FULL-TIME: Sutton United 2, Robins 1
A Roarie Deacon goal deep into injury tie has dumped Cheltenham Town out of the FA Cup at the second round stage.
This tie had looked set for a replay back at the LCI Rail Stadium as it headed into injury time but the Sutton United striker picked up the ball out on the right, jinked his way into a shooting position and beat Griffiths with a dramatic low finish.
The Robins had deservedly taken the lead through Danny Wright in the 34th minute, his fifth of the season and by the interval things were looking rosy.
But it was swiftly cancelled out within 34 seconds of the restart by Matt Tubbs, on his debut for United after signing from Forest Green Rovers on Thursday, and it spurred the home side into life.
In the end it was a memorable cup moment for the south-west London side to rank alongside the upset of 1989 against Coventry, and it sparked fantastic scenes of celebration at the end.
Gary Johnson made four changes to the side that was defeated by Cambridge United last weekend.
Out went Aaron Downes, James Rowe, Jack Barthram and Dan Holman (with an ankle injury) as the manager rang the changes following the 3-0 loss.
Harry Pell returned from suspension while Dan O’Shaughnessy, Jack Munns and James Dayton started here
Matt Tubbs, who joined United from Forest Green Rovers on Thursday, led the line while former Robin Keven Amankwaah started at right back – 13 years after last appearing at the LCI Rail Stadium in red and white stripes.
The home side made a shaky start and Cheltenham dominated the play in the early exchanges.
Cheltenham though didn’t really test Ross Worner until midway through the first half when James Dayton cut in from the left and forced a smart save.
From the resulting corner Dickie thought he had scored, looping a header towards the right post but Dan Spence’s last ditch clearance prevented the opening goal.
But the Robins took the lead with 34 minutes on the clock when Pell was fouled 35 yards from goal, handing Dayton the opportunity to swing in a free-kick from the right.
Wright arrived at the near post and scooped the ball across Worner to hand his side the advantage at the interval.
But within 34 seconds of the restart the home side were level, Tubbs bursting through the middle and taking advantage of some hesitancy before cooly finishing his first goal for Sutton.
Roarie Deacon went close 10 minutes later, missing the target by inches with a 25-yard curler.
The Robins went on to enjoy a good spell of pressure around the hour-mark, without really testing the goalkeeper with United looking to counter.
Deacon provided two moments of concern, first drawing a fine save by Russell Griffiths before thumping over a volley a moment later.
Eight minutes from time Dickie saw another arcing header go close, this time coming back off the cross bar after Dayton had swung in a corner from the right.
At that point the tie looked likely to return to the LCI Rail Stadium until the late drama that led to a famous afternoon for the National League side.
SUTTON UNITED (4-3-3): Worner; Amankwaah, Downer, Collins (c), Spence; Gomis, Bailey, Eastmond; Deacon, Tubbs (May 90), Biamou. Subs not used: Fitchett, Alves, Smith, Shaw.
CHELTENHAM TOWN (4-4-2): Griffiths; Dickie, Parslow, O’Shaughnessy, Cranston (Suliman 69); Dayton, Pell, Storer (c), Munns (Smith 82); Waters, Wright. Subs not used: Kitscha (Gk), Barthram, Downes, Suliman, Rowe, Morgan-Smith.
REFEREE: R Jones
ATTENDANCE: 2,224 (Cheltenham tbc)