AFC Sudbury 1
AFC Hornchurch 0
Mark Morsley’s AFC Sudbury underlined their ambition to be challenging at the top of the Bostik North Division next season as they overcame runaway league leaders AFC Hornchurch on Saturday.
A penalty from captain Joe Whight 16 minutes from time proved to be enough to claim all three points and see the Yellows leapfrog rivals Bury Town into ninth place as their unbeaten run extended to six matches (five wins and a draw).
The league leaders had come to King’s Marsh with a 13 point lead at the top and only having lost one away fixture this season.
They went away having suffered a second and in reality never looked like winning the game. That said the Essex side worked hard and made Sudbury battle all the way.
The side Morsley put out was probably the strongest he could, the only absentee from the squad was illness struck Max Booth, which meant striker Phil Kelly was back up front having recovered from a hamstring strain.
Christian Assombalonga shot wide for the visitors inside the first minute before Billy Holland was on hand to deflect a George Purcell shot out, with the resultant corner seeing Sam Mills block on the line from Nathan Livings.
AFC were enjoying periods of possession, but mainly in midfield.
On the half-hour mark from a Hornchurch corner Mills header off the line to deny Purcell.
Livings was booked for a bad tackle on Holland and from Daryl Coakley’s free-kick Whight put the ball wide of the far post.
Kelly had to be substituted at the start of the second half suffering a dead leg with Ben Hunter taking over.
Horne delivered a cross that McKenzie got his head to making visiting ‘keeper Harry Palmer tip over and Whight headed the corner over as Sudbury pressed.
The table toppers then had a good spell Nathan Cooper headed wide and Purcell looked through but was denied by a great tackle from Tyler French, one of many on the day from the youngster.
The winning goal came after Hornchurch had a corner. AFC broke up the other end with Ryan Horne crossing to McKezie where Bradley Warner fouled him. The assistant referee immediately indicated a penalty and after some delay, Whight stepped up to fire home the spot kick.
A frantic last 15 or so ensued but, despite plenty of pressure from the visitors, the home side saw the game out with the only real scare coming in the final minute as Walker came out to slide at the feet of Purcell.
AFC: Walker, Mills, Coakley, Holland, French, Whight (c), Peters, Wright, Kelly (Hunter 46’), McKenzie, Horne (Crisell 88’). Unused subs: Clowsley, Mundawarara, Maycock.
Free Press Man of The Match: Tyler French; great tackles, good passing, back to his best.
•AFC Gold week 42 winners: £100 (282) R Tyrell, Beaconsfield Close, Sudbury; £10 (319) B Holland, AFC Sudbury; £10 (216) Mrs K Marsh, New St, Sudbury.