DIVISION ONE NORTH
Thamesmead Town 1 AFC Sudbury 0
Conceding a solitary first half goal condemned Sudbury to a third consecutive 1-0 defeat in this their first game under the temporary charge of coaches Michael Shinn and Ian Brown following the resignation of manager Chris Tracey earlier in the week.
It was spirited performance from the Suffolk side against third-placed play-off hopefuls Thamesmead on a very heavy pitch after continuous morning rain which resulted in numerous postponements throughout the league.
There were team changes from the previous match with Shinn naming himself in the starting eleven having recovered from injury after missing three games. Striker James Baker was unavailable so Leon Antoine got the nod to lead the attack with Peter Maina dropping to the bench which included a welcome return for Sam Clarke whose season has been dogged with serious injury. Clarke came on for the last 20 minutes and did well. He replaced Shinn who worked hard in very trying conditions.
Sudbury started brightly but were unable to turn possession into chances. The longer the game went on the more the hosts threatened, particularly from set pieces.
Thamesmead came close to breaking the deadlock from their first serious attack after 10 minutes when Stuart Zanone turned his marker and broke for goal but keeper Alex Archer was quickly off his line to make the first of many fine saves.
It was from a right wing corner in the 29th minute that Thamesmead scored what proved to be the winning goal when Lewis Tozer’s header came back off a post and Lea Dawson stabbed home from close range.
Two minutes later Shinn got a rare shot on target for Sudbury but his fierce drive caused the home keeper no problems.
Thamesmead finished the half strongly and only some fine Sudbury defending prevented further goals, particularly a superb diving save by keeper Archer who touched a fierce drive from Dawson on to the crossbar and the ball was cleared.
The second half was a nip and tuck affair with Sudbury having plenty of the play but unable to seriously test home keeper Rob Budd although he did well to parry a fierce shot from Robbie Martin which Antoine, following up, failed to hit the target with.
Maina replaced Dave Cowley after 78 minutes and he made three good runs down the right but each time his ball into the box hit the first defender and was easily cleared to leave the Kent side claiming three more points in their quest for a play-off place.
AFC Sudbury: Archer, Henshaw, Dalby, De’Ath (Fisher 80), Townrow, Cutts, Shinn (Clarke 72), Pond, Antoine, Martin, Cowley (Maina 78). Unused subs: Bailey and Jackson.
Free Press man of the match: Keeper Alex Archer – made numerous fine saves. Had no chance with the goal.
Yellow card: Ryan Henshaw (tackle).
n AFC are next in action on Saturday with a home game against Tilbury. The match at the MEL Group Stadium kicks off at 3.00pm.
On Wednesday they play Romford away, in a re-arranged fixture (7.45). Romford ground share with Thurrock FC, South Way, Ship Lane, Aveley RM19 1YN.