On FA Cup Third Round weekend it was apt that three men so prominent in Chasetown’s victory over Port Vale in December 2007 were heavily involved in this thrilling 4-4 draw.
After just a minute, former Scholars keeper Lee Evans had to be at his agile best to keep out a header from Nick Wellecomme, who had been the approach of Sutton, but committed his future to Chasetown.
The hosts took the lead in the ninth minute, though, when Luke Chapman headed home unmarked following a cross from the left.
Theo Robinson forced Evans into a low save from a half volley in the 13th minute before Chasetown levelled in the 17th.
Port Vale replay scorer Danny Smith was floored by Evans, receiving a yellow card in the process, and Mark Branch saw his shot pushed out by the keeper, who kept out two Vale spot kicks in that 2007 replay. Theo Robinson was quickest to the rebound, firing across Evans, and when his shot came back off the post, Branch netted from three yards out.
Ten minutes later, the visitors won a free kick just outside the box. The Sutton side – including former Chasetown men Lee Parsons and Scott Lycett – may have been expecting the left boot of Mark Branch, but instead Simon Brown let fly with a sumptuous kick which arrowed powerfully into the net at pace, leaving Evans flat-footed.
The Royals drew level within three minutes with the first of two goals from Kristian Ramsey-Dickson shooting home from close range at Ryan Price’s near post.
In a topsy-turvy first half, Chasetown regained the lead with a goal from the boot of Simon Brown and the backside of central defender Tesfa Robinson. Brown volleyed goalwards from inside the area but Robinson got a cheeky glance on the ball, diverting it with his hip beyond the dive of Evans into the bottom corner.
Sutton had a third goal disallowed for offside in a game that was blood and thunder and a thrill a minute.
Chasetown lost full back Jack Farmer to ankle ligament damage ten minutes into the second half, carried off on a stretcher after several minutes of treatment on the pitch.
With the FA Cup firmly in people’s minds, it was as if he was inspired by his Port Vale equaliser when Chasetown took a 4-2 lead in the 68th minute with a curling left footed free kick from Mark Branch beyond everyone into the back of the net. This time though Evans, who ran the full length of the field at Vale Park to celebrate with Branch, could only retrieve the ball from the net.
Craig Harris had to shuffle the pack again when he lost Danny Smith to a knee injury twelve minutes from time, with both Farmer and Smith expected to be out of the team for a while.
Sutton entered six minutes of injury time two goals in arrears but in the first minute of stoppage time gave themselves a lifeline through Kristian Ramsey-Dickson. They then added the equaliser in the fourth minute of time added on thanks to Mark Danks who fired low to Price’s left after being given too much space inside the penalty area.
Manager Craig Harris described the result as “a good point – but it felt like a bad one because of the way it happened.”
Sutton Coldfield Town: Evans, Lycett, Keenan, Parsons, Kettle, Male, Sheldon (Leek, 68 mins), Edwards, Ramsey-Dickson, Danks, Chapman (Milligan, 71 mins). Subs not used: Lund, Ling, Bedford.
Chasetown: Price, Farmer (Downes, 55 mins), Branch, Bate, Tesfa Robinson, Teesdale, Brown, Westwood, Wellecomme, Smith (Hay, 78 mins), Theo Robinson. Subs not used: Ashton, Slater, Saunders.
Click below to see more of Dave Birt’s pictures from the game: