After clinching their Ryman League play-off place at the weekend, Sutton ensured that they will have at least one cup final to play this season.

A side that, by the final whistle contained three players making their senior competitive debut, ended the Surrey Senior Cup run of their Combined Counties League opponents, who had already removed Carshalton and Woking from the competition.

United have negotiated a skilful path through the competition, giving some of the players on the fringes of the first team squad a chance to stake a claim.

Those players have done so to the extent that in winning Thursday's game they were within five minutes of reaching the final without conceding a goal until Brad Smith's late strike gave the visitors reward for their efforts.

Badshot Lea will have been looking to make a strong start but instead gifted United the lead in only the third minute.

A needlessly conceded corner was followed by an even more needless handball from Rob Westall, diverting Stuart Young's flag kick away from the head of Chris Beard, the reserve team skipper making a sound senior debut for United at centre back.

Westall was booked, Jerson Dos Santos buried the penalty in the back of the net, and the visitors were already struggling.

They had problems all evening with the pace of Dos Santos alongside Daniel Harding and Anthony Joseph.

Harding should have added to his two goals against Croydon after 27 minutes when Joseph created space before playing a pass through but, having done everything right to set up the chance, Harding then lifted his shot over the bar.

Soon afterwards Harding did well on the left before firing in a cross that keeper Matt Watson just tipped away from the onrushing Matt Hann, returning to action after injury.

It wasn't until five minutes before half time that Badshot Lea created a clear chance, although it nearly prodiced a shock equaliser as Barry McCoy met a Michael Ruffles free kick with a firm header that was well saved to his right by Kevin Scriven.

United had an even bigger scare within thirty seconds of the start of the second half when another Ruffles free kick, this time from the left, eluded everyone including Scriven and rebounded off the far post, while a low free kick from the right by Dan Griffith was almost sliced in to his own net by Beard as the visitors enjoyed their best spell of the game.

Their hopes were soon extinguished, though, by the electrifying pace of Joseph, who received a pass from Dos Santos on the half way line and turned past two defenders before switching on the afterburners and leaving two more defenders floundering in his wake.

He was denied a sensational individual goal when he miscued his attempt to chip the ball over the oncoming Watson but, bouncing across goal.

It turned in to a tap-in for Harding, who might have expected a pass some thirty yards earlier but had nevertheless continued his run.

The reserves' top scorer had taken a knock moments earlier, and was in obvious pain as he scored, immediately limping off to be replaced by Billy Dunn.

The substitute came closest to extending the lead when his downward header from a Young corner was brilliantly kept out by Watson.

It seemed plain sailing for Sutton but, with five minutes to go, Scriven made a superb reflex stop to keep out Smith's header, but was helpless to prevent the substitute turning the ball in at the far post when Westall hammered the rebound low across goal from the left.

It gave the visitors renewed hope, but Sutton saw the game out safely and can look forward to facing Godalming at Imber Court in the final on Tuesday week.

Sutton: K Scriven, J Gold, C Ottaway (sub D Gurney 75), A Joseph(sub B Halili 83), C Beard, B Hawes, M Hann, J Dos Santos, D Harding (sub B Dunn 60), T Kavanagh, S Young. Subs n/u J Gallagher, C Sessegnon. Goals: Dos Santos (3 pen), Harding (60).

Badshot Lea: M Watson, D Chislett, P Andrew, D Griffith (sub M Peters 78), B McCoy, M Ruffles, R Westall, D Blake, M Smith, M Griffiths (sub B Smith 78), N Sowden. Subs n/u A Grace, J Sowden, S Costello. Goal: B Smith (85). Booked: Westall (3-deliberate handball).

Referee: D Sheldrake (East Molesey)

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