Sutton have evolved from the side which Wrexham faced in late September. They came to The Racecourse as a long ball side which played from a 4-4-2, but their approach has changed as they have altered their personnel. They are now capable of posing a wider variety of threats on goal.
Sutton still have physical strength throughout the team, and are certainly happy to go long when the situation is right, but they are more likely to pass the ball through midfield now, perhaps as a consequence of a change of striker. When the sides met earlier this season, Sutton would use Ross Lafayette as a target man, hitting as much early, long delivery to him as possible. He has now moved on to Maidstone, and his replacement, Tommy Wright, is more mobile. As a consequence, the service to him is less direct, and when they do go long to him, they are often looking to pick up the second ball after he has battled with the centre backs rather than expecting him to win those duels.
This is facilitated by their change of starting formation. They now line up with a 4-2-3-1, which puts great emphasis on the second line of three getting close to Wright and competing for second balls.
Sutton’s second line of three strikers was versatile, often switching positions, and looked to get close to Wright and into central positions which would allow them to threaten the Barrow goal.
Wright looks to be an impressive young prospect, who until this season has been playing in regional southern divisions. A quick striker who is predominantly right footed but capable of shooting and crossing with his left, he likes to run off the shoulder of the last defender and has good predatory instincts in the penalty area, as shown by a well-timed run to score a header at Gateshead and two chances, one of which was taken, in their recent game against Dagenham, when he latched onto under-strength back headers.
However, he is also happy to drop off and run at defenders, looking particularly threatening when cutting onto his right foot from the left channel, and cleverly drops off to find space on the edge of the area from set pieces, often getting shots on goal from around fifteen yards as he latches onto second balls.
He played off Lafayette at The Racecourse earlier this season, and when playing in a front two he is good at anticipating flick-ons to run behind the opposing defence, but he seems equally happy in his current role, on his own up front.
Wright found himself in a deeper role in the second half at Barrow as Sutton, trailing 1-0, changed their approach and took a very bold direction as they tried to get back into the game. Simon Walton sat in front of the back four and, with that insurance, the rest of the midfield was emptied as Sutton went more direct and tried to feed five attacking players. Substitute Andy Coombes was used as a target man and the four players behind him rotated, trying to find positions high up the pitch where they could hurt the Barrow defence.
Their eagerness to get up the pitch was reflected by left back Jamie Collins, who would look to get up the flank as a target once his goalkeeper had the ball.