AFC Sudbury 3
Staines Town 1
Loanee Dylan Williams stressed the importance of Saturday’s win on a day where he opened his AFC account with what he described as one of his best-ever goals.
The Cambridge United midfielder, who is signed up with Sudbury until January, added to James Baker’s 19th-minute opener and Sam Bantick’s precise 31st-minute header on Saturday with a great individual run and calm finish to put his loan side into a commanding 3-0 lead just before half-time.
The visitors got on top after the break and Brandon Adams’ 58th-minute strike appeared to suggest a comeback could be on the cards.
But AFC, helped by goalkeeper Marcus Garnham, weathered the storm and went on to end the game the stronger side to collect a much-needed three points that saw them put back-to-back away defeats behind them to move up two places in the table to 13th.
“We had to make sure we got a win today,” said 19-year-old Williams, who was making his third appearance for the club. “It was disappointing not to keep a clean sheet but hopefully we will build from that and can keep one in our next game and keep improving.
“It was good to get my first goal for the club and hopefully there will be many more to come, and it was good to help get three points with a goal.”
After his manager described his slalom run goal as Ozil-esque, he said: “It was one of the best goals I have scored, so I will take that.”
Despite winning two of their last three in all competitions, AFC had gone into the match looking to halt a run of league form which had seen them slip down to 15th spot after losing three of their last four.
Jamie Godbold named striker Luke Callander on the substitutes’ bench after a prolonged injury spell, with Adam Tann starting in central defence for the injured Tyler French and Craig Parker making his full return from injury in place of Liam Wales.
There was a minute’s silence ahead of kick-off for recently passed-away AFC supporter Bill Burroughs.
Baker, who had played at centre-half and central midfield over the previous two matches, was back in the number nine role up front which was his regular position when he joined the club.
Staines, who started the day 10th in the table, made a few promising early breaks but did not properly threaten until Adrian Clifton found Marcus Garnham’s hands in the ninth minute.
Rob Eagle wasted a good chance at the other end before the hosts took the lead after profiting from a poor piece of defending. Sam Bantick’s right-sided corner should not have beaten the first man, but a sliced clearance from Devante McKain kept the danger alive and the loose ball broke for Baker, who drove a low effort into the far corner.
Staines immediately went in search of an equaliser with Garnham fisting a cross clear.
But AFC doubled their advantage in the 31st minute when Bantick, not known for his heading ability, rose well to a pin-point left-wing delivery from Jack Wilkinson to nod beyond Jack Turner for his eighth goal of the season.
Marcus Garnham was grateful to see a heavily deflected shot from Clifton fall straight into his arms.
With three minutes until the break, AFC went into a 3-0 lead when Williams, who had been in his preferred position just off the lone striker, robbed a defender of the ball on the right edge of the penalty box and cut across the area on a mazy run before firing into the left-hand corner.
The visitors, who would have felt unfortunate to be 3-0 behind on the balance of play, soon took control of the game after the restart. But, it was not until the 58th minute when, from Clifton’s left-wing cross, Ryan Henshaw could only divert the ball into the path of Adams, who found the bottom corner and they had a foothold back in the game.
AFC’s defence continued to look unsettled by the pressure, with Garnham having to push Clifton’s drive away.
Just after the hour mark Baker sent a powerful half-volley past the far post, while Bantick curled a free-kick over the crossbar soon after.
Garnham was called into action at the other end, pushing out a tricky dipping effort from substitute Chinua Cole at his near post, as well as going full stretch in the air to tip away a long-range effort from Adams.
Staines kept piling on the pressure but could not find a way past Garnham.
With 10 minutes to play, AFC began to hold on to possession again and Baker fired over while substitute Liam Wales was only denied by Turner’s foot.
Sudbury were almost caught out on the counter but Adam Tann got across to execute a perfect sliding tackle.
AFC Sudbury: Garnham, Newman, Wilkinson, Williams (Wales 81), Henshaw, Tann, Bantick (Blackwell 73 (Callander 88)), Clarke (c), Baker, Parker, Eagle. Subs not used: Mallardo, Robinson.
Free Press Man of The Match: James Baker Attendance: 261
n Week 28 AFC Gold winners: £100 (171) A Cocksedge, Constitution Hill, Sudbury; £10 (170) M Ford, White Horse Avenue, Halstead; £10 (192) T Crofton, Essex Avenue, Sudbury.