FOOTBALL ROUND-UP + ITFC HIGHLIGHTS: AFC Sudbury draw on Ryman Premier bow
A Luke Callander second-half strike saw newly-promoted AFC Sudbury earn an opening day draw at home to Dulwich Hamlet, while Needham Market and Soham Town Rangers also drew but Bury Town came from behind to get three points.
In front of a crowd of more than 400 at The Wardale Williams Stadium, AFC Sudbury captain Sam Clarke put his side into dreamland with a second-minute lead in their first ever game in the Ryman League Premier Division — the highest level in the club’s history.
But last season’s beaten play-off finalists Dulwich Hamlet came back with two goals in the space of four minutes, with Kenny Beaney heading in the equaliser in the 37th minute before Kadell Daniels’ free-kick beat Marcus Garnham at his near post, to send the visitors into the lead at the break.
AFC Sudbury pegged them back in the second half though with good skill from Clarke in the 66th minute seeing him work a low cross for Callander to tuck away.
The hosts pushed for a winner late on but could not find a way through as they made a pleasing start to life at Step Three.
Elsewhere in the division, Needham Market’s new midfielder Jack Curtis, on loan from Colchester United, marked his debut with a 10th minute opener at home to Burgess Hill Town.
But the visitors snatched a point with a late equaliser, with Tyrell Richardson-Brown striking in the 84th minute.
In Division One North, Bury Town got their 2016/17 campaign off to a winning start after recovering from an early setback when Ryman Blackman converted a 31st minute penalty at Ram Meadow to win 2-1.
Ollie Hughes stabbed home from close range in the 42nd minute to send the sides into the break level, before new playing captain Bradley Barber scored what proved to be the winning goal in the 56th minute.
In the Thurlow Nunn League, Newmarket Town’s opening Premier Division game, the first on their new artificial 3G pitch, ended in a 6-2 victory over struggling FC Clacton with Jamie Thurlbourne hitting a hat-trick while there were also a brace for Steve Holder and one for Scott Paterson.
Thetford’s recent signing, ex-Norwich City man Cameron King, was on target in their 2-0 win at Swaffham Town on Friday night. They joined Mildenhall Town, who won 2-0 at home to Great Yarmouth Town on Saturday thanks to goals from Jacob Brown and substitute Alexander Stillinger, in preserving their perfect start after two games.
In the Sky Bet Championship, Ipswich Town suffered a 2-0 defeat at Brentford after the Bees’ summer signing from Gillingham, John Egan, struck twice inside eight minutes shortly after the re-start as the Blues were made to rue missed opportunities in the first half.
Norwich City played out a goalless draw with last season’s beaten play-off finalists Sheffield Wednesday in Saturday’s late kick-off in the first game at Carrow Road since being relegated from the Premier League.
* For more comprehensive highlights of Ipswich Town matches, log on to the official club website
SKY BET CHAMPIONSHIP
Saturday: Brentford 2 Ipswich Town 0, Norwich City 0 Sheffield Wednesday 0.
Premier Division: AFC Sudbury 2 Dulwich Hamlet 2, Needham Market 1 Burgess Hill Town 1.
Division One North: Bury Town 2 Waltham Abbey 1, Soham Town Rangers 0 Witham Town 0.
THURLOW NUNN LEAGUE
Premier Division: Gorleston 1 Haverhill Rovers 1, Hadleigh Utd 2 Kirkley & Pakefield 1, Ipswich Wanderers 2 Ely City 1, Mildenhall Town 2 Great Yarmouth Town 0, Newmarket Town 6 FC Clacton 2, Stanway Rovers 3 Walsham le Willows 2, Swaffham Town 0 Thetford Town 2 (Friday), Wivenhoe Town 0 Long Melford 0 (Friday).
First Division: Braintree Town 1 Team Bury 0, Cornard Utd v 2 Diss Town 4, Debenham LC 1 Haverhill Borough 5, Dereham Town 0 Stowmarket Town 4, King’s Lynn Town 8 Needham Market 2, March Town Utd 1 Halstead Town 1, Whitton Utd 8 AFC Sudbury 1.