Sudbury stunned as visitors snatch win

ON TARGET: Robbie Martin got his first goal of the season against Harlow Town on Saturday
ON TARGET: Robbie Martin got his first goal of the season against Harlow Town on Saturday
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AFC Sudbury 1 Harlow Town 2

RYMAN LEAGUE

DIVISION ONE NORTH

AFC Sudbury 1 Harlow Town 2

AFC Sudbury were dealt a sucker punch against 10-man Harlow Town, who snatched a dramatic winner five minutes into stoppage time.

An excellent solo effort by Robbie Martin had given AFC the lead early in the second half - and when Mark Taylor was dismissed with 39 minutes still to play, the outcome looked a formality.

But Sudbury saw the points slip out of their hands as the 10 men upped their game, drawing level after 66 minutes before ex-Needham Market striker Rhys Henry struck deep into stoppage time.

The devastating defeat left the Suffolk side eight points behind leaders Grays Athletic, who they met last night, but impressive frontman Dan Emmnauel believes their promotion ambitions can still be brought back on track, if they can learn from their mistakes.

He said: “We worked quite hard to get a goal and with them going a man down it is an overall feeling of disappointment and disbelief.

“Sometimes we do not shut the game out, but it is early on in the season and we know what we need to work on. Hopefully we will just be able to fix up and carry on.”

Emmanuel’s inclusion on the right wing, in place of Dave Warehan, was one of two changes following the extra-time FA Cup replay win over St Ives Town.

The other saw Ryan Henshaw coming into central midfield for Michael Shinn, struck down with a virus along with Chris Sullivan, leaving a depleted bench, including manager Nicky Smith and two injured players.

The game failed to come to life in a tepid first half with neither side able to seriously trouble the goalkeepers and Richard Howell’s shot on the turn, deflected over, was the closest AFC came.

Harlow had looked good in possession throughout the half and almost took the lead in injury time, with Danny Gay having to tip Leon Lalite’s low drive around his right-hand post.

After the break, Sudbury saw Howell’s free-kick palmed away by Bertrand Bossu, before they took the lead on 49 minutes. Full-back Martin ran the ball from the halfway line, weaving past onrushing defenders before playing a one-two with Howell on the edge of the area and clinically dispatching with a low left-foot strike from 12 yards into the bottom right-hand corner.

Just two minutes later, Harlow were reduced to 10 men after Taylor went in recklessly on Henshaw, earning a straight red card.

Sam Clarke and Baker sent efforts wide before Sudbury’s rearguard was pierced by Henry’s throughball on 66 minutes with substitute Luke Marshall finding the far corner from an acute angle on the left-hand side of the area.

Sudbury looked rattled by the equaliser and gifted Henry two chances which he spurned when he should have done better.

As the game entered its final minute of normal time, Sam Clarke’s thumping half-volley forced an excellent flying save to Bossu’s left, with the ball heading for the top corner. But it was the visitors who stole the points, with Henry firing in from close range after Marshall’s shot had deflected into his path, sparking wild celebrations.

Free Press man of the match:

Robbie Martin.