DIVISION ONE NORTH
AFC Sudbury 0
Witham Town 1
AFC Sudbury’s injury crisis shows no sign of abating as they sweat on the fitness of prolific striker Lee Boylan, the Yellows’ top scorer.
The former Canvey Island frontman was carried off in AFC’s 1-0 defeat to Witham Town at The MEL Group Stadium, making him a major doubt for Saturday’s trip to Chatham Town (3pm).
Witham midfielder Lewis Godbold was shown a straight red card for the nasty challenge that led to Boylan’s latest ankle problem, but it was striker Emeka Onwubiko who left struggling Sudbury with just one win in their last 16 games by netting the only goal of the game on Saturday.
Manager Chris Tracey, whose side showed the shoots of recovery with an improved display, said: “I’ve got the backing of (chairman) Phil Turner — he is very supportive of me — and I don’t think you will find anybody working harder than myself.
“Things will turn around, but Sudbury have no divine right to be in the play-offs.”
Although the match heralded the much-anticipated return from injury of talisman targetman James Baker, just five of AFC’s starting XI had played more than a third of their 15 league games ahead of the clash.
There was a debut for
ex-Wivenhoe captain Tom
Cutts at centre-half and the return games of left-back Ashley Sloots and midfielder Ben Bowditch.
Baker was inches away from marking his enforced three-month absence with a goal inside 30 seconds, but could not get a toe to Dave Cowley’s cross, and it was the visitors who struck the only goal of the game in the 10th minute.
Sam Taylor, the best attacking player on the pitch by far, jinked his way forward and played a deft pass through to Onwubiko, who coolly slid the ball underneath the onrushing Alex Archer and into the net.
AFC dominated possession and territory from then on in, but on too many occasion Witham were unchallenged for high balls in midfield, while the Yellows’ attacking play lacked cohesion and fluidity, with too much space left between players.
Baker glanced Michael Shinn’s free-kick agonisingly just wide of the post on the hour-mark before Boylan’s 25-yard rocket clattered goalkeeper Jason Baker’s right-hand post.
However, that was as close as Sudbury got to a goal, with the only remaining notable action being Godbold’s lunge on Boylan in the final minute that resulted in the Witham captain being handed a red card and Boylan being carried from the field.
Manager Tracey added: “It’s like pre-season still with people learning how each other play, but I can’t fault anyone’s effort out there.”
Baker lasted 74 minutes of his return, while Sudbury continue to await the return of captain Sam Clarke and centre-half James Smith from the treatment table.
“It’s been a frustrating season for a number of reasons, so it was good to be able to get back on the pitch to try and help,” he said. “We were unlucky to lose, because we played quite well for the majority of the game.”