Hawks boss Shaun Gale was left to rue his side’s 14th Blue Square South Bet defeat of the season as Westleigh Park grips itself for a relegation battle.
Hawks old-boys Kevin Scriven, Leroy Griffiths, Tony Taggart and Craig Braham-Barrett – who was sent off in the second half last night – conspired to add to the Hawks’ woes as Sutton secured a 2-0 home victory.
And it was Griffiths and Taggart, in particular, who returned to haunt the Hawks, with both scoring before half-time to send Gale’s side to fifth from bottom in the table.
The Hawks had their chances in the second half following Braham-Barrett’s dismissal, but they were unable to unlock a sturdy Sutton defence, leaving Gale a frustrated figure.
‘It was one of those nights when we were knocking on the door but couldn’t force that goal,’ said Gale.
‘We had enough chances to get something from the game but didn’t take them.
‘We seem to get punished for every mistake and it’s just going on and on. We have to stop the rot.
‘Their first goal was against the run of play because we started well. And the second one came from a set piece.
‘If you win games on possession, we would have walked it.’
The Hawks rang the changes after their disappointing 4-2 home defeat to Boreham Wood at the weekend.
Bobby Hopkinson, Sam Pearce and Sammy Igoe all returned to the starting line-up.
New midfielder Eddie Hutchinson was given his first start.
But the visitors were forced to make one late change when Jake Newton failed to arrive on time and was replaced by Paul Hinshelwood at right-back.
In a positive opening from the visitors, home keeper Scriven was forced to push the ball away from the feet of Ollie Palmer.
The Hawks’ fragile confidence, however, suffered a massive blow when Sutton took a seventh-minute lead with virtually their first attack.
Kyle Vassell chipped the ball back from the byline, and former Westleigh Park striker Taggart combined with another ex-Hawk, Griffiths, to fire the home side into the lead from six yards out.
On 16 minutes, the Hawks were sliced open again when a simple one-two put Vassell in the clear.
The striker ran into the area but smashed his shot wide with only Lyall Beazley to beat.
The Hawks were coming under increasing pressure and when Taggart slipped Vassell in again, Beazley produced a smart block at the near post.
Beazley also came to the Hawks’ rescue when he kept out Michael Boateng’s close-range effort with his legs.
The home side remained on top and Braham-Barrett – who left the Hawks only last month – twice forced low saves from Beazley.
The visitors’ best chance fell when Hutchinson’s half-hit shot rebounded off Scriven, but Ramsey couldn’t get enough contact on the rebound.
Two minutes before half-time, the Hawks’ gloom deepened when Sutton increased their lead.
And it was down to the old-boys act again.
Taggart floated in a free-kick from the right, and Griffiths climbed above the defence to bury his header into the corner.
The Hawks were given a lifeline in a dramatic opening to the second period.
Within a minute, Braham-Barrett picked up his second booking for a foul on Palmer and was sent off, reducing the home side to 10 men.
Almost immediately, Perry Ryan drilled a 30-yard shot just over the bar.
The visitors were pushing forward, trying to make their extra man count and Hutchinson failed to turn the ball in after a goalmouth scramble.
Gale then made two substitutions in quick succession, with Newton and Dan Thompson being sent on.
Chris Arthur was making some good, strong bursts down the right but, disappointingly, there was no end product.
Despite the increased amount of possession, the Hawks lacked creativity and were unable to unlock the home defence.
When they did go close, Scriven pushed the ball away from Ryan at the far post.
At the other end, Lewis Hunt went close to embarrassing the Hawks with a header from a corner that went narrowly wide.
The Hawks’ best chance fell to Palmer five minutes from time when he raced clear into the right of the area, only to see his shot pushed away by the advancing Scriven.