AFC Sudbury manager Mark Morsley enjoys 'every minute' of eight-goal thriller against Brentwood Town
It may have taken a roller-coaster ride to achieve their first three 2018/19 Bostik League points at King’s Marsh at the sixth attempt, but AFC Sudbury boss Mark Morsley was happy to focus on the offensive positives from Tuesday’s 5-3 win over Brentwood Town.
While some managers might have been despairing at their side managing to throw away a three-goal lead, the Yellows chief said he ‘enjoyed every minute’ of the game and believes to come through it will have done his side good.
“It was a fantastic game. I thought we were absolutely brilliant in the first 25 minutes,” he said of a spell which saw Callum Harrison and Phil Kelly (2) take full advantage of some poor defensive play before two goals in the last 15 minutes, from Kelly for his hat-trick and Harrison for his brace, sealed the victory.
“It was as good a football as we have played since I have been here.
“But you have got to pay credit to Brentwood, they were brave and have made a substitution.
“They have pushed three guys up front to press our passing from the back, and we had a spell there where we had five versus three in central midfield or the wide areas, and we didn’t do that which is why they got back in the game.
“It was disappointing for them to get two goals back, but they had nothing to lose and let’s not forget they put three past Bowers & Pitsea (leaders) on Saturday and they had a great run in the FA Cup.
“For me the big plus was we started the second half very wildly and we conceded a disappointing goal from a corner. But then we were composed and got possession of the ball and I thought we were terrific in that second half as well.
“We mixed our game up. We made them chase and I think we burnt them out really.”
He added: “Quite often, like Skin (Paul Skingley, coach) said in the dressing room, we are praising the defence because we are keeping it so tight. But tonight was about the offensive players and that is important to see that.”
Morsley stuck with the same side who started Saturday’s impressive 2-0 win at Canvey Island (Harris 18’, Monk 24’), which had been a first victory in four North Division matches and five in all competitions.
But the frustrated home crowd, who had not witnessed their side scoring from open play at home in five league games, were soon revelling in three in 15 minutes.
A deep cross from Joe Whight dropped over a defender’s head to Reece Harris on the edge of the area and his cushioned touch set up Harrison to rifle home inside two minutes.
It was soon 2-0 as within five minutes a similar deep cross, this time by Billy Holland, picked out Kelly who rose well before directing his header beyond James Pellin.
Were it not for the Brentwood ‘keeper being alert to tip over Joe Whight’s thunderbolt, it could have been 3-0 within 10 minutes.
The visitors had yet to draw breath, but after a wayward effort from Kojo Apenteng, they were soon heading for another restart. Kelly took a touch, this time from a Coakley deep cross before the striker, running in on goal, clipped it in off the on-rushing Pellin.
Only an offside flag denied Reece Harris an eye-catching finish minutes later.
The visitors then got a foothold back in the game in the 19th minute in bizarre circumstances as Apenteng’s corner flew in at the far post, with Harrison unable to get his head on it.
The non-stop action continued as home debutant Tom Monk saw a low effort come back off the post while also just missing connecting with an excellent Harrison ball soon after.
Brentwood got the all-important next goal three minutes before the break with Coakley caught out as Charlee Hughes allowed a pass to run across him outside the area before the number nine fired it expertly into the net.
AFC began the second half on the front foot but within five minutes of the restart Brentwood were celebrating their comeback with Ryan Mallett heading in Apenteng’s corner.
Only the crossbar denied them taking the lead with Mitchel Hunter’s free-kick bouncing out.
But from the hour mark the Sudbury pressure built and built, eventually paying dividends in the 79th minute when Kelly claimed his hat-trick with an excellent left-footed finish across the goalkeeper.
Paul Hayes came on into the defence to shore things up, and won a series of headers, before his smart throughball saw penalty shouts turned down.
But the three points were wrapped up in the first of five minutes of added time with Harrison tapping in from close-range after Kelly rounded the goalkeeper.
And no-one was as pleased to see Kelly hit a treble than his manager.
“His work-rate was phenomenal and Saturday was the same,” he said.
“The thing with him is he misses shed-loads of chances and gets a bit of stick, but it never phases him.
“And that is why he has scored so many goals over his years in the game and why he has been part of so many successful sides.”
Sudbury are up to 11th in the table after back-to-back wins but will face a tough test to make it three-in-a-row with a Grays Athletic (6th) side who won five of their last six – including the last three – visiting on Saturday (3pm).
“They are going well,” said Morsley. “Kieran Bishop has gone back there from Coggeshall and I tried to sign him over the summer. He is a good powerful frontman. We have got to be on our mettle, but we will see how we get on.
“I won’t be going too mad if we continue winning or if we continue losing. We have to keep giving the lads the belief that we can keep playing, and that’s what we did tonight.
“I thought some of us come of age in the second half when it was 3-3.”
Jordan Blackwell (Achilles) is rated doubtful.
AFC Sudbury: Walker, Altintop, Coakley, Holland, French, Whight, Monk (Hayes 82’), Hunter, Kelly, Harrison, Harris. Unused subs: Dettmar, Bennett, Munday.
Free Press Man of the Match: Phil Kelly.