Playing with 10 men for 65 minutes, AFC Sudbury went close to a deserved point when Dave Cowley hit the woodwork with the last kick.
DIVISION ONE NORTH
Aveley 2 AFC Sudbury 1
The wide open spaces of Mill Field have seldom been a happy hunting ground for AFC and it was much the same on Saturday with defender Greg Crane’s dismissal, conceding a penalty after 25 minutes, left them with an uphill task.'
After Ryan Henshaw’s equaliser though, they came close to pegging the hosts back again with a gritty performance which ended their seven-game unbeaten league run.
James Baker and Michael Shinn made their first starts since injury with defender Scott Mitchell (illness) and striker Jamie Forshaw (knee) both out.
There was little between the teams in the early play with defences on top, but the deadlock was broken after Crane received a straight red card for denying Aveley’s Petrit Elbi a goal-scoring opportunity as he broke through on goal and he dusted himself off to give the hosts the lead form the penalty spot.
Crane’s departure forced Batch to make a change and Josh Carus rose from the bench to shore up the defence at the expense of midfielder Payton Swatman.
Aveley went close to scoring a second goal before the break when Elbi’s shot on the run was pushed on to the bar by Alex Archer in the Sudbury goal, the first of his many fine saves.
Batch made another change at the beak with Ross Watson replacing the tiring Shinn, with the former King’s Lynn player going on to have a fine game.
He forced a good save from the home keeper before, at the other end, Archer did well to save a fierce shot from Petri.
Despite being a player short, Sudbury went on to have their best spell of the game and they deservedly equalised on the hour when a right wing corner was headed on to Henshaw, who drove the ball home to level the scores.
Sudbury continued to look dangerous, particularly after the introduction of Cowley from the bench.
But, with nine minutes remaining, a quick Aveley counter-attack won a left-wing corner and from it they scored what proved to be the winning goal when substitute Ross Wall squeezed the ball home at the near post.
Sudbury pressed hard for an equaliser and a good chance fell to Watson, but he blazed over from close range.
Aveley twice broke but were denied by fine saves by Archer, which almost paid dividends as with the final kick of four minutes of stoppage time, Cowley saw his curling 25-yard drive hit the angle of post and bar and bounce to safety.
AFC: Archer, Lewis, Cawley, Shinn (Watson 46), Crane, Henshaw, Thompson (Cowley 79), Clarke, Baker, Daniels, Swatman (Carus 25). Unused subs: N’Cho, Swallow.
Free Press man of the match: Ryan Henshaw takes the award for a fine all-round display.
AFC bookings: Ross Watson. Red card: Greg Crane (denying a goalscoring opportunity).