AFC Sudbury - Sudbury’s season off to a bad start

MIDFIELD TUSSLE: AFC's Michael Shinn battles for possession during Saturday's disappointing 3-1 home defeat to Cheshunt.
MIDFIELD TUSSLE: AFC's Michael Shinn battles for possession during Saturday's disappointing 3-1 home defeat to Cheshunt.
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RYMAN LEAGUE

DIVISION ONE NORTH

AFC Sudbury 1 Cheshunt 3

by Russell Claydon at The MEL Group Stadium

AFC Sudbury manager Chris Tracey believed his side were the architects of their own downfall as they got their league campaign off to a losing start at home to Cheshunt on Saturday.

In sweltering heat, AFC never fully recovered from a lacklustre first half and only replied to Jose Espinosa’s brace, one in each half, with Leon Antoine’s 90th minute header, before Cheshunt broke to add a third at the end of stoppage time.

Tracey said: “It was not the way I would like to have started.

“Our biggest problem was we kept giving the ball back to them.

“It does not matter whether a team is good, bad or indifferent, if you keep giving them the ball they will eventually cause you a problem.

“That was the disappointing thing for me as they kept it nice and short and gradually built it up.”

He added: “We gave it a good go towards the end, it just didn’t give us enough time.

“I’m not too downbeat about it – it is obviously three points at home (but) you need 90 points to win this league and we’ve got 41 games to do that.”

Five players were making their league debuts for AFC, including latest recruit midfielder Ben Smith, as Tracey set his side up in a 4-4-2 diamond formation, with James Baker shaking off a thigh injury.

The Yellows showed early promise with some neat moves which was soon undone by sloppy passes as Cheshunt got on top, making their extra man in midfield count with some slick passing.

AFC’s best effort of the half saw Ben Smith curl just inches over the centre of Glenn Williamson’s goal.

But down the other end Danny Gay had to fly to his right to turn away Tony Burke’s 25-yard piledriver, while Espinoza and Michael Dean had also put the ball just past the post.

The breakthrough Cheshunt’s pressure deserved came four minutes from the break when David Hick’s looping left-wing corner sailed to the back post where a downward header from Espinoza saw the ball bounce up and into the far corner.

The second half saw AFC gradually take control, improving after a change to 3-5-2, but they could not find a breakthrough with James Smith’s header tipped over the bar, James Baker seeing a shot cleared off the line and Ben Smith guilty of volleying over the bar from six yards.

Boylan was a man on a mission as he tried to find a goal, but never had Williamson seriously sweating.

Cheshunt then struck what looked a killer blow 10 minutes from time when Espinoza hit an angled drive from inside the area into the roof of the net from John Meglick’s pass.

But there was a faint glimmer of hope when substitute Leon Antoine headed in Ben Smith’s left-wing delivery ahead of four minutes of stoppage time, only for AFC to get caught out at the back with the penultimate kick of the game, Espinoza laying on for the unmarked Matthew Mitchell to finish.