Wasteful AFC made to pay in derby
DIVISION ONE NORTH
AFC Sudbury 0
Mildenhall Town 2
The statistics will show that AFC Sudbury dominated the majority of Monday’s derby with Mildenhall Town.
Jamie Godbold’s men had more efforts on target, forced more corners and enjoyed long periods in possession of the ball.
But, as was the case during Saturday’s 2-0 defeat on the road at Dereham Town, the one match fact that truly matters — the scoreline — was not in AFC’s favour.
The hosts got behind a stubborn visiting defence on a handful of occasions — particularly during the first half — but a combination of good goalkeeping from Mildenhall’s Sam Roach and wayward finishing means Sudbury’s wait for a first league win of 2017/18 goes on.
Speaking after the final whistle, dejected skipper Sam Clarke, who returned to the starting line-up following a spell out injured, said: “We are very unhappy. Taking no points from the bank holiday weekend is not what we set out to do.
“Among the unhappiness, there is a lot of frustration because we have dominated large parts of the game, but again our quality in the final third has let us down.
“We need to do a lot better. I lost count of the amount of times we got into good positions but did not make their goalkeeper work — it is a bit of a worry.
“We have to keep plugging away and playing the way we do.”
After Shaun Avis and former AFC man Jacob Brown had a couple of early sighters for Mildenhall — neither of which troubled Paul Walker in the home goal — The Yellows found some rhythm.
Tevan Allen was first to go close in the 12th minute with a curling effort, before his cross was headed wide by Mehki McKenzie.
The off-target striker was central to the action again after 26 minutes, hitting the ground inside the penalty area under pressure from Mildenhall’s Joe Asensi.
Appeals went up from the home players, bench and supporters alike, but referee Callum Walchester ruled that McKenzie had gone to ground too easily and dished out a yellow card for simulation.
Sudbury continued to probe as the half progressed with Mills poking an effort straight at Roach and Clarke drilling a crisp shot against the underside of the crossbar.
Up the other end, Mildenhall substitute Dan Brown — thrown in to the action early on by Mildenhall boss and former AFC goalkeeper Dean Greygoose — had two opportunities in quick succession, both of which he dragged wide.
Sudbury’s Mills, meanwhile, was starting to have a big influence on proceedings and two minutes before the interval he had a good chance to break the deadlock.
Jeremiah Kamanzi’s long-range pass was inch-perfect for the wing-back, whose first touch took him inside his marker Jake Kerins.
Mills now had just Roach to beat, but the Mildenhall number one stood tall and produced a smart one-handed save to keep his side level.
Those two resumed their duel seven minutes after the restart, with Roach darting off his line to stop the Sudbury man in his tracks.
Both players required treatment after the collision, with Roach down for nine minutes and requiring stitches on an eye injury at hospital after the game.
But before that, Roach was able to watch on as his team-mates — having weathered the pressure — grew in confidence and took a 61st-minute lead.
Jake Chambers-Shaw crossed from the right for Jacob Brown, who got in front of Kamanzi to steer the ball beyond the reach of a helpless Walker.
Luck continued to evade Mills in the 68th minute — this time his free-kick from 25 yards out grazed the outside of the post on its way wide.
And within 60 seconds, AFC fell two goals behind.
Jacob Brown was involved in the build-up on this occasion, drilling in a low cross for his namesake Dan.
Despite being off balance, the Mildenhall frontman managed to control the ball and get off a shot, which Walker turned against the post, leaving ex-AFC striker Crow to tap the ball in from close range.
Faced with a heftier deficit, Sudbury went more direct for a period, but that only played into the hands of their well-organised visitors.
On the occasions that the home team did manage to make some inroads, Mills volleyed over from a corner and Jack Newman sent a shot from distance whistling over the top.
Not even the introduction of youngster Ollie Peters for his first-team debut could inspire Sudbury, who did finally put the ball in the net in the 12th of 15 added on minutes.
However, to sum up Sudbury’s afternoon, any hopes of a dramatic late salvation job were ended by the assistant referee’s flag — ruling that substitute L’Heruerx Menga had been in an offside position as he went to make contact with Mills’ cross-come-shot.
Godbold’s charges have an immediate chance to exact some revenge on their Suffolk neighbours when the sides meet again in the Emirates FA Cup on Saturday (3pm).
But, they will know that if composure continues to elude them in the final third, it could be another disappointing outing.