Hope for Castle
ACTING boss Steve Castle was stunned by the incredible events at Clarence Park on Saturday as Sutton rose from the dead to breathe life into their survival bid. Saints are now propping up the rest in the Blue Square South after missing a penalty, concedin
ACTING boss Steve Castle was stunned by the incredible events at Clarence Park on Saturday as Sutton rose from the dead to breathe life into their survival bid.
Saints are now propping up the rest in the Blue Square South after missing a penalty, conceding a lead, losing an injury time winner, having the assistant boss reported to the FA, and having two men sent off and four others cautioned in the latest episode of their tortuous campaign.
The depleted City squad was missing strikers Daniel Chillingworth and Richard Butler, defenders Chris Seeby, Ben Martin and Reiss Noel and midfielders Paul Semakula and Hassan Sulaiman. Castle, the academy boss, included his prospects Austin Byfield, aged 17, and Kwame Asamoah, aged 18, on the bench for the first time, along with fellow Oaklands College players James Archer and Chris Haslam while Hamza Twomey made his first league start in City colours. After the game, Castle praised his players. He said: "I just said to the lads that if they put that amount of effort I really honestly do not think they will go down. There could be more quality, but probably being third bottom you expect a little bit of apprehensiveness.
"I am absolutely gutted for the lads. I have got to be careful what I say about officials. I didn't see the penalty but talking to Jomo Faal-Thomas he said he got the ball. I am not going to blame anyone. We made a defensive error at the end for the winning goal but the players gave me everything."
Losing key midfielder Paul Bruce to a red card that is likely to lead to a five-match suspension when added to his 10 bookings was a major blow and Castle felt referee Ian Crouch was harsh on his talisman and harsh on Sutton United substitute Nicky Greene, who was also dismissed for his part in the incident . He said: "I am a bit old school and it is hand bags for me. Both lads didn't need to get sent off but the referee decided to intervene in the game when it was free flowing and 11 against 11.
"Although we then went 1-0 up, you would say no disrespect to the lad that was sent off for Sutton but he was a substitute for them. He sent off one of our best players and he sent off their sub. I think that has probably left us a little bit disjointed."
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With only one fit striker in the squad, Castle's side paid the price for failing to turn their good approach play into goals and chances in and around the six-yard box. Topscorer Lee Clarke was the penalty villain while makeshift forward Jon Stevenson looked set to be the hero as his headed goal gave City the lead before the late drama. Castle said: "Jon Stevenson has done a fantastic job for me up front because we had nobody else. He is a central midfielder but we have had to play him up there. I have known Lee Clarke for years. He is a great lad and can finish for fun. I have got to be honest it is not my favourite technique with penalties. I wouldn't do it but I am not here to be criticising Lee.