DIVISION ONE NORTH
AFC Sudbury 1
Chatham Town 0
by Russell Claydon
at The MEL Group Stadium
AFC Sudbury manager Chris Tracey hailed his side’s ability to ‘win ugly’ as they registered only their second league victory of the season.
A goal inside the opening 10 minutes from Richard Howell proved to be decisive despite an end-to-end game that saw the visitors fashion enough chances to win it, if they had not proved to be so wasteful in front of goal.
A Danny Emammuel header off the line after 83 minutes and a couple of fine saves from goalkeeper Danny Gay contributed towards AFC being able to take all three points, despite being a long way from their best.
Tracey, who described his side’s performance as ‘tired-looking’, said: “At the start of the game I asked them for three points and sometimes you have to win ugly and we certainly weren’t doing that at the start of the season.
“Our goal came from short, sharp passing and that bit of quality won us the game.”
He added: “As a team defensively it was our poorest performance, but at the start of the season we would have lost the game, whereas now there is a bit of togetherness, the lads are dying for each other and made some good blocks.
“Even though they did create some good chances, Danny Gay has had one save to make in the second half.”
Tracey named an unchanged starting line-up from the FA Trophy defeat at Arlesey Town with Richard Howell playing just off James Baker.
And it was the pair combining with intricate passing on the edge of the area after eight minutes that saw Howell run on to his partner’s return ball and hit a right-foot shot under Adam Molloy to give AFC the lead with their first shot.
Both sides were forced into early changes with Sudbury defender Steve Adams succumbing to a shuddering late challenge inside the opening 20 seconds, which saw him lose a tooth and his opposite number Chris Hill eventually left on a stretcher with a back injury picked up during AFC’s goal.
Chatham debutant Alwayne Jones and Adam Marsh both wasted chances inside the area before Sudbury keeper Gay had to rush off his line to make a fine intervention at the feet of Garry Tilley after 34 minutes.
At the other end, Molly clawed a Dave Wareham header away while James Baker had the ball in the net as an even half ended, only to see his effort chalked out by the offside flag.
Molly had to turn a Wareham effort around the post early in the second half and was in the right place to prevent both Nathan Clarke and Richard Howell shots, but Chatham enjoyed the majority of ball in the final third, though could not make it count.
Jones should have levelled from 12 yards but saw Gay hold on to his drive at the second attempt and Matt Solly headed just over from a free-kick.
Chatham had two fine chances inside the last 10 minutes. Emmanuel cleared Jack Jeffrey’s glancing header off the line while Tilley drove his effort a yard wide of Gay’s left-hand post.
Baker could have wrapped things up with a near-post header from Wareham’s perfect cross at the death, but as it was the single goal was just enough for all three points.