Thamesmead Town v AFC Sudbury
Following a disappointing start to the campaign the U21s faced their next challenge as they travelled to Thamesmead, the reigning champions. With experience abundant throughout the team, manager Matt Clarke was fairly confident going into the game
that the boys could dig deep and get something out of the match.
The game got underway at a fast tempo with Sudbury slightly edging it in terms of possession. Moments after Ollie Dunlop was denied via an impressive save from the Thamesmead goalkeeper the hosts played a long ball over the top which was met by Curtis Child, unfortunately hitting the Thamesmead striker on the knee leaving him completely isolated allowing him to slot the ball away giving the hosts a one nil lead. The game resumed with Sudbury keeping their heads up and passing the ball in a composed manner. Great combination play amongst the midfield gave Ryan McNicholas the opportunity to have a shot on goal which rebounded off the post. Sudbury appeared to look in complete control, however on the half hour mark Thamesmead were rewarded a controversial penalty which was converted successfully giving Sudbury an achievable but uphill task. The first half came to a conclusion with tension high in both dugouts which resulted in the referee having serious talks with both managers after confusion over a flat ball.
At half time it was clear that Sudbury were capable of getting something from the game. Matt Clarke’s half time team talk was full of approval and encouraged the team to continue playing in the same manner. Moments after the interval, first teamer Sam Bantick got on the end of an Ollie Dunlop shot/cross, this first goal acted as a catalyst over what was to become a Sudbury rampage. It was a matter of when, not if, Sudbury were to get the equaliser and it didn’t take long, again Sam Bantick produced a shot on the edge of the box which went underneath the keeper. By this time the Sudbury bench was buoyant and the momentum was very much with the boys on the pitch.
The hosts had rarely been in the Sudbury half in the second half, illustrating Sudbury’s dominance. The boys in yellow were awarded a free kick in a promising position after an intricate build up that the Thamesmead defence simply couldn’t live with. Sam Bantick stepped up and slotted the ball into the bottom right hand corner to complete his first hat trick. The team continued to work hard and defend from the front in order to protect the valuable lead. In the 75th minute Joe Copping replaced Ryan McNicholas playing out of position in order to help the team across the line, demonstrating the togetherness and will power to bring the three points back to Suffolk. Sudbury continued to control and dominate, the fatigue within the Thamesmead players was evident. Five minutes from time Sam Bantick popped up with another goal, through individual power and ability.
Overall, there was no question over the final result. Sudbury had much more composure and maturity than Thamesmead, giving them a strong platform to go on and exploit their opponents weaknesses. The game ended 2-4.
Reported by Joe Copping