RYMAN LEAGUE DIVISION ONE NORTH: AFC Sudbury 1 Maldon and Tiptree 1: David Batch hit out at the match officials for ‘failing to protect his players’ as a fiery top-10 clash ended with AFC bagging another point.
The Yellows’ manager was left fuming though, adamant someone could have been left seriously hurt due to the way he felt Saturday’s game was mismanaged.
The flash point came when the excellent Ryan Hewnshaw was left floored and holding his face, with neither the referee or his assistant speaking to the perpetrator, much to the AFC players’ obvious disbelief.
Both goals came within a 15-minute first-half spell.
After Bradley Hunter sent Alex Archer the wrong way from the penalty spot — awarded when Josh Carus handled, although AFC had a case for offside in the build-up — Henshaw’s 25-yard strike went in via a deflection six minutes before the break.
But Batch, who thought they were ‘probably fortunate’ to get away with a point after in-form Maldon and Tiptree carved out the best chances of the second period, twice hitting the woodwork and was left bemoaning the performance of the officials.
“I thought the referee and officials today were terrible,” he said. “He called us in before and said ‘let them play football and I’m not going to get involved’ and then he started booking everyone.
“There were three random bookings (for AFC) before a few (challenges) from them where he did nothing.
“There were 300-odd people here who would say pretty much the same thing.
“Then, with 10 minutes to go, one of our players gets kicked in the face off the ball.
“There are six of us, including one of their supporters saying ‘yes, he did’ and the linesman is right next to us and has done nothing about it.
“I think they failed to protect the players today and someone could have got hurt.”
After naming an unchanged side, Batch was forced into an early substitution when Matt Daniels, suffering from the after-affects of a virus, had to come off just 25 minutes in.
The change was made immediately after AFC went behind to Hunter’s penalty after seeing more of the ball in the early stages.
But after Archer raced off his line to deny Joe Gardner, the home side responded well with Dave Cowley frustratingly hooking over the bar from close range before Henshaw deservedly levelled after a Ben Lewis long throw came back out of the box and his low strike from range wrong-footed Jason Willis after spinning off Bradley Vaughan’s studs.
The visitors always looked the more likely to score a winner in a goalless second period, with Danny Johnson wasting a good chance before Gardner rattled the crossbar with an angled drive, while sub Junior Appiah’s header clipped it again late on.
Stephen Spriggs had the home side’s best chance, with his free-kick palmed out by Willis.