afc tighten up to claim win
DIVISION ONE NORTH
Mildenhall Town 0
AFC Sudbury 1
The 1-0 victory on Boxing Day against a team just one place below them in the league was welcomed with delight at AFC Sudbury, with a further dose of relief.
It was the Bostik League Division One North side’s only win of December so far — and a promising sign for Chelsmford City loanee ‘keeper Jake Jessup in taking a clean sheet on his first appearance.
The one-goal win sees the club claim an important three points and climb two spaces in the league to 15th, just six points adrift of 10th place.
And the result would have been a nice tonic for manager Mark Morsley, who had to miss the game due to ill health.
Assistant manager Lee Norfolk and goalkeeping coach David Hunt took charge of the side that secured victory via a solitary fourth minute goal from a free-kick scored by captain Joe Whight.
Norfolk said: “We’re absolutely delighted with that result, the team fully deserved it.
“We probably would have taken a point on Boxing Day but we’ve come here and defended so well.
“We were under a lot of pressure and we had to hold out — something we probably haven’t done so well in recent games — but we showed that we can do it.”
He admitted it was an important clean sheet for a team who have shipped nine goals in their last three outings before a trip to Recreation Way (scoring just two).
“We talked about it before the game, our need to defend much better, and that a clean sheet would give ourselves a chance.
“We know we’ve got goals in the side,” he said.
“I’m really happy with Jake on his first appearance for us.
“He did really well and had to make some important stops. Our defence was well organised and he was part of that.”
He said the side had altered their game strategy in response to the disappointing 4-1 home loss to Dereham Town on Saturday, and it had paid off in Tuesday’s game.
“The overall tactic was to play within ourselves a little bit and have a solid shape,” he said. “We’ve changed our shape as we have conceded a few goals recently.
“We had even said that if we score early, we will keep the same approach.
“We wanted to be in the final third and, in the first half, we were, but we didn’t create any clear-cut chances. To get the goal early was nice.
“So we go to Aveley on Saturday (3pm) with a similar mindset, to keep a clean sheet and be hard to beat first of all, and you’ll get chances to score.”
Norfolk had a lot of praise for his captain as well as Reece Dobson in the lone striker role, as part of a more defensive formation for the young AFC side.
He said: “Joe Whight stepped up and it was a fantastic free-kick early on.
“It was a bit of a scrappy game, it wasn’t pretty, and so it was the team who made the least errors who ended up taking something from it.
“We had just the one up front and Dobbo (Dobson) did really well for us.
“It’s a lonely role up there but he made chances.”
The team selected by the manager had seen some changes from Saturday’s line-up.
Sam Mills returned at full-back while Ollie Peters was also back in midfield and Tom Maycock started up front.
The game, at times, trudged along with few clear-cut chances for either side — although Mildenhall had more possession and territory, particularly in the second half.
But AFC’s defence held firm, with Whight’s early goal the only difference.
Free Press Man of the Match: Joe Whight
n There was no pre-Christmas cheer for AFC supporters as they witnessed their side slip to a 4-1 home defeat to top four side Dereham Town on Saturday.
Academy goalkeeper Curtis Child made his first-team debut after Paul Walker broke his little finger in training, while Ryan Horne went straight into the team to make his first appearance after resigning for the club.
Child immediately endeared himself to the home fans by saving a fourth minute penalty from Danny Beaumont. But he was picking the ball out of his net a minute later as Rhys Logan ran through.
It was 2-0 in the ninth minute, before Dereham extended their lead through Logan inside 16 minutes.
Ben Hunter hooked the ball home two minutes after the restart, but the hope of a comeback was quashed when Child failed to punch clear a corner and Ollie Ebbage stroked home.
Attendance: 203. Free Press Man of The Match: Ben Hunter
n Meanwhile at King’s Marsh, AFC Reserves lost 2-1 to their counterparts from Braintree Town.
Milo Downey hit Sudbury’s goal while Joe Wright returned to the pitch after recurring injury problems.
n AFC Gold Week 34: £100 (226) M Baughurst, Stortford Rd, Hatfield Heath; £10 (228) Mrs L Shewring, Old Court, Long Melford; £10 (125) B Golding, Oriel Close, Gt Cornard.