Sutton United stand on the brink of club history and with it comes a big opportunity for history to repeat itself.
When Sutton United and the FA Cup are mentioned in the same sentence the conversation usually revolves around their epic Third Round giantkilling of Coventry City in 1989.
The Sky Blues made the trip to Green Gander Lane just nineteen months after winning the FA Cup with a famous 3-2 win over overwhelming favourites Tottenham Hotspur.
Matthew Hanlan was Sutton’s hero on the day as his goal on the hour mark sent Barrie Williams’ side through to the Fourth Round, where their interest in the competition ended as they were thumped 8-0 at home by Norwich City.
That was the second time in Sutton United’s 118-year history that the club had made it to the Fourth Round of the competition.
Back in the 1969/70 season wins over the likes of Dagenham, Barnet and Hillindon Borough meant that Sutton had become the first amateur side to reach the Fourth Round in seventeen years.
The mighty Leeds United, under future England manager Don Revie, were their reward for their heroics.
There was no talk of weakended sides or resting players in those days as Revie selected a strong United side.
Billy Bremner, Norman Hunter, Jack Charlton, Johnny Giles, Peter Lorimer et al took to the Green Gander Lane pitch in front of around 14,000 supporters crammed into Sutton’s home ground.
The class told in the end as Revie’s side put six past Sutton with four goals from Alan Clarke and a brace from Peter Lorimer.
But history had been made by Sutton and now, almost half a century later, they are eyeing a reunion with the Whites.
Sutton’s current crop of FA Cup heroes are within one win of a Fourth Round place and when they step out on to the Kingsmeadow pitch on Tuesday night they will know that a televised home tie with Leeds United is within their grasp.
Standing in their way is AFC Wimbledon.
The two sides failed to break the deadlock in the original fixture last Saturday, but now a winner must be found and United’s Second Round hero Roarie Deacon has insisted that his team mates won’t look beyond the immediate challenge that the Dons will give them.
The former Arsenal U21s player said “We can’t look too far ahead, we know that.
“Leeds are a big club, a huge club and the challenge they would offer us would be just as big.
“But we have a big club ahead of us. AFC Wimbledon are a good side and it’s a very tough game.
“It’s a massive occasion for both clubs and a chance for us both to secure a great tie.
“For us it would be something special for the supporters, for the players and the club as a whole.
“But we can’t afford to look past AFC Wimbledon because that could cost us”
There is an extra incentive for Deacon and his team mates to negotiate their passage through to the Fourth Round.
The winners of Tuesday’s replay will have their Fourth Round tie against Leeds shown live on BT Sport.
Deacon is one of a number of Sutton players that have moved out of the Football League and are now eyeing a return.
Live TV coverage offers a chance to show that they can still cut it against players from higher up the league pyramid.
And that offers quite the opportunity according to the twenty five year old.
“We know the next game will be live on television and we are excited about that prospect.
“It would be a chance for us to showcase what we can do, to show that we are good enough to play in the Football League.
“A number of players here believe that they can still do a job up there and we are working hard together to make that happen.
“I think we would all love to keep this FA Cup run going and to take part in a live television tie would make it even more special”.
The first meeting of the sides saw Sutton match their SkyBet League One opponents blow for blow.
A quick check of the statistics from the game shows that the sides were almost equal in every part of the game.
Sutton created a number of chances during the game, eleven in total, and Deacon senses that they will create more as they look to pull off another memorable FA Cup shock.
“We will always create chances, no matter who were are playing we always create chances. That is the sort of side we are now.
“We just need to take one and we know if we had done that in the home game we would already have been through to the next round.
“As a group of players we thrive on big games and tonight is one of the biggest we will play in. We are ready and we are going to give it our all for the club and for our manager”
Deacon will have the backing of his family for the replay, just as he did at the original game between the two sides.
Demand has been high for tickets and the former Crawley star revealed that his family were asking about the replay as soon as last Saturday’s game has finished.
“It was the first thing they said to me when I came off the pitch.
“When is the replay? Can we get tickets?.
“They always support me no matter what and that means a lot to me.
“We are all looking forward to it because we know what it means to everyone connected with the club.
“It is such a massive occasion”
And if Sutton United can pull off another FA Cup giantkilling then another massive occasion and a reunion with Leeds United lies in wait.
Interview: Mark Carruthers (@marknldaily)
Images: Reuters Media (Action Images)