third away win of the season.
He said: “I’m really pleased all round, because you have to show many different factors of your game to win a football match and we did that. In spells we were outstanding with the chances we were creating, the threat we were showing from set-plays and the goal we scored.
“Probably the only disappointment was that we weren’t out of sight at half-time, because we had been outstanding and I thought David (Ajiboye) should have been awarded a penalty. But we also had to grind out a result in the second half.
“They made four subs at half-time, changed their shape three times and went gung-ho and, although our keeper didn’t have a lot to do, when he was called upon, he did make a brilliant save to keep his clean sheet and get us a deserved three points, which I’m really pleased with.”
Home boss Simon Weaver expressed his dismay at a sub-standard first-half showing, but took some encouragement from the second 45 minutes, even if his team still went down to a sixth straight defeat in meetings between the two clubs.
“They pinned us back early on and we weren’t winning the second balls and their full-backs were pushing on and causing us problems, so we looked a bit stretched,” he said.
“We tweaked it at half-time and the confidence recovered a little, although not to the extent that I thought we were dominating.
“We did get a response from the changes that were made, though, and you could see that from the fans’ reaction to the team. It’s difficult for them to get behind the side if the performance is sub-standard like the first half and we hadn’t stamped our authority on the game.
“We’ve always found it difficult against Sutton and have tried about four different formations against them now, but the second half was probably the best we’ve played against them.”
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