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Title-winning striker transfer coup for AFC

NEW ADDITION: Phil Kelly has arrived from Brightlingsea Regent. Picture: Colchester Gazette
NEW ADDITION: Phil Kelly has arrived from Brightlingsea Regent. Picture: Colchester Gazette

AFC Sudbury manager Mark Morsley has staged a spectacular coup with the signing of experienced striker Phil Kelly from Brightlingsea Regent.

Kelly, described by Morsley as a ‘proven winner’, will be in the squad for Saturday’s Bostik League North Division visit to Grays Athletic (3pm). Morsley persuaded him to move to AFC despite interest being shown by other clubs.

Kelly, who spent eight seasons at Brightlingsea Regent, was part of the team that comfortably won the Ryman League Division One North last season by a margin of 12 points.

He made 271 appearances and scored 103 goals during his time with Brightlingsea, having joined the then Border League club after spells at Cornard United and Hadleigh United.

“He is clearly a loyal player,” said Morsley. “He was looking for a new challenge, and can finish his career by giving something to us.”

Kelly, 29, lives at Great Horksley, and has proved remarkably consistent, scoring 18 goals in each of the past three seasons in AFC’s current division.

“He is a local lad, who has won leagues and cups,” said Morsley. “He ticks a number of boxes. He is someone who has got over the line, and can inspire others. An experienced player coming in will be good for the younger players.”

Kelly may also give a welcome boost to AFC’s ‘goals for’ column in the league table. AFC have scored 37 in 28 games, with only Hertford Town in the 14 clubs above them having scored fewer.

Kelly has been something of a cult hero at Brightlingsea, and can play anywhere across the front line.

Brightlingsea Regent manager, Tom Rothery, who worked with Morsley at Needham Market, said: “It’s disappointing to see Phil leave, but after we received seven day approaches for him we allowed Philbo to speak with the clubs.

“It’s a shame, but it’s probably a natural and good time for Phil to seek a new challenge.

“While disappointed, I’m also hoping this proves to be a good move for him personally and one that revives his love for the game.

“I’m sure he will be an asset to his next club”.

Kelly’s signing follows the impending departure of striker Reece Dobson. AFC are in process of cancelling Dobson’s contract following his dismissal for dissent in the 1-1 draw at Aveley on December 30.

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