Smith lays down gauntlet to AFC players

NICKY Smith has challenged his AFC Sudbury side to prove their promotion credentials over the next four weeks, starting with taking three points off fancied Harlow Town at The MEL Group Stadium on Saturday (3pm), writes Russell Claydon.

Sudbury eventually overcame United Counties League side St Ives Town 3-2 after extra-time in an FA Cup replay 3-2 on Tuesday night, with a sluggish performance that saw them give away a two-goal lead.

And Smith wants to see more of the free-flowing football they produced in the first 45 minutes of the replay as they resume league action, looking to bounce back from their first defeat, at the hands of Needham Market.

“They are one of the bookies’ favourites to win it but we have a tough month,” he said of Saturday’s opponents. “We have Harlow, Grays, Leiston in the cup and Leiston in the league. If we want to be up there we have to be beating teams like that.”

Creative midfielder and set piece specialist Michael Shinn begins the first of a three-match suspension after his red card at Needham Market, while the rest of the squad will be assessed during a light training session tonight.

Striker Piers Wixon, who only joined AFC at the start of the season, is in line to make his Harlow debut against his former club after transferring at the end of last week.

Harlow were knocked out of the FA Cup by Ridgeons League side Gorleston at the weekend and have won two, drawn one and lost one of their opening four matches.

n WEEK 18 winners in the AFC Gold fundraiser are: £100 J Fowler (425), Shelley Avenue, Great Cornard; £10 A Dalgleish (123), Meadow View Road, Sudbury; £10 C Tracey (289), AFC Sudbury.