Rhys Browne fired The Shots into the Emirates FA Cup first round as his deflected shot settled a keenly-contested fourth qualifying round tie against Sutton United.
His 71st minute strike, at the end of a counter attack launched by Dan Walker and in which Browne was twice involved, capped a resolute Shots performance built upon another fine defensive display which earned a third clean sheet in the last four games.
United, though, were predictably tough opponents, and they had begun brightly with Tom Bolarinwa a lively threat down the right. His shot, fired wildly off target from a great break down the right, typified a first-half of great endeavour but little quality.
Stevenson then snapped into a challenge in midfield and invited Brodie to shoot from 25 yards but it, too, was wide. Half-chances were the sum total of the early exchanges, as McGinty headed Hatton’s corner over and Saville curled a shot too high as Brodie and Beckles battled to latch onto Lathrope’s free-kick.
At the other end, Ross Stearn fired a swerving free-kick perilously close to Phil Smith’s left-hand post. Stearn’s deflected shot then looped across the penalty area only for Bolaringwa to lash a volley wide.
Seconds after the break, Dan Walker’s free-kick bounced through the six-yard box and inches wide, and as the game opened up Brodie had a shot blocked after Alexander made a daring run across halfway. The right-back soon repeated that run and crossed for Charlie Walker and Brodie to set-up Stevenson for a shot which was pulled across goal.
Stearn went close with another two shots as Sutton played on the counter, but it was the hosts who, on 71 minutes, created the game’s decisive moment with a break of their own. Dan Walker burst forward from the left-back position and, via Stevenson, Browne and Charlie Walker, got the ball back just outside the left corner of the area. His low cross evaded Browne but Stevenson was able to set him up for a shot which looped into the top corner, possibly via a deflection which took it beyond Ross Worner.
United, though, responded well, and were further galvanised by substitute Stuart Fleetwood. Bolarinwa fired in a cross-shot which was headed clear, on his knees, by Jack Saville, and Dan Fitchett pulled a shot on the turn wide after Amankwaah’s run and cross was flicked on by McAllister.
In the last 10 minutes, Alexander produced a fine and vital block to deny McAllister, who was looking to touch in Bolarinwa’s low cross, but Charlie Walker could have sealed victory as The Shots fashioned a three-on-one counter only to see his shot blocked.
Worner’s superb save kept the game alive in the final few minutes, as he flew to his right to tip Alexander’s curling drive over the bar as the end of a flowing move, but when Dundas powered a free header wide in injury-time, Sutton United finally ran out of time.
The Shots hadn’t been at their best but were satisfied with achieving the day’s primary aim, of progressing to the first round of the Emirates FA Cup.
ATFC: Smith; Alexander, Beckles, Saville, McGinty; Browne, Lathrope, Stevenson, Hatton (D Walker 33); C Walker, Brodie. Subs not used: Oliver, Barnes-Homer, Richards, Thomas, Barker, Mavila
SUFC: Worner; Amankwaah, Beckwith, Collins, Wishart; Bolarinwa, Eastmond, Gomis, Stearn (Fleetwood 69); McAllister, Fitchett (Dundas 79). Subs not used: Cooper, John, Shaw