clarke a bright spot on bad day

OVERHEAD KICK: AFC's Craig Parker tries a spectacular overhead kick in an attempt to  get his side another goal
OVERHEAD KICK: AFC's Craig Parker tries a spectacular overhead kick in an attempt to get his side another goal
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DIVISION ONE NORTH

AFC Sudbury 1

Brightlingsea Regent 3

George Clarke is aiming to reignite his dream of playing professional football after signing for AFC Sudbury.

The 19-year-old impressed after coming off the bench during Tuesday night’s 3-1 defeat at home to bogey team Brightlingsea Regent, ironically the club he had just left.

Clarke came on as a 38th substitute for influential skipper Sam Clarke, who suffered a recurrence of the groin injury that saw him start on the bench in the FA Trophy at Hendon on Sunday.

The former Ipswich Town Academy player produced several strong runs in the second period and showed he will be an asset to his new club.

He admitted it was surreal playing against his former team mates so soon after leaving and said: “It was a shame about the result – I would have loved to have won that one, but we will go again on Saturday.

“I have not played much football in the last few weeks, but I thought I did well on the ball, and when I am fully fit I will show a lot more.

“I have been keeping fit by going to the gym and running, but there is nothing like match fitness and that will come as I play more.

“My best position is in the No 10 role or as a striker, but I can play anywhere in an attacking role.

“I have still got my agent from when I was at Ipswich and hopefully something will happen before the end of this season. That is still my dream.

“I am still looking to get a contract at a professional club, and coming to a club like AFC Sudbury is a step in the right direction, and I am looking forward to it.”

It proved a frustrating evening for Sudbury, who have not beaten Brightlingsea in five attempts spread across last season and the current campaign.

Before kick-off, a minute’s applause was held in memory of former AFC Sudbury Ladies’ striker Emma Holloway, who tragically died in a car accident five years to the day.

Brightlingsea started the better and Marcus Garnham was called into action in the fifth minute, getting down low to save Lamell Howell’s drive.

There was an escape for Sudbury seven minutes later when centre back Josh Gould let fly from 35 yards and the ball rebounded off a post and Terry Rymer followed up to score, but was in an offside position.

However, the visitors broke the deadlock in the 36th minute, Luke Read deflecting the ball home from Jake Turner’s shot for his third goal in as many games following Ricky Griggs’ left-wing corner.

Sudbury restored parity almost immediately, Jordan Blackwell spreading the ball wide to Ben Robinson and the full back made ground down the right before crossing for Luke Callander to sweep home.

Twice early in the second half Robinson provided deep crosses for Callander, but he was unable to take advantage before the striker was denied by ex-Sudbury loanee keeper Ollie Bowles.

It was therefore against the run of play when Brightlingsea regained the lead after 65 minutes through Sudbury old boy Rymer.

Josh Mayhew’s ball into the penalty box was cut back from the byline by substitute Phil Kelly, and although Garnham superbly blocked Rymer’s first attempt, the striker followed up to score.

The R’s made it 3-1 just three minutes later, Josh Gould’s downward header from a right-wing free-kick squirming underneath Garnham and just inside the near post.

Callander lobbed just wide before Sudbury twice came close to reducing the deficit in time added on.

Bowles flew across his goal to fingertip Craig Parker’s free-kick from just outside the area away for a corner, before Robinson’s shot was cleared off the line following a goalmouth scramble in the area.

The result left Sudbury scratching their heads as Brightlingsea maintained their hoodoo over the Suffolk side.

Sudbury boss Jamie Godbold reflected: “You know what you are going to get from Brightlingsea.

“They have not changed in the three or four years I have played against them. They are honest, direct and hard-working, and you have to try to match that. Unfortunately, we have given two goals away from set pieces and that gave them something to hang on to.

“I thought we worked hard after a tough game on Sunday (the 1-0 FA Trophy win at Hendon), but we looked tired in most areas of the pitch.”

AFC Sudbury: Garnham, Robinson, Newman (sub Baker, 81), Bailey, Henshaw, Mallardo, Wales (sub Martin, 68, S Clarke (sub G Clarke, 38), Callander, Parker, Blackwell. Unused subs: Berquez, Godbold.

Attendance: 201.

Free Press man of the match: Ben Robinson defended solidly and going forward provided both energy and several good crosses into the visitors’ penalty box.

n AFC Sudbury Under-10s claimed a fine 4-1 win against unbeaten Maldon Hall. Hall took the lead, but AFC Sudbury equalised through Finn Martin. Goals followed for Callum Devaraux, Billy East and Charlie Coot.