AFC Sudbury entertained Haverhill Rovers for their opening fixture of the 2006/07 season and it was also the first match for new manager Mark Morsley.
Mark Morsley has said from the start that they will be trying lots of new things during pre-season, some of which will work and some of which won't. This added to the fact that there are so many new faces means there is a lot of bedding in to do.
AFC were missing Claydon and Rayner who were at a wedding and Munson, Pip Boyland and Abrahams were also unavailable while Hughes was out injured.
Changes were much in evidence against Haverhill, some of which clearly did not work but after a lacklustre opening 45 minutes by AFC they looked much more composed in the second period without ever really looking like taking the lead.
Noble forced a corner for Sudbury after 6 minutes but it was Haverhill who looked the sharper side in the opening 15 minutes with a long ball finding Cogger whose shot was pushed away by Marlow with Wardley tidying up.
Rowe shot for AFC on 12 minutes and three minutes later Noble and Rowe combined although Noble was unable to latch onto the return ball by Rowe.
Bradlaugh, making a large step up from Suffolk & Ipswich League football showed some nice touches but tired noticably on a hot afternoon as the half wore on.
It was Bradlaugh who saw his free-kick deflected for a corner on 23 minutes and from it AFC went close to taking the lead. From Bradlaugh's corner the ball broke to Betson whose cross was met by the competent Pollard who powered his header just the wrong side of the post.
However on 27 minutes Haverhill took the lead following a poor throw out by Marlow to Wardley. The AFC player twice turned into trouble before Heller stole possession to square to Shaw who had the simplest of tap-ins.
The goal spurred Haverhill on and Marc Abbott had a shot blocked by Wardley while Cogger cut inside and got in a shot that was gathered by Marlow at the second attempt.
Haverhill continued to make the chances against an AFC side looking somewhat disorganised in shape and holding no control in midfield with Bradlaugh tiring and Barker appearing well off the pace, and Cogger broke clear again before whistling a shot across the face of goal.
On 39 minutes, a good turn by Bethell saw the ball break to David Head who who sliced a shot over the crossbar while at the other end Shaw shot just wide for Haverhill following a good cross by Wilson.
With the last move of the half AFC equalised. Betson's corner was headed down by Pollard and the impressive Noble turned smartly to hook home.
HT: AFC Sudbury 1 Haverhill Rovers 1
AFC made four changes at the break with Calver, Simon Head, Battell and Simpson coming on at half time to replace Barker, Bethell, Bradlaugh and Marlow and the home side looked much better balanced at the start of the second period.
Rowe stole possession and shot just wide and then Noble had a shot well saved by Whincup as the home side made the running. Then Cogger tried a long range chip over Simpson but the ball dropped wide.
Haverhill brought on Welsh for Challis and Stokes for Shaw but it was Noble who had the next chance for AFC as he broke stiff challenges before his shot was saved by the feet of Whincup with Hunt doing well to clear as Noble followed in.
Changes continued thick and fast with Cowan replacing Betson for AFC and Green, Palmer and Pilcher replacing Marc Abbott, Cogger and Durado for Haverhill. Then AFC brought on Howlett and Goulbourn for Pollard and Rowe followed by Bradlaugh and Bethell returning for David Head and Noble.
Cowan looked lively for AFC and on 77 minutes he cut in from the right before firing just wide while on 81 minutes, Bethell, now playing up front in probably his best position, fired over. Soon after Cowan got in a fierce shot but it was straight at Whincup.
Walton replaced Whincup for Haverhill and soon after he watched as Bradlaugh fired over.
This was a learning curve for Mark Morsley who clearly was trying numerous combinations during this match. Unfortunately, some of the players failed to keep up which left numerous holes that were exploited by Haverhill in the opening half.
Debutants James Rowe had a quiet but positive opening and Tommy Bradlaugh showed some nice touches although appeared some way behind on fitness. Kevin Barker, who suffered a serious injury last season, never looked in the match and was withdrawn at half-time. Simon Head failed to shine in the second period although he did not receive a great deal of service while Chris Howlett looked as solid as ever at the back.
Many of the AFC players remaining from the previous season also had quiet games on what was a hot afternoon although Noble looked hungry and Pollard looked solid and hopefully back to full fitness. Cowan also looked lively as he came into the first team having spent most of last season with the Reserves.
|Man of Match ||Votes |
|Chris Cowan || |
|Barry Simpson || |
|Neil Calver || |
|Tommy Noble || |