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A. F. C. Sudbury marked new territory with a first outing in the Second Round of the Buildbase F.A. Trophy with National League side Macclesfield Town providing tough opposition. Sudbury were without James Baker (work commitments) but recent signing Danny Crow again took a place on the bench. Erkan Okay, Jack Wilkinson and Jordan Blackwell missed out through injury as a crowd of over 500 assembled at the Wardale Williams Stadium on a bright, cold winter’s afternoon.
A.F.C. Sudbury kicked off the game attacking from left to right as viewed from the Brian Tatum Stand. Sudbury almost fell behind from the outset. Marcus Garnham’s attempted clearance fell kindly for Dudley who passed to Norburn whose shot whizzed past the right hand post.
Tyler French was then on hand to cut out a fine left wing cross into the home area at the expense of a Norburn corner which Perel knocked high over the home crossbar. French was again in the thick of the action as he denied the on-rushing Perel with a finely judged tackle at the expense of another Macclesfield corner which the home side were able to clear.
On fifteen minutes Garnham again cleared with uncharacteristic hesitancy, the ball falling conveniently for Perel whose nudge into the path of Dudley saw the Silk Men’s number twenty-nine screw his shot wide.
Sam Clarke was booked for what appeared to be a fifty-fifty challenge with Dudley on half-way. Browne then threatened to open up the home defence, but a brilliantly executed challenge by Adam Tann kept the door firmly shut. Some clever passing between Sam Bantick and Liam Wales saw the former fire his shot well over the Macclesfield crossbar as the home side looked to play some neat passing football against the visitors.
On twenty-three minutes Macclesfield Town took the lead. A long clearance through the centre of the park by goalkeeper Craig Ross, left A.F.C. Sudbury exposed at the back as Rhys Browne nipped in to clip the ball past Garnham and in via the far post.
Sudbury were defending well, and busily. Craig Parker did well to thump Norburn’s right wing corner clear on the half hour. Two minutes down the line and Macclesfield doubled their lead. This time the centre was exposed again following a long ball with Anthony Dudley finishing well past Garnham in the home goal.
Liam Wales became the second Sudbury player to see yellow when his firm challenge was penalised when it appeared that he had played the ball. Laurie Bell’s foul on Tyler French saw the Macclesfield man into the book to ironic home cheers as the half ended with the visitors in the ascendancy.
Half-Time;- AFC Sudbury 0 Macclesfield Town 2
The home side started the second half with real purpose, passing the ball with pace and trying to test the Macclesfield defence. Craig Parker’s superb ball from mid-field to Tyler French saw his shot easily saved at the near post by Ross. Rob Eagle then did well to release French along the right, but his cross was gathered confidently by Ross.
Norburn fired a long-range effort towards the home goal, but Marcus Garnham was well positioned to save. On sixty-three minutes a wonderful strike from Bell thumped against the crossbar from distance and in the resultant melee Cowan’s shot was superbly blocked by Garnham in the home goal.
Sudbury’s best move of the game so far came on sixty-seven minutes. Rob Eagle’s pinpoint cross was met, simultaneously by Liam Wales and Neill Byrne. Wales was only just shy of heading home, and but for Byrne’s beaver would surely have done so. Both players received lengthy treatment with Byrne cut and concussed and requiring replacement by substitute George Pilkington.
Manager Jamie Godbold rang changes of their own on seventy-one minutes when Sam Clarke made way for Danny Crow, and he sent a tempting ball forward for Wales to chase, but Ross was off his line swiftly to gather. At the other end Garnham blocked a close-range shot by Bell as the home side continued to defend with real courage and organisation.
Dylan Williams was replaced by Wayne Blackman with seven minutes of normal time remaining. It was game over on eighty-four minutes when Jack Sampson received a ball from the left and had ample time and space to pick his spot to hit the ball firmly past the despairing dive of Marcus Garnham.
Peel’s shot was an easy gather for Garnham with two minutes left, but Sudbury finished the game the stronger of the two sides, their fitness levels never dropping despite the hard work and commitment they had shown throughout the game. Liam Wales ( pictured) was released by a superb ball from Craig Parker and finished neatly past Ross to give the home fans something to cheer.
Ross had to be quick to gather a shot from Aidan Austin in injury time as the home side finished with superb confidence and a work-rate which belied the two league gap between the clubs.
A very creditable and hard-working performance in which the players showed the kind of skill and application that, if replicated, should lift them up the league table in the coming weeks.
On Tuesday evening a quick return to the Wardale Williams Stadium as league action sees the visit of Havant and Waterlooville.