Jamie Godbold has admitted that Saturday’s defeat only makes this weekend’s home clash with Hendon even more crucial.
Two goals against the run of play sandwiched between Craig Parker’s 39th minute reply served to swing this game away from AFC and see them drop further into the relegation mire — now one place off the foot of the table and a further point (now three) from safety.
There was plenty of fight left in Sudbury in the second half, but Kurtis Cumberbatch’s 56th minute strike, which added to Marc Charles-Smith’s opener and Lewis Driver’s second on the stroke of half-time, taking advantage of a rare spill from Marcus Garnham, left them too much to do.
And they ultimately left the home fans wondering if they would have scored again if they had carried on throughout the remainder of the weekend.
The result, and the way it came about, with The Yellows having started so brightly, certainly going forwards, precipitated many glum faces among players and officials in the clubhouse afterwards.
But the good thing about football is there is always the next game to exercise the demons and get back on track. And with the side directly above them in the table, Hendon, visiting Saturday (3pm), they do not come any bigger now.
“Saturday’s game is massive,” admitted Godbold. “Today was massive in the fact we are at home against a side who are in and around us — perhaps they have pulled away from us in recent weeks — but I felt that was a game we could and should have won.
“What it has done now is mean we have to perhaps pick up points at Tonbridge and at Worthing, and they are tough places to go.
“But do I think we can do it? Absolutely.
“We have to now make sure we enter that game with our players believing that they can as well, otherwise we don’t stand a chance.”
With Godbold saying he has had to recruit heavily — Danny Crow, Tevan Allen, Keran Monlous, Joe Marsden, Ace Howell and now Sam Corcoran all having joined since the turn of the year — just to be able to field a competitive side, the strength of his options will now be significantly decreased after this match, and at such a key time.
Captain Sam Clarke’s 15th yellow card of the season, early on in the match, left Godbold fuming as he now contemplates being without him for the next three matches.
And defender Ryan Henshaw’s third red card of the campaign, for two quickfire yellow cards which saw him leave the field in the 86th minute, coupled with two more injuries, certainly only compounds things for the manager.
“It was a soft one but it is Sam Clarke,” he said, “and if Sam Clarke goes into a tackle with his reputation if you like (he gets one). And I thought the referee was very quick to produce it. And I was really disappointed in the decision.
“And Ryan Henshaw’s red card did not cost us today but it could now do over the next few games.”
He added: “Just as we think we are getting players back we had Aidan Austin pull up in the warm-up, we had Tyler French injured his quad, so we had to bring him off at half-time, and now we go into the next game without Henshaw and Clarke, so it has just been one of those seasons.
“I don’t want to use them as excuses, as ultimately we haven’t been good enough to win the number of games we needed to, but that hasn’t helped.”
Godbold was right that it could have been a different game, and outcome. had Sam Bantick buried two big chances in the first half, seeing ‘keeper Luke Williams save on both occasion, with the Harrow number one mightily relieved to see the second, when he looked certain to score from Parker’s pass across the box fired straight at him.
AFC were taught a lesson for switching off at the back from their own free-kick just before the half hour mark when Charles-Smith ran onto a headed clearance unopposed before bursting into the area and firing in.
Parker did get The Yellows back on terms 10 minutes later, slotting home from Marsden’s fine run and cross. But it was ultimately only false hope for the home fans.
n AFC Gold week 47 winners: £100 (321) L Wales, AFC Sudbury; £10 (247) Mrs K Ford, Queens Rd, Sudbury; £10 (182) Peddars, King St, Sudbury.