Lee Norfolk believes several more AFC Sudbury Academy players managed to stake their claim for a place in Saturday’s first-team squad, following Tuesday’s home friendly with divisional rivals Maldon & Tiptree.
Only three Yellows players completed the entire 90 minutes as assistant manager Norfolk and coach Paul Skingley cast their eye over a number of young prospects and fringe players, with manager Mark Morsley involved with the academy induction evening for the new season intake.
AFC lost the fixture 3-1, which came on the back of a 3-0 defeat at Haringey Borough in Saturday’s Bostik League North Division fixture, but the Yellows’ number two was pleased with what he saw.
“It was a useful exercise and gave them (Maldon) a game as they had not had one for two weeks,” he said.
“It was an opportunity to have a look at some of the younger boys who needed games and some of the younger academy boys.
“It was very pleasing as we played some good football and gave a good account of ourselves.
“We had a lot of first years playing and they are a year away probably from getting directly involved, but it gave us a chance to look at them at this level. It was probably just the experience of Maldon that took over in the end.”
Ollie Gravett, on the right of midfield, was one of the young academy players who started the first half alongside a recognisable first-team side, and he was involved in AFC levelling after the visitors had gone ahead from close-range just before the half-hour mark.
A Joe Whight free-kick was flicked on by Gravett and the goalkeeper pushed it onto the post before another youngster, Tom Detmar, finished.
The second half saw an almost new AFC side with only four players remaining, with 16-year old right-sided player Liam Bennett, along with other youngsters: goalkeeper Luca Collins, Adam Hanson, forward Isaac Skubich, Adam Dunnage and Panashe Mundawarara.
“The second half was really pleasing as we probably had about six or seven attempts on goal,” said Norfolk.
Regular first-team players Phil Kelly (calf), Ryan Horne (groin) and Darryl Coakley (calf) were all rested and are described as ‘touch and go’ for the visit of play-off contenders Potters Bar Town (3pm), who are fourth after their injury-time win at home to fellow top six hopefuls Heybridge Swifts on Tuesday.
But Norfolk says the young players have certainly given the management team food-for-thought ahead of their next selection.
“One or two have really put a claim in for a shirt to get an opportunity in the Bostik North and could now find themselves involved on Saturday,” he said.
Reflecting on their league defeat at the weekend at top six side Haringey Borough, Norfolk said: “If I am honest the scoreline does not really reflect the game.
“They had four chances and scored three of them.
“We lacked penetration ourselves and had a lot of possession without really having a final product.”
At Coles Park on the 4G pitch in the shadows of Tottenham Hotspur’s new ground, AFC had got to the break level before goals from Anthony McDonald (61’), Michael O’Donoghue (69’) and Jordan Edwards (90’) condemned them to their first back-to-back defeats of the year.
Ahead of Saturday, Norfolk added: “We will have now played four of the teams in the top six one after the other.
“At Potters Bar we had a good game at theirs and we are looking for a reaction.
“We do not fear anyone at home.”
• AFC Gold week 45 winners: £100 (318) B Holland, AFC Sudbury; £10 (196) Mrs K Middleditch, Brent Eleigh Rd, Lavenham; £10 (276) L Donnelly, Guy Cook Close, Gt Cornard.