A.F.C. Sudbury welcomed new signing Jack Wignall to The Kings Marsh Stadium for his debut as Maldon Town came into town for a battle of the play-off hopefuls. Heavy overnight rain had not caused the postponement of the match, but had left a legacy in the shape of a very heavy pitch.
Sudbury kicked off the match and won an early free-kick which Darren Gould snatched from the air from Danny Cunninghams delivery. Maldons response came three minutes later when Everitts well-flighted free-kick from the right evaded everyone in a crowded penalty area and slipped behind for a goal-kick. Maldon had settled early and were pressing Sudbury hard, Jack Wignall robbing Henty at the expense of a corner which Wareham sent across the area and Nathan Munson punched clear. Perry received the loose ball and fired his return effort wide.
James Rowe won Sudburys first corner on 10 minutes with some forceful persistence and a low, fast cross which cannoned off the Maldon defence. Danny Cunninghams corner was cleared comfortably by the visitors defence as the game stuttered on an already cutting-up pitch. On 16 minutes Shave was extremely fortunate to stay on the park following an ugly two-footed lunge at Nicky Smith, referee Jerden content to award a yellow card. Sudbury responded with some fine pressurising of the Maldon back line, Andy Claydon flicking a great pass into the path of Danny Cunningham whose cross was only half cleared. Michael Brothers picked up the loose ball and crossed towards Jamie Rowe whose header on the stretch took a deflection off a Maldon head and won his side a corner.
Both sides were finding it difficult to carve out chances on the tricky pitch which was not conducive to a passing game. In the 28th minute Martins spectacular over-head kick flashed just wide of the post for Maldon and then Absolon was warned by referee Jerden for a foul which looked worthy of more. Danny Cunningham sent a fine ball down the left flank for Andy Claydon to neatly find Neil Calver with a flick, but the Maldon defence was able to deny him a shooting chance.
Perry forced Nathan Munson to back-pedal and save at his far post before sending the partially cleared ball high over the crossbar. On 34 minutes David Head seemed to have been held by the shirt on half-way and as the ball was sent into the Sudbury half, Shane Wardley was booked for a tackle on the right wing in which he seemed to have made contact with the football. Given referee Jerdens predilection for warnings over cards earlier in proceedings, this seemed more than harsh. Harsher was the outcome when Everitts superbly delivered free-kick was headed home by the on-rushing Wareham.
The game retreated back into its shell before the break, but right on the whistle Wareham found himself free just outside the 6 yard area and blasted high over the crossbar with an awful shot which neatly summed up the first 45 minutes of play.
HALF TIME 0-1
On 53 minutes Martin fouled David Head, but received no booking as the Sudbury captain felt the full force. Two minutes further on and Absolon finally saw yellow when referee Jerden reached for the card when the Maldon defender kicked the ball away. On 61 minutes Mark Morsley rang the changes with Andy Claydon being replaced by Tommy Noble who headed Cunninghams corner wide just 4 minutes later.
On 69 minutes Michael Brothers found space on the right edge of the penalty area, but blasted his shot well wide of the post with Noble seemingly better-placed in the centre. The hard-working and never-say-die attitude of Jamie Rowe saw him work enough space to cross from the right to the far post, but Tommy Noble was just unable to reach the ball. Pip Boyland entered the fray on 76 minutes with Danny Cunningham making way, his last football before a 35 day ban taking effect on Monday.
Sudbury were unable to carve out chances on the thank-less surface, but Tommy Noble found space with 5 minutes remaining and produced a fine smothering save from Darren Gould . The last few minutes saw Brett Girling scythed down by Perry with the Maldon forward receiving a yellow card. Neil Calver was similarly booked for a late tackle as Sudbury tried in vain to find a route to goal.
A chance to consolidate a play-off position was lost in the mud of the Kings Marsh in a difficult and frustrating game for the home side. Jamie Rowe and Shane Wardley raised themselves above the frankly below-par performances on a pitch which was never going to suit the Sudbury free-flowing passing game.
It is back to Kings Marsh on Tuesday evening when Wivenhoe Town are the visitors.
|Neil Calver || || |
|Shane Wardley || || |
|Man of Match ||Votes |
|Jack Wignall || |
|Andrew Claydon || |
|Brett Girling || |
|Luke Hammond || |
|Chris Howlett || |
|Gareth Heath || |
|Shane Wardley || |