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Sutton goalscorer Tony Rains
"We were defending for our lives."
 real 14k

Sutton manager Barry Williams
"We were getting more chances than they were."
 real 14k

Tuesday, 19 June, 2001, 07:34 GMT 08:34 UK
Motty's Magic Matches
Goalscorers Tony Rains (left) and Matthew Hanlon (right) celebrate their FA Cup win over Coventry
Giantkillers: Rains and Hanlon celebrate victory
Part Three: Sutton Utd 2-1 Coventry, BBC Five Live 909&693 MW, Wednesday 20 June 2100BST

One of the greatest FA Cup shocks of recent years is remembered in part three of John Motson's series.

It was the 1989 FA Cup third round and part-timers Sutton United were not expected to unduly trouble Coventry City.

At the time, Sutton were 13th in the GM Vauxhall Conference, while the Sky Blues were fifth in the old First Division and had won the Cup less than two years previously.

Motson remembers turning up at Gander Green Lane on the morning of the game to see Sutton practising corners on a park pitch behind one of the stands, with manager Barry Williams saying they hadn't got one right yet.

One of John's guests, Sutton left-back Tony Rains recalls that their preparation was scant: "It was over the Christmas period and we would have played Boxing Day, New Year's Eve and 2 January, so from a training point of view, we had very little.

"Our preparation was probably the Thursday night and that was disrupted immensely by the press. In preparation for actually playing Coventry as we would play a Conference side, it was non-existent."

The score remained 0-0 until three minutes before half-time. Then the U's won a corner and up popped Rains, who put his side ahead with a header past Brian Kilcline, who was on the line.

Manager Barry Williams admitted his heart was thumping.

He said: "I was quite surprised that the set-play went in! In the morning, it was a disaster, it didn't work at all. But there it was, in beautifully.

"At half-time we were just concerned to keep the euphoria down and to say, in the clichéd style of most managers, there's still another half to play, let's regard it as 0-0, forget the first half and carry on playing the second half as if it was a new game.

"I think we just kept ourselves level-headed and we were more concerned with having a cup of tea!"

Famous victory

Within minutes of the restart, Coventry equalised with a goal from Welsh international David Phillips.

Williams immediate thought was that the floodgates would open.

He said: "I remember having some apprehensions. But somehow they never hit us in the way I thought international players would.

"And we realised we were getting more chances than they were.

"I think they thought, without enacting it, that they were now going to win. But it's a testament to the quality of our lads because they were really good people. They girded their loins, went after them and that was it."


When something has only been achieved five or six other times in history, you do anything to hold onto it
  Tony Rains
It didn't stay level for long. Minutes later, Sutton won another corner. And yet again the set-piece came up trumps, as Matthew Hanlon finished off the move to put the U's 2-1 up.

Coventry threw everything at the part-timers as the game neared its end. Sutton lived on their nerves as Cyrille Regis, Brian Kilcline and Keith Houchen all missed chances.

But they managed to cling on to claim a famous victory for both the team and the local community.

As Tony Rains remembers: "When you have something at stake that was that high for us, something that has only been achieved five or six other times in history, you do anything to hold onto it.

"The final whistle was something we remembered and enjoyed for the rest of our lives."

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See also:

27 May 01 |  Football
Motty's Magic Matches
23 Apr 01 |  Football
Motty's Magic Matches
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