DIVISION ONE NORTH
AFC Sudbury 2 Leiston 3
A CLINICAL display of finishing by title-chasing Leiston saw AFC Sudbury’s play-off push stall yet again on Saturday.
Following a 5-1 defeat at Potters Bar Town, Chris Tracey had targeted surprising their Suffolk neighbours at King’s Marsh, but it ended up being the scoreline which left Tracey shocked.
“Yet again the best team lose,” he said, with his side having been 3-1 down at the break to a freak corner, superb free-kick and a one-on-one finish sandwiched between James Baker’s header, before his injury-time consolation.
Tracey added: “It was a strange game, they had two shots in the first half and were 3-1 up.
“We got the equaliser from a good set piece and were the better team again.
“To be fair, Patrick Brothers is fouled on the halfway line and the referee lets it go and decides to get them within shooting range. But we were beaten by two great finishes; the free-kick from Stuart Broadley and then on the run by Rhys Henry.”
New midfielder loan signing Luke Ingram, from Bury Town, was one of two changes in the Sudbury XI from Tuesday’s 2-1 cup defeat to Leiston, with Richard Howell replacing suspended skipper Sam Clarke.
Leiston took an early lead from a bizarre corner kick from ex-AFC captain Gareth Heath, with the delivery bouncing in at the far post past a static defence with Henry trying to flick his boot on it.
It was harsh on the Yellows, who had made a bright start without troubling Louis Johnson in the Leiston goal.
AFC were level after 31 minutes though, when Ingram won a free-kick on the left and Michael Shinn’s inswinging delivery was glanced on by James Baker into the far corner of the net.
But they found themselves behind again four minutes later after Leiston’s second shot of the match. Ashley Sloots illegally halted Patrick Brothers’ run and Stuart Boardley curled a peach of a left-footer into the bottom right corner from 25 yards.
Incredibly, the visitors made it three from three efforts after 43 minutes. Rhys Henry was able to pick up Heath’s throughball with ease, but the finish into the roof from 18 yards was sublime.
The second half was much less exciting for the large crowd, with AFC unable to force an early goal to spark life back into the contest.
Leiston looked the more threatening side, but down the other end Ingram fired past the right post and Emmanuel and Howell both had strong efforts blocked.
AFC’s Nathan Clarke headed straight at Johnson and substitute Darg was kicking himself after he steered a near-post cross wide from a couple of yards when he had time and space to do better.
Baker hit the bar with a head back across goal and Darg saw his header tipped over as AFC pressed in vain.
There were further chances for both sides, the best falling to AFC’s substitutes Darg and Ryan Henshaw, the former’s head just wide and the latter volleying well over with his left foot.
Sudbury did have a late consolation with three of the four injury-time minutes played when Smith’s stooping head from Dalby’s cross was prodded home on the line by Baker.
The final whistle was unfortunately met with ugly scenes as both sets of players became involved in a brawl, with the officials taking some time to separate them.