Sudbury hit by title blow

LOCAL SOCCER: AFC Sudbury 1 Wroxham 2: The Yachtsmen sailed back to Norfolk with a vital three points stashed away in their sail locker after a pulsating top-of-the-table clash at King's Marsh Stadium.



AFC Sudbury 1 Wroxham 2

THE Yachtsmen sailed back to Norfolk with a vital three points stashed away in their sail locker after a pulsating top-of-the-table clash at King's Marsh Stadium.

Marty Hubble's side kept the championship race alive thanks to goals from strike partners Russell Stock and Steve Johnson after Andrew Claydon's deflection had give Sudbury the lead.

It was a tremendous advert for the league; great skills and passing, plenty of goalmouth action and a keen, competitive edge.

Most Read

Battling Wroxham midfielder Darren Gill was baited by the home crowd for most of the afternoon after some crunching challenges. One, with Sudbury's Wayne Anderson, could have been measured on the Richter scale.

The game ebbed and flowed with Sudbury having the early dominance, until they took the lead on 29 minutes, then Wroxham dominated possession and grabbed a deserved equaliser.

Sudbury were on top for most of the second half but Wroxham nicked all the points with a fine breakaway goal.

After a tentative opening Sudbury began to get forward with Terry Rayner and Paul Betson out wide getting a lot of the ball.

But nothing significant came from their crosses and corners early on.

Visiting keeper Mark Fowler had to clutch a couple of hopeful shots by Gary Bennett and a Betson header from a Rayner cross and was then relieved to see Claydon's shot hit the side netting after he was put through by Betson.

After 18 minutes a Betson cross from the left evaded everyone and was collected by Rayner who whipped it back in but Bennett, stretching, saw his header loop wide.

Gary Johnson, the Wroxham No. 10, had to be spoken to by referee S Tinknell after a clumsy challenge on John Bishop.

There was a big shout for a Sudbury penalty when Gavin Lemmon appeared to handle in the box after 27 minutes. Then Andrew Claydon was put clear by Bishop's ball but was fouled by Hilton. Lee Norfolk's 25-yard free-kick missed everyone.

The home side took the lead after 29 minutes and it was made by a tricky right-wing run and cross by Rayner. Norfolk's header took a deflection to wrong-foot the keeper and Claydon claimed it, his 14th league goal of the season.

Wroxham woke up to their task and began to threaten.

Former Ipswich academy player Justin Fox earlier had their best effort, driving into the side netting.

This time he hit a 35-yard rocket which beat the diving Ben Nower, smashed down from the crossbar and deflected off Nower's back and behind for a corner.

They equalised on 38 minutes. A poor clearance by Gary Thompson went straight to Wroxham, a quick cross in from Lemmon and Johnson's powerful header down was saved by Nower, but Stock was there to run it in to the net.

Wroxham were on top now and Chris Tracey had to block an effort from Johnson, Lewis saw a shot deflected away and Johnson had shot a saved by Nower.

Keith Martin brought on Tony Spearing and David Head for Norfolk and Thompson and re-shuffled his side for the second half.

Sudbury camped in the visitors' half. A through ball from Rayner was just too strong to put Claydon away on goal, Bennett's flick put Rayner in but he was closed down and then Claydon climbed high to win a header but the ball was booted clear.

Fowler had a comfortable save from Bishop's header before producing one of the saves of the season, diving full length to palm away Claydon's shot after a ball from Rayner. The corner was cleared.

A fine move, on 58 minutes, deserved a goal. Chris Tracey powered a header away from Hilton's free-kick, Rayner turned on it and ran at the Wroxham defence before feeding Betson on the left. His cross cut out the defenders and was met by Bennett, but his volley was just too high.

Sudbury had to re-shuffle again after an hour when Claydon limped off, Rayner pushing forward with Chris Howlett coming on.

Ten minutes later Bennett beat the offside trap but somehow Hilton blocked his shot out for a corner.

Wroxham were battling for everything.

Bennett hit another strong 25-yarder over the bar before Wroxham snatched the lead, with just seven minutes to go.

Gill burst forward through the middle and supplied Lewis on the left, his cross to the far post was met by Stock and Johnson was there to see his scuffed shot find the net.

Sudbury were not finished. Bennett supplied a pass inside to Head who forced another great save from Fowler.

Then Bennett made space for himself and hit a powerful shot from 35 yards that Fowler could only parry.

Sudbury: Nower, Thompson (Spearing), Bishop, Tracey, Norfolk (Head), Anderson, Rayner, Gardiner, Bennett, Claydon (Howlett), Betson.

