Yellow’s new strikeforce can deliver promotion

OFF THE MARK: Chris Bryan. Picture: Oli Hearn
OFF THE MARK: Chris Bryan. Picture: Oli Hearn

CHRIS Bryan believes his blossoming partnership with fellow striker James Baker can help fire AFC Sudbury into the Ryman League play-offs and beyond.

The pacey striker signed for the Yellows from Conference South outfit Chlemsford City on March’s transfer deadline day and opened his goal account in the 4-1 home win over Soham Town Rangers on Easter Monday – his fourth appearance.

Baker bagged two of the other three to take him to 26 for the season, and 28-year-old Bryan, with Heybridge Swifts earlier in the season in an injury-plagued campaign, believes the two can play a big part in a late surge for promotion.

“I enjoy playing with James a lot,” he said. “He is a targetman but he wins, I would say, 80 per cent of his headers so I am quicker than him and can run in behind.

“He holds it up well and we have paired up well and got on well together.

“The boys have welcomed me in and I am pleased to get off the mark, but more importantly it is a big six points from the weekend, which is just what we needed,” he said with AFC now just two points behind Grays in fifth with three games to play. “We said we would take four but Grays slipped up, so hopefully we will get in the play-offs, and we are not just looking to get in them, we are looking to win them and go up.”

Bryan’s tore medial ligaments in his knee against Harlow last April playing for Heybridge, and then his comeback was short lived when he broke his ankle in an FA Cup game after only two matches back.

He returned to the field to devastating effect on New Year’s Eve, scoring four against Needham in a 4-3 win at Bloomfields, which soon earned him a move up the football ladder to Blue Square Bet South side Chelmsford City but was never happy with a supporting role.

“I came off the bench a few times but I was really a bit part player,” he said. “I am getting older and I did not want to sit on the bench.

“I know it is a good standard but I just want to play football now and that is why I have come to Sudbury.”

The PE teacher, who is based near Chemlsford and came across with new first team coach Barry Lakin, who knew him from Heybridge, is hoping to experience his first promotion with his new side.

AFC travel south of the River Thames to 10th-placed Thamesmead Town on Saturday (3pm) with manager Chris Tracey simply asking for more of what he witnessed on Monday, though he insists they should not be the ones feeling the pressure.

“We have nothing to lose,” he said. “We are not in the play-offs at the moment.

“We will keep fighting right to the end and those guys in front of us are the ones looking over their shoulders at the moment, they are the ones under pressure and we are just waiting to pounce.”

Captain Sam Clarke returns from suspension, but defender James Smith begins his three-game ban for a red card against Grays, which will rule him out for the season, unless AFC do make the play-offs.