Boro’ are unbeaten in six against our old friends from Gander Green Lane. And it’s been a while since that was put to the test. In fact, the last time we met them was when we were still getting over the complete non-event that was the Millennium Bug. Yep, it’s been 20 years since we had any reason to be in this part of south London. But the Us have now stepped up; marching to the National League title last term and, with it, promotion to the Football League for the first time.
Sutton United v Stevenage
VBS Community Stadium, Sutton — 11 September 2021 — Sky Bet League Two
The last time we met came towards the end of the 1999-00 Nationwide Conference campaign. Chris Pearson scored the winning goal as a 10-man Boro’ side came out on top by one goal on Monday 24 April 2000 at Broadhall Way. It ensured that we brought home the league double that season too. Junior Samuels bagged a brace much earlier on in the campaign as we eased confidently to a 2-0 win on Tuesday 24 August 1999.
For the Us, that was a fleeting appearance in the top flight of non-league football. Our 1999-00 encounters were notable enough for being in two different centuries. Less notable was the fact that it ended a six-year break in relations. And somehow we squeezed two fixtures into the first month of the 1993-4 Diadora League Premier Division season.
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Our Diadora Days
The first time we met the Us on equal terms, it was actually the 1992-3 Diadora League Premier Division campaign. For them, it was their second season back at the level after falling out of the Conference in 1991; their hopes of an instant return ended by a rampant Woking side. For us, it was the reverse. We were at the level for the first time ever. So, the odds would surely be on the Us showing us how its done?
A credible performance at their place on 1 September 1992 saw us pick up a point, with Martin Gittings on the scoresheet. And we gradually got used to life in the Premier Division. A measure of how far we had come, perhaps, was our 1-0 home win over the Us on 13 February 1993. The match-winner that day was Mark Smith. We ended up finishing seventh, six points behind them in fifth. And it proved a solid foundation for what we achieved in the following campaign.
Again early in the season and again the honours even, our 0-0 draw at Gander Green Lane on 21 August 1993 saw them struggle to get the better of us. Mind you, the reports suggest we were a bit lucky to survive against our determined hosts. We more than made amends in the return leg, however. And it was barely two-and-a-half weeks later on 6 September 1993 when we came out on top 3-2 at BHW. With Martin Gittings on the scoresheet. Twice.
Now, you may have noticed that all this means the Us have never beaten us in a league meeting. And that’s true… so far. In cup competition, however, it’s not quite the case. We were – let’s say – gallant losers in our 1991-2 Diadora League Cup visit to their place on 10 September 1991; the Us making their superior quality and experience count in a 2-1 home win for them.
That stands up a lot better than our first-ever meeting a few years before that. On 11 December 1984, our two clubs were much further apart in terms of quality. The Us had started en route to the first of their two back-to-back Isthmian League title wins (the second yielding promotion to the Conference in 1986). We, however, were new to the competition. We’d made a good start to life in Division Two North – but the gap in experience was there.
And so it turned out on the night; the Us romping to a 4-1 win in the Hitachi Cup. It’s likely fair to say that Sutton United, at that point, were one of the best sides we’d ever come up against in a competitive match. So, we’re not going to stew too much over the result. It’s as good as it’s ever got for them against us. Since then, it’s all been downhill. And since hauling ourselves up to their level, we’ve kicked on and held the balance of power.
No pressure then Revs.