Sutton United assistant manager Micky Stephens says the 1-0 win at Ebbsfleet was just what the U’s needed ahead of this Saturday’s showdown with Aldershot.

A stunning solo goal from Tom Bolarinwa proved the difference as United came away from north Kent with three vital points.

Bolarinwa latched onto a Craig Eastmond header 35 yards from goal and then left a trail of defenders in his wake as he weaved towards goal before smashing the ball beyond goalkeeper Nathan Ashmore in the 77th minute.

Now Sutton just need a point against the Shots to guarantee a bye and home advantage for the play-off semi-final on Sunday, May 6.

“It was a brilliant performance,” said Stephens. “We looked strong and played with a vibrancy that has been lacking in recent weeks.

“We controlled the game and thoroughly deserved to win. It’s given us renewed confidence.

“We’re in a good place at the moment. To be third with a game left is amazing. We’ve just got to take it game by game but the mood in the camp is upbeat.

“There’s still a lot that can happen on Saturday but we’ve just got to play our own game then see where that takes us.”

The feel-good factor created by Saturday’s victory was tempered by the sad news of the death of legendary former manager Barrie Williams on Monday.

Stephens was the creative spark of the Sutton side which enjoyed so much success under Williams in the 1980s.

Among their many achievements, the U’s earned a reputation as giantkillers thanks to two FA Cup runs which began with a 3-0 thumping of then Third Division Aldershot in 1987 and culminated in a 2-1 victory over First Division Coventry City in 1989.

Stephens was keen to pay tribute to his former manager who was famous for quoting Shakespeare and Kipling to inspire his team.

“I have so many wonderful memories of playing under Barrie,” he said.

“He was a great coach and pushed me on to become a better player and better person.

“He told us that it was important to conduct ourselves well on and off the pitch. He wanted us to win but he also wanted us to conduct ourselves in the right way.

“Barrie's training sessions were excellent. He had so much information to give us and I was always willing to listen. He really improved my game.

"When we were youngsters of 20 or 21 he sent us off to do our coaching badges. He looked out for us."

Stephens revealed that Williams was more than just a manager to the players of that special United side of the 1980s.

The pipe-smoking former English teacher continued to stay in touch with some of that squad once their time at Sutton had come to an end.

“Barrie stood by us all throughout our careers and beyond," said the United assistant boss.

"He took the time to write to me on several occasions when I was going through a difficult time.

"He had that ability to give you belief. He knew what to say at just the right time to keep you going and could talk his way out of a paper bag by baffling you with big words.

"He made us better people and I still take that with me today."

Stephens also hailed current Sutton boss Paul Doswell for what he's done for the club in his 10 years at the helm.

Comparisons have been made between the Sutton side of the 1980s and the recent side of the Doswell era which has enjoyed a league title, an epic FA Cup run and is now banging loudly on the door of the Football League.

“Paul Doswell is a more than worthy person to take the club onto another level," said Stephens.

"He deserves a lot of credit for what this club has achieved. People don't see what he's like behind the scenes, he has a way of making things happen.

"He works well with Ian Baird (head coach) and has assembled a great team of coaches and players.

"His drive and passion is what pushes this club forward. It’s incredible to think we’re on the brink of the Football League.”

Sutton United v Aldershot, Saturday, April 28, 12.30pm.


The ticket office will be open from 7pm to 8.30pm on Friday, April 27. More details from