AFC Sudbury can be feeling positive about FA Cup run after narrow defeat at Haringey Borough ends their progress
When those connected with AFC Sudbury reflect on this season’s FA Cup run, the overwhelming feeling will be one of positivity.
After all, in Royston Town and Bognor Regis Town, the Yellows dumped two higher-league sides out of the competition, picking up a healthy amount of prize money along the way.
However, that viewpoint is also likely to be tinged slightly with disappointment after Sudbury spurned a number of chances during Saturday’s 2-1 exit at the hands of Haringey Borough.
Like Royston and Bognor, hosting Haringey ply their trade one tier above Sudbury at Step 3.
And yet it was the visitors that looked the higher-ranked side for much of the tie, creating enough good chances across the 90 minutes to have put their name in the hat for Monday’s draw.
Ultimately, though, it is goals that win games and while Sudbury were profligate when the opportunities arose, in Chinedu McKenzie Haringey had a player in red hot FA Cup form.
The attacker had already scored in every round of the competition heading into the weekend and he continued that record with a brace either side of the break to cancel out an early own goal from skipper Michael O’Donoghue, sending his team into the fourth qualifying round in the process.
In contrast, Mark Morsley’s Sudbury wasted a host of good openings, first to extend their lead and then to get themselves back into the contest after falling behind.
“You cannot miss that many good chances from inside the box and not even hit the target at this level,” said Morsley.
“We should have been comfortable at half-time because we were absolutely superb in the first half, we moved the ball around brilliantly.
“Their equaliser is a poor goal. They have won the first ball, second ball and then third ball.
“The winner is a shot that is going wide and then it gets deflected in – you sort of know it is not going to be your day when that happens.
“But, it has been a great run. You cannot fault the commitment of the lads because they are hurting in there – they know we should have won the game.
“It is a shame. It is the FA Cup and these things happen, but what a chance it was to progress.
“The FA Cup run has been great and there are some great memories. The win over Bognor will probably be close to being the moment of the season.
“Some boys have come of age in the competition.”
On a miserable day weather-wise, Sudbury began brightly on the 3G playing surface in north London.
Starting from the back with Tyler French and Joe Whight, they passed the ball with purpose and it was from one of these moves that they deservedly broke the deadlock in the 16th minute.
Phil Kelly did much of the hard work, running down the left-hand channel before cutting inside and curling a shot goalwards.
Haringey goalkeeper Valery Pajetat got both hands to the shot, but he only succeeded in turning the ball against the unfortunate O’Donoghue and it trickled over the line.
Kelly had two further headed chances to double Sudbury’s lead – the first of which he sent off target from a left-wing Darryl Coakley cross, while the other saw his looped attempt hacked off the line by retreating defender Scott Mitchell.
On the flip side, McKenzie had no such problems six minutes before the break when he hauled his side level.
A spot of pinball ensued inside the Sudbury box after they failed to clear an O’Donoghue corner and when it eventually broke loose, Haringey’s number seven was on hand to turn the ball in.
And it was from another O’Donoghue corner in the 57th minute that the home team scored what turned out to be the winner, albeit in fortunate circumstances.
Mitchell’s initial attempt was heading off target, only for McKenzie to stick out a leg and divert the ball beyond a helpless Paul Walker.
Within 60 seconds Sudbury should have been level after Ben Hunter was sent clean through, but after drawing Pajetat off his line, he curled a low effort wide of the upright.
Another opportunity fell to Hunter in the 69th minute – on this occasion from a Bradley Sayer cross – which he duly fired over.
Time was now starting to tick away from Sudbury, though there was still enough minutes remaining for them to create – and crucially miss – perhaps their best opportunity of the encounter.
A long diagonal pass from Whight was flicked on by Kelly for an unmarked Billy Holland.
The midfielder turned well but then with just a few yards between himself and the goal, he got underneath the ball and blazed over the top, taking with it Sudbury’s hopes of reaching the next round for the fourth time in their history.
AFC: Walker, Sayer, Coakley, Holland, French, Whight, Blackwell (Grimwood 72), Dettmar (Hayes 80), Kelly, Hunter, Harris
Free Press Man of the Match – Joe Whight: Started numerous Sudbury attacks with accurate passing from the back
l Haringey have drawn Poole Town of the Southern League Premier Division at home in the next round.