EMIRATES FA CUP
SECOND QUALIFYING ROUND
Ebbsfleet United 5
AFC Sudbury 0
The one-sided nature of the scoreline in Kent on Saturday will have those not in attendance believing the tie was dominated by one-way traffic.
But while the hosts, who ply their trade in the Vanarama National League South, were undoubtedly the dominant force, the outcome does not tell the entire story.
As expected, Sudbury goalkeeper Marcus Garnham was made to earn his pay packet, but Jamie Godbold’s men kept Ebbsfleet at bay during a competitive first half and even had a couple of chances to break to deadlock themselves.
Granted the second-half capitulation — three of Ebbsfleet’s five goals came in the final nine minutes — made for grim viewing for those that had travelled over the Queen Elizabeth II Bridge, yet Godbold opted to focus on how well his side had competed against a side one level higher than themselves.
“I have told the lads to not feel sorry for themselves because for a large majority of the game we were well in it, so credit to us,” he said.
“We will not look outside of this set of players for excuses. The last half an hour they were better than us.
“When they scored we were doing well.
“Considering the differences in terms of set-up and finances, we can be proud of ourselves.
“Nobody has disgraced themselves today. We did not look out of place.”
The clock flashed up 14 minutes when Garnham was called upon to carry out his first significant piece of work.
Darren McQueen — in the team at the expense of injured ex-Hull City striker Aaron McLean — made the most of the space he was afforded wide on the right, but having cut inside he found Garnham to be in stubborn mood.
Ebbsfleet skipper Danny Kedwell and Dean Rance sent headers off target, while up the other end Sudbury’s holding midfielder Ryan Auger tested the reactions of home goalkeeper Jonathan Miles with a free-kick that squirmed through the wall.
Aaron Greene, operating up front with Luke Callander only deemed fit enough for a place on the bench, also skidded an effort from 25 yards out just wide in 20th minute.
The majority of the action, though, was taking place in the Sudbury half as the hosts searched for an opener.
In the five minutes that preceeded the interval, Garnham was called on three times, one of which saw the gloveman show good reflexes in turning behind Sam Deering’s low drive after the midfielder had waltzed his way into the area.
And Garnham’s heroics went agonisingly close to being rewarded deep into stoppage time.
Left-back for the day James Baker’s glancing header from Auger’s corner beat Miles all ends up, but Sean Shields was alert on the post to hook the ball clear.
It was a moment that sparked an influential second-half display from Shields, who made a catalogue of rampaging runs down the left flank.
The former Dagenham & Redbridge winger was first to call Garnham into action after the restart and it was little surprise when he played a key role in game’s first goal after 54 minutes.
For once Garnham’s judgement let him down as he came for and missed Shields’ in-swinging cross.
Kedwell was alive to the situation and when he turned the ball across the face of goal, McQueen was waiting to apply the finishing touch.
McQueen — once of Ipswich Town — went on to double his and Fleet’s tally 11 minutes later.
On this occasion he capitalised on some hesitant defending by Ryan Henshaw to guide the ball beyond an advancing Garnham.
With the odds now stacked firmly against his team, Godbold turned to the last round’s four-goal hero Callander and the physical frontman made an instant impression.
Henshaw’s switch of play from right to left found the substitute and he played in Jack Newman, but his shot from close range was tame and easily collected by Miles.
With that went any real chance of Sudbury gaining a foothold on proceedings as a rampant Fleet rattled in a further three goals in the dying embers.
Jack Powell was first to get in on the act when he turned in Kedwell’s low cross from six yards out, before substitute Stuart Lewis scored a quickfire brace — the latter of which caused controversy, with Sudbury adamant that Henshaw had been fouled in the build up, only to be left incredulous by the referee’s decision not to intervene.
Sudbury: Garnham, Furlonge (Newman 66), Wilkinson, Tann, Henshaw, Baker, Auger (Callander 66), Clarke, Wales, Eagle, Greene
Free Press Man of the Match - Marcus Garnham: His error may have resulted in Ebbsfleet’s first goal, but that should not deter from his good performance between the posts
n The week 21 winners of the AFC Gold fund-raiser are as follows: 1st £100 (113) Mrs R Mills, Parkwood Drive, Sudbury; 2nd £10 (154) C Totman, Hillside Road, Sudbury; 3rd £10 (131) C Golding, Mallard Way, Gt Cornard