Dennis the penalty king keeps Sutton's cup glory bid alive
Sutton United moved in to the quarter-finals of the Surrey Senior Cup at King George’s Field to maintain a cup interest for the season.
After a goalless 120 minutes, substitute Ronnel Dennis buried the decisive 10th penalty to clinch United’s passage at the expense of Corinthian Casuals.
United will now face either Molesey or Colliers Wood United in the quarter-finals.
Keen to get Saturday’s FA Trophy result out of the system, United named a stronger side than might have been expected, and for most of the game the possession statistics were overwhelmingly in their favour.
So for it to take 73 minutes until former Sutton reserve keeper Danny Bracken to have an on-target shot to save was particularly frustrating.
And would have been more so had Kevin Scriven not made a brilliant triple save five minutes from the end of normal time to deny Casuals - who had conceded 11 goals in losing their last three games - a smash-and-grab victory.
The first half was played almost exclusively in the Casuals’ half, but a lot of it was in front of a defence that massed in numbers to deny Sutton a way through.
It took more than half an hour for United to decide that the best way through might be to try their luck from distance, and Tom Kavanagh drilled a low shot in to the side netting, but that was the closest they came.
Seven minutes after the break came their best chance so far after Paul Telfer’s quick free kick released Michael Boateng and his superb cross deserved better than for Craig Watkins to follow a mis-kick by hooking a shot over the bar.
It was Casuals who had the first on-target shot of the game as James Cottee thumped a volley straight in to Scriven’s midriff before Sam Rents gave Scriven an awkward back pass that resulted in an untidy scramble in the penalty area.
Scriven also saved from Joel Thompson following a Jamie Stuart error as Casuals enjoyed their best spell of the game, but substitute Harry Ottaway injected some spark in to Sutton’s efforts.
It was another second half replacement, Kevant Serbony, who drew Bracken in to his first action with a low shot after Casuals had failed to clear their lines, while Stuart headed just wide from a corner and Telfer had a low shot deflected wide.
However, it could have been all over for United when Thompson collected a cross from the right, with United looking in vain for an offside flag, but twice he was unable to beat Scriven, who then also kept out Cottee’s effort as the ball ran loose.
Reprieved, Sutton had their own chance to avoid extra time when Watkins failed to make sufficient contact with a Rents cross six yards out.
The extra half hour saw Scriven largely untroubled as Sutton continued to press in vain for the breakthrough, with Craig Dundas just failing to reach a Rents cross and Ottaway sending a chip just too high as Bracken came out to a through ball.
Within a minute of coming on, Dennis showed perhaps what had been missing when he whistled a 30-yard shot just wide.
The best moment came seven minutes from time, though, when another fine cross from Boateng ran through to Kavanagh arriving at the far post, but Bracken somehow got across his goal to block Kavanagh’s shot on the line.
Penalties were the only way to break the deadlock, and when experienced former Sutton midfielder Bashiru Alimi put Casuals’ first spot kick over the bar and Rents confidently converted for Sutton, United had the advantage.
That was wiped out when Telfer’s spot kick was blocked by Bracken’s legs, and after Dundas and Stuart had matched successful efforts from the home team, Scriven dived to his left to keep out Matt Ellis’s shot.
It was left for Dennis to produce a confident and decisive spot kick to put United through.