DIVISION ONE NORTH
AFC Sudbury 2
Jamie Godbold says he will not be changing his message to his players as he looks to secure the final point needed to confirm the title and promotion.
Saturday’s 2-1 home win over Wroxham, coupled with Thurrock’s defeat on Tuesday, means only Harlow Town can now catch the runaway league leaders, who only need one more point to elevate themselves to their highest level of football in the club’s history.
The Yellows head to an out-of-form Tilbury - the 11th placed Dockers having lost five of their last six including their last three - on Saturday (3pm) knowing they could be confirmed champions to have the promotion parade under way by the time they head up the A134 to arch rivals Bury Town on Wednesday (7.45pm) for the derby which was postponed on Easter Monday.
But there will be no special speech planned to help guide them over the line.
“The message will be the same message we started giving in December when we were in great form: let’s not look too far ahead. Let’s concentrate and take one game at a time,” said AFC boss Godbold.
“They will be sick of hearing me and Andy (Andy Reynolds, assistant manager) saying that, but it seems to have been a winning formula.
“We have fully deserved the comfort blanket of being this many points ahead.”
Having seen a professional job almost done-and-dusted at half-time on Saturday, thanks to two goals inside the opening 18 minutes, from Joe Maybanks and Jack Newman, before Wroxham player/coach Gavin Lemmon’s eye-catching 78th minute strike set up a late scare, Godbold praised the attitude and demeanour of his squad.
“It is the first time a lot of them in that dressing room have been in this situation,” he said, “but the senior players have led by example and they have been a great group.
“The young lads have responded and done what is asked of them.
“Sometimes I think the fact they are young and play without fear really helps us, particularly not being in this situation before, they don’t really understand what it is.”
Godbold made four changes to the side who disappointingly lost 2-0 at home to Waltham Abbey last time out, with captain Sam Clarke and James Baker both back from suspension starting along with Ollie Berquez and Joe Maybanks. Danny Cunningham, Jack Newmann, Liam Wales and Ross Bailey were the quartet who dropped to the bench.
And the revamped XI got off to a flying start with two quickfire goals against a Wroxham side who had won three of their last five.
Jordan Blackwell showed great vision to create the first, threading through a wonderful low pass for Maybanks to pick up, having run along the back of the defence, before cooly sliding into the bottom corner.
Skipper Clarke had to limp off before the quarter-of-an-hour mark was up after sustaining an injury with a tigerish tackle that could leave him out for the rest of the season (the skipper was due to have a scan to assess a suspected quad tear last night).
But his replacement soon delivered a decent home crowd a second. Suffolk Under-18s midfielder Jack Newman sidefooting home after Maybanks’ cross had been passed back out but straight into his path.
Further chances to increase the lead came and went, with the visitors, who had rarely offered a threat in the first half, making much more of a fist of it after the restart.
But it was not until Lemmon’s late rocket from 25 yards that there was a chance of the points being in danger.
AFC demonstrated they do have the stuff of champions in their locker, however, as they saw out the result having failed to hit the heights of their first-half display.
Godbold said: “It was really good to get off to such a good start, given the situation we are in and the pressures we are under.
“It was a fantastic first goal and then to get one shortly after settled any nerves.
“I would rather have gone in having nicked another goal, but credit to Wroxham, they came out fighting in the second half and gave it a real good go. They gave us a bit of a scare as we took our foot off the gas and were nearly made to pay.
“Thankfully, we were pleased the 2-0 buffer was enough when the final whistle went.”
Jamie Godbold will have been pleased with how his side responded to losing at The Wardale Williams Stadium last time out, though one remark overheard about the weather mirroring AFC’s performance with the brilliant sunshine replaced by murky overcast conditions for the second period rang true.
AFC SUDBURY: Garnham, Robinson, S Mallardo, Berquez, Henshaw, Baker, Blackwell, S Clarke (c) (Newman 15), Callander, Parker (Wales 75), Maybanks (G Clarke 46). Unused subs: Bailey, Cunningham.
Free Press Man of The Match: Jordan Blackwell. Showed his quality to set up the first goal and unlucky not to get one himself.