The summer signing from Maldon & Tiptree scores twice in the second half to help send AFC Sudbury into the next round of the world’s oldest cup competition.
EMIRATES FA CUP
FIRST QUALIFYING ROUND REPLAY
Mildenhall Town 2
AFC Sudbury 4
It may have taken him three attempts, but Adam Mills will almost certainly be feeling as though he got his just rewards after helping to fire AFC Sudbury into the next round of the FA Cup on Tuesday night.
When The Yellows hosted Suffolk neighbours Mildenhall Town on Bank Holiday Monday, Mills’ luck was out.
He got into a number of good positions throughout the 90 minutes, but could not find a way past visiting goalkeeper Sam Roach in the 2-0 defeat.
It was a similar story when the sides met again during Saturday’s original tie — a 1-1 draw — with the summer signing from Maldon & Tiptree looking likely without netting before being substituted in the second half.
But, at the third time of asking it all fell into place for the attacker, who helped himself to a brace in the high-scoring replay victory at Recreation Way.
Speaking after the final whistle, AFC manager Jamie Godbold said of the former Needham Market player: “We wanted to try to bring him in last year because we know the threat he poses. He is a match winner.
“Adam is one of those players where he might be 2/10 and then all of a sudden he pops up with a goal.
“He always carries that threat, no matter how he is performing. Adam will wins us plenty of matches.
“He was excellent tonight and he has been a real constant threat to Mildenhall over the three games. He deserved those goals.”
Mills’ moments in the spotlight came after the restart, by which time his side were 2-1 in front.
Jake Turner and Julian Smith were off target with good early chances for the visitors before they broke the deadlock in the 12th minute.
Mildenhall centre-back Rob Ruddy failed to fully clear a high ball into the box and the alert Dave Cowley pounced, taking one touch before picking out the bottom right hand corner of the net.
And within four minutes, Sudbury were two goals to the good.
Louis Blake — the visitors’ centre-forward — caused problems with his physicality all night and after his attempt had been blocked, Tevan Allen was on hand to turn in the rebound from close range.
However, just when it appeared that Godbold’s charges were easing themselves into the next round, they were pegged back in the 20th minute.
It was the combination of two former AFC players that did the damage — Craig Calver crossing low for Danny Crow to tuck the ball beyond Paul Walker’s reach.
Having caused Mildenhall countless problems in the previous meetings between the sides, Mills had often found himself with two markers for company during the first half.
But within six minutes of the restart, he broke clear to restore Sudbury’s two-goal cushion.
After nipping in on the blindside of Mildenhall full-back Jake Kerins, it appeared the number 11 handled the ball in getting it under control.
The referee ignored the appeals from the home team, though, and Mills proceeded to roll the ball underneath his old nemesis Roach.
Cowley headed against the base of the post and Blake saw an effort disallowed for a foul as the away team attempted to turn the screw.
Yet, it was Mildenhall who were next to score via Shaun Avis in the 66th minute as the substitute bundled in Jacob Brown’s back-post header.
Any hopes Mildenhall harboured of a grandstand finish were ended in the 74th minute, though, when Jake Turner split the home rearguard with a slide-rule pass and Mills showed good composure with the finish.
Mills was denied the chance to score a hat-trick when the referee pulled back play for a foul earlier in the move — despite the Sudbury man being clean through — and the man with the whistle took centre stage again eight minutes from time.
Mildenhall midfielder Matt Green was late into a challenge with AFC substitute Joe Wright, with a yellow card perhaps the fairest punishment.
Nevertheless, match official James Turner was of a different opinion and brandished a straight red card.
“We carried a good threat throughout the game and showed good understanding of when to keep the ball and when to try to penetrate,” added Godbold, whose side will entertain Bostik League Division One South side Chipstead in the next round on Saturday, September 16.
“We put the onus on the players before tonight’s match — we wanted them to consider their own team talk.
“We knew Mildenhall well enough. I posed questions — how are we going to hurt them? What strengths have they got? The lads came back with the right answers.
“The win was pleasing and we just want games. The more matches they play, the better we will become but it is still a work in progress.”
AFC: Walker, A Turner, Claridge, J Turner, Smith, French, Allen, Clarke (Wright 71), Blake (Dunlop 87), Cowley (Newman 77), Mills
Free Press Man of the Match - Adam Mills: Got the goals his performance deserved
AFC Gold Winners Week 18:
1st £100 243 Mrs S Paxton Jubilee Rd Sudbury, 2nd £10 285 R Border Sheepshead Hill Gt Cornard, 3rd £10 247 Mrs K Ford Queens Rd Sudbury