- Honours even in first clash at Gander Green Lane
- Agyei makes it 10 goals for season
- Mellor and Baker-Richard return to fold
An injury-time equaliser denied Crewe Alexandra victory on their first ever trip to Sutton United.
Dan Agyei’s 10th of the season gave The Railwaymen the advantage going into the break.
But when Red McDonald was sent off shortly after the hour-mark, the task grew more difficult.
Crewe defended bravely with 10 men, but Coby Rowe headed a leveller for the hosts on 93 minutes.
It will be a feeling of frustration for Lee Bell and his men, who worked so hard to avoid a 15th draw of the season.
But that makes it six games unbeaten, as they prepare for the visit of Salford on Friday (7.45pm).
Bell made one change to the one side that drew with Rochdale last time out, with fit-again Kelvin Mellor replacing the suspended Connor O’Riordan in defence.
Top-scorer Courtney Baker-Richardson was deemed fit enough to take his place on the bench after being out of action since October, and Charle Colkett was also amongst the subs after a spell on the sidelines.
Sutton, who wore the traditional red colours of Sutton Guild Rovers to commemorate one of the two clubs who merged to form Sutton United exactly 125 years ago, brought the first save of the game from James Beadle, when Rowe headed on target from a free-kick.
The game was scrappy and goalmouth action was at a premium, but the first real bit of quality paved the way for the opener.
Joel Tabiner’s super skill in the box created to space for a cross, and Crewe won a corner. Tariq Uwakwe’s delivery was precise and Agyei powered a header home, on 33 minutes.
On 42 minutes some good work from Agyei set Elliott Nevitt racing towards goal, but his powerful left-footed strike was kept out by keeper Jack Rose.
Lee Angol’s direct free-kick went straight into the Crewe wall just before the break, and the well-travelled striker fired straight into the arms of Beadle before the whistle.
Three minutes after the restart, Crewe defended a corner and McDonald’s marauding run forward teed up Agyei for an accurate cross, and Sean Robertson was inches away from making it 2-0 when he met the ball at the far post.
Ryan Finnigan, who had been booked, was subbed around the hour mark with the management team no doubt fearing he could be sent off by referee Daniel Middleton.
And the official did brandish the red card on 64 minutes when McDonald caught Angol with a high boot.
Home sub Matt Dennis headed over as Sutton ramped up the pressure, and Beadle had to make a brave block from the same player after a mix-up with Mellor.
On 78 minutes Agyei found himself with a shooting chance but he didn’t generate enough power to beat the gloves of Rose.
Beautyman should have made it 1-1 but volleyed over from close range following a United corner.
And in injury time Rowe rose highest to nod the equaliser after meeting a cross from the right.
Sutton (4-3-3): Rose; Hart (Kouassi, 75), Rowe, Goodliffe, Kizzi; Randall (Milsom, 75), Eastmond, Ajiboye; Angol (Dennis, 69), Bugiel (Boldewijn, 75), Beautyman.
Subs not used: House, Dundas, Lovatt, Milsom, Kouassi.
Crewe (3-5-2): Beadle; O’Riordan, McDonald, Offord; Adebisi, Robertson (Griffiths, 69), Finnigan (Thomas, 51), Tabiner (Ainley, 60), Uwakwe; Agyei, Nevitt (Baker-Richardson, 69).
Subs not used: Richards, Brook, Colkett.
Booked: Tabiner, Finnigan
Referee: Daniel Middleton