Heartbreak as AFC crash out of FA Cup

Eastbourne Borough FC v AFC Sudbury in FA Cup 3rd round at Priory Lane
Eastbourne Borough FC v AFC Sudbury in FA Cup 3rd round at Priory Lane

Eastbourne Borough 1 AFC Sudbury 0 (Sat, Oct 15)

FA CUP

THIRD QUALIFYING ROUND

Eastbourne Borough 1

AFC Sudbury 0

A SPIRITED display by AFC Sudbury on the Sussex coast saw them come within six minutes of taking a side sitting 58 league places above them in the football pyramid to a replay.

But Gary Elphick’s header spelt FA Cup heartbreak for the Suffolk side, who fashioned enough chances to score themselves and so nearly got a late equaliser from David Lorimer.

It had been five long years since the Yellows ventured this far in the competition and they went agonisingly close to having a second chance to make it into the fourth qualifying round.

Newly-named manager Chris Tracey included Dan Emmanuel up front alongside James Baker with Robbie Martin replacing Ryan Henshaw at right-back, while 16-year-old midfielder Luke Nicoll was on the bench.

The Blue Square Bet Conference South side began attacking from the kick-off in the warm sunshine on a good playing surface, but it was Emmanuel who had the first shot, firing well wide on the turn after four minutes.

Simon Johnson’s long-range effort failed to trouble Danny Gay in the Sudbury goal, before he was tested by Sam Cole’s piledriver from 25 yards but pulled off a fine save to his left to divert it round the post.

AFC were beginning to grow in confidence, despite looking vulnerable on corners, and Dave Wareham almost set-up a break-away goal, but his cross was just too close to the keeper with Emmanuel running in.

Winger Matt Crabb headed well over for the Sports at the other end with Gay out of position before Wareham’s 20-yard effort was comfortably caught by Eastbourne custodian Rikki Banks.

Emmanuel had a good chance to give AFC the lead after 36 minutes, but planted his header wide of the right-hand post from Martin’s cross with Baker wishing he had left it for him.

Three minutes after the break, Gay had to use his legs to divert Steve Brinkhurst’s effort away from goal, while Michael Shinn’s cheeky free-kick from inside the centre circle was not far over the bar.

Eastbourne striker Ben Watson should have done better with a glancing header from a free-kick as the Sports began to crank up the pressure, but they were finding Nathan Clarke, in particular, a thorn in their side in the Sudbury rearguard.

On the hour-mark, Baker looped a header well over while Sam Clarke’s long-range strike was deflected into the arms of Banks.

Ashley Sloots pulled off a fantastic hooked clearance on the AFC goal-line from Ben Watson’s strike before Sudbury had a long-range effort from Shinn whistle past the post and Emmanuel did well to get free but shot straight at Banks.

However, disaster struck after Watson’s 25-yard drive was turned around the post by Gay after 84 minutes. The resultant corner came back out to Crabb who lifted a cross to the far post where stand-in skipper and centre-back Gary Elphick rose highest on the line to nod it over.

Despite substitute David Lorimer providing a late scare a minute into injury time, with a right-foot shot on the turn parried round the post by Banks, and Gay rushing up for two corners, Sudbury’s FA Cup campaign ended on the coast.