FIRST ROUND PROPER
AFC Sudbury 1 Hampton & Richmond Borough 4
by Russell Claydon at The MEL Group Stadium
NICKY Smith was left to rue defensive errors as Sudbury’s fairytale FA Trophy run came to an end against clinical opposition.
After knocking out three sides playing one league higher than them, Blue Square South Hampton & Richmond Borough, two steps above them, proved a level too high for AFC.
But it was errors at the back which prevented Sudbury from making history, by reaching the second round proper for the first time.
After falling behind to a third minute corner, a superb Ryan Henshaw volley got them back into the game, until a missed clearance and then a penalty gifted their opponents a two-goal lead which was added to with a breath-taking individual effort.
“I am disappointed,” said Smith. “When you make mistakes against a team of that quality you get punished, we made four mistakes and it was costly.
“It was not meant to be. We have had a fantastic run with some tough games at Canvey, Hendon at home and Truro away and now we have to pick ourselves up for the league.”
Smith, missing the services of suspended trio Jack Wignall, Rhys Darg and Lee Townrow, resorted to putting striker James Baker, who is awaiting surgery on a knee injury in the New Year, back into the starting line-up.
But having not played for two weeks due to the weather, AFC were caught cold in the opening stages when Ian Hodges fired a header past Nicky Eyre from a corner.
Sudbury, struggling to hold on to possession early on, did find themselves level after 18 minutes with their first shot of the game. Tom Webb swung in a free-kick deep on the left and a failed headed clearance fell to 17-year-old Henshaw 12 yards out on the right side of the area.
With his back to goal, the midfielder, currently on trial with Colchester United, watched the ball onto his right boot before hooking it over his head and into the far corner of the net.
With AFC galvanised by the equaliser, they were then punished for a lack of concentration when Daniel Swain missed his attempted clearance and Lawrence Yaku had ample time to sweep the ball home from inside the area a minute before half-time.
Just two minutes into the second half, Tom Devaux continued Sudbury’s woes by conceded a penalty with a sliding challenge on Beavers’ skipper Craig Tanner, which was expertly chipped down the middle by James Simmonds.
Sudbury’s dreams of a comeback were then blown out of the water when Tanner picked up possession on the left-wing 25 yards out and unexpectedly hit a high angled drive which Eyre could not prevent finding his far top corner.
AFC Sudbury: Eyre, Sinfield, Swain, Clarke (c), Devaux, Emmanuel, Henshaw (Fox 62), Baker, Webb (S Wareham 62), D Wareham. Unused subs: Adams, Whittaker, Walton (gk)
Free Press Man of the Match: Ryan Henshaw. Grafted hard and a sublime finish worthy of the occasion.