Euphoric Sutton boss Paul Doswell declared his side’s slaying of Championship high-flyers Leeds as the greatest moment in the club’s history after The U’s reached the FA Cup fifth round for the first time in their history.
Not since the formation of the Football League in 1888 have two non-league teams made the competition’s last 16 and Sutton will feature in this evening’s draw alongside Lincoln following skipper Jamie Collins’s successfully converted second-half penalty.
Leeds captain Liam Cooper was sent off inside the final 10 minutes as Sutton, currently 16th in the National League, ran out comprehensive and comfortable winners against a club ranked 84 places above them in the football pyramid.
“Now that we’ve got to the fifth round, something which the club has never done, it’s got to be the best day [in its history],” said Doswell. “I’ve been talking about making more modern memories.
“It was brilliant in the 1970 game [against Leeds in the fourth round], Don Revie bringing down the likes of [Billy] Bremner, [Peter] Lorimer and [Allan] Clarke, and then beating Coventry in 1989, that was an amazing experience. But we’ve gone on and done another round now.”
“I’ll be praying for a [fifth round] tie that the whole town and the whole club deserves. If we get a big draw then it’ll be a game-changer for this football club for years to come.”
Leeds manager Garry Monk, seemingly unperturbed by Championship title rivals Newcastle and Brighton unceremoniously exiting the FA Cup 24 hours earlier having made wholesale alterations, made 10 changes.
Sutton, who lost 6-0 to Leeds in that 1970 clash, were close to exploiting any unfamiliarity after seven minutes, only for tricky frontman Roarie Deacon’s effort to be ruled out for offside.
Visiting goalkeeper Marco Silvestri tipped over a ferocious Deacon shot moments later before being forced into an instinctive, low save to thwart Bedsente Gomis after Deacon had skipped beyond Cooper and seen his own attempt blocked.
Leeds barely threatened in the opening period but Sutton stopper Ross Worner clawed away a cushioned Stuart Dallas volley before Silvestri repelled another crisp strike from dangerman Deacon, a former Arsenal youth player, as half time approached.
Sutton surged into the lead eight minutes after the restart when Collins coolly dispatched a spot-kick, sending Silvestri the wrong way. Deacon was adjudged to have been tripped by full-back Lewie Coyle after Nicky Bailey’s through ball had caused chaos in the Leeds defence.
Cooper was shown a second yellow card on 82 minutes for felling ex-Arsenal midfielder Craig Eastmond, while Sutton saw out the remainder of the game with poise and authority.