DIVISION ONE NORTH
Phoenix Sports 1
AFC Sudbury 4
The final trip of a title-winning season for newly-crowned champions AFC Sudbury saw them make their first-ever visit to Phoenix Sports.
AFC, having lost only one league fixture away all season, did not lose this one and came away with a comfortable 4-1 victory, courtesy of goals from Craig Parker, Liam Wales, Jordan Blackwell and George Clarke.
Sudbury manager Jamie Godbold was forced by circumstances to put out what was probably the youngest starting line-up in a very long time, indeed possibly ever.
At left back, 17-year-old Tyler French was given his first start, while 18-year-old Jack Newman played in central defence as James Baker was given time off to compete in the Brighton Marathon.
In midfield, 18-year-old Wayne Blackman started and Wales led the line as Luke Callander had a slight knock.
AFC were warmly welcomed by a very hospitable Kent club, and indeed were clapped onto the pitch by their players, who formed a guard of honour while the Phoenix Sports chairman on the sound system congratulated the visiting players and supporters for their achievements.
Sudbury started the game brightly, but there had been 15 minutes elapsed when they opened the scoring.
The ball was played into midfield where another young player, Clarke, interchanged passes with Parker, before AFC’s top goalscorer scored his 28th goal of the campaign.
It was not until two minutes before the interval that the champions increased their lead against the hosts.
Wales latched onto the ball and ran forward, taking on the advancing goalkeeper Steve Phillips before slotting home to make it 2-0.
Blackwell, making his 100th appearance for the club, netted the third goal for Sudbury on 69 minutes.
French played a long ball forward, which Blackwell chased after with a defender.
Phoenix goalkeeper Phillips came out and missed the ball, leaving Blackwell to round him and coolly score.
The Ryman League newcomers pulled a goal back four minutes later when Christie Pattinson fired home at the far post, after Alistair Gordon’s strike from the right had come back off the post.
The final away goal of AFC’s championship winning season came three minutes from time, with Clarke at the far post heading home from a Danny Cunningham cross.
Another good win on the road for Godbold’s men, whose only league defeat in 2015-16 came back in October of last year against Thurrock.
n AFC Sudbury Reserves will be looking to put a stop to their recent slump in results in the Thurlow Nunn League First Division this weekend.
The Yellows visit Dereham Town Reserves tomorrow (7.45pm) before going to Ely City on Wednesday (7.45pm).
n AFC Gold winners week 51: 1 £100 127 P Scott, Constitution Hill; 2 £10 290 Miss L Crofton, Essex Avenue; 3 £10 149 Mrs M Gooby, Second Avenue.