Tilbury 1 AFC Sudbury 1
DIVISION ONE NORTH
Tilbury 1 AFC Sudbury 1
by Pat Arbon at Chadfields
HAVING released four players since their last match and utility player Russell Pond unavailable, it was a very different-looking AFC Sudbury line-up that deservedly came from behind to earn a share of the spoils on Saturday.
Tom Webb’s second-half goal extended AFC’s unbeaten league run to four games.
A trip to fourth-placed Tilbury, unbeaten in the league at home this season, was always going to be a difficult game for Chris Tracey’s much-changed side, which included reserve-team keeper Fred Howe and midfielder Jacob Brown, making their first appearances of the season.
But they came through with flying colours in a spirited team performance, particularly Howe, who had little to do for long periods, but excelled in the closing minutes when the hosts were going all out for victory.
AFC started positively and an early chance fell to Danny Charge, who seized on a defensive mix-up but shot wide.
Charge had a long-range shot tipped over and from the resulting corner AFC skipper Michael Shinn was desperately unlucky not to score when his powerful goal-bound header was nodded off the line by a defender.
Defences went on to dominate with goal chances few.
But Tilbury, who had got little change out of a stubborn AFC rearguard, broke the deadlock after 25 minutes when very little looked on.
An attacking Tilbury move seemed to have broken down in midfield, but the ball broke to striker Emile Aiken, who scored with an unstoppable shot from 30 yards.
Tilbury went on to have the better of the first period, but seldom looked like increasing their lead.
It was a different story after the break.
Apart from Clyde Roberts heading a good chance straight at Howe, it was AFC who looked the most dangerous and they deservedly equalised in the 55th minute.
A fine build-up down the left ended with ex-Tilbury player Webb being allowed room to level the scores with an angled shot.
AFC went on to virtually camp in the home half, but they were unable to make possession count despite several dangerous crosses from Dave Cowley and good work from striker from Leon Antoine, who was a constant threat to the home defence.
With 16 minutes left, AFC’s influential skipper Shinn limped off injured and was replaced by Stuart Fergus making a rare appearance.
In the closing minutes, Tilbury piled on the pressure and, in stoppage time, a last-ditch save by Howe at the feet of Aiken preserved AFC a deserved point.
Free Press man of the match: James Smith.
AFC Sudbury: Howe, Dalby, Martin, Shinn (Fergus 74), Smith, Thomas, Cowley, Brown, Antoine, Webb (Ross 80), Charge. Unused subs: Coggin, B Tracey.
AFC bookings: none.