AFC Sudbury 1
Bury Town 1
‘Double jeopardy’ contrived to deny AFC Sudbury a sweet home win over Suffolk rivals Bury Town, in the view of assistant manager Lee Norfolk.
The former Ipswich Town player felt their play-off chasing opponents were given an unfair double shot at rescuing a point late on as official Abigail Marriott played on for Cemal Ramadan’s shot before pulling it back for a penalty only after it was saved.
The late drama, which came as the game entered four minutes of stoppage-time, saw Ramadan fire in the rebound to his spot-kick, which had been saved by impressive loannee goalkeeper Jake Jessup.
Ollie Peters’ breakaway goal in the 23rd minute had looked like it was going to be just about enough for the Yellows to earn the local bragging rights in Monday’s A134 derby.
But Norfolk, although disappointed with the late decision going against them, as a result of Joe Whight knocking Ramadan off balance as he burst into the penalty area, was able to concede it was just reward for Bury’s endeavours.
“I think you could say it was fair,” he said. “We had to deal with a lot of pressure.”
“But having said that, the manner in which the equaliser came was disappointing as I felt like we had dealt with it and then it got pulled back for a penalty.
“It is one of those things where it is a double jeopardy situation. If the guy goes through and gets his chance and then has his shot and it’s saved, then you have allowed the advantage. But then she has pulled it back for a penalty.
“It is contentious, but that is where the disappointment comes in, with all the pressure we’ve put up with to concede a goal that way, especially after the ‘keeper saves the penalty, it is disappointing.
“We have said to the lads that it is a point but it feels like a defeat.”
But he added that disappointment demonstrated the progress made since Mark Morsley and himself entered the club, before making sweeping changes to the playing squad, in early October.
“It is just one of those things we have to deal with, but it shows we have come a long way as a side that we are now looking at games like Bury at home as a game we perhaps should have won.”
The hosts, who like their opponents had struggled for form with two wins in 10 compared to Bury’s one, brought in striker Mekhi McKenzie for the soon-to-be-departed Reece Dobson.
Eleventh-placed Bury made the early running in front of goal but a pair of ex-AFC players, in Tevan Allen and Kyran Clements, both put past the post, while another former Yellow, Ollie Hughes, forced a save from Jessup. But it was AFC who took the lead against the run of play midway through the half. A goal-kick out of the hands of Jessup was headed on by McKenzie and Ryan Horne drove forward before neatly laying into the patch of Peters to apply the finish from inside the area. Jessup saved well with his legs from Bury’s top scorer Ramadan to ensure AFC held onto their slender advantage going into the break.
An absorbing derby continued with both sides having chances with ex-AFC ‘keeper Luis Tibbles turning Kane Munday’s long-range effort round his post, while Peters’ low arcing strike went just past the post. Up the other end, Hughes headed over, before Bury’s Tibbles had to make a flying save to keep out AFC captain Joe Whight’s free-kick.
Bury passed up a big chance to level in the 76th minute when substitute Darren Mills rolled his shot wide of the post with Jessup having misjudged his run out of his area.
But the goalkeeper made a good diving save to keep out Ryan Jolland’s low skidding effort and soon thought he had denied Ramadan in the last minute, only to see the referee pull play back for a penalty before he shot, with Whight adjudged to have clipped the striker.
Jessup dived to his left to save Ramadan’s spot-kick, but could not parry it out of danger, with the former Ipswich Town youngster slamming home the rebound to ensure his side a point.
The result, coupled with a point at Aveley on Saturday, sees AFC Sudbury move up a place in the table to 15th.
Reflecting on Saturday, where they came from behind with 10 men to earn a 1-1 draw courtesy of substitute Mekhi McKenzie’s late goal, Norfolk said: “You can’t ask anymore than that spirit and commitment. Unfortunately, I think we have felt it today as Bury had Saturday off (waterlogged pitch) and we have had 48 hours recovery.
“After about 60 minutes we couldn’t get players up to support, which is why we were having to sit a bit deep and soak up a bit of pressure.”
AFC Sudbury: Jessup 7, Mills 6, Clowsley 6, Holland 6, French 7, Whight (cpt) 7, Peters 8, Hunter 7, McKenzie 7, Horne 8, Munday 6 (Dettmar 86’). Unused subs: Miller, Crisell, Fuller. Attendance: 514
Free Press Man of the Match: Ollie Peters put in another energetic display that was capped with another goal in front of the home fans.