DIVISION ONE NORTH
AFC Sudbury 1 Ilford 0
by Russell Claydon at The MEL Group Stadium
IT TOOK a James Baker penalty two minutes from time for Sudbury to make their domination count in their first home game of the season.
Before Sam Clarke was adjudged to have been tripped it had looked like ending in a frustrating stalemate, despite AFC throwing the kitchen sink at the Ilford goal but unable to beat the very impressive Rob Budd in open play.
But assistant manager Chris Tracey, who took charge in Nicky Smith’s absence, paid tribute to how his side kept going to eventually secure all three points.
“I think the football display first half was one of the best in the last couple of years, but unfortunately their goalkeeper played an absolute blinder,” he said.
“We had a bit of belief tonight we were going to nick a goal and I did say to the lads at half-time ‘I don’t care where it comes from’ and he (Budd) even got his hand to the penalty.
“Whereas Saturday we ran out of steam a little, on Tuesday we didn’t.”
Tracey fielded the same side as at Redbridge on Saturday and there was an early shout for a penalty for the home side five minutes in when Dave Wareham’s piledriver from the edge of the area deflected off Denis Tomkins, with the referee giving a corner.
Two minutes later, striker James Baker’s header forced the first of a series of good saves from Ilford custodian Budd.
Richard Howell’s header was then ruled out for climbing on his marker before Michael Shinn saw his 25-yard free-kick rebound off the keeper’s body low to his left with Denis Tomkins clearing over his own bar from the resulting corner as Sudbury continued to look for a way through.
AFC keeper Danny Gay was almost caught out from a high Lee Flavin shot, which he just turned over his bar, but Wareham should have given AFC the lead just before the break as his shot from Baker’s rebounded effort was weak and saved one-handed on the line by Budd, who then made a double save from Dan Emmaunel and Nathan Clarke in stoppage time.
Sudbury continued where they left off in the second half with Sam Clarke lifting an effort over the bar before Devaux chested Shinn’s ball in the area only to see his volley rebound off Bud from point-blank range. Baker then sent an effort inches wide of the post before he should have got on the end of teasing low Emmauel cross.
Nathan Clarke and Baker had appeals for a penalty turned down before AFC finally got their lifeline on 88 minutes, after Shinn scissor-kicked over from close range.
Substitute Chris Sullivan, making his debut, burst down the right-hand side before a weak cross was partially cleared and Sam Clarke launched himself at the ball with Nick Cooper pointing to the spot after a desperate challenge from the Ilford full-back.
Baker then sent a thunderous penalty into the bottom left-hand corner with Budd, injuring himself on the post, unable to keep it out to the delight of the home fans.