Baker header seals Trophy progress for AFC Sudbury

WINNING GOAL: James Baker works some space at Hastings United on Saturday PICTURE: Terry Blackman
WINNING GOAL: James Baker works some space at Hastings United on Saturday PICTURE: Terry Blackman
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FA TROPHY: Hastings United 0 AFC Sudbury 1


Hastings United 0

AFC Sudbury 1

AFC Sudbury made it a hat-trick of FA Trophy victories against Ryman One South opponents after a second-half goal by James Baker.

The influential striker’s 51st-minute header was enough to put them in the hat for Monday’s third qualifying round draw at Wembley, which saw them drawn away to Skrill Conference South opposition in Tonbridge Angels on November 16.

AFC almost had the dream start as, within the opening 60 seconds, Matt Daniels skipped past Corrigan and his far-post cross deceived Pelling, only 
to clip the angle of bar and post.

Shortly after, Dave Cowley sent a 30-yard shot skidding off the wet surface with Pelling having to go full length to save.

At the other end, Alex Archer did well to beat out Pogue’s rising shot while his opposite number managed to on to a long-range shot from Michael Shinn at the second attempt and Ross Watson soon shot over.

High-flyers Hastings, who had won their last six games, hit the bar with Archer well beaten from a free-kick.

Baker, continuing to cause problems, looked to have earned a penalty after being brought down as he went past Judge, only for a raised flag indicating offside before the tackle.

A penetrating low cross from Ellis caused the first sign of panic in the AFC defence, but Ben Lewis recovered to clear.

The visitors went back on the attack and Watson headed weakly over with the half ending with Cowley missing the best chance of the opening 45 minutes, hooking over the bar from a couple of yards.

Six minutes into the second half came the crucial breakthrough with a quality goal.

A triangle of passes opened up the Hastings defence down the left for Mitchell to cross into the six-yard box where Baker stole in ahead of Pelling to glance into the corner of the net.

Sam Clarke should have made it two when Ryan Henshaw’s long pass was flicked into his path, but he shot hastily over the angle of bar and post.

Hastings struggled to make headway against a solid AFC rearguard, although a mistimed headed clearance let in Pogue, but Lewis blocked the threat.

Their cause was not helped when skipper Judge limped off following a clash with Clarke that saw the Sudbury skipper booked.

Another jinking run by Cowley created a chance 
for Baker, but his near-post shot was smothered by Pelling.

It was then the chance for Archer to excel with two point-blank range saves to deny Woodley and Pogue.

Another edge of the area free-kick conceded by Henshaw gave Adams another chance, but this time his kick cleared both the defensive wall and the bar.

In the dying minutes Ben Thompson should have made the game safe when he raced on to Greg Crane’s ball over the defence only to delay his shot, allowing Pelling to block at close range.

AFC: Archer, Lewis, Mitchell, Shinn, Crane, Henshaw, Daniels, Clarke, Baker (Thompson 82), Watson, Cowley (Swatman 90). Unused subs: Cawley, Carus, Swallow.

Free Press man of the match: James Baker.

AFC bookings: Mitchell, Shinn, Henshaw, Clarke, Watson.