RYMAN LEAGUE DIVISION ONE NORTH: AFC Sudbury 1 Cheshunt 3
Ollie Berquez believes there is no reason why his new club cannot make King’s Marsh a fortress to propel them to the play-offs.
The 34-year-old former Ipswich Town youth player — who was signed from divisional rivals Maldon and Tiptree prior to marking his debut with a goal at Whitstable Town on Saturday — endured a more frustrating home debut, but is confident they will reverse their worrying form on home soil.
The midfielder — based at nearby Castle Hedingham, where he runs a fitness company — handed Cheshunt the lead in bizarre fashion when he spectacularly put through his own net 13 minutes in, before missing a golden chance to level at 2-2 in the second half, following Adam Bolle putting his side ahead after his own goal had made it 1-1 at the break.
But it was Bolle who pounced on a sliced Alex Archer kick, following a terrible backpass from Ryan Henshaw, to condemn AFC to their fourth home league defeat from eight matches.
“We didn’t take chances and they scored goals at bad times for us, where we were on top and the third goal kills the game,” said Berquez, who has played three leagues higher in the Conference Premier for Stevenage Borough under Graham Westley, as well as including Chelsmford City, Dagenham Redbridge and Woking among his former clubs. “As a team we are gutted to lose, we were on a great run.
“We just need to bounce back on Saturday now.”
“It is a good club with a good fanbase and we have just got to pick up the home form, there is no reason why this is happening, from what I can see.”
With an impressive performance on Saturday, manager David Batch, who Berquez revealed had spoken to him about joining in the summer, made just one change with Terry Rymer starting ahead of Ayrton Coley, while James Baker, back from suspension, was on the bench.
A swirling wind provided a game which resembled pinball at times, with Bolle’s opening shot flying wide before Berquez provided a clinical striker’s finish when lashing Aryan Tajbakhsh’s free-kick into his own net, after Rymer committed a lunging foul, past a helpless Archer — it was the first own goal of his career.
It seemed to set the tone for a comedy of errors, with Bolle ending a dominant spell from the hosts by back heading Jack Wilkinson’s dangerous long throw-in over his own goalkeeper 29 minutes in.
Berquez should have opted to head at goal, instead of back across, from an excellent Kris Newby delivery in the only other real significant goalmouth action of the half, with Cheshunt remaining on the backfoot, but looking dangerous on the break where they were utilising the width well.
Wilkinson — who later proved he had drawn blood from a high tackle on his shin — came out for the second half clearly limping and the decision to keep him on the pitch looked a bad one when he was unable to keep pace with Bolle three minutes after the restart, who stole a yard to head Chehunt ahead after Lewis Payne stood the ball up from the left-hand touchline.
Eight minutes later, Rymer — whose all-round play had impressed inter-changing with Newby in the central striker position — misjudged the flight of Wilkinson’s free-kick after being presented with a free header in the box that only required the slightest of touches for an equaliser.
Bolle should have headed Cheshunt into a two-goal lead, with Ben Robinson desperately hacking clear, while substitute Lawrence Yiga looked fortunate not to have given away a penalty with a rash sliding challenge from behind.
Lively teenager Scott Kemp fired a low shot down Glenn Williamson’s throat, with the ball slipping out to dovetail with Berquez’s run into the box, only to see the experienced midfielder scuff his shot, which went the wrong side of the post.
With James Baker restored to his natural striker role from the bench, alongside Coley, the cavalry charge was undone by a short back-pass from Henshaw after 77 minutes, which Archer ran out and sliced only for Bolle to pounce and roll it into an empty net with Craig Pope’s attempts to prevent him in vain.
There was still time for Coley and Yiga to fire wildly over and Scott Kemp to hit the top of the crossbar, but it was another night to quickly forget for a sparse home crowd.
“If you are going to give two goals away like the first two, it is difficult,” reflected manager Batch. “And the third goal in particular has come at a bad time when we have just missed a chance to go 2-2 and that knocked us properly on the back foot.”
* Week 25 winners in the AFC Sudbury Gold fundraiser: £100 J Ford 196, Queens Rd, Sudbury; £10 G Scott 143, Constitution Hill, Sudbury; £10 C Levitt 142, Peacocks Close, Gt Cornard.
Alex Archer 6
Could do nothing about first two goals
ben robinson............................... 6
Bit of a mixed bag from the youngster
jack wilkinson 7
Dangerous deliveries. Played through pain
ryan hervel 5
Too quiet and made a few sloppy passes
ryan henshaw 5
Made a fatal error with bad backpass
craig pope 6
Steady display, but did not stand out
kris newby 6
Better when drifting in from out wide
sam clarke 6
Excellent first half, but faded after break
terry rymer 7
Ran channels well but missed big chance
scott kemp 7
Man of the match
Not afraid to run with the ball. Hit the bar
ollie berquez 5
A home debut to forget, at both ends
(for hervel 57) 5
Was lucky not to give away a penalty
(for rymer 68) 5
Not able to make his usual impact up front
(for berquez 76) 6
Good footwork, but no finish to match
Shots on 2 4
Shots off 5 4
Woodwork 1 0
Corners 5 7
Offsides 5 0
FK conceded 12 11
Bookings: afc: none. cheshunt: Bolle (dangerous play), o’brien (dissent), sem (foul)
Red cards: none
Referee: mark potkins
Ollie Berquez’s own goal was the first of the 34-year-old’s entire career