AFC Sudbury Academy star Ross Crane turned down Sky Bet League Two club to continue his development in Suffolk
Promising left-back Ross Crane has turned down the advances of a professional fourth tier club to continue playing in AFC Sudbury’s academy and first-team set-up.
First-team manager Mark Morsley revealed the news in the wake of Saturday’s season-ending 1-0 win at play-off side Coggeshall Town as he said there will not be many changes to his squad over the summer.
It is another feather in the cap of the AFC Sudbury Academy that the unnamed Sky Bet League Two side were rebuffed by the player and his family in order to continue his football education in Danny Laws’ set-up alongside the Bostik League first team.
“Ross Crane has turned down the chance to go to a pro under-18s side to stay with us,” said Morsley, confirming he is only set to be looking for three positions to fill to boost his squad for a promotion push next season.
“His parents feel his development at U18s with Sudbury will be better than a pro club because he is learning and getting to play adult football at a decent level.”
Crane, 17, the son of former Needham Market goalkeeper Scott, has made 14 appearances for the first team this season since joining the club’s academy after being released from Colchester United at under-16 level, along with Liam Bennett.
Both were rested as unused substitutes ahead of their English Colleges FA national final at Walsall FC on Tuesday (see below) at play-off qualifiers Coggeshall Town on Saturday.
An eye-catching Daryl Coakley strike in the 64th minute saw AFC end their Bostik League North Division season on a winning note, 1-0, having lost their previous five. It left them finishing eighth in the table, four places higher than 12 months ago, in Morsley’s first full season in charge.
Panashe Mundawarara, who has been restricted to three appearances this season, including starting the last two due to a knee injury, is one of the first players to be offered a deal for next season.
“He is just finishing at the academy and I have always liked him. He gives us something different. He is quick and has upper body strength for a little man,” said Morsley.
Meanwhile, Tyler French was due to play for League On- relegated side Bradford City yesterday in a behind-closed-doors friendly with Championship Middlesbrough after manager Gary Bowyer contacted Morsley about having a look at his transfer-listed star for his first-team squad next season.
It comes off the back of trials this season at League One sides Charlton Athletic and Barnsley.
* AFC Sudbury A became the first side at the club to lift silverware this season when they won the Essex & Suffolk Border League’s Tommy Thompson Cup final 2-1 at Stanway Rovers FC last Wednesday, against their fellow Division Two rivals and league champions, Stanway Pegasus. Freddie King and Joe Osborn were on target for the side managed by Craig Power, with first-team boss Morsley again assisting in the dugout.
The A team have the chance to add another cup to that when they contest the Essex & Suffolk Border League Knockout Cup final against Premier Division champions Gas Recreation, from Colchester, at Brantham Athletic FC tomorrow (7.45pm). They then just need a point at Hatfield Peverel Reserves in their last league game on Tuesday (6.30pm) to confirm promotion as runners-up.
* AFC Sudbury Under-18s play Walsham-le-Willows in the Suffolk Under-18 Midweek Cup final at Ipswich Town’s Portman Road a week today (7.30pm) looking to retain their title.
* AFC Sudbury Ladies lost an eight-goal thriller 5-3 at home to Haringey Borough Women in their final Eastern Region Women’s Premier Division match on Sunday, condemning them to finish bottom. Relegation is still to be confirmed though, dependent on movement elsewhere in the pyramid.
Sophie Jeffrey, Olivia Gunn and Mia Etheridge were all on target for AFC.
* AFC Gold week 52 winners: £100 (121) S Thompson, St Andrews Rd, Gt Cornard; £10 (128) Miss L Maxim, Friars St, Sudbury; £10 (230) Miss V Paxton, Jubilee Rd; Sudbury.