AFC Sudbury 3 Grays Athletic 1
DIVISION ONE NORTH
AFC Sudbury 3 Grays Athletic 1
by Russell Claydon at
The MEL Group Stadium
AFC Sudbury manager Chris Tracey hailed the role his substitutes played in over-coming fellow promotion hopefuls Grays Athletic to record their first home league win.
After Ben Bowditch’s early strike had been pegged back by Jack West in the opening 45 minutes, the midfielder’s second, 16 minutes from time, saw the home side regain the lead before Dave Bryant put the result beyond any doubt in stoppage time.
But it was the impact from the bench of strikers Danny Charge and Leon Antoine, the former playing a major role in both second-half goals, which Tracey highlighted for special praise as the Yellows gained revenge against a side who did the double over them last season, and ended their play-off hopes at King’s Marsh in late March.
“It was an excellent result and, even though I don’t think we actually played as well as we have been, I thought we were good value in the end for the 3-1 scoreline,” said Tracey. “In the second half we made as many chances as them and I am absolutely delighted.”
He added: “Substitutions sometimes make an impact and sometimes don’t, and I think they did today.
“The lads who were playing were doing ok but they gave us another dimension.
“Danny Charge, who has played for Grays, came on and provided the second goal, I know he missed a good chance, and Leon (Antoine) caused them all sorts of problems with his strength and pace.”
With Michael Shinn shaking off a thigh problem to start and on-loan Bowditch replacing Sam Clarke, out with a broken arm, AFC got off to a dream start with the opener coming after just 48 seconds. High pressing on the Grays backline was immediately rewarded as Bowditch robbed Leon Lalite of possession on his 18-yard box and curled beyond George Kamurasi.
It could have been 3-0 inside the opening 10 minutes as former Grays marksman Lee Boylan hit the side-netting and then breached the hesitant backline only to see Kamurasi come smartly out of his area to block his shot.
But after the visitors’ Luke Marshall spurned a good opportunity, the Essex side were level after 19 minutes when a long-ball from right back caught out Ian Cousins, who allowed the towering Jack West, proving a real handful, to bring down in the area before expertly chipping over the on-rushing Danny Gay into the far corner.
Grays were in control for the rest of the half but the scores remained level, with both sides losing players to injury; AFC’s Boylan to a twisted ankle four minutes from the break, while the visitors’ lively Danny Bunce, who twice went close, also had to leave the field.
Eljay Worrell and Bowditch went close with chipped shots, the latter landing on the outside of the angle of crossbar and post for AFC, while Craig Pope glanced a header wide at the other end as both sides saw chances come and go early in the second half.
Charge, who replaced Boylan, should have done better from a glancing header but all was forgotten when he put a low cross into the box following a quick throw-in on the left for Bowditch to run on to and finish after 74 minutes.
AFC had to ride some nervous moments, including a penalty appeal, but with Antoine’s drive having come back off the foot of the post, the points were sealed two minutes into stoppage time when Dave Bryant lofted the ball over Kamurasi after Charge’s shot was deflected into his path.
* For match stats and player ratings, see this week’s Suffolk Free Press.