Sudbury’s biggest defeat is at hands of top-five rivals

CONSOLATION STRIKE: James Baker scored a late penalty to get AFC Sudbury on the scoresheet on Tuesday at The Village Glass Stadium
CONSOLATION STRIKE: James Baker scored a late penalty to get AFC Sudbury on the scoresheet on Tuesday at The Village Glass Stadium

RYMAN LEAGUE DIVISION ONE NORTH: Witham Town 5 AFC Sudbury 1: AFC Sudbury crashed to their biggest defeat of the season on Tuesday as second-placed Witham became the first team to double David Batch’s side.

In the reverse fixture two weeks ago, the Essex side came from behind to snatch victory with two late goals.

But this time they took charge with two first-half goals and added three more after the break before James Baker gave Sudbury a late penalty consolation.

Ninth-placed Sudbury, who are now six points off the play-off places, had plenty of the play and forced more corners. But they seldom tested the home keeper.

It was a different story at the other end though, with Witham capitalising on some indifferent defending and goalkeeping.

Sudbury made two changes from Saturday’s game with centre-back Steve Adams coming into central defence for the injured Greg Crane and there was a second appearance of the season for experienced midfielder Andy Heald, who in his only other game — at home to VCD Athletic in mid January — was injured and replaced during the first half.

This time Heald, who work’s for Batch’s Premier Sports coaching company, played the whole game.

But it was not a good return for Adams, who had to leave the action with a nose injury after just seven minutes.

His replacement, Jack Cawley, was himself substituted during the second half.

Defender Matt Daniels also joined Sudbury’s ever lengthening injury list when he had to exit with a groin injury late in the first half.

A crowd of 140, Witham’s highest of the season, saw the home side take a 14th minute lead when a dipping volley from Luke Olley caught keeper Alex Archer off his line.

The keeper could only parry the ball above his head, and although he gathered it when it dropped to the ground, the assistant referee signalled that it had crossed the line and a goal was awarded.

Sudbury forced three corners, which failed to test the home defence, before Witham doubled their lead after 29 minutes when Sudbury failed to deal with a long clearance upfield and James Stevens latched on to the loose ball to chip the advancing Archer.

Sudbury’s best chance of the half came two minutes later, but Daniels fired over from close range.

Early in the second half the hard-working James Baker fired over for Sudbury.

But any chance they had of a comeback disappeared after 63 minutes when Witham increased their lead when a crossfield ball found the unmarked Kris Newby wide right and he cut inside and rifled in goal number three.

Eleven minutes later Witham were gifted a fourth when a goalmouth scramble ended with substitute Dean Green forcing the ball over the line.

Four minutes after it became 5-0 for Witham when Newby scored his second with a clinical finish which gave Archer no chance.

With six minutes left Baker scored a consolation goal for Sudbury from the penalty spot, after substitute James Akintunde had been fouled in the area.

AFC Sudbury: Archer, Daniels (Swatman 45), Mitchell, Shinn, Henshaw, Adams (Cawley 7) (Akintunde 72), Wilkinson, Clarke, Baker, Thompson, Heald. Unused subs: Horne, Crisell.

Free Press man of the match: James Baker.

AFC bookings: Scott Mitchell (dissent).

Attendance: 140.

n The week 46 AFC Gold winners are: £100 (255) K Poole, Bush Grove, Sudbury; £10 (187) B Iddiols, Constable Road, Sudbury; £10 (164) P Robinson, North Rise, Gt Cornard.