DIVISION ONE NORTH
AFC Sudbury 0
AFC Sudbury manager Chris Tracey refuted suggestions his side’s season had sunk to a new low after Saturday’s defeat to Ilford - before leaving the club on Wednesday night.
The Yellows became just the third side this campaign to be beaten by the Ryman One North strugglers, who moved off the bottom of the table as a result of their three points earned.
Chinedu McKenzie struck the only goal of the game in the second half before the hosts’ Robbie Martin was red-carded in the closing stages for foul and abusive language towards the referee.
“That’s not really that much of a low because our season’s finished — it died a couple of weeks ago — but it is disappointing,” said Tracey. “We had a good chance early doors to go ahead and then got undone by a breakaway goal.
“It doesn’t really bother me if I’m being honest because we are looking at next season now. I’ve said I didn’t want to make too many changes and people have had the opportunities to make sure they stayed here, but some of the performances were not good enough.
“We’ve come a long way in the last 13 or 14 games from where we were, but some people are starting to think they are better than they really are.
“Certain players didn’t apply themselves properly in my eyes and probably won’t get picked next week when we have a couple more bodies back on board.”
In a woeful first half from AFC Sudbury, they were lucky to be facing the worst strikeforce in Ryman One North that had managed a paltry 19 goals from 30 matches before Saturday’s encounter at The MEL Group Stadium.
A goal-saving tackle from Tom Cutts kept Chinedu McKenzie out inside the first minute, but handed the visitors the first of their six corners during the opening period.
The Yellows struggled to keep the ball for most of the first half, but when Dave Cowley found Lee Townrow with a neat sliderule pass, the Yellows’ number 10 should have done much better than smashing over the crossbar under little pressure.
There was not much more to get excited about during a turgid opening 45 minutes with Alex Archer parrying the only shot on target, diving to his right to keep out Daniel Crowie’s free-kick.
At the other end, Cowley — who should have been utilised more — flashed a drive across goal with Townrow unable to get a touch at the far post and curled a free-kick over.
The game improved after the interval and the hosts carried more of a goal threat with Ryan Henshaw’s header from Cowley’s left-wing corner cleared off the line before James Baker had a goal ruled out for offside after sliding in to follow up Peter Maina’s parried shot.
D’arcy De’ath should also have done better when Maina’s cross hit him on the thigh and was comfortably held by goalkeeper Robert Hatton.
Ilford responded and Alex Archer parried McKenzie’s shot when the visiting striker was through on goal, but play switched back to the other end and Townrow’s header was stabbed off the line by Kabir Jeetoo.
James Baker played a one-two with substitute Leon Antoine before finding the feet of Hatton with his low shot, but Ilford — who went close again when McKenzie was denied by Archer once more — delivered a sucker punch with 19 minutes to play.
Antoine miscontrolled the ball in the Ilford penalty area and the Londoners broke down the left, stretching the Sudbury defence, and leaving Dan Willmott to stab the ball into the path of McKenzie, who rounded Archer and rolled it home.
It proved enough for Ilford to record their third league win of the season and move off the bottom of the table, with AFC’s afternoon getting even worse when Robbie Martin — who had just been booked for a foul — said something to referee Thomas Ramsey when walking away and was shown a straight red card.
Week 45 winners in the AFC Gold fundraiser are: £100 I Tatum (221), Beaconsfield Close, Sudbury; £10 A Keeble (133), Greenaces, Clacton; £10 C Tatum (219), Gilbrook, Nottingham.