DIVISION ONE NORTH
AFC Sudbury 1
Hertford Town 1
Despite a late equaliser to avoid a third straight defeat, captain Joe Whight revealed there was big disappointment with the result in the AFC Sudbury dressing room.
Brett O’Connor’s 18th minute curling strike on Tuesday evening had deservedly sent the visitors into the break with a slender advantage after what had been a forgettable 45 minutes for the home crowd as the Yellows looked well off their game.
The hosts launched wave-after-wave of attacks in the second half in an improved display but were not able to really threaten Charlie Mann’s goal until Peters forced a late block and soon after was able to convert in the 89th minute.
Whight feels his side, who remain without a win in six heading into Saturday’s home game with high-flying Dereham Town (3pm), now have a platform to build from, but felt they deserved more.
“I think we were really disappointed with a point,” he revealed. “I think we were on top for most of the game, especially in the second half.
“We had someone looking at the stats and they haven’t had any crosses or shots on target in the first 15-20 minutes of the second half and we had loads, but just haven’t been able to create anything out of it.
“It is better than a loss though and the lads did really well to dig in and nick a goal at the end.”
He added: “We haven’t been on the best run of form and we know we haven’t played well ourselves. But tonight showed we can do it and we can come from behind and get something from a game.
“We see it as a platform now and are definitely confident going into the next game.
“Although we are a young team we know what we can do and I think we can beat anyone in this league.”
The 23-year-old was among Mark Morsley’s first signings on taking over in early October and has now found himself with big boots to fill after taking on the captaincy from the departed Sam Clarke, but it is a role he is relishing.
“It is great and I love it. Obviously Sam Clarke was a great captain here for many years and I have got a lot of respect for him,” he said.
“With him leaving Mark spoke to me and said do I want to take it and I said yes, of course.
“I am not too old myself but I am one of the older lads here now and I am willing to take it on and try and help the younger players as much as I can.
“I also think it will help my game as well.
“Since I have been in non-league football it is the first time I have captained a side and I am enjoying it.”
He added that he would like to emulate Clarke and be a ‘great captain’ for the club himself.
Following a hugely disappointing 4-0 defeat at Witham on Saturday, manager Mark Morsley made three changes to his starting XI with Tyler French, who played right wing-back, Will Crisell and Reece Dobson all promoted back into the side in place of Milo Grimes, Kane Munday and Max Booth.
In what was a first ever meeting between the sides, Peters’ dangerous free-kick whistled across the goal with no-one able to get a touch early on before AFC custodian Paul Walker was called into action to tip over a free header from Hertford’s Tommy Wade.
Sudbury’s first shot at goal came in the 16th minute with Billy Holland’s 25-yard effort comfortably caught by Mann.
The visitors were looking much more dangerous on the ball and took the lead two minutes later with Ricky Light able to skip his way past two feeble challenges before laying off to Ruff inside the area.
He found O’Connor on the corner of the penalty area and his left-foot curling shot went into the far corner.
The hosts looked far from convincing in possession and were not able to trouble Mann for the rest of the half, with Whight’s curling shot and Holland’s glancing header, both going wide, their best efforts.
At the other end, Hertford were bypassing the midfield at will but were unable to add to their tally, with tricky number nine Ruff firing just wide before hitting the side-netting with another effort.
The second half saw the final ball still frustratingly lacking for the hosts, who were mainly restricted to long-range efforts as Hertford seemed content to sit on their 1-0 advantage.
When AFC did finally get the ball in the net, via Hunter’s 70th minute near-range finish, it was ruled out for a foul by Reece Dobson.
The elusive goal looked like it would never come, with Peters’ smart run, after being moved up front, seeing him get in on goal only to see Mann out well to block.
But in the 89th minute the midfielder’s nice give-and-go with Mekhi McKenzie took him into the box, and caused two defenders to collide with each other, before he saw his shot from 12 yards out fly into the top corner via Mann’s fingertip touch.
Assistant manager Lee Norfolk, speaking after the game, said: “After Saturday we needed to bounce back and put that to bed as soon as we can and I think the lads performed tonight and did that.
“In the end we were rewarded with a nice goal at the end and we just ran out of time to get the winner.”
AFC Sudbury: Walker, French, Clowsley, Crisell, Miller, Whight (c), Peters, Holland, McKenzie, Dobson (Dettmar 79’), Hunter. Unused subs: Munday, Grimes, Colclough, Mills.
Free Press Man of The Match: Ollie Peters. Took responsibility to rescue a point.