RYMAN LEAGUE DIVISION ONE NORTH
AFC Sudbury 3
Soham Town Rangers 1
Craig Pope backed interim manager Danny Laws to get the job on a full-time basis as AFC Sudbury boosted their play-off hopes with a vital win.
Having suffered back-to-back defeats, the Yellows lifted themselves to within three points of Aveley in the fifth and final play-off spot as goals from Ollie Berquez, James Baker and Kris Newby settled a thrilling encounter in which Joey Abbs added the consolation for the visitors from the penalty spot.
And having adjusted to the shock of losing previous manager David Batch, Pope has backed Laws as the man the players want to replace him on a full time basis.
“David (Batch) leaving was a shock, but we have a good bunch of lads here who will stick together,” he said. “Obviously Danny has come in and he has good pedigree of managing good clubs before.
“He has steadied the ship and I think the boys have responded really well to him.
“He is somebody everyone here respects and I would like to see him get the job.
“I know everyone here would love to see Danny take over, so hopefully that will happen.”
Meanwhile, Laws himself refused to rule himself out of the running for the job, but insisted his focus remains on helping to launch the academy as well as maintaining the club’s push for promotion with a trip to 14th-placed Cheshunt looming on Saturday (3pm).
“I’m not arrogant enough to think they would offer me the job,” said Laws, whose side also travel to Witham Town in the third round of the Robert Dyas Cup on Tuesday (7.45pm). “The academy role is still my main focus because that is a massive project.
“The decision will be made and I still think the calibre of the candidates will be very high.
“I’m just doing a job and to me things have not changed since when I first took over.
“That was a massively important win for us. The players have deserved something in the last two matches and so that’s great credit to them for responding the way they have.
“Momentum is massively important and regardless whether it is cup or league we will be going out to win, the aim is to get some consistency now.
“This is still a wonderful job for somebody and maybe myself.”
If Laws is to be considered for the role on a permanent basis, he did himself no harm as his squad gave him a glowing reference with a battling performance against promotion rivals Soham.
It was the visitors who could have opened the scoring after just eight minutes as Marcus Garnham had to be at full stretch to help tip a dipping Joe Asensi shot on to the cross bar.
Having survived the early scare, the home side got themselves in front as Berquez seized on a poor punch by Enol Ordonez to fire a low shot past the custodian via the right upright.
The momentum continued with the hosts as Berquez missed a glaring chance to double the tally in the 16th minute, somehow heading over from four yards, while Kris Newby also saw a stinging shot well saved in the 25th minute.
Newby was involved in Sudbury’s second just a minute later as his cross from the right-hand side found Baker to stab home from close range.
The visitors responded strongly to the setback and were handed a route back into the game after 37 minutes as Jordan Blackwell was adjudged to have pulled back Alex Luque in the area.
Abbs took the responsibility and confidently struck the ball beyond Garnham’s reach and into the bottom left corner.
The home side regained control after the interval and reinstated their two-goal advantage in the 52nd minute as a lightning counter-attack resulted in Baker squaring the ball for Newby to finish neatly into the bottom right corner.
Further chances followed with Baker hitting the side netting with a powerful low shot and Newby forcing Ordonez into a smart save.
At the other end, the crossbar denied Soham again in the 79th minute as Simpson’s powerful close-range effort beat Garnham, but not the woodwork as the visitors refused to give in.
However, there was to be no comeback as AFC held on to clinch three vital points.
Meanwhile, club director Richard Instance has confirmed talks will be held at the end of this week to discuss the manager’s position, with former AFC assistant manager and current Haverhill Rovers boss Michael Shinn ruling himself out of the running.
“We have been encouraged with the amount of interest and calibre of applicants but we will be taking our time to make the right decision,” he said. “We are lucky to have someone of Danny’s calibre who could step in and take charge.
“The players respect him and we’re delighted to have him here for however long.
“The play-offs are still our priority, but with someone like Danny in charge I don’t think we need to rush because we are in safe hands.”