Sutton Common Rovers turned in a remarkable rearguard performance on Saturday, when picking up a 1-0 win away at Raynes Park Vale, despite playing the final twenty minutes with only eight men. If questions will naturally be asked over the disciplinary side of things, which saw the three men dismissed, the heart, desire and workrate of the squad cannot be called into question.

Darren Salmon was once again without injured left back Matt Tanton, and with Guy Baskerville rested and replaced in the squad by Aidan Brown, Tommy Smith dropped into the backline.

Kicking up the notorious Grand Drive slope in the first half, it was somewhat surprising to see Rovers have much the better of things, although there was a sign of things to come when Tommy Smith picked up a booking for a mistimed tackle on only two minutes, and it was something that would come back to haunt the defender later in the game.

Rovers went close on the half hour when a neat move released Aidan Brown, and although his shot beat Vale keeper Dan McKerracher, it was turned off the line superbly by Marcus Dowdeswell.

However Rovers didn't have to wait long to score what turned out to be the only goal of the game, when a superb strike by man of the match Marlon Pinder found the back of the net on 43 minutes.

Kicking down the slope in the second half you would have expected Rovers to take control of the game, just before the hour the complexion of the game turned, when skipper Craig Hastings reacted badly to an off the ball incident, and saw red for his retaliation. This naturally galvanised the hosts, and they started to put Rovers under more and more pressure, but all too often their shooting was wayward, and Craig Bradshaw in the Rovers goal was relatively untroubled.

Things were made worse for Rovers on 79 minutes, when a horrific tackle on Pinder led to a melee in the middle of the park, with Rovers stand-in skipper Aaron Bogle seeing a straight red, along with Vales Nathan Lewis, whilst Smith picked up a second yellow leaving it as ten against eight.

Rovers reshuffled, and ended up with teenage forward Ben Senior dropping into right back alongside the centre back pairing of Asa Rixon, a midfielder, and goalscorer and centre forward Marlon Pinder. Malachi Robinson stayed in his left back position, and was the only one of the starting Rovers backline to finish the game.

Vale threw caution to the wind, and the ball in the box, but found Bradshaw and the makeshift backline in superb form, and somehow Rovers hung on to pick up the points.