Wroxham: Fowler, Pauling, Howes, Carus, Hilton, Lemmon (Horton), Gill, Fox, Stock (Thompson), Johnson, Lewis.

Attendance: 354.

WROXHAM manager Marty Hubble, a youth team player under Robson and Ferguson at Ipswich Town, was relieved to get three points.

"This is normally the way it goes at our place, they usually catch us.

"Football is still a passing game and neither of us did enough of that today really.

I think a draw would have been a fair result today so I am very pleased to get all three points. We didn't want half-time to come because we were dominating it.

"He (Keith Martin) changed it around at half-time and they were on top again.

"We did well defensively and up front Stock and Johnson were always a handful, strong and determined.

"Many teams come here and allow them to dominate. Our players didn't do that, they competed toe to toe with them.

"And our keeper made two fantastic saves to keep it 2-1. We think he is the best in the league.

"He is a good keeper but troubled by injuries.

"I think it was a good result for us, and the league. If we had lost three points it could virtually have been over with their two games in hand.

"Now we have a chance to keep it going and we will right till the end.

"We play Sudbury at home right at the end of the season.

"Gilly (Darren Gill) played the part of the panto villain today and got the crowd going.

"Now we have to keep it going on Tuesday against Newmarket Town. This win would be wasted if we relax and slip up against them."

The team were heading back to Norfolk for a Elvis night in the club, followed by karaoke. "I'll probably have to sing It's Now or Never," Hubble joked.

AFC Sudbury manager Keith Martin was left to rue missed chances and he thought the referee had ducked some crucial decisions like a "definite penalty" against Lemmon in the first half.

"It sounds like sour grapes but I thought he missed two or three blatant handballs, he made some poor decisions and didn't do us any favours.

"The system we had in the first half didn't work and defensive mistakes led to their equaliser. Gary Thompson had done well and then gave the ball away.

"And though we battled well we didn't get enough out of Andrew Claydon and he had to go off injured.

"Gary Bennett was outstanding, the best player on the park, and he deserved a goal. But he needed more support.

"I thought we were better in the second half and didn't really deserve to lose.

"We never took our chances and we over-played a little bit at times.

"Their keeper kept them in it at the end when we had two or three very good chances."

Mildenhall Town 2 Bury Town 1

MILDENHALL overcame injuries and some questionable decisions to win the derby against Bury Town 2-1.

A bad foul by the visitors' Ince on Mitchell King that put him out of the game went unpunished by the referee, who then awarded the home side a dubious penalty from which Pope scored. Then Dean Blackman's sliced clearance, which keeper Banthorpe caught, was adjudged to be a back pass. Ince scored the resulting free-kick from almost on the goal line.

The second period was disjointed but the home side always looked the more likely to score. This they did with three minutes to go when Eden unleashed a fierce 20-yard shot that flew in off a post to seal the victory and the much-needed three points.

Fakenham Town 2 Ipswich Wanderers 2

A STERLING second-half display earned Wanderers a point from their visit to high-flying Fakenham.

Wanderers started slowly and survived a barrage of Fakenham pressure but eventually conceded on 32 minutes when Delicata raced through and though Stannard parried his effort Kevin White followed up to score.

Wanderers gradually worked their way into the game and just before the interval Daniel Smy failed to convert from close range.

Wanderers levelled on 58 minutes after a spell of intense pressure. Smith got to the byline and crossed to Smy, who set up defender Donald George to strike the ball past Lewis.

Boosted by this equaliser, Wanderers missed several chances before taking the lead on 74 minutes when Andrew Coote was brought down in the penalty area by Barker and he stepped up and slotted home the penalty kick.

On 81 minutes Fakenham levelled when a long goal kick from Lewis found Reeve and he lobbed Stannard in the Wanderers' goal.

In the last five minutes both teams were reduced to 10 men with White, of Fakenham, and Coote of Wanderers being the players dismissed.

Stowmarket 1 Lowestoft 2

THE Blues came out on top in this keenly-fought Suffolk derby as the home side paid the price for conceding two sloppy goals. Unchanged Stowmarket fell behind after just eight minutes, King chesting the ball into the Stowmarket net with the hosts' defence and keeper Nunn at sixes and sevens.

McGee shot wide after 15 minutes and it was the 25th minute before an effort from Mayes saw Stowmarket's first attempt at goal.

After Langham had shot wide, the home side levelled in the 44th minute, when Platt smashed home from close range after collecting Jopling's flick-on.

