Hot-shot Hughes has given AFC an extra dimension

Newmarket Journal - December 2013''Soham v Sudbury'Luke Stanley heads the ball in for Soham
Newmarket Journal - December 2013''Soham v Sudbury'Luke Stanley heads the ball in for Soham

AFC Sudbury goalkeeper Alex Archer praised the impact new signing Ollie Hughes has made after the striker’s third goal in three games earned a point at Soham Town Rangers on Saturday.

The 26-year-old, on trial with Luton Town over the summer who was snapped up from Leiston, fired AFC into a 2-1 lead after 36 minutes, after Steve Spriggs had equalised within two minutes of Luke Stanley heading the hosts into a 19th minute lead.

But a Jack Cawley own goal within 60 seconds of the Hughes’ celebrations meant the joy was short-lived, with AFC suffering a double blow early in the second half when the striker went off with double vision and Ross Watson picked up two yellow cards within a seven-minute spell — yet the Suffolk still came out with a valuable point.

Former Peterborough United scholar Archer, who revealed he still harbours hopes of making it back into the professional game after only recently turning 20, thinks it is no coincidence Hughes’ arrival, on November 8, came along with a solid league run.

“Ollie has been brilliant since he came in,” he said, “he just gives us that little bit extra in the number 10 role, just behind Bakes (James Baker).

“He has got that creative spark and has scored in his last three, so has goals in him, and he has definitely added a positive vibe to the dressing room,” said Haverhill-based Archer, who had to fight off competition from ex-Cambridge United trainee Dan Heath to secure the number one jersey.

With Michael Shinn injured, Matt Daniels came into the midfield alongside Steve Spriggs, who replaced Dave Cowley.

An action-packed first half began with AFC well top, but James Baker could only hit his volley into the ground when well placed, before the hosts unexpectedly took the lead.

A short corner caught AFC on their heels and from James McCabe’s deep cross Luke Stanley headed in his 18th goal of the campaign — and 11th in his last eight matches.

But it only took AFC two minutes to hit back, with Steve Spriggs sweeping home after the Greens had failed to clear a Jack Cawley long throw into the box.

Ten minutes from the break, Joey Abbs put the ball into the net after Archer tried to claim a long ball from behind Buster Harradine, with the referee calling for a foul, much to the home crowd’s angst.

AFC then immediately broke down the right with Steve Spriggs teeing up Hughes to fire in on the turn.

But the lead only lasted a minute, with justice served in the locals’ eyes, as Cawley turned Connor Wood’s low cross into his own net.

Soham ended the half in the ascendency and Chris Lindsay spurned a great chance to put them in the driving seat with a free header.

The second half failed to live up to the first, with the complexion of the game turning on a seven-minute spell which saw Ross Watson deservedly leave the pitch after 64 minutes, following a dangerous tackle preceding a flailing elbow.

Even with the wind at 
their backs, Soham could not find a winner against a resilient AFC rearguard, with Archer only called into action to turn over a Stanley header late on, just after Greg Crane had made a telling interception.

Sudbury even had chances to win it themselves, with Baker forcing a flying save from Enol Ordonez, while Steve Spriggs had put over the bar shortly after the restart.

Student Archer, who praised the impact former Norwich City Academy goalkeeping coach Darren Plowman is having on his game, added: “We were disappointed in the manner we conceded the goals and let them back into the game but they have won their last seven.

“So to come here and get a result was a good point overall, especially after going down to 10 men.”

n A first-half brace from Ben Golding saw AFC Sudbury Reserves on their way to a 5-0 home win over Great Yarmouth Town on Saturday with substitutes Stepney Thurgood, Andy Fisher and starter Ryan Swallow, from the penalty spot, scoring the second half goals.

The result keeps the Yellows in 12th place in the Thurlow Nunn League First Division, but they are still six points from Team Bury, in 11th position, ahead of travelling to Fakenham Town on Saturday (3pm).