Ilford 1 AFC Sudbury 1
DIVISION ONE NORTH
Ilford 1 AFC Sudbury 1
by Pat Arbon at
the Cricklefield Stadium
WHEN the teams met earlier in the season, Ilford were dumped out of the FA Cup by a 5-0 scoreline, but last Wednesday the Essex side gained some revenge by gaining a league point from a match in which AFC should have won handsomely.
Manager Chris Tracey made two changes, in a reorganised defence Russell Pond moved back to replace the injured Lauris Coggin, while up front Leon Antoine got the nod ahead of Danny Charge, who dropped to the bench, and Dave Cowley started in midfield.
It was a good night weather-wise for football, but the hard bumpy pitch made ball control difficult.
Despite this, AFC strung together some good attacking moves, but they lacked penetration up front and did not get the rub of the green against at times frantic defending and fine goalkeeping.
A goal from a set piece looked the most likely with the tall AFC defenders James Smith and Bradley Thomas joining the attack for corners and that is how the deadlock was broken in the 25th minute with Thomas powering home a header for his first goal for the club from Cowley’s left-wing flag-kick.
Amazingly that was the only goal of the half as AFC created numerous other chances with Thomas inches wide with another header and Marc Rose in the home goal going full length to tip away a volley from Michael Shinn while David Bryant was twice foiled by the home keeper.
The second half followed a similar pattern with AFC enjoying plenty of possession but continued to lack penetration in front of goal.
But, having scored just once from dominating there was always the danger that Ilford would break away and equalise. And they did just that in the 69th minute when a free-kick into the danger area was powered home by substitute Jan Skoniezk, giving AFC keeper Danny Gay, playing his last game for the club before moving to his home town team King’s Lynn, no chance.
Straight from the restart, AFC came within a whisker of regaining the lead when, from a right wing corner, Bryant hit a post and the ensuing melee was scrambled away.
That was the story of AFC’s night which was summed up two minutes from time when Ben Bowditch headed the wrong side of the post from a good position to leave Tracey’s side ruing a host of missed chances.
AFC Sudbury: Gay, Pond, Dalby, Shinn, J Smith, Thomas, Cowley (Martin 86 ), Bowditch, Bryant, Antoine (Charge 76), B Smith. Subs not used: Webb and Fergus.
Free Press man of the match: Bradley Thomas. Scored the only goal and also went close to another. Did well in defence.
AFC bookings: None.
Att: 61 (a record low Ryman League gate for AFC)