Goalkeeper’s heroics stop a mauling for sorry Sudbury

BIG DEFEAT: The visitors score another goal against Sudbury
BIG DEFEAT: The visitors score another goal against Sudbury

RYMAN LEAGUE

PREMIER DIVISION

AFC Sudbury 0

Merstham 4

AFC went into Saturday’s game looking to collect points from a team below them in the table — but ended up on the end of a four-goal thrashing that could have been far worse if not for the heroics of goalkeeper Marcus Garnham.

With Jack Wilkinson and Aidan Austin injured, Rob Eagle was asked to fill in at left-back.

There were two up-front in James Baker and Danny Crow but neither was able to show their real talents as the visitors goal was not tested to any extent all afternoon.

Garnham was in excellent form, having to make a one-handed save from Michael Abnett early on and again halfway through the half when he tipped over a fierce shot from Tom Kavanagh.

Garnham tipped another shot away, this time from Tom Bennett as the visitor burst through.

Tyler French, who was being watched by at least two Football League club scouts on his agreed break from his Crystal Palace trial, was doing well at right-back and coping with the nippy Dan Hector.

Baker did have a shot after a Williams pass and then at the other end Sam Clarke got in a great saving tackle.

The best chance the home side had came when Williams fed Clarke who beat a defender and fired in a low effort along the face of the goalmouth that Crow was just unable to reach.

The second half started badly for AFC as Dean McDonald took advantage of a ball rebounding off the post to fire his side ahead, this within the first minute.

Garnham was again the AFC saviour saving well after standing up to stop a Hector shot.

There was then a rash of bookings Merstham’s keeper Smith for blatant time wasting and then Cooper for pulling Clarke back and AFC’s Eagle was cautioned for dissent.

Blackman and Liam Wales took over from Bantick and Crow but it was the visitors who scored again soon afterwards. A free kick on their right went to the far post and there was defender Okoye to prod the ball home.

Young Joe Wright came on for his home debut with Baker going off but again it was the visitors who got the next goal. Bennett was allowed space on the edge of the penalty area and he shot and the ball flew into the back of the net giving Garnham no chance.

Blackman had a shot for AFC, it deflected off Wales and Smith had to go down low to push it away for a corner.

Williams received treatment for a damaged ankle, he hobbled back on but could not continue and left the 10 men of Sudbury to play out the final minutes.

In the first minute of stoppage time Bennett helped himself to his second and his side’s fourth to seal a deserved victory.

AFC: Garnham, French, Eagle, Tann, Henshaw, Baker (Wright, 79), Bantick (Blackman, 55) Clarke(cpt), Crow (Wales, 72), Parker, Williams. Unused subs: Robinson, Godbold.

Free Press Man of the Match: Marcus Garnham. Attendance: 229