VIDEO: AFC Sudbury boss Mark Morsley on the Boxing Day win over Mildenhall and a big Suffolk derby test at Bostik League play-off rivals Bury Town
AFC Sudbury made it three straight victories for the first time this season after following up their 8-2 home hammering of Dereham Town with a 3-1 victory over fellow strugglers Mildenhall Town at King's Marsh Stadium on Boxing Day.
Wednesday's game saw AFC come from behind with 10 men, following Billy Holland's 16th minute dismissal for apparent foul and abusive language aimed at the referee, with a Paul Hayes hat-trick netting all three points to set up a mouth-watering A134 derby at Bury Town on Tuesday (1pm).
Following the match, Sudbury boss Mark Morsley spoke to sports editor Russell Claydon about the performance from his side, as well as looking ahead to the test at the Denny Bros Stadium on New Year's Day.
Emmanuel Osei fired over an early chance for the visitors - who had former AFC player Ricky Cornish taking charge for the first time following Dean Greygooses' departure - after being gifted possession by a stray pass.
At the other end Sudbury captain Joe Whight fired a rebound from his free-kick not far above Blake Horton’s goalframe.
The red card for Holland suddenly put a new complexion on the game and Hall took advantage with a fine opener.
Andrew Camilo-Tayaca did well, playing the ball to the edge of the box for Abouhadje Kouassi, who was too quick for his marker with his shot and turn, which went in off the far post.
Cornish’s side were hit on the break soon after though as a long diagonal ball from Reece Harris was taken down expertly by Hayes before he lifted it sublimely over the advancing Horton.
After Luke Butcher handled in the box in the 38th minute Horton got down low to his left to push away Callum Harrison’s spot-kick but then undid his good work two minutes later by kicking a backpass straight to Hayes who rolled it past him.
Morsley's side could and should have added another thereafter but took a 2-1 lead into the break.
Hayes produced a fine volley from Liam Bennett’s cross less than four minutes after the restart and from there AFC always looked comfortable winners.
They even spent periods of the last 30 minutes playing keep-ball in their own half, making Mildenhall look like the side playing with a man less.
This almost got punished, however, as a bad pass allowed Mildenhall in, only for substitute Caludio Ofusu to blast over.
Callum Harrison went closest to another goal for the hosts, with his effort late on pushed around the post by Horton on what was a highly pleasing afternoon for the Yellows.
The three points moves them up two places to 7th in the Bostik League North Division table, seven points adrift of the fifth place last play-off spot and one place and one point behind Bury Town with a game in hand.
AFC Sudbury: Walker, Bennett, Coakley, Holland, French, Whight (c), Hunter, Dettmar, Hayes (McKenzie 71'), Harrison, Harris. Unused substitutes: Monk, Grimwood, Maycock, Altintop.
Free Press Man of The Match: Midfielders all had good shouts but cannot look beyond Paul Hayes - who has six goals in his last three games -for his fine finishing which is now the key difference as to why Sudbury are pushing up the table.