DIVISION ONE NORTH
AFC Sudbury 1
Soham Town Rangers 2
AFC Sudbury manager David Batch said a superbly-saved penalty was a turning point as his side went down to defeat in their first home game.
Two breakaway goals — one in each half, from Luke Stanley and Ben Sawyer, sandwiched between Jamie Forshaw’s rifled equaliser — were enough for Soham Town Rangers to take all three points on Tuesday.
But the Greens were thankful to goalkeeper Daniel Bircham for a flying penalty save from Matt Daniels on the stroke of half-time as they failed to convert a glut of chances.
In a frantic finale Soham were left hanging on to their slender lead as AFC poured forward, with centre-half Nick Wilderspin having to clear off the goal-line from Jemel Fox’s header while Michael Shinn had also gone close from two free-kicks, one hitting the post and the other well saved.
Batch said: “We got back in the game and I think if we had scored the penalty it changes the game.
“If we go ahead then there was only ever going to be one team winning it.
“But fair play to them, when we were bombing everyone forward and left two at the back they have had three or four good chances and could have put the game to bed.”
With striker Ben Thompson missing through holiday and skipper Sam Clarke still injured, Soham began to take control after a pretty even opening 15 minutes, with Stanley forcing Alex Archer into a low one-handed save.
The AFC keeper blocked from the same player and parried Buster Harradine’s long-range effort to safety before the visitors took the lead five minutes before the break.
Following Forshaw’s volleyed effort being thwarted by a defensive block, Soham sprung a counter-attack with Ben Sawyer playing the ball down the right for James Hall, who drew Archer off his line before playing a square pass for Stanley’s simple finish.
Sudbury, who had rarely threatened the visitors’ goal, missed a glorious chance to level the game with the last kick of the half when Bircham flew full stretch to his right to push out Daniel’s spot-kick after Shinn had been knocked to the ground challenging for a header.
Archer pulled off his own flying stop from Wilderspin’s thunderbolt shot, which came after Shinn’s 25-yard free-kick had come back off the post, before AFC equalised a minute before the hour mark.
Forshaw smashed the ball into the top right-hand corner from the right edge of the area after James Baker’s neat lay-off from Shinn’s pass.
But, just seven minutes later, Soham went back in front when Sawyer latched on to a long throughball to breach the AFC defence and then coolly slid the ball into the far corner.
Archer saved well from substitute Connor Wood, Sawyer and Hall before the home side’s late rally with Bircham making a fine stop at the death to claw away Shinn’s free-kick and ensure Soham took all three points.
* For player ratings and match stats, see Thursday’s Suffolk Free Press print edition.
n AFC Sudbury Reserves’ first game in the Thurlow Nunn League First Division ended in a 3-1 defeat at Team Bury with Ryan Swallow on target for the visitors.
Dave Walton’s young side travel to Debenham LC on Saturday (3pm) before hosting Braintree Town Reserves on the main pitch on Wednesday (7.45pm).