DIVISION ONE NORTH
AFC Sudbury 2
Maldon and Tiptree 0
After seeing off the league leaders on Tuesday, Russell Pond has revealed AFC have set themselves the target of going unbeaten until May.
With 11 games left, Pond admitted 10th-placed Sudbury are neither going to be involved in promotion or relegation, but hope to build some big momentum ahead of mounting a challenge for the top five in 2013/14 — having now gone six unbeaten.
Delicious first half strikes from Dave Cowley and James Baker, in a seven-minute spell before the interval, gave the home side the appetite to dig in and inflict runaway leaders Maldon and Tiptree’s fourth defeat of the campaign.
“Our aim is we want to be unbeaten now until the end of the season. Let’s give it our best and enjoy playing football,” said the 26-year-old midfielder who makes the long commute from Chingford to play for the club.
“They are a good side but we knew if we could match them work-rate wise we had the quality to nick a couple and that is what we have done.”
The kick-off was delayed by five minutes after Maldon continued their warm-up against club rules on the first team pitch, but once the action got under way it was a frenetic opening.
AFC, who had Adam Dalby in for the injured Michael Shinn with Ryan Henshaw pushing into midfield, caused the leaders problems early on with Lee Townrow forcing a good low save.
Former Sudbury player Chris Bryan split the AFC defence with a perfect throughball, but Alex Archer was out to smother smartly at Joe Gardner’s feet.
Dave Cowley fired a volley over the bar as AFC’s bright opening came to an end, with Archer forced to save from Michael Toner and tip over from Bryan’s free-kick as the visitors failed to make their pressure count.
It ultimately cost them though, as a Dalby long-throw saw a Townrow overhead kick deflected into the patch of Cowley, who expertly despatched on the half volley after 40 minutes.
Then, in added time, James Baker broke on the counter on the right, almost losing control under Lewis Darks’ challenge before regaining his balance to curl round Wright from 12 yards with his left foot.
Chances were few and far between in a fiesty second half, with Tom Cutts’ header from a Robbie Martin free-kick coming back off the bar.
Archer wasn’t tested again until the 74th minute, but made a good one-handed save to deny James Robinson.
The visitors pulled one back in the 78th minute when substitute Jamie Guy dispatched a penalty after Rhys Darg had taken out Robinson.
Darg was sent off for a second yellow for an off-the-ball block in the final minute of normal time and late in stoppage time, Robinson blazed over after being gifted possession in a final nervy moment.