New signing on target, but late goal denies AFC win
DIVISION ONE NORTH
Brightlingsea Regent 1
AFC Sudbury 1
New signing Sam Bantick gave AFC Sudbury a first-half lead, but they had to settle for a point, Brightlingsea grabbing a late equaliser.
Having been beaten by Brightlingsea in their three previous meetings since they joined the league it looked as AFC Sudbury were on their way to their first victory against the Essex side on Tuesday.
But in the end they had to settle for their first draw of the season.
Brightlingsea equalised three minutes from time after Sudbury had been reduced to ten men following Jordan Blackwell receiving a straight red card.
Sudbury boss Jamie Godbold made three changes to the side that started in Saturday’s defeat.
In came defender Jack Newman and midfielders Craig Parker, and recent signing Bantick, who marked his starting debut with a fine goal.
The North Road pitch had passed an earlier inspection following heavy rain throughout the day.
After defences dominated the early play Sudbury broke the deadlock after 11 minutes when Luke Callander combined with Bantick who scored with a fine strike from outside the box.
That proved to be the only goal of a competitive first half which Sudbury shaded with both Callander and Bantick going close on several occasions.
But they were denied by some fine defending and neither keeper was seriously tested, although Ollie Bowles in the Sudbury goal did well to keep out a close-range header from Jake Turner just before the break.
The second half followed a similar pattern with defences having the upper hand.
Sudbury were forced into a double change after 65 minutes when Bantick and skipper Sam Clarke limped off.
And their cause was not helped when they were reduced to ten men with 20 minutes remaining after Blackwell received his marching orders for dangerous play following a challenge.
From then it was a backs to the wall job for Sudbury as the hosts strived to get back on terms.
And they did just that with three minutes remaining when a free kick found the unmarked Ricky Griggs who cut in from the right and scored with a rocket of a shot from 25 yards.
The hosts piled on the pressure but Sudbury held on to collect their first ever Ryman League point from the Essex side.
AFC Sudbury: Bowles, Robinson, Newman (Martin 80), Bantick (Berquez 65), Henshaw, Baker, Wales, Clarke (Canfer 65), Callander, Parker, Blackwell. Unused subs: Bailey & Mallardo.
Free Press man of the Match: James Baker – a rock in the Sudbury defence.
Cards: Yellow: Clarke (tackle), Berquez (tackle), Callander (dissent). Red: Blackwell (dangerous play).