After the restart it took the visitors eight minutes to restore their lead when once again poor defensive work was punished and Head scored.

Stowmarket introduced all three subs but their efforts on Mayne's goal remained few and far between and Stowmarket's last chances saw a free-kick from Ratcliffe sail over the Lowestoft crossbar while substitute Pannell was inches away from getting on the end of a Jopling cross.

Tiptree Utd 2 Dereham Town 0

THIS was a match in which Tiptree dominated possession and should have won by more than just two goals but the Essex side made things difficult for themselves by missing a hatful of chances and in fact nearly letting Dereham salvage a point.

As early as the fifth minute Tiptree made it clear that their intention was to take all three points after the midweek disappointment at Ipswich Wanderers. David Barefield set up Mark Farmer but the experienced striker managed to mis-kick from a few yards out when he should have put his side one up.

It took an own goal just before half time to break the deadlock. Phil Battle found Barefield in a bit of space in the visitors' box and although his flick already looked goalbound Parr could only help it on into his own net.

The Norfolk side showed a bit more resolve in the second half but the fact that they were still in this game was more to do with Tiptree's indiscretions in front of goal.

Christie was sent off for a stamping offence with 20 minutes left but despite their numerical advantage Tiptree still left it until the last minute of normal time before Barefield made sure of the victory sidefooting home from 15 yards.

Wisbech Town 4 Harwich & Parkeston 1

FOLLOWING the midweek debacle against visiting AFC Sudbury Harwich were hoping for a big improvement for the trip to the Fens.

The visitors gave a full debut to Andy Young and added Paul Musgrove and Gary Clarke to the squad, while Allan Merchant had recovered from his midweek injury.

Harwich had trouble containing their hosts from the start and conceded two goals in the first 20 minutes of the match, both scored by Nick Reeson.

Harwich then enjoyed a spell of possession but suffered the blow of losing player/manager Steve McGavin with an injury after 25 minutes.

The resultant reshuffle saw Simon Mann come on at right-back with Craig Chaplin moving up into attack alongside Michael Brothers.

Harwich goalkeeper Nathan Munson was called upon to make several good saves but can consider himself fortunate to have received a yellow card when he handled outside his area.

A free-kick was awarded for the offence from which Reeson secured his hat-trick with a super curling shot. Harwich showed more commitment during the second half but Wisbech added a fourth against the run of play when Jimson beat the Harwich defence to slot home.

Harwich went on to score a consolation near the end. Clarke challenged the Wisbech keeper and the ball broke clear for Musgrove to head home.

Clacton 0 Norwich Utd 0

CLACTON, hit hard by injuries, fought out a 0-0 draw with Norwich United. Clacton had the best of the first half but it was Norwich United who took the honours in the second.

Overall a point each on a dreadful pitch which made playing good football impossible was a fair result.

Neither goalkeeper had much to do but Ian Brown with a 30-yard free- kick made goalkeeper Robert Woodcock save at the second attempt and a Sean Hillyier volley went straight into Woodcock's hands – a yard either side and he must have scored. Ian Williams, who had a fine game, saw his volley just go by the post.

In the second half Norwich looked like breaking the deadlock mainly through Jamie Hundon, from whom Woodcock made a full-length save. Ten minutes later a very good save from Woodcock kept out Cameron Gove's effort and kept Norwich in the match.

Ely City 1 Maldon Town 0

ANYONE watching this game at the Unwin ground could have been forgiven had they believed that the relative league positions of the teams had been reversed. For the inconsistent Maldon side gave an inept and probably their worst performance to date as they surrendered the points to lowly Ely City.

Maldon showed as early in the third minute, what was to come when Gray passed the ball to an opponent who laid the ball off with striker Lippiatt sending his shot well over.

Poor pitch conditions can go some way to make excuses for the Maldon side but it was really the case that they were unable to make the most of their chances. Warwick sent a shot wide with only the keeper to beat. Ely, despite being mainly on the defensive and relying on quick breaks, found the Maldon keeper Neil Stanbridge in great form to palm away a curling shot from Lippiatt.

Midway through the first half Maldon lost their services of their 18- year-old talented central defender Paul Goodacre with what was later to be found to be badly bruised ribs. Despite this Maldon continued to push forward with new signing Ian Thompson hitting the woodwork. The visitors paid the penalty for their failure to take chances when Lippiatt headed in a free-kick right on the break to give Ely the lead right against the run of the play.

