DIVISION ONE NORTH
AFC Sudbury 4
Heybridge Swifts 2
A Sam Bantick hat-trick helped 10-man AFC Sudbury clinch a deserved victory on Tuesday to move up to second in the league table.
After falling behind against the run of play Sudbury levelled before being reduced to ten men after 34 minutes when Ryan Henshaw was red-carded for handball on the line.
Swifts went ahead from the resulting penalty, but Sudbury levelled before the break, and two second-half goals saw them home.
Sudbury boss Jamie Goldbold made two changes from the side that started at Eastbourne. Ollie Canfer replaced skipper Sam Clarke who was rested and dropped to the bench, although he came on in the second period to make his 300th appearance for the club.
The other change was Jordan Blackwell starting in place of Liam Wales. James Baker took over as captain.
Sudbury started brightly and they should have taken a second-minute lead when Blackwell’s right wing cross found Bantick unmarked in the six-yard box, but he somehow managed to put the ball over the bar.
Other Sudbury chances went begging before Swifts took a surprise lead after 25 minutes. Up till then they had hardly threatened to find a way through, but a through ball found Billy Hunt and his low shot from outside the box beat Ollie Bowles.
Six minutes later Sudbury were back on terms when Bantick, who missed a good chance earlier, finished clinically.
Swifts regained the lead after 35 minutes from the penalty spot after Ben Sartin’s shot was handled on the line by Henshaw. He was dismissed and Joshua Fagbohun despatched the resulting spot kick.
Four minutes later Sudbury equalised when Bantick seized on a defensive error to fire home his second of the game to level at the break.
After Swifts pressure early in the second half Sudbury took the lead for the first time after 57 minutes when Blackwell was fouled and Bantick’s free kick found Luke Callander at the far post and he scored from close range.
Swifts failed to make the most of other chances before Sudbury went 4-2 ahead after 69 minutes when Bantick completed his hat-trick, and took his goal tally to five in three starts, when he raced on to Clarke’s through ball to rifle home an unstoppable shot.
That was the final goal as the ten men of Sudbury comfortably held on to clinch victory from an entertaining and sporting encounter.
AFC Sudbury: Bowles, Robinson, Martin, Bailey (Clarke 60), Henshaw, Baker, Bantick (Mallardo 81), Canfer, Callander (Wales 76), Parker, Blackwell. Unused sub: Axcell.
Free Press man of the match: Hat-trick hero Sam Bantick.
Cards: Ryan Henshaw (red – denied goalscoring opportunity), Ben Robinson (yellow – tackle).