By Ian Waterhouse
That wasn’t supposed to happen! Sutton United away in the fourth round of the FA Cup was viewed as a win win all round. Comfortable passage would surely follow for Leeds and a big pay day for Sutton would keep both parties happy.
However, no one told Sutton of this script and the Vanarama National League side caused the upset of the round by dumping the Whites out of the Cup.
Sat sixteenth in the league, it was only last season that Sutton secured promotion to the National League after winning the National League South title, and now the Amber and Chocolates could set up a fifth-round tie with one of the Premier League big boys.
A 53rd minute penalty was enough to send Sutton fans wild but truth be told it could have been more with the South London side looking the more confident despite the 83 different league positions.
Garry Monk made ten changes to the line-up that beat Nottingham Forest 2-0 on Wednesday night, and with three senior academy players in the starting line-up making their debuts, it was set up to be an uncomfortable 90 minutes.
After the game, Monk took the defeat on the chin and payed Sutton manager Paul Doswell and his team the credit they deserved saying: –
“It was a very frustrating performance, but it’s my responsibility and I take it on the chin,”
“I’m the one who picks the team. I made a lot of changes and it didn’t work. It backfired. We’re doing very well in the league. We have to get the balance right.
“Maybe it was one step too far. One change too many, but credit to Sutton, it’s a fantastic result for them. We wish them good luck in the next round.”
Blessing in Disguise?
Maybe I am just making excuses as a burnt football fan but if there is a silver lining then I am determined to find it.
For the first time in about ten years, there is a genuine belief on the Elland Road Terraces that Leeds are finally on their way back.
Fourth in the Championship represents a very real opportunity of securing a playoff place come May and that must take priority.
As enjoyable as the FA Cup is, we were never going to win it so getting knocked out of it may be the best thing that has happened.
A trip to Ewood Park this Wednesday to face Blackburn is more important than the Sutton game and clearly Garry Monk agreed with his cup team selection.
Seven points clear of seventh placed Barnsley in the Championship is realistically the only thing that matters and if come May Leeds find themselves lifting the play-off trophy, then this defeat to Sutton could be the result of the season for Leeds.