AFC Sudbury put successive home defeats behind them to cruise into the first qualifying round of the FA Cup with a 4-0 win over Ware.
After Jack Fowler’s own goal in the 24th minute had given the Yellows a fortuitous 1-0 lead going into the break, a dominant second half display saw goals from Sam Clarke (49), Craig Parker (penalty 70) and a further own goal, this time from Paul Cooper (80) comfortably set up a home tie with higher-league Hendon on September 12.
The 1-1 draw in the tie involving Witham Town and Brightlingsea Regent means that AFC will have no home game on Bank Holiday Monday though, due to Witham’s cup replay.
Home manager Jamie Godbold made one change from the side which beat local rivals Soham Town Rangers 1-0 on Tuesday, with summer signing Liam Wales replacing James Axcell, who dropped to the bench.
AFC only named five of the seven substitutes allowed in FA competitions, which included young reserves defender Harry Seal alongside manager Jamie Godbold, with midfielders Ollie Berquez (injured) and Ollie Canfer (wedding) unavailable.
A minute’s silence was held before kick-off at The Wardale Williams Stadium in memory of Worthing FC players Matthew Grimstone and Jacob Schilt, who both played in the last round of the FA Cup before tragically losing their lives in the Shoreham air crash.
The hosts, who were looking to bounce back from successive heavy home defeats, gave a sparse crowd some worrying moments early on as both Sam Clarke and then Robbie Martin gave the ball away sloppily, the latter leading to Murat Karagul curling a shot over from the edge of the area.
The clock had not ticked past the third minute when Paul Cooper curled beyond Ollie Bowles’ far post after cutting inside Wales.
The Yellows did regain control with a good spell of their own, but skipper Sam Clarke’s header straight at Jack Smith from Ross Bailey’s deep central free-kick was the only chance they managed to fashion.
Nana Asamoah sent an effort wide in another warning shot at the other end, following a Ware corner, before the visitors handed the lead to their opponents 24 minutes in.
Jack Fowler’s back header from Clarke’s angled cross went beyond his own goalkeeper with there having been seemingly little danger.
It came after Robbie Martin had done well to keep the ball in play in the left-hand corner, before playing it to Clarke, after Ben Robinson’s cross had cleared the penalty box.
After Benjamin Crilley fired over the angle of post and bar, Ware’s number three registered their first shot on target in the 33rd minute, but Bowles was directly behind it.
Lone striker Luke Callander wasted a good chance to put his side 2-0 up going into the break, failing to make the most of being put one-on-one with a defender.
The visitors, who saw Khale Dacosta’s curling effort go straight into Bowles’ arms, could have felt rightly unlucky to go in behind against an AFC side who had looked disjointed and not got to groups with the pitch as well as their opponents.
But it only took Sudbury four minutes after the restart to double their advantage, through the same player who had made their opener.
After Jordan Blackwell’s whipped right-wing delivery was only partially headed clear, Clarke drilled a low effort beyond Jack Smith from eight yards out.
Callander, who had struggled to make an impact in the first half, fired well over from a free-kick before scuffing a good opportunity from Robinson’s low cross.
In the 62nd minute AFC were awarded a penalty after Blackwell was nudged off the ball as he went to pull the trigger from Robinson’s cross.
But James Baker skied his spot-kick well over Jack Smith’s crossbar.
Asamoah put an effort wide for Ware before the home side were awarded their second spot-kick in seven minutes, with Craig Parker making no mistake as he confidently stroked the ball into the bottom-right corner, with Jack Smith having gone the other way.
At 3-0 the tie looked to be beyond the Hertfordshire visitors, but 10 minutes later it certainly was as Paul Cooper slid the ball into his own net in his desperation to get to Wales’ dangerous low cross from the right ahead of substitute James Axcell.
Seal came on for his AFC debut two minutes later, replacing the hard-working Ross Bailey.
The hosts were denied what looked a clear third penalty in the 84th minute as Wales’ trickery saw him skip inside Ajet Shenhu in the box, who was on a yellow card, before getting blocked off the ball.
Karagul fired well over for Ware, who failed to trouble Bowles and looked far less threatening than they had in the first half.
As the rain began to come down, referee James Turner blew the final whistle to signal AFC’s progression in the competition, which will see them host Hendon in two week’s time on September 12 (3pm).
For video reaction to AFC’s 4-0 win, log back on to this website on Monday, and see Thursday’s Suffolk Free Press for further reaction and a preview to the weekend.