Smash And Grab
Late Winner Takes the Points
This was AFC's second away game in four days and it was their second away win in four days, this time in the leafy lanes of Surrey.
The victory came courtesy of a late goal by substitute Liam Wales coupled with some great goalkeeping from Marcus Garnham means that after a week of Ryman Premier football AFC sit in fourth place in the table with seven points from a possible nine.
AFC Manager Jamie Godbold made his first change of the season, bringing in left sided player Aaron Greene for his full debut, this meant Sam Bantick was on the bench. Stefano Mallardo took over in central defence from Ryan Henshaw who was delayed due to traffic problems and had to take a place on the bench.
On a fresh green lush pitch the home side looked fully of running with some small lively players in their line-up. AFC had a chance early on as from a Rob Eagle cross Sam Clarke headed over and he suffered a blooded nose and had to go off to receive treatment.
The home side countered and a blocked shot came out to Vidal who blasted a shot that Garnham punched over the bar.The AFC keeper several minutes later had to tip over another Vidal shot. The best chance for Merstham came on twenty-six minutes when Hopkinson crossed and found the head of Cox who headed wide of an open goal.
AFC were battling hard and Luke Callander and Greene combined well but there was no end product as the half came to close.
Half time;- Merstham 0 AFC Sudbury 0
A mistake by Mallardo in the centre of defence let in Kavanagh and the home man ran through on goal but the bulky frame of Garnham came out to deny him and the ball was cleared. At the other end Callander took a free-kick and he saw his effort tipped over. Garnham was again the saviour as he made two saves low down from Bennett as the home man fired from close range.
Callander had header saved by Wilson at the other end as AFC were guilty of misplacing their passes. A miss from Jack Newman after a free-kick and an Eagle effort preceded after fifty-eight minutes the game's first and what turned out to be the only off-side decision of the match.
Garnham was again called into action stretching out his right arm to prevent Bennett from scoring and then the AFC number one sprung to save a header at the far post from Cox. The first booking of the game came when Sam Clarke slid in getting the ball with his studs up but with no Merstham player around him, the referee not liking it coupled with the AFC Captain throwing the ball down in disgust at the decision.
Just prior to AFC making their first substitutions Garnham keep his side level making a low down save as the visitors continued to be under pressure. Liam Wales and Sam Bantick took over from Callander and Clarke as the AFC management looked to continue to try and get all three points despite the pressure.
The home side already having made one substitution used their other two putting two fresh strikers on the pitch. Ben Robinson who had a good game making some great surging runs down the right side saw a blistering shot from fully thirty yards saved by Wilson at the expense of a corner.
With nine minutes left the tiring Greene was replaced by Jordan Blackwell who worked well on the left hand side, and there was four minutes of the scheduled ninety left when AFC struck. The ball was played into the Merstham box and with the home side appealing for offside, Liam Wales was on hand to put the ball into the back of the net for his second goal in two games. The home protests were ignored and the goal stood.
It was the visitors who saw the game out well with Eagle having a chance to add to the scoreline but he missed the target. He did however pick up a caution deep in stoppage time as indeed the Suffolk side took all three points to maintain their early season momentum.