Cowley urges new AFC boss not to break existing side up

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AFC Sudbury Supporters’ Player of the Season Dave Cowley believes new manager David Batch needs to keep the nucleus of the side together.

Cowley was a rare bright spot in an under-performing season for the Yellows as the winger quickly established himself as a fans’ favourite in his first season in Suffolk.

But the former Harlow Town wideman believes the basis of a promotion-winning side is already in place at The MEL Group Stadium — and it would be a mistake to go through a major overhaul.

Speaking to the Free Press after picking up his supporters’ award at the presentation evening at the club on Friday, he said: “We need to keep the nucleus of the squad at Sudbury.

“We just need a couple of players added to the squad, experienced leaders defensively. If we do that, I think Sudbury will push on.”

With injuries to key players having seen the league favourites finish an under-whelming 17th in Ryman League Division One North, Cowley believes it is the depth of the squad which needs to be addressed.

He said: “The injuries we did have played a massive part, but I would like to think we have good players in the side.

“In order to win the league and promotion you need a squad of players that can come in and replace injuries and do a job and we did not have that last year.”

The 24-year-old Harlow-based golf equipment manufacturer employee is now out of contract, but hopes to agree a deal in the coming days now a new manager has his feet under the table.

And he admitted it was the supporters who have the big pulling power.

“The one thing I love about playing for Sudbury is they have the highest average fan attendance in the league and even though it was not the best season for us, the fans stuck by us,” he said.

Cowley made 44 appearances in his debut season at AFC — 39 in the league — scoring five times and coming only second to Michael Shinn in the Free Press man-of-the-match awards.

Versatile defender Adam Dalby picked up the Manager’s Player of the Year — selected by caretaker Michael Shinn — while the Players’ Player of the Year went to goalkeeper Alex Archer and Leon Antoine — 14 goals from 36 appearances — took the golden boot award.

Ian Manby gave his manager’s award for his Suffolk FA Senior Reserve Cup winning AFC Sudbury Reserves side to goalkeeper Fred Howe, while Clive Golding’s manager’s award for the AFC Sudbury Ladies went to Charlotte Churchman and Peter Robinson was named Club Person of the Year.

n AFC Sudbury Grassroots will be holding their AGM, where they will be looking for new committee members, at the club on Friday, June 14 (7pm).

n AFC Gold fundraiser winners: £100 Wiiliam Messer, Ballingdon Gardens, Sudbury (136); £10 L Shewering, Old Court Long Melford (228); £10 Ken Smith, Landsdown Road Sudbury (278).