Trusted midfielder backs boss to deliver promotion

GOAL HUNT: Matt Daniels, bursting forward in the 5-0 defeat to Colchester United, is targeting double figures from midfield this season
GOAL HUNT: Matt Daniels, bursting forward in the 5-0 defeat to Colchester United, is targeting double figures from midfield this season

Ex-Ipswich Town trainee Matt Daniels has backed new manager David Batch’s ultra-professional approach to deliver success to AFC Sudbury.

The 22-year-old attacking midfielder spent the last four seasons playing under Batch at Wroxham and believes he can recreate his winning promotion formula at AFC.

Norwich-based Daniels, who was released by Ipswich at the age of 18 after injuries and a change of manager halted his progress, said: “For non-League football he has a very professional style.

“Everything is done really professionally and he will look to have high standards of the boys, everyone to be really disciplined in themselves and ultimately he won’t settle for mid-table or second best.

“That appealed to me and I know Steve (Eastaugh, head coach) is exactly the same.

“Hopefully throughout pre-season that will all fit in on the pitch and we can all move forward from there.”

Daniels, who had a short spell playing professionally in Australia two years ago with Cobram Victory, is one of nine new signings Batch has brought across from Wroxham, believing it has certainly helped them settle quickly.

“I didn’t think there would be so many but if we are putting together boys that Daivd believes can progress it, then fair enough,” he said.

“Obviously there are a couple of more boys, including Michael Brothers, that are going to add more quality as well.

“It helps everyone settle together and the boys are already having banter.”

Daniels, who works in the insurance sector as well as doing part-time coaching, scored 12 goals for mid-table Wroxham last season in Ryman One North despite a spell on the sidelines with a broken hand.

And the versatile ball-playing midfielder, who was released from Norwich City at 15, is targeting a similar haul this season as AFC push for promotion.

“The pitch here will help from what I’m used to and hopefully I can get a few goals this season and hit double figures again,” he said.

Daniels stepped up his fitness starting just off striker Leon Antoine during Friday’s 5-0 friendly defeat to a Colchester United side featuring seven first-team players in their starting line-up.

A minute’s silence was held before the game following the death of ex-Sudbury Town player and avid AFC supporter Ken Smith.

The home side, again playing French trialists Emile Lembe and Steven Fula-Pitu as well as Angelo Harrop during the 90 minutes, were 2-0 down at the break as the League One side’s superior quality told in the club’s third game in three days.

Teenage Sammy Szmodics scored two goals in a three-minute spell, the first after 22 minutes coming when he swept home Anthony Cook’s cutback and the second from Brian Wilson’s delivery after Clinton Morrison had attempted to convert.

The U’s could have been further ahead before Michael Brothers’ long-range wayward strike signalled AFC’s first shot after 52 minutes.

But Colchester extended their lead when Arsenal trialist Brian Wilson finished after a flowing move after 62 minutes and Marcus Bean added a fourth after 73 minutes, with the visitors having substituted their whole side in-between.

A fine individual curling strike from John-Joe O’Toole five minutes from time completed the scoring.

AFC starting XI: Heath, Henshaw, Lewis, Daniels, Carus, Lembe, Brothers, Clarke (c), Antoine, Harrop, Speller. Used substitutes: Archer, Cutts, Forhsaw, Fula-Pitu, Guyon, Maina, Thompson.

n See the video of Daniels’ thoughts on the Colchester defeat at www.suffolkfree