RYMAN LEAGUE DIVISION ONE NORTH: AFC Sudbury 1 VCD Athletic 1
Greg Crane feels Tuesday’s draw will prove to be a valuable one and has revealed the players truly believe this is their year to make the top five.
A James Baker expertly dispatched penalty after 37 minutes was no less than AFC deserved against the league leaders, before Uche Ibemere equalised before the break.
The Yellows grew ever more dominant as the game wore on and Steve Spriggs, Baker and Matt Daniels will all feel they could have been the match-winners after a late bombardment.
“I think that will prove to be a good point against the side top of the league and we move on to Saturday and will hopefully get three points then,” said 29-year-old defender Crane. “We don’t fear anyone — obviously we know we need to turn a few more draws into wins to keep climbing up the table.
“Knowing the group we’ve got, I don’t feel anyone in there feels we don’t have an opportunity to go that far and push for those play-off places.
“We go into every game looking to win and the lads have a real belief among themselves that we can make it.”
It is now 10 games in all competitions since AFC last tasted defeat, at home to higher-league Tonbridge Angels in the FA Trophy on November 11, and this result in particular gave an indication they have the mettle to back up Crane’s words and extend their season.
VCD had not played since December 28 and ring-rustiness showed by two players going down with cramp.
Despite having wobbled of late, losing four of their last seven after going unbeaten in their opening 15 matches, they moved the ball with enough purpose to show why they have sat above everyone else all season.
But in the second half in particular, AFC almost hounded them into submission.
The opening of a slow-burning game was marred by a serious injury to VCD’s Dan Carpenter, who required an ambulance after colliding with Daniels.
But after the visitors threatened the Yellows’ goal early on with Alex Archer pushing Karl Dent’s low shot round the post, AFC clicked into gear as an attacking force.
Steve Spriggs forced Blue to fist away a dangerous free-kick, while he had to push a bouncing 35-yard effort from Baker around his right-hand post.
But with 37 minutes played he was beaten from 12 yards when Sam Clarke was felled in a crowded box and Baker sent him the wrong way with his penalty.
The joy was short-lived though as, six minutes later, Ibemere’s quick-fire shot from a diagonal ball into the box was too powerful for Archer to get enough on it to keep it out.
The second half was punctuated by a series of stoppages and bookings which spilled over into a coming-together of all the players at the end, described by Crane as ‘no more than handbags’.
But it was AFC who will be feeling they could have had more than a share of the spoils.
AFC: Archer, Lewis, Cawley, Daniels, HENSHAW 8, Crane, Spriggs, Clarke, Baker, Thompson (Swatman 86), Heald (Hughes 42). Unused subs: R Spriggs, Cowley, Forshaw.