FIRST ROUND QUALIFYING
Leiston 0 AFC Sudbury 1
LEAGUE form was turned upside down on Saturday as AFC Sudbury pulled off one of the shock FA Cup victories against their Suffolk rivals thanks to the only goal of the game, scored by Richard Howell late in the first half. It was the first goal Leiston had conceded at home this season.
There was added spice to this fixture as Leiston are managed by former AFC boss Mark Morsley, and he included no fewer than six former AFC players in his squad. They had been beaten only once this season while AFC had lost their last three league games.
It had been a difficult few days for AFC with the resignation of manager Nicky Smith, which saw his assistant, Chris Tracey, being appointed as temporary boss.
Tracey demanded an improved performance for his first match in charge, and he got just that. It was a superb team effort and they fully deserved their victory.
With key players out injured or suspended, Tracey had wasted no time in strenghtening his squad, and he included new signing striker Dubi Ogbonna, who had been released by Cambridge City.
Ogbonna was beginning his third spell with AFC and was the only change in the starting XI from the previous game.
The game attracted a crowd of 283, Leiston’s biggest of the season, and the many AFC travelling supporters saw their team make a positive start and it was soon apparent they were not going to let the hosts get into their usual flowing game.
This resulted in little goalmouth action until AFC broke the deadlock six minutes before the interval when David Wareham did well to retain possession on the left. His teasing cross to the far post found Howell, who stretched to divert the ball high into the net for a superb goal.
Nathan Clarke made a good clearance to prevent the hosts getting back on level terms before the break.
A second-half Leiston revival failed to materialise as AFC continued to give them very little space, and although they enjoyed plenty of possession they rarely threatened to force an equaliser.
The closest they came was when Nathan Stone forced keeper Danny Gay into a fine save.
From then on, AFC deservedly went on to protect their lead to book a place into the next round.
The home side will not have to wait long to have a chance to avenge this defeat as the teams meet again at Leiston on Tuesday for a Ryman League match.
AFC Sudbury: Gay; Martin, Sloots, Henshaw, N Clarke, Adams, Howell, S Clarke, Ogbonna (Lorimer 83), Emmanuel, Wareham. Unused subs: Swain, Brown, Nicholls, Twinn (gk).
l WEEK 20 winners in the AFC Gold fundraiser are: £100 H Walker (281), Brunwin Road, Rayne; £10 J Stewart (413), Ballingdon Street, Sudbury; £10 Mrs L Shewring (228), Old Court, Long Melford.