Matt Gray was grateful to be proven wrong as David Ajiboye’s first-half goal moved Sutton to within one point of an automatic promotion place in a 1-0 win against Barrow.
Ajiboye curled in a superb 16th-minute clincher, much to manager Gray’s surprise yet delight.
However, the Sutton boss was also pleased with his team’s resilience as Barrow threw everything at their hosts in search of salvaging a deserved point.
“David was my first signing for the club and he has come a long way as a player,” said the Sutton boss.
“We have emphasised to him this season about coming in on his left foot and having an end product.
“I have joked with him for a long time I don’t think he has it in his locker. So he came over and celebrated after bending it in the corner with his left foot to shut me up for a little while.
“Barrow were a difficult team to play against. They played a different formation from what we had seen on video and they changed their formation three times in the game.
“That last 10-15 minutes, they threw loads of bodies forward. We were up the hill, into the wind, so it was a little bit backs to the wall.
“But I thought we defended brilliantly and saw the game out. We showed character in abundance.”
Despite Sutton’s fine form, Gray played down their chances of another promotion, adding: “We have 32 points after 19 games, so I am delighted where we are.
“Our first goal is 50 points and we are on course hopefully to get it pretty quickly. But like last season, who knows what can happen.”
Barrow are struggling down in 20th, but their performance belied recent disappointing results.
“We had some brilliant chances again,” said manager Mark Cooper. “We started well and should have had a tap-in from six yards.
“In our first attack we conceded and probably, had (suspended) Patrick Brough been there, we wouldn’t because he is a naturally left-sided player.
“Then we had another great chance and bossed the first half in terms of possession.
“The start of the second half was scrappy, but for the last 20 minutes we did everything we could to get a goal.
“From the edge of our box to the edge of their box – brilliant. But both boxes count.
“In the opposition box we are not showing enough quality. And in our box we are too easy to score against.
“We have to change that mentality. Players have to realise they need to do more to keep the ball out of our goal and to make sure they force the ball across the line.”
Cooper also felt Omar Bugiel should have been sent off for a second bookable offence, moments before being substituted.
“He pulls James Jones back as he was breaking and it was a clear yellow card,” he said.
Gray also felt referee Brett Huxtable could have sent off Josh Kay for a challenge on Ajiboye before half-time.