Sutton continued their impressive home record against former Football League clubs on Saturday when they added Tranmere Rovers to the scalps of Torquay, Macclesfield and Dagenham that had been claimed in August, and ended a run of three consecutive defeats. In front of the BT cameras U's didn't waste the opportunity to display their abilities to a wider audience, and while it would be stretching a point to say that viewers were treated to a thrilling game of attacking football those watching can only have been impressed by the way U's defended the lead given to them early in the second half by Dan Fitchett against a side who less than four seasons ago had topped League One.
The afternoon didn't begin well for Sutton as Ryan Burge was injured in the warm-up, although as a named substitute the main effect was to reduce U's options as the game went on, and there was little scope for optimism in the opening exchanges as Tranmere came as close as they were to come all afternoon in the first minute. Jay Harris met a right wing cross with a looping header that was cleared from inside the six-yard box as far as Jake Kirby, whose shot dipped over Ross Worner but clipped the top of the crossbar. For the first five minutes U's hardly saw the ball, and they were grateful to a bizarre incident for their first chance to attack as Max Biamou, forced off the pitch to change his shirt after a clash of heads, was waved back on by referee Rob Whitton and therefore perfectly placed to intercept a pass out of the Tranmere defence and set off on a powerful run which eventually set up a chance for Roarie Deacon, whose shot was blocked.
U's withstood the early pressure, though, and became more comfortable as the game went on, aided by the necessity for Tranmere to make two substitutions before half an hour had been played, Harris forced off after a foul for which Craig Eastmond was booked and Kirby following four minutes later, meaning that their later options were also reduced, and they finished with ten men as Adam Mekki limped off injured after their third change had been made. Soon after the changes U's thought they had gone in front when a fine run by Deacon ended with a pass to Fitchett which was confidently despatched, but Fitchett had strayed offside and the goal was ruled out. As Sutton finished the half strongly Biamou met a deep Dan Wishart cross with a volley that was saved by Scott Davies, and Wishart sent a free kick just wide after Lois Maynard had been booked for a foul on Deacon.
Sutton started the second half as they had finished the first, and the reward wasn't long in coming. Nicky Bailey's free kick was headed away to the right where it was retrieved by Kevin Amankwaah, who floated a cross to the far post. Biamou climbed high to head the ball down and back across goal, and Fitchett darted in front of Davies to head in from close range and register his first league goal of the season.
Tranmere came close to an equaliser soon afterwards when Andy Cook powered a header just wide from a free kick, while there was controversy as Biamou touched a long pass past Davies before going over under the keeper's challenge, but the referee's decision was a booking for the marauding striker for an alleged dive. U's squandered one chance through a lack of communication as Bedsente Gomis impeded Eastmond as the midfielder looked set to run on to a Deacon cross, and susbtitute Ross Stearn hit a low shot against Davies's legs, but it was in seeing the game out that they were most impressive, Bailey and Eastmond outstanding in midfield although Bailey's first half booking means that he will miss the trip to Eastleigh next week. Tranmere, who finished the game with ten men after substitute Adam Mekki limped off after all three changes had been made efforts became more ragged and their supporters more agitated, and Worner has had few quieter halves this season as they failed to threaten a U's side who were soon celebrating one of the most significant league wins in the club's history.
Tranmere: S Davies, L Vaughan, L Ridehalgh, S Jennings, S McNulty, M Ihekwe, J Harris(sub A Mekki 23), J Norwood, D Stephenson(sub E Jones 63), J Kirby(sub A Cook 27), L Maynard. Subs n/u R Sutton, I Turner. Booked: Maynard, Ihekwe, Vaughan.