Young guns put down a marker

HAPPY DAY:  Man of the match Jordan Blackwell , who turned in a fine performance, celebrates his first goal on Saturday
HAPPY DAY: Man of the match Jordan Blackwell , who turned in a fine performance, celebrates his first goal on Saturday
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AFC Sudbury Great 6

Great Wakering Rovers 1

Josh Kerridge believes a total football philosophy under their new manager is helping the club’s youngsters to stake their claim for a starting spot.

The 22-year-old said everything he needed to on the pitch in Saturday’s fine 6-1 thrashing of previously in-form Great Wakering Rovers, marking his first league start with his first senior AFC goal; a classy 25-yard finish.

But afterwards, he outlined how the likes of the Kemp brothers, the Mallardo brothers, as well as his younger sibling Johnny, and Jordan Blackwell are being helped by the introduction of a playing style they already have a head start on.

“We are playing more total football now than long ball and I think all the players love that, and that helps,” said the midfielder, who was one of a number of youngsters who came across from Leiston with reserves coach Dave Cannon.

“It is what we have done with the under-21s (reserves) all season, so that helps us as we are used to playing that way.”

Recently-turned 18-year-old forward Blackwell got the rout started in the 20th minute before he was fouled for the returning James Baker to dispatch the second from the penalty spot, with the 16th-placed Essex club’s captain Lewis Sparrow receiving his marching orders with a second yellow card.

A mad 10 minutes saw a third home goal when Sam Clarke tapped in a rebound, and it was 4-0 by the break courtesy of Blackwell’s stunning second.

Ollie Berquez made it five, before Sam Clarke’s dismissal after a two-footed challenge in the 64th minute.

Great Wakering pulled one back through Jay Nash, before Josh Kerridge put the icing on the Yellows’ victory with his long-range 89th minute strike.

“It was good,” said the Wickham Market-based player, who admits it has been a big step up from playing once every three weeks in Leiston’s under-21s side last season to the Ryman League, having been mainly used in the county cup so far.

“I have been waiting for a long time to start in the league and hopefully I can keep my place.

“Tyler (Kemp) switched it over to me and there was just so much space in front of me, so I just drove forward a bit and hit and hoped and it went in!

“We just seemed to win everything first half and were really on the front foot.

“In the second half it petered out a bit and the sending off changed the game a bit, but it was a good performance.”

For Jamie Godbold’s second game in charge and first picking the side, he was joined by his assistant Andy Reynolds, who had been managing Suffolk Under-18s the previous Saturday.

The former Kirkley and Pakefield boss deployed James Baker, back from a transatlantic business trip, in his now secondary position as a centre-half, with Craig Pope and Lawrence Yiga both suspended.

Kerridge was given a start in a holding midfield role alongside Sam Clarke, with Terry Rymer again leading the line in a 4-2-3-1 set-up which had brought Danny Laws such success in his interim spell in charge.

Looking to register their best league run of the campaign, having been on three straight wins also under David Batch in both September and November they had to contend with both a fast-deteriorating boggy pitch and a side who had won four of their last six.

But neither seemed to be causing much of an issue as wave after wave of attacks soon bringing a reward after Blackwell’s creator, Kris Newby, had seen his free-kick tipped onto the crossbar.

The former Witham Town man drove inside from the right before picking out the teenager’s run to perfection with a pass delivery with the outside of his right boot. Blackwell took it in his stride before slotting a low shot beyond the on-rushing visiting goalkeeper Adam Seal.

It started a home goal rush, with the 18-year-old having what looked a clear penalty waved away before he was flattened running through, resulting in Sparrow receiving his marching orders and Baker coolly rolling his kick into the bottom left corner with 26 minutes played.

Three minutes later, Clarke punished Seal for failing to hold Robinson’s rasping drive, and Blackwell made it 4-0 on the stroke of half-time when Kerridge spread play after a neat passing move to Blackwell who, after showing great feet on the left of the penalty area to cut inside, fired in low at the near post.

The second half failed to live up to the heights of the first on a now very patchy pitch, but there was a fifth in the 59th minute, of sublime quality.

Berquez cleverly switched the ball back on to his favoured right-foot on the edge of the area, before his curling shot was pushed onto the post by Seal before nestling in the net.

Clarke’s sending-off was a minor low point on a bright day for the club, but saw the visitors force a goal of their own when substitute Billy Johnson pounced on a poor goal kick and crossed from the left for Nash to flick beyond Garnham in the 78th minute.

But Kerridge added the gloss on a day to remember with a fine long-range strike.

“It is nice to know as soon as a manager comes in he is putting in the youth and reserve players in, and now it is just down to us to prove we are good enough, so when the suspensions are up it is hard for him to pick a starting XI without us.”