Weekend round-up: AFC boss off to winning start/Melford hit five in top three clash
AFC Sudbury’s new manager Jamie Godbold bagged three points at the first attempt after Ryan Henshaw’s 16th-minute opener was enough to eventually settle their home game with 16th-placed Maldon and Tiptree at King’s Marsh on Saturday.
Previous caretaker manager Danny Laws, now the newly-appointed director of football and youth development at the club, picked the team with Godbold taking the warm-up and giving his input in the team talks before the game and at half-time.
A scrappy match was not helped by a rapidly deteriorating pitch, which will be a concern with the Yellows set to welcome Great Wakering Rovers and Ware in the space of four days from Saturday, following Tuesday’s scheduled Robert Dyas Ryman League Cup quarter-final rescheduled tie at Whitton United on Tuesday (7.45pm).
Saturday’s result, played out in front of a crowd of 230 people, was AFC’s third straight victory and consolidates their fifth place play-off spot by a point from nearest challengers Dereham Town (51-50), though Sudbury have played two games more than the Norfolk side.
In the Thurlow Nunn League First Division, with Hadleigh United, who appointed first-team coach Ian Brown as their new manager, not having a game, there were wins for Long Melford and Cornard United.
League leaders Melford took advantage of Saffron Walden Town’s involvement in the FA Vase to open up a three-point gap at the top of the table after an impressive 5-1 victory at third-placed Deebenham LC.
Ex-Ipswich Town midfielder Jamie Griffiths took his tally to 15 goals to make him the joint top scorer in the league, while James Clark, Jack Durey, Danny Swain and Dan Statham weighed in with the other goals at Maitlands.
Cornard moved up two places to fourth-from-bottom (16th) after a 4-2 home win over bottom side Woodbridge Town, who they are now five points above, while ninth-placed Halstead Town lost 2-0 at home to Stowmarket Town.
AFC Sudbury Reserves, who face a Red Insure League Challenge Cup quarter-final at Premier Division Walsham-le-Willows on Wednesday (7.45pm), lost 3-1 at Downham Town to leave Danny Laws’ side 14th.
In the SkyBet Championship Ipswich Town moved back into the top two automatic promotion places after a 3-1 victory at struggling Millwall.
Noel Hunt, who recently completed a permanent free transfer after agreeing to settle up the remainder of his contract at Leeds United, was the Suffolk side’s hero with two goals in the opening 14 minutes.
Magaye Gueye pulled a goal back for the Lions three minutes before the break, but the result was effectively sealed in the 77th minute, when substitute Jonathan Parr latched on to a clever pass from debutant Freddy Sears to roll past David Forde, to the delight of 2,5000 travelling fans.
If leaders Bournemouth were to slip up at Leeds United on Tuesday, Mick McCarthy’s side took take advantage to go top with victory at 19th placed Brighton and Hove Albion on Wednesday (7.45pm), with The Seagulls having only won twice at The AMEX Stadium all season.
Norwich City manager Alex Neil got all three points in his first game in charge at Carrow Road, as the Canaries held on to win 3-2 at home to Cardiff City, having led 3-0 at the break after goals from Gary Hooper, Kyle Lafferty and Cameron Jerome, the latter against his former employers.
John Ruddy had saved a penalty from Peter Whittingham at 2-0, while Cardiff came back into the game in a tense second half, with Alex Revell and Kadeem Harris setting up a nervy last 26 minutes.
In the rugby, Sudbury took advantage of being the only match on by dispatching of hosts Billericay 36-0 to win their 14th straight league match, from 14, and extend their lead at the top to 15 points over Cantabrigian, who now hold one game in hand.
* For match reaction and previews to the week ahead, including our Ipswich Town column, see Thursday’s Suffolk Free Press print edition.