It was never a case of sink or swim as two 17-year-olds were handed starts at the heart of the AFC Sudbury’s defence on Saturday.
That is the view of Yellows’ boss Jamie Godbold, who says he would not hesitate to rely on the club’s under-18s again in their promotion run-in.
A 3-0 success at home to Romford, to maintain third spot in Ryman League Division One North, gave the King’s Marsh faithful the evidence they needed to believe they can be trusted to step up.
But for Godbold — who made history by fielding the club’s youngest ever senior starting XI, with an average age of 23 — the trust was already there.
“It wasn’t a case of sink or swim, otherwise I would not have put them in,” he insisted. “And it was a credit to the club and what goes on beneath the first-team and the job that Danny (Laws), Dave (Cannon) and Craig (Power) are doing that when we have situations like this we can dip into our under-21s (reserves), under-18s and come away with a 3-0 victory. I was really pleased.”
Captain Sam Clarke is the only one of the four senior players suspended, also including James Baker, Ryan Henshaw and Kris Newby, last weekend to be available for the trip to mid-table Tilbury on Saturday (3pm).
But the aforementioned 17-year-old defenders, Stefano Mallardo and Kryan Clements, will be unavailable Saturday as they are in action for Andy Reynolds’ Suffolk Under-18s against Hertfordshire on Sunday at Felixstowe and Walton United (2pm), giving Godbold an unwelcome selection dilemma at the back.
Left-back Lee Flynn will not be part of the solution, with the veteran this week learning an FA misconduct hearing has extended his ban for comments made during the New Year’s Day Needham Market defeat to a further two games, meaning Clarke could be utilised as a makeshift centre-half.
“Tilbury are obviously up there in terms of form and it will be a real good test for us,” said Godbold, who has not yet registered himself to play, but said he will do if needed.
“They are doing really well, but we are doing really well, and it is about momentum, and we have that in abundance.”
Godbold has been named the Ryman League Division One North’s manager of the month for January, after guiding his new side, whom he joined ahead of their fixture on January 17, to four wins and a penalties victory over Witham Town in the Robert Dyas Isthmian League Cup.
His reward for the Nicholas Rowe Tailoring Manager of the Month is a framed certificate, to be presented at a forthcoming fixture, as well as being measured up for a bespoke new suit by the Surrey-based suit and menswear specialists
Meanwhile, former Sudbury Town and AFC Sudbury player Steve Greaves, now a Premier League delegate, became caught up in the fallout to Chelsea manager Jose Mourinho’s criticism of referee Martin Atkinson, after no action was taken to punish Burnley’s Ashley Barnes for the tackle which led to Nemanja Matic being sent off.
A national newspaper claimed Greaves, who was assessing the game at Stamford Bridge, agreed with all four decisions Mourinho took issue with.
AFC Gold week 43 winners: £100 (266) Mrs P Hague, Constable Rd, Sudbury; £10 (215) J Hauth, Second Ave, Sudbury; £10 (247) Mrs K Ford, Queens Rd, Sudbury.