Lawrence Yiga was left to feel hard done by as AFC Sudbury’s ill discipline cost them again with elimination in the quarter finals of the Robert Dyas Cup to Grays Athletic.
The towering defender became the Yellows’ third player in as many games to be dismissed and the 12th in total this season, following an altercation with visiting custodian Lamar Johnson in the 40th minute.
And with the numerical advantage, the Ryman League Premier Division outfit ultimately showed their higher-league pedigree with second-half goals from Akwasi Marfo, Dumebi Dumaka and Kenny Beaney sealing their semi-final berth.
But while Yiga is well aware the club’s disciplinary record must improve, having picked up 13 yellows and two red cards himself, he feels the latest dismissal was harsh as he prepares for a four game ban.
“From my point of view I’ve gone up for a header we’ve got tangled and he’s put both hands in my face,” he said on the incident.
“I didn’t make a meal of it and so went up to him to see what he was doing and the referee sends me off.
“The referee didn’t give me any explanation, he just sent me straight off and unfortunately that killed us.
“Our disciplinary record has been appalling this season.
“The manager has warned us that we need to turn it around and we are well aware that we need to change things.
“However, I feel really hard done by with the decision and it means I’ll miss another four games.
“That will disrupt the team and myself in trying to have a steady run in the team.
“The hardest thing is that the manager wants to put out his strongest side, which I feel I am part of, and so it leaves me disappointed in myself and sad for the squad, because you want to out there helping them.
“However, results have been good despite the record and that is credit to the players that have come in.
“They have risen to the occasion and they deserve a pat on the back for that.
“That shows how much of a team effort it is at this club and if we all do our job we can go far.
“We are looking strong but we always knew we could challenge for promotion and that was always the aim.
“This result was very disappointing because of the good run we have been on.
“I don’t think we really showed what we can do in the game but now we have to focus on the league again.”
The visitors dominated much of the proceedings from the outsetand came agonisingly close to scoring after just nine minutes as Nathan Ferguson’s shot from the edge of the area came back off the foot of the post.
That momentum continued with Athletic and after Jordan Wilson and Joao Carlos spurned further chances they were left rueing the woodwork once more in the 20th minute.
This time it was Dumaka who came close to breaking the deadlock as he lobbed the on-rushing Louis Johnson only to see his effort come back off the bar before being hacked off the line by James Baker.
The pressure remained with Marfo calling Johnson into action with a smart close range save after skipping past Ryan Henshaw, before the same player lashed a left-foot effort over the bar.
The home side finally got hold of the ball in the 39th minute and almost opened the scoring against the run of play.
Ayrton Coley played Ollie Berquez into the area to send the ball across the box for Scott Kemp, whose goal-bound effort was brilliantly blocked.
However the home side’s task was made harder a minute later as Yiga, who was booked minutes earlier, was dismissed following an off the ball incident with the Grays’ goalkeeper, with the custodian somewhat surprisingly avoiding punishment.
With the numerical advantage, the visitors continued to pour forward after the interval with Dumaka firing wide in the opening minutes following the restart, while Beaney also tested Louis Johnson shortly after.
However with home legs tiring, Athletic finally found a breakthrough in the 69th minute as Marfo reacted quickest to his original saved effort to fire home the rebound past a helpless Johnson.
With the Sudbury resistance finally broken, Athletic doubled their advantage seven minutes later.
The lively Dumaka ran at the Sudbury defence and with time and space afforded to him, he fired a low right-footed shot which went through Louis Johnson to nestle into the net.
The 10 men continued to search for a route back into the tie but their efforts were to prove in vain as the visitors struck again with just a minute remaining.
Beaney’s curling free-kick from the left decieved everybody to find its way into the bottom right corner to seal Grays’ progression.