Pride and heartache for Sudbury as they push Swindon all the way

SO CLOSE: AFC Academy players and staff on the County Ground pitch
SO CLOSE: AFC Academy players and staff on the County Ground pitch

FA YOUTH CUP

SECOND ROUND

Swindon Town 3

AFC Sudbury 2 aet

Danny Laws wants his AFC Sudbury boys to use the experience of their record FA Youth Cup run to drive them forward after a result which left both pride and heartache in equal measure.

Two goals from Callum Watson saw Sudbury twice take the lead against the Football League club on their big day out at the County Ground, but ultimately they fell agonisingly short of setting up a dream home tie with Championship outfit QPR after Scott Twine struck a decider in extra-time.

Laws, Sudbury’s director of football and youth development, said: “The big message from me, which I said to the boys after the final whistle, is to use it as motivation to go on and do better things.

“You have had a taste of it and we want to play in these big games, as players learn when they are put under pressure.”

Reflecting on the tie at the League One outfit, Laws said he was disappointed to lose, having twice led, but was proud of how his players acquitted themselves against a professional outfit.

“At the moment I am a bit disappointed, but it has been a fantastic run of five games, which is a lot in any cup competition,” he added.

“I am not disappointed with anyone in the team but more generally, we were 2-1 up with two minutes on the clock.

“It is never nice to lose any game in that way.

“But a 2-2 draw after 90 minutes at Swindon is a good result.”

AFC Sudbury Academy had ensured they had the perfect big-match preparation by travelling down on Friday night for an overnight stay.

The hosts had the first chance after two minutes of play when Jordan Young put his chip wide of the post.

The Suffolk visitors continued to attack and got their reward on eight minutes when Watson picked up a loose ball from the Swindon defence and slotted it home.

Swindon came into the game and in the 19th minute levelled when, from their first corner, Christian Frimpong found the back of the net amid a goalmouth scramble.

AFC had a deflected shot superbly saved by the Swindon Town goalkeeper as the half ended all square.

Sudbury started the brighter in the second period, having two or three half chances before Curtis Child was called into action to make a fine save at the other end.

Just before the hour mark AFC saw Sam Mills’ header cleared off the line and minutes later a shot went just wide of the post.

AFC’s dream sparked into life again when they regained the lead in the 61st minute when Watson looped a shot over the Swindon ‘keeper’s head that crashed in off the underside of the bar.

Moments later Child was called into action to pull off a fantastic double save. First onto the bar, then from the headed rebound against the post, with Tyler French making the final clearance from close to the goalline.

A Swindon corner then saw a Tommy Ouldridge header cleared off the line.

The next chance did not come until the 84th minute when the hosts equalised again, this time with a strike from Scott Twine from outside the box.

Swindon had another chance on 85 minutes which was wide and with no further efforts on goal, the tie went into extra-time.

Two minutes in, AFC’s Ollie Dunlop had a free-kick which forced the Swindon goalkeeper into making a good save.

On 100 minutes, Swindon had an attack which led to them taking the lead with another Twine goal.

AFC had a number of chances which did not lead to anything and the clock ticked down to its conclusion with Sudbury’s cup journey coming to an end.

n AFC Sudbury’s Callum Watson, Joe Walker, Sam Mills and Joe Wright are all in the Suffolk FA U18s squad to face Norfolk FA on November 30 at Bowthorpe (7.30pm).