RYMAN LEAGUE DIVISION ONE NORTH: AFC Sudbury 2 Cheshunt 2
David Batch has warned his side must rediscover some momentum if they are to force their way into the play-offs after drawing against Cheshunt.
In a match where the hosts can consider themselves fortunate not to have lost, Michael Shinn rescued a point with a dramatic last-minute free-kick, with James Baker previously levelling from the spot after Josh Cooper and Allen Bossman had twice put the visitors ahead.
With his side currently 10th, seven points adrift of the play-off places, but with as many as three games in hand on some, Batch is aware his side need to rediscover their form ahead of a busy December period or risk losing out.
“I think we have to consider ourselves incredibly lucky to have got a point,” he said. “We didn’t deserve to win the game at all.
“There are not very many positives to take from the game, but there are plenty of lessons to be learnt.
“In the main we have played well most of the season and that would rank as one of the worst this season.
“We need to get back to winning regularly in the league and build some momentum again.
“We have a couple of games in hand over some of the other teams around the play-offs so you would hope that we can make up the ground and get back among them.
“That is what we will be aiming to do — we certainly have to pick up a bit.”
Despite being 16th in the league, it was Cheshunt who started the game looking like the play-off chasers, calling goalkeeper Alex Archer into action in the seventh minute as he smartly parried away Will Holmes’ low drive.
The early exchanges turned into a personal battle between Archer and Holmes as the Yellows’ custodian had to be alert on two further occasions to deny the striker from the edge of the area.
However, the early dominance finally reaped its reward for Cheshunt in the 35th minute as static defending allowed Luke Marshall to pick out Cooper from the right for the simplest of tap-ins at the back post to send the visitors in ahead at the interval.
The hosts started the second-half with renewed vigour and, after Shinn had seen a 54th-minute free-kick palmed away by Will Viner, Sudbury were gifted the chance to level three minutes later as Ollie Hughes was upended in the area by Milton Elenge.
Baker took responsibility and made no mistake, slotting coolly down the middle of the goal.
The match began to get stretched with Matt Daniels hitting the top of the crossbar following Hughes’ knockdown, while at the other end Cooper spurned a gilt-edged chance.
Beating the offside trap superbly, he dithered on the ball before somehow curling wide with only Archer to beat.
However, he went some to making amends with just six minutes remaining as his cross from the right was adjudged to have been diverted in by substitute Bossman despite vociferous protests from the AFC bench, who were adamant the ball had not crossed the line.
But with three points all but seemingly sealed to take back to Hertfordshire, Shinn curled home an exquisitely-executed free-kick into the top right corner from the edge of the area to snatch a share of the spoils.
* Sudbury Reserves lost 2-1 away at March Town United in the Thurlow Nunn League First Division.
They will be hoping to bounce back to winning ways when they host Swaffham Town on Saturday (3pm) at The Mel Group Stadium.
* For player ratings and match stats from Saturday’s game, see Thursday’s print edition of the Suffolk Free Press.