Bad Day But
Mallardo Sent Off
The A.F.C. Sudbury run-in, six games to go, saw Waltham Abbey arrive at the Wardale Williams Stadium looking for points at the wrong end of the table. AFC were without James Baker and skipper Sam Clarke so there were starts for Ross Bailey and Jack Newman.
AFC kicked off the game attacking from left to right as viewed from the Brian Tatum Stand. In the third minute Craig Parker was tripped just outside the Waltham Abbey penalty area. From the resultant free-kick Danny Cunningham sent a skidding shot just wide of the right hand post.
Waltham Abbey replied with Ryan Flack’s clever looped ball being grabbed by Marcus Garnham who was adjudged to have been fouled. Flack then looked to expose Sudbury along the left wing, but Ross Bailey snuffed out the attack with a superbly-timed tackle. Christian Assombalonga was getting some joy along the Sudbury left wing and on eight minutes he worked enough space to fire a low shot at pace which Marcus Garnham was perfectly positioned to gather well.
Sudbury responded with Luke Callander holding the ball up well on half way before releasing Liam Wales who was unfortunate to be adjudged offside from a sweet pass. Assombalonga again found freedom on the left wing, this time Stefan Mallardo was on hand to time an important tackle with neat efficiency.
On ten minutes a fine right wing run by Ben Robinson saw him beat three Abbey defenders and cross towards Craig Parker and Liam Wales. Somehow the visitors’ defence smuggled the ball clear before the Sudbury forwards could apply a significant touch. At the other end Assombalonga again applied the pace along the left wing shadowed by Ross Bailey, he cut inside and forced a fine save from Marcus Garnham at his near post.
On twelve minutes Jack Newman sent a fine corner kick into the Abbey penalty area which evaded everyone when only needing to be touched home. From the partial clearance Danny Cunningham struck a shot over the crossbar. Ryan Flack then found enough space to test Garnham, who once again was equal to the task.
Assombalonga was proving difficult for the home defence and only a superb tackle from Ryan Henshaw stopped another promising Waltham Abbey attack. On twenty-three minutes Ben Robinson charged forward on the counter-attack, finding Luke Calendar whose curling shot was well saved by Aaron Ormand in the visitors’ goal.
Two minutes later and an exchange of passes between Liam Wales and Luke Callander saw the former’s pass just too long and gathered by Ormand. Tom Wood lifted an inventive pass into the path of Christian Assombalonga whose first time effort was again saved by the busy Marcus Garnham. Assombalonga broke free once again and fed Darelle Russell who made no mistake from close range.
Within four minutes it could have been much worse for Sudbury. Waltham Abbey were awarded a penalty for a foul and Assombalonga fired his place kick against the top of the crossbar. With five minutes of the half remaining, Danny Cunningham’s left wing cross was cleared via deflection and Ben Robinson’s fine cross managed to be cleared by the heels of the visitors’ defence as they held on to their lead into half-time.
Half Time;- AFC Sudbury 0 Waltham Abbey 1
Within a minute of resumption AFC had a mountain to climb when the defence missed a cross and Christian Assombalonga had the easiest of finishes.
A hobbling Danny Cunningham was replaced by debut making, seventeen year-old, Tyler French on fifty-one minutes. Luke Callander was fouled on the edge of the visitors penalty area with his free-kick struck low and straight at Aaron Omand. Another Sudbury free-kick on fifty-seven minutes saw Jack Newman deliver a teasing ball, this was half cleared to Jordan Blackwell whose fabulous shot whistled just high and to the left of the Waltham Abbey goal.
Blackwell then worked hard to win a left-wing corner and from Jack Newman’s delivery Jordan Blackwell’s curled shot was superbly tipped around the right hand post by Omand. On sixty-five minutes Jack Newman and Ross Bailey made way for Ollie berquez and George Clarke.
Christian Assombalonga was booked on seventy-three minutes for a foul close to the left touchline. Liam Wales sent a fine corner from the right wing into Craig Parker whose header was saved by Aaron Omand. On seventy-five minutes Ben Robinson won a corner for Sudbury on the right. From Liam Wales’ delivery the ball returned to Robinson whose teasing cross again saw the ball defeat defender and attacker alike. It was proving to be a frustrating game for the home side.
On seventy-seven minutes the mountain became Himalayan. Stefano Mallardo clattered into Ryan Flack close to half way and received a straight red card. Ryan Blackman was booked for Waltham Abbey for his part in the resultant fracas which appeared to be worth more than a yellow card. Femi Adelani forced a superb save from Marcus Garnham as Abbey comfortably held on to their lead. Assombalonga then received a second yellow card for deliberate hand-ball to mark a memorable afternoon for the visitors’ number nine as time ran out for the title chasers.
A bad day at the office for A.F.C. Sudbury as they chase the league title. A quick chance to redeem their fortunes comes with Monday afternoon’s Easter derby game at Ram Meadow against Bury Town.