Lowestoft Town 2
AFC Sudbury 2
Rob Eagle returned to haunt his old club with an equaliser deep into stoppage-time on Monday which he felt epitomised his new club’s never-say-die attitude.
The ex-Norwich City midfielder made the switch from Lowestoft to AFC Sudbury over the summer and helped deprive his former employers of a first home win of the season to maintain AFC’s unbeaten start to the campaign.
In a thrilling Bank Holiday Monday Suffolk derby with plenty of intriguing sub-plots, including management duo Jamie Godbold and Andy Reynolds returning to the club they are revered at from their playing days, Eagle rescued a point by converting a goalmouth scramble five minutes into six of added time.
Lowestoft had taken a deserved lead into the break through Chris Henderson’s eighth-minute opener, but a rejuvenated Sudbury hit back through Craig Parker’s screamer just after the hour mark.
A piece of individual brilliance from Joe Marsden put the hosts back in front inside the final 10 minutes before Henderson was thwarted by a fine penalty save from Marcus Garnham, who produced two more impressive late stops before Eagle struck in the dying moments.
“They were the better team in the first half,” said the 29-year-old.
“After Joe Marsden’s unbelievable goal they could have scored three or four, but they didn’t take their chances.
“We are a team that never gives up though; sticking together to the end and believing we can get a goal.
“I’m really happy to score, obviously it feels a bit strange against my old club, but that is football.”
Left-back Jack Wilkinson, recovered from a pre-season injury, came in as one of three changes, with Jack Newman and Liam Wales starting with Dave Cowley, Luke Callander and Sam Bantick on the bench.
AFC were immediately on the backfoot and fell behind to Henderson’s low angled drive in the eighth minute, and were fortunate not to be further behind going into the break.
At the other end they had been unable to get lone striker Wales into the game.
Callander’s introduction at half-time offered a different threat and the visitors began dictating play in their opponents’ half.
Their endeavours were rewarded in the 63rd minute when Sam Clarke cleverly turned the ball around the corner for Parker through the centre and he unleashed an unstoppable effort from 23 yards which flew into the left-hand corner of the net.
The hosts got back on top though and regained the lead in the 84th minute when substitute Marsden flicked the ball over his head in the area before firing a dipping volley into the far corner.
They should have sewn the game up a minute later when Wilkinson blocked Jake Reed’s shot with his hand, but Garnham flew to his left to push away Henderson’s penalty.
The Sudbury number one made good saves from Henderson, who later missed a sitter, and Jamie Forshaw before the dramatic dénouement.
An Aaron Greene cross was turned goalward by Parker with only goalkeeper Jake Jessup’s outstretched leg and a defender’s header on the line keeping it out before Callander’s return header came back off the crossbar, falling for Eagle to nod it over the line, sparking wild celebrations.
AFC Sudbury: Garnham, Tann (Robinson 46), Wilkinson, Newman (Callander 46), Henshaw, Baker, Eagle, Clark (c), Wales (Bantick 82), Parker, Greene.
Free Press Man of The Match: Marcus Garnham.