MALDON learned at the weekend that their opponents in the fourth round of the Vase on January 18 will be Albany Northern League side Morpeth Town, who overcame Willenhall Town in their third-round tie on Saturday.


Felixstowe & Walton 2 Warboys 1

FELIXSTOWE & Walton's run of 13 games without a victory ended on Saturday as they moved out of the bottom two for the first time in two months.

Their first-half performance brought little cheer to the sparse crowd as they looked devoid of confidence and it wasn't until Warboys took the lead that the Seasiders picked up their game to produce the win.

Holmes put his side ahead in the 34th minute as Andrews failed to clear the ball and lost possession in his own penalty area. Holmes tapped into an empty net as the ball ran loose across the six-yard box.

It was only after going behind that the home sided lifted their game with Felgate and Crump both going close before Andrews made amends for his earlier error by volleying home from close range as the Warboys defence failed to clear Thurkettle's corner right on half time.

Manager Paul Adams must have had some stern words to say during the half-time break as Felixstowe & Walton looked far more confident and Andy Crump deservedly put them in front in the 54th minute with a powerful shot after Fuller headed Barker's deep corner back into the area.

Gavin Moss and Fuller should have made the game safe but squandered gilt-edged chances and Mackney denied substitute Etti with a fine save to end the best move of the game.

Having failed to kill the game off the Seasiders spent a nervous last five minutes as Warboys pushed forward and Head went close to grabbing a late equaliser but saw his shot drift just wide.

Whitton 3 Haverhill Rovers 4

A MINUTE'S silence was held before the game in memory of long-standing supporter Bill Packard.

Whitton took the lead on three minutes when Gayfer headed down Eaton's free-kick and Martin touched the ball past Walton in Rovers' goal. Rovers levelled on nine minutes through O'Hare before Wright put Whitton back in front.

Rovers equalised for a second time when keeper Brighty failed to hold a cross and Jenkins fired home.

After half-time Whitton re-took the lead, Grimwood hitting home the rebound after Callaghan's shot was saved.

But Rovers levelled immediately, Jenkins getting the final touch after a scramble.

And Jenkins was to be Rovers' match-winner in the 82nd minute, racing on to a clearance to score past the keeper's right hand.

Cornard 2 Cambridge City Res 2

CORNARD went ahead after just two minutes when Evason intercepted a back pass and finished in style, but Cambridge came back with some good football and levelled in the 25th minute through Thacker's header.

The visitors took the lead in the second half through Pel, who had been set up by Thacker, before Ford equalised from close range.

Downham 1 Halstead 2

BOTH sides made early raids before Halstead opened the scoring on 15 minutes when Tom English crossed for Morsley to fire home. Two minutes later Hearn increased their lead.

Downham quickly pulled one back when Hawes scored from the penalty spot after being impeded by Sestak.

Halstead were reduced to 10 men in the second half when Guyon was sent off on 55 minutes for two yellow cards.

Somersham 0 Stanway Rovers 6

STANWAY made a dream start, scoring after just 80 seconds when Driver took control of Abrehart's pass and rounded the keeper.

Rovers then lost Lee with a dislocated shoulder and he was replaced by Curtis. Driver had a chance to extend the lead before half-time but shot over from six yards out.

In the second half Stanway took control with five more goals. Driver added a second when he fired home from a Curtis cross and then completed his hat-trick when he headed home another cross from the same player.

Bates added a fourth and then Ingles made it five in the 83rd minute. In injury-time Curtis went from provider to scorer and added the final goal.


Suffolk 0 Northumberland 2

TWO sendings off in the second half reduced Northumberland to nine men and they had to dig deep to overcome Suffolk in an action-packed FA County Youth Cup third round match at Woodbridge.

There was controversy when Northumberland opened the scoring in the 20th minute after a debatable corner had been awarded on the right. The ball came out to MacDonald and his shot was stopped by goalkeeper Jones but was adjudged to have crossed the line.

Suffolk went all out for an equaliser with Snell's shot deflected against a post by goalkeeper Baldwin before Thorogood was just too high with a volley.

At the end Jones made spectacular saves from MacDonald and McAndrew in the close stages of the first half.

Early in the second period visiting captain Blandford received a red card for a second bookable offence and then Law suffered a similar fate 20 minutes from the end.

The remaining play saw the visitors defence taking the honours and in the 85th minute Suffolk were caught on the break.

McAndrew collected the ball in the centre circle and broke clear unchallenged to settle the outcome with a cool finish just inside Jones' left-hand post.