Heybridge Swifts 4 AFC Sudbury 1
FIRST QUALIFYING ROUND
Heybridge Swifts 4
AFC Sudbury 1
by Pat Arbon
at Scraley Road Stadium
AFC Sudbury’s hopes of an FA Cup run came to an abrupt end on Saturday when their Ryman League rivals ran out comfortable winners.
With striker Lee Boylan joining a lengthy injury list, manager Chris Tracey was forced to make a change from the previous game and in came Leon Antoine for his first start while midfielder Dave Cowley got the nod ahead of Eljay Worrell.
AFC were hoping to avenge a 4-1 defeat when the sides last met on the final day of last season. But it was not to be as the home side, who had only won once this season, upped their game and cruised to victory despite AFC having the best of the early exchanges.
It might have been a different story if Antoine had scored from the first good opening after 15 minutes. But the AFC striker failed to hit the target from Dave Cowley’s right-wing cross.
The longer the game went on, the more the home side threatened and AFC keeper Danny Gay made the first of many fine saves when he did well to deny Ben Newson.
But Gay was beaten five minutes before the break when the visiting defence failed to clear their lines and Newson squared to Soloman Ofori, who fired the hosts into a half-time lead.
Hopes of a second-half revival from AFC disappeared within two minutes of the restart when the dangerous Ofori broke to set up Michael Cheek, who doubled the Heybridge lead with a simple finish.
Gay saved well from Cheek before Sudbury were given a lifeline on 63 minutes when David Bryant was fouled as he broke into the Heybridge box. Bryant got up to reduce the deficit from the resultant penalty.
But, within two minutes, Heybridge restored their two-goal advantage when substitute and ex-AFC player Russell Malton broke to set up Ofori, who hammered home his second goal.
That just about ended the match as a contest and Heybridge sealed a comfortable victory five minutes from time when substitute Luke Callender fired home an unstoppable fourth goal.
AFC Sudbury: Gay, Pond, Martin, Shinn, Dalby, Cousins, Cowley (Charge 53), Bowditch (Webb 75), Bryant, Antoine, B Smith. Unused subs: J Smith, Worrell, Ross, B Tracey (gk).
Free Press man of the match: Danny Gay. He made a number of fine saves, otherwise the margin of defeat would have greater.
Bookings: Dalby (tackle), Martin (dissent).