Sutton United secured promotion to League Two yesterday with a 3-0 win over Hartlepool, as the club joins the Football League for the first time in its 123-year history.
Sutton, who were three points clear at the top of the National League with two games to go, were offered the chance to win the division after contenders Torquay drew 2-2 with Barnet on Saturday, despite being 2-0 up.
And the league-leaders sealed the title in style, with a comprehensive win, thanks to goals from Robert Milsom, Louis John and Isaac Olaofe.
With fans back in Gander Green Lane for the first time since December, Torquay’s slip up granted Matt Gray’s side the chance to seal promotion in front of over 1,000 of their supporters, and they delivered.
Milsom opened the scoring ten minutes before the break as his free-kick was poorly handled by on-loan Middlesbrough Brad James.
There remained nervous moments for the U’s, not least three minutes after the break when Hartlepool had an equaliser ruled out, but John’s goal just over 15 minutes from time sealed the deal.
Leading scorer Olaofe’s goal six minutes later was the icing on the cake, as last season’s 15th place side were crowned champions.
It’s been a remarkable season for Sutton, who secured just 50 points from 38 games before COVID derailed the 2019/20 season, but now have 84 points from 41 games.
Club press secretary Tony Dolbear told SWL a few weeks ago: “It has been remarkable. There’s tremendous credit due to manager Matt Gray, his assistant Jason Goodliffe, and all the coaching staff as well as the squad for this fabulous season so far.
“It’s gone better than we ever would have imagined. The idea of being a league football club can’t really be understood by someone who started watching them in the 70s, but we are having to think about it now, so it is a really exciting time.”
Sutton are certainly having to think about it now, because it’s a reality.
Featured image credit: Tom Large