DIVISION ONE NORTH
Needham Market 1
AFC Sudbury 3
AFC’s caretaker manager Michael Shinn believes Monday’s performance must now be the benchmark for their remaining four games.
The Yellows recorded their first win under Shinn and Ian Brown’s current temporary tenure at the fourth attempt, since Chris Tracey’s departure last month.
A Leon Antoine brace and a Luke Ingram penalty ended a run of five straight defeats since beating then league leaders Maldon and Tiptree at the MEL Group Stadium on February 26.
And Shinn, whose side were in action in a rearranged home game with Tilbury last night (see www.suffolkfree press.co.uk for report), is now demanding more of the same.
“That performance at Needham is a minimum requirement now,” said the 28-year-old player-manager ahead of Saturday’s visit of his ex-club, fourth-placed Heybridge Swifts (3pm). “The players do seem to be responding well.
“We have had everyone at training the past few weeks and everyone has put a shift in on match days.
“Obviously we have slightly different ideas from the previous manager and we will see whether they work.”
Leon Antoine’s opening goal after just two minutes, when he turned in Tom Cutts’ header from Dave Cowley’s corner with his head, got them off to a flying start in Monday’s derby.
But Sam Newson ghosted past two defenders to equalise for the Marketmen, also in mid-table, after a quarter of an hour.
Luke Ingram added his second goal in his third game since rejoining the club from the penalty spot to restore the visitors’ lead after 26 minutes after Cowley had his shirt tugged by Pat Bexfield.
The second half saw Needham up the pressure, but they barely tested goalkeeper Alex Archer and AFC capitalised on the gaps at the back to race away and score the winner.
Robbie Martin picked up possession and played in Antoine, who was guilty of a bad second-half miss, to slot the ball past the advancing Louis Johnson in the 83rd minute.
Shinn, on for the tiring Sam Clarke, hit the post deep in to injury time as AFC got the victory he felt they deserved two days previously, in the 4-2 home defeat to Wroxham.
“We actually played well Saturday, but the scoreline does not tell you that,” he said. “We probably got our reward Monday that we should have got Saturday.”
Defender Darcy De’ath, who made eight appearances since signing from Needham Market, has joined Thurlow Nunn Premier Division outfit Hadleigh United.
Goalkeeper Ben Tracey has signed on a permanent basis for fellow Premier Division side Diss Town, who have also taken AFC midfielder Jacob Brown on dual registration.
AFC: Archer, Henshaw, Dalby, Ingram, Townrow (Fisher 90), Cutts, Antoine, S Clarke (Shinn 75), Baker, Martin, Cowley. Unsed sub: Sloots.
Free Press man of the match: Lee Townrow.
* AFC Sudbury caretaker manager Michael Shinn will play on at the club next season, even if he is handed the managerial reigns on a full-time basis.
After recently signing a new contract for 2013/14, the deep-lying midfielder will not be scared off by stories of management and playing not marrying together.
“I am only 28 and would like to think I still have a few seasons in me yet,” he said. “People say it doesn’t work, but you only have to look at Jamie Day at Welling in the Conference South (top of the league) to show it can be done — it all depends on the individual.
“I am not saying it is easy but just have got to have people around you who you can trust.”
Shinn admits he had not come across former Whitton United manager and Bristol City and Northampton Town striker Ian Brown before he pitched up at AFC in late October as first-team coach to Tracey. But he immediately clicked with the former Sudbury Town player and enjoys working with him.
“A lot of our views are similar and you don’t often find that with someone in football,” he said.