penalty success for young squad
OMNI FREIGHT SERVICES
SUFFOLK PREMIER CUP
AFC Sudbury 2
Haverhill Borough 2
(Sudbury won 5-4 on pens)
AFC Sudbury set up a second-round tie against reigning champions Needham Market in the Suffolk Premier Cup, after narrowly beating Haverhill Borough in a penalty shootout on Tuesday.
AFC were fielding one of their youngest ever sides, as part of Mark Morsley’s plan for his players to gain as much experience as quickly as possible — and the game went down to the wire.
Borough held their hosts to a 2-2 draw in the first-round tie, after AFC had to first come back from a one goal deficit.
But the subsequent penalty shootout was flawless for the home team, who did not miss a shot to take it 5-4.
AFC manager Morsley said: “We should have had the game won in the first half, I thought we were really good.
“But I have to give credit to Haverhill, they played a lot better in the second half and really went for it.
“I expected them to perhaps tire as the game went on — we had so much of the possession — but they got stronger in the second half and became quite dangerous.
“We became a bit predictable to be honest, and they worked out our game plan and so were able to disrupt our play.
“And fair play, they did it well, but I was a bit disappointed the players weren’t able to work out what to do on their own.
“Borough’s midfield was packed so if we’d been more direct and not played the ball there, we would have cut them out.
“If it had been a league game, I would have done more to change things, but I was testing the boys a bit — to see how they react, who takes charge and what they do to work it out.
“Sometimes it’s about the performances rather than the result. But of course it’s fantastic to get both.”
The Yellows were up against a side a step below them, in the Thurlow Nunn Premier Division.
But it started with a bit of a whimper for the Bostik North Division side, who found themselves a goal down after just seven minutes.
Tom Boddey attacked from close range, with his powerful strike going in off former Borough ‘keeper Paul Walker, to put the visitors ahead.
But their lead didn’t last long, as substitute Joe Walker equalised just 10 minutes later — and only four minutes after coming on.
It was a dream start for the youngster on his debut, introduced earlier than intended following a suspected broken wrist sustained by team-mate Will Crisell on only his second appearance for The Yellows.
Morsley said it was ‘very unfortunate’ as Crisell had shown a lot of promise in a short space of time.
It was the second blow for the side who had already lost Billy Holland before kick-off, after he tweaked his hamstring in the warm-up.
The plan had been to rest Jamie Eaton-Collins for the club’s FA Trophy tie with the Metropolitan Police on Saturday, but he stepped in to take Holland’s place.
Despite losing two players, AFC looked the more likely to score for the remainder of the first half and dominated possession.
Their second goal arrived shortly before half-time, Alfie Carroll heading the ball in from a Joe Whight corner.
But the young, and inexperienced, side failed to kill the game off and Borough gained more and more of a foothold, culminating in a goalmouth scramble that saw Mat Staines bundle the ball home in the 82nd minute to take the tie to penalties.
Walker turned from villain to hero as he saved Borough’s fifth penalty from Ryan Swallow to leave a nerve-jangling final shot for Eaton-Collins.
The Norwich City Academy product duly converted, to set up a second-round tie at home to Needham Market — new manager Mark Morsley’s former club and the cup’s reigning champions.
Ryan Weaver, Sam Hawley, Staines and Boddey had successfully converted their spot kicks for Borough, with Joe Whight, Tom Dettmar, Ben Hunter and Ollie Peters replying for the Bostik North Division side.
Morsley said the pressure was now off the team in the cup, as their next opponents were a Step 3 side and the reigning champions.
He said: “It’s a great chance for us to gain some experience against a team in a higher league than us.
“There’s no pressure on us and I probably know that team even better than Wilkins so I will know exactly what to tell my players.
“Whatever happens, we’ll definitely face two Step 3 clubs this season and that’s the main thing for me.”
AFC Sudbury: P. Walker, Mills, Colclough, Carroll (MOM), Crisell (J Walker 13’), Whight (c), Dettmar, Eaton-Collins, Watson (Maybanks 59’), Hunter, Peters.
Unused subs: Holland, McKenzie, Collins
n AFC Gold week 25 winners: £100 (169) K Bloomfield, Bridport Ave, Ipswich; £10 ( 228) Mrs L Shewring, Old Court, Long Melford; £10 (255) Ms H Young, East St, Sudbury.