DIVISION ONE NORTH
AFC Sudbury 1
Heybridge Swifts 4
WITH only pride to play for, AFC’s season ended in disappointment on Saturday with a third consecutive defeat, the Essex side gaining a deserved victory helped by a hat-trick from striker Luke Callender.
The defeat means AFC finished in eighth place in the table and nine points from a play-off spot.
Despite the dismal weather, the game attracted 351 fans.
After a quiet start, Heybridge opened the scoring from their first serious attack after 16 minutes when Callender set up the unmarked Tom Holdstock who hammered home to put the Essex side ahead,
The home side had plenty of possession in midfield, but they lacked penetration and Heybridge looked more dangerous going forward. Callender shot just wide before he doubled their lead after 34 minutes when he netted from close range after being set up following a mazy run by Solomon Orfori.
Five minutes later, AFC got a goal back when Chris Bryan fired home through a crowded penalty area.
AFC piled on the pressure and James Baker shot just wide, but they were caught on the break in first-half stoppage time when Heybridge were awarded a penalty after Orfori was fouled as he broke into the home penalty area. Callender took the spot kick, and although keeper Danny Gay saved his initial shot, the Heybridge striker followed up to score from the rebound to give his side a 3-I lead at the break.
The second half was tame affair, but on the hour AFC did get the ball in the net following a free-kick only for the effort to be ruled out for offside.
AFC continued to have plenty of possession, but they seldom looked like piercing a solid Heybridge defence.
Heybridge always looked dangerous on the break, and they clinched a deserved victory six minutes from time when Callender completed his hat-trick when he netted after a one-on-one with the home keeper.
AFC Sudbury: Gay, Henshaw, Sloots, Shinn (Emmanuel 59), N Clarke, Dalby, Griffiths, S Clarke (Wareham 71), Baker, Bryan, Pond. Unsed subs: Howell, Nicoll and B Tracey.
n Manager Chris Tracey said: “The football we produced was not up to an acceptable standard. We were well beaten, and well done to Heybridge for that. It is now up to me to sort things out and give this league a real go next season.”
n Before kick-off defender Nathan Clarke was named Supporters’ Player of the Year. He was presented with his award by guest of honour, former Chelsea and England legend, Ron ‘Chopper’ Harris. Leading scorer James Baker and goalkeeper Danny Gay finished second and third respectively.
Harris also presided over the annual middle schools penalty shoot-out competition. After a keenly-fought battle, Great Cornard came out on top against the team from All Saints.