‘Captain fantastic’ sets sights on record

AFC Sudbury v Heybridge Swifts - Sam Clarke races through the midfield.'Pic - Richard Marsham ANL-150703-203714009
AFC Sudbury v Heybridge Swifts - Sam Clarke races through the midfield.'Pic - Richard Marsham ANL-150703-203714009

AFC Sudbury manager Jamie Godbold has hailed ‘captain fantastic’ Sam Clarke, who made his 300th appearance for the club on Tuesday night.

AFC beat struggling Heybridge Swifts 4-2, to move up to second in the Ryman League Division One North, Clarke coming on in the second half.

“It’s a fantastic achievement,” said Godbold. “He is a credit to the club and team, and a role model. He’s now got his eye on Paul Betson’s record of 377 games.”

Clarke, 28, signed for AFC at the start of the 2008-09 season, taking over the captaincy in October 2010, but has had two lengthy spells out with arm injuries.

The match against the Swifts was also memorable for Sam Bantick, who scored his first non-League hat-trick.

But it was a costly victory as AFC lost Ryan Henshaw to a straight red card after he handled on the line in the first half.

“I said when we signed Sam (Bantick) it was a positive signing as he would add firepower,” said Yellows’ manager Godbold. “He has scored in all the games he appeared in so far.”

Bantick now has five in three games.

The victory, against bottom of the table Heybridge, Godbold described as ‘a good result under the circumstances. But we gave away a couple of soft goals’.

He added: “Ryan going off gave us a lot of work to do, but it was an instinctive reaction. But all credit to the lads who played well.”

With almost a quarter of the league season completed, Godbold is happy with Sudbury’s second place. They are four points behind Cray Wanderers with a game in hand.

“I think by now most teams are where they should be. But I feel there is a lot more to come from us,” he said.

He was disappointed with the 2-1 FA Cup second qualifying round defeat at National League South Eastbourne Borough on Saturday though.

“The Conference South is the league we aspire to; we gave a good account of ourselves, and I didn’t think there were two divisions between us on Saturday,” said Gobdold.

AFC are in cup action once again this weekend, travelling to Evostick Southern League Division One Central Barton Rovers for an FA Trophy preliminary round match. The winners collect £2,500 in prize money.

“It’s a competition I want us to make progress in,” said Godbold.