Signings help to lift the gloom at AFC
Jamie Godbold feels his latest two signings — particularly ex-Crystal Palace Under-23s player Kieran Monlouis — can take AFC Sudbury to ‘the next level’.
Yellows’ fans will have woken up yesterday morning full of renewed optimism about their club’s plight after Monlouis — who bossed the midfield against Worthing — and Bury Town’s prize asset Tevan Allen, helped to claim a vitally precious three points from Tuesday’s home game.
The 1-0 win built on a battling point at home to Kingstonian just three days previously, served to widen the gap from the four relegation places in the Ryman League Premier Division standings to five points from just one.
And suddenly the gloom that had, metaphorically-speaking, engulfed The Wardale Williams Stadium has, like this week’s weather, been replaced by the first rays of sunlight in some time.
“It was kind of getting a little bit squeaky bum time,” admitted a relieved Godbold after the final whistle.
“It has been a challenging couple of weeks and we have come out of the last two games with four points and they were very much needed.”
Two new faces coming into the dressing room on Tuesday seemed to come at just the right time with Craig Parker, Erkan Okay, Jordan Blackwell and Jack Wilkinson all watching on, nursing injuries, while Sam Bantick was suspended.
“Over the last two or three weeks we have been missing key players through injuries and suspensions and we have been down to bare bones, so it was important we tried to add to the squad, and it was a good time to add to the squad,” explained Godbold.
Of 20-year-old former Stoke City and Charlton Athletic midfielder Monlouis, who was most recently with AFC’s divisional rivals Maldon & Tiptree, who train in Colchester United’s set-up full-time, he said: “Kieran Monlouis we tried to sign in the summer but he wanted to stay loyal to Maldon and he has been at Barnet (on trial) for the last month.
“People will have seen tonight he has good legs and he is mobile and composed. He is comfortable in possession of the ball. He is the kind of player that will make us better and will take us from a mid-table team, potentially, to hopefully the next level. I thought he had a really good debut tonight and got us ticking.”
Of his other 20-year-old, who they were also able to get without a fee, with historic rivals Bury not having had him on a contract, he said: “I think all the local people will know about Tevan and what he has done for Bury.
“He is only 20 years old but has already played over 100 games and he has been really consistent with the number of changes that have happened over at Bury.
“Even tonight, his energy and enthusiasm coming off the bench was infectious, and he is a great lad to have for the dressing room as well.”
With teenage star Tyler French — who joined AFC’s academy from a long spell in Hadleigh United’s youth teams with current AFC youth coach Gavin Peters — set to go back to Crystal Palace again next week as part of his trial, does Godbold see Allen as his ready-made replacement?
“Yes, I think initially he has been brought in to come and play in our squad and we have options now. We can move Tyler inside at centre-half and play him at right-back.
“What we have got now is a squad that is competing for places and I think that is important.
“It is not something we have really had over the last two or three years with the injuries we have had.
“I think he will come in and be infectious and it was important to bring some new characters into the dressing room with the period we are having, and it has had a positive effect tonight.”
On Bury Town chairman Russell Ward’s comments about Allen going to AFC to chase ‘silly money’, he said: “That is disappointing. I am not sure anyone would discuss what they are on with Russell.
“He is not on a lot. Look, he wants to improve. He has played 100-plus games there and he wants to challenge himself here.
“It is disappointing that Russell would come out and say that to the press but I can’t say I am surprised either way.”
Aside from the signings and the change in their league fortunes, the week was also significant for the club being charged with misconduct by the Football Association for their alleged part in the melee which saw their game at Hendon abandoned last month.
AFC had got wind of an FA announcement on it ahead of Saturday’s game, which never materialised until Monday.
But while AFC were hoping it would exonerate them from blame and hand them back the three points they were only a matter of minutes from claiming, having been 2-1 up in stoppage-time, it was clearly a shock to all who had been with the club that day to see both AFC and Hendon charged with allegations of misconduct.
Godbold confirmed AFC would be appealing and felt confident of winning it.
“We have had a discussion in-house with the chairman and we have got a reputation to uphold, and we don’t want our name being associated with abandonments.”
AFC, still 18th, now head into back-to-back away games starting on Saturday when they visit 13th placed Staines Town before Wednesday evening sees them attempt to play their twice postponed crucial game at Jimmy Bullard’s second-from-bottom Hendon (7.45pm).
“Every game at the moment is a really big game,” said the AFC boss.
“We can’t look too far ahead and we still keep waiting for those three points from Hendon to be awarded and all of a sudden you get them and you are in a very different position.
“It is frustrating we haven’t been awarded them yet as it is not just the three points, it is the morale, the confidence that it gives you.”