DIVISION ONE NORTH
AFC Sudbury 1
Needham Market 0
CHRIS Tracey paid tribute to his players after what he described as a ‘great team performance’ as AFC convincingly swept aside county rivals Needham Market.
In front of the biggest crowd of the season so far – 517 – Dan Emmanuel swept home Dave Wareham’s cross after half an hour in what proved to be the only goal of the game.
It should have been a far greater winning margin, with the points still up for grabs even when Needham were reduced to 10 men after 70 minutes, but Tracey was full of praise.
“It was a big three points for us and gives the club a big lift again,” he said. “I am disappointed at the results we have had over Christmas but it is nice to put on a performance in front of 500 people at home and people saw Sudbury can play football.
“The stats don’t lie and we put on a great performance. It was a great goal on the counter with a good finish from Dan Emmanuel and to be fair the boys gave me everything I could ask of them.”
With Adam Dalby out with a dead leg, Jemel Fox came into the defence while Emmanuel replaced Kevin Hawes, who dropped to the bench.
Sudbury flew out of the traps with James Baker’s header comfortably held by Andrew Plummer before the Needham goalkeeper got his body in the way of Dave Wareham’s low effort.
Nathan Clarke’s header flew past the post and Pip Boyland made an excellent sliding challenge to thwart Emmanuel as Sudbury piled on the pressure early on.
The Marketmen, top of the league at Christmas before back-to-back defeats, were weathering a storm, but Deaken Napier should have done better when registering their first effort on target after 19 minutes after Ryan Henshaw got in a mess at the back.
James Baker fired wide before AFC took a well deserved lead with an incisive counter-attack on 31 minutes. A Rhys Barber long throw was cleared to Martin who put Wareham away with a fine pass. The winger bounded forward and took an age to square to Emmanuel, but when he did his team-mate poked in from six yards with his left foot.
Needham almost hit back when Danny Bloomfield dragged his shot a foot wide after good interplay with Napier, the latter miscuing a shot after skipping past Henshaw.
Scott Chaplin replaced Jose Espinsoa at the start of the second half for Needham but they were almost two down within minutes when Martin hit a curling shot from outside the area which cannoned off the crossbar.
Ollie Fenn went close to the target from long range before Fox blocked well just before Sloots stopped a certain goal from James Evans after throwing his body in front of a powerful effort.
Plummer somehow beat out a Sam Clarke header before Martin again hit the bar with a curling effort, this time from a full 30 yards out on the left.
Needham were then reduced to 10 men with 20 minutes to play when Deaken Napier collected two yellow cards for rash challenges within two minutes of each other.
A second goal looked inevitable for Sudbury as Needham pushed four up front. But somehow the killer goal eluded the Yellows with Wareham volleying against the outside of the post from a fine Baker cross and Howell denied by a fingertip save while Nathan Clarke saw his bundled effort chalked off for a foul.