RYAN Henshaw’s last-gasp winner sent King’s Marsh into raptures on Tuesday - and catapulted AFC into a play-off berth for the first time (ahead of Wingate & Finchley’s result last night).
DIVISION ONE NORTH
AFC Sudbury 2
Thamesmead Town 1
by Russell Claydon at the MEL Group Stadium
Nicky Smith was quick to admit the performance wasn’t pretty, but he didn’t care as AFC ground out another three points in their promotion hunt.
The Yellows had to come from behind against a Thamesmead side who looked well above their 15th placing.
In a first half played at breakneck speed, it was the lively London visitors who took the lead through striker Andy Constable’s glancing header after 22 minutes. But eight minutes later James Baker made it 17 league goals to his name to settle Sudbury nerves.
When Daniel Emmanuel hit the post with six minutes left and saw his rebound deflected wide, it looked like AFC’s chance had gone. But then up popped Henshaw with a precise header to seal an unlikely victory.
AFC manager Smith said: “I have said all along and last couple of games, it is not about performances and against Thamesmead we did not play particularly well. It is all about results and getting points on the board and we’ll take that.”
Jack Wignall dropped to the bench through injury and skipper Sam Clarke, returning from suspension, replaced him in defence.
Nicky Eyre was by far the busier keeper in the opening exchanges, having to turn over his bar before Thamesmead missed a glorious opportunity to head home at the far post from the resultant corner.
But the visitors had their noses in front midway into the first period, Constable diverting in Gabriel Mumundo’s cross at the near-post.
Baker then levelled things on the half-hour mark after his shot into the ground spun up over keeper Sam Mott after Emmaunel did well to poke a cross in from the left, which fell kindly for the striker.
AFC were more subdued in the second half, the defence having to put in a hard shift to contain the dancing feet of Gabriel Mumundo and the marauding runs of twin brother Raphael.
But, after Eyre made a vital save, they secured a dramatic finale at the other end to delight the home crowd.
With three minutes of stoppage time having just been signalled, Emmanuel did well down the left to win a corner, from which Henshaw met Shinn’s curling ball with a downward header into the bottom corner.
AFC Sudbury: Eyre, S Wareham, Fox, Shinn, Devaux, S Clarke (c), Emmanuel, Whittaker (Turn er 59), Baker, Henshaw, Martin.
Unused subs: Webb, Holmes, Smith, Wignall.
Free Press Man of the Match: Jemel Fox. Immense at left-back against possibly the best over-lapping full-back in the league.