Parker’s late penalty sinks strugglers for crucial win
DIVISION ONE NORTH
AFC Sudbury 1
A late penalty by Craig Parker won this game after leaders Sudbury were made to fight hard by bottom club Barkingside.
The win keeps Jamie Godbold’s side 10 points ahead of second-placed Harlow Town, who won their game against promotion-chasers Thurrock.
Godbold brought in Ross Bailey and Joe Maybanks for Jack Newman and George Clarke, who were named among the substitutes. After missing three games through unavailability, striker Luke Callander returned and was also on the bench.
It was a frustrating afternoon in front of goal for Sudbury. They found the Barkingside defence in fine form, and keeper Darren Behcet made several good saves, his first in the third minute when he denied Jordan Blackwell with a diving save at the expense of a corner.
Then James Baker slid the ball wide after Parker had flicked on a cross by Maybanks.
Parker did get the ball into the net, but the effort was ruled out as the referee had awarded a free kick just outside the box when advantage would have been a better option.
Barkingside had their moments, and a good chance fell to George Lataaya but he failed to hit the target with a shot on the turn from eight yards.
The second half followed a similar pattern with Sudbury having the majority of the play, but the Barkingside defence held firm and Behcet kept them in the contest with a point-blank save to deny Parker from a Maybanks cross.
Barkingside enjoyed the occasional counter-attack, but got little change out of a solid home defence, and keeper Marcus Garnham was not seriously tested as he kept another clean sheet.
It began to look as if was not going to be Sudbury’s day, but they were handed a lifeline 12 minutes from time when they were awarded a penalty after a foul on Maybanks, who appeared to be going nowhere.
Parker coolly slotted home the spot kick to clinch victory and complete the league double over the Essex side.
AFC Sudbury: Garnham, Robinson, Wilkinson, Bailey (Callander 66), Henshaw, Mallardo, Blackwell (Wales 71), S Clarke, Baker (Berquez 90), Parker, Maybanks. Subs not used: Newman, G Clarke.
Free Press man of the match: Ryan Henshaw.
n AFC Ladies have been drawn away to Colchester Town in the semi-final of the Eastern Region League Cup. The match will be played at Boxted Road on Sunday, March 6 (1.30pm). The other semi-Final is between Silver End and Stevenage.
n Week 42 winners in the AFC Sudbury Gold fundraiser: £100 Harriet Young, 255, East Street, Sudbury; £10 Andy Reynolds, 329, c/o AFC Sudbury; £10 Phil Gant, 116, Cats Lane, Sudbury.
n AFC Sudbury Academy have won the Thurlow Nunn Youth League South Division with two games to play.