Ryman League Division One North leaders AFC Sudbury put on a show for their home fans with a 5-1 win over Great Wakering Rovers on Saturday to move 12 points clear, while Needham Market, Mildenhall Town and Halstead Town were among those to also bag three precious points.
Sudbury inched ever closer to wrapping up the league title and promotion to the Ryman Premier with another home win, taking advantage of their rivals’ slip-ups (Thurrock drawing 2-2 at Haringey Borough and Harlow Town losing 1-0 at home to Brightlingsea Regent).
New signing Danny Cunningham, who has returned to the club for the first time since 2008, having taken in spells recently at Leiston, Needham Market and Bury Town, was among the goalscorers after coming off the substitutes bench.
Young forward Jordan Blackwell was the star of the show though, scoring two and setting up another two.
Top scorer Luke Callander opened the scoring in the 10th minute after Blackwell’s effort was spilled out before he added the second himself after 33 minutes.
A flat start to the second half for the hosts saw Great Wakering pull a goal back through Jay Nash before AFC demonstrated their title pedigree with further goals from substitutes Liam Wales and Cunningham, while man-of-the-match Blackwell capped off a fine day for himself and his team with the fifth.
Ahead of tonight’s game at Aveley (Monday, 7.45pm) Bury Town’s distant play-off dreams are all over as they fell out to 12th and 16 points from the top five after a 2-1 defeat at Tilbury, which had seen youngster Dan Hammett give them the lead in the 61st minute only for three goals in an 11th minute spell to soon change the complexion of the game.
Needham Market’s hopes of survival in the Ryman League Premier Division were given a timely boost with a 1-0 home win over Merstham, courtesy of Michael Brothers’ fourth minute strike.
Ahead of hosting the side a place and two points above them in 19th, Staines Town tomorrow (Tuesday, 7.45pm) the Marketmen are now five points above Brentwood Town, who occupy the third relegation spot, though their Essex rivals, do hold four games in hand on them.
Norwich City were left celebrating an unlikely home point against Manchester City in their fight for survival in the Barclays Premier League, in Saturday’s early kick-off, with only goal difference ensuring they remain in the bottom three.
Ipswich Town’s play-off push suffered a blow in south Wales where the Tractor Boys went down to a 1-0 defeat in a turgid match that left them now four points off the top six, albeit with a game in hand over sixth placed Sheffield Wednesday.
Ecuele Manga’s first-half header was enough to move Cardiff to within a point of Wednesday and further clear of Mick McCarthy’s Ipswich side, who will be desperate to get back on track with a home win over Blackburn Rovers at Portman Road tomorrow (Tuesday, 7.45pm).
*Read our fans’ views on both Ipswich Town and Norwich City in our print editions later this week, while extended highlights of Ipswich Town’s Saturday game can be viewed via a payment subscriber service on the club’s official website
Premier Division: Needham Market 1, Merstham 0.
Division North: AFC Sudbury 5, Gt Wakering Rovers 1; Tilbury 3, Bury Town 1; Cray Wanderers 6, Soham Town Rangers 1 (Sunday).
THURLOW NUNN LEAGUE
Premier Division: Long Melford 0, Hadleigh Utd 0 (Friday); Mildenhall Town 3, Newmarket Town 1; Thetford Town 0, Brantham Athletic 2; Walsham le Willows 5, Haverhill Rovers 1.
First Division: Cornard Utd 1, Debenham LC 3; Diss Town 1, Halstead Town 3; Ely City 2, Stowmarket Town 1; Leiston 0, AFC Sudbury Res 1; Team Bury 0, Woodbridge Town 0.
Suffolk Senior Cup Quarter Final: Ipswich Athletic 0, Haverhill Borough 3.
Tonight (Monday). Division North: Aveley v Bury Town.
Tuesday. Premier Division: Needham Market v Staines.
THURLOW NUNN LEAGUE
Tuesday. Premier Division: Brantham Athletic v Mildenhall Town; Gorleston v Thetford Town; Haverhill Rovers v FC Clacton.
First Division: AFC Sudbury Res v Stowmarket Town; Team Bury v Halstead Town.
Wednesday. Premier Division: Walsham le Willows v Swaffham Town.
Friday (18). Needham Market Res v Woodbridge Town; Wivenhoe Town v Halstead Town.