Sudbury through to Vase semi

FA VASE SOCCER: Lewes 1 AFC Sudbury 2. AFC Sudbury's trip to Sussex by the sea proved a successful away day for the Suffolk team. Keith Martin's lads produced a tremendous battling performance at The Dripping Pan and they returned home with their ticket to a two-legged semi-final of the FA Carlsberg Vase.

Lewes 1 AFC Sudbury 2

AFC Sudbury's trip to Sussex by the sea proved a successful away day for the Suffolk team.

Keith Martin's lads produced a tremendous battling performance at The Dripping Pan and they returned home with their ticket to a two-legged semi-final of the FA Carlsberg Vase.

The big question is can AFC Sudbury go all the way to the final and emulate the efforts of one part of their new club, Sudbury Town?

On a heavy pitch with more sand on it than Brighton beach, Sudbury cruised into a 2-0 lead but had a late scare when a penalty in time added on clawed the Rooks back to 2-1 and they tried to swoop for an equaliser.

Sudbury started brightly and went close in the first minute; Gary Bennett's shot was deflected for a corner by a defender, then when the corner came in and the keeper flapped it out Chris Howlett's shot was blocked by a Lewes player and cleared.

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Keith Martin, anticipating an aerial bombardment, had gone for three centre backs in John Bishop, Chris Tracey and Chris Howlett, and it proved to be a wise choice.

The home team's main threat was speedy forward Sam Francis who won a succession of corners from tackles on him.

Sam Banya and Bennett were proving a handful for the home defence with their movement on the difficult surface, but too often their flicks and lay-backs didn't quite work. The problem for Sudbury was knowing when to hit the ball with the right weight.

In some places the ball died as soon as it hit the ground, in others it skipped on or bounced awkwardly.

It was a day for heading long and hoofing the ball out of defence rather than taking two or three touches to control.

In the 15th minute Sudbury took the lead, Gardiner sweeping the ball out of defence to find Banya. He swapped passes with Terry Rayner before crossing for Paul Betson to run the ball into the net.

After half-an-hour Devereux's cross fell to Banya in the penalty box, who was pushed over, but the free kick was awarded to the home team.

Bennett was beginning to find more space. He sent a eight-yard header straight at keeper Standen and soon after was flagged narrowly offside when he found space on the left.

Then a defender had to head past his own post to prevent Bennett getting on the end of another cross from Rayner.

There were a few late challenges that could not be blamed on the surface and Mark McCallum was booked for a foul on Bennett.

Sudbury finished the half on top but Lewes had early pressure in the second.

Bennett went down heavily on half way when Liam Barham made contact after he had flicked a pass forward.

Six minutes into the half Rayner went down under a late challenge and had to be carried off, Lee Norfolk replacing him. Then Banya needed treatment for a clash of heads after he had leapt to head on.

And there were more fresh legs for Sudbury on the strength-sapping surface when Lee Owen came on for Devereux.

Norfolk almost scored with a trademark free kick after 58 minutes. A pass forward had been handled just outside the Lewes penalty box. And Norfolk cracked the kick in to dip just onto the roof of the net.

There was a hint of nastiness creeping into the game and it was no surprise when Lewes' Barham was sent off when he elbowed Norfolk. Referee Peter Melin was well-placed and had no hesitation.

Betson went into the book when he collected a cross that rebounded to him but was penalised for "foot up" against a defender and then reacted angrily and pushed him away.

Bennett forced another fine save from Standen after a great passing move gave him a clear sight of goal 14 yards out, and then saw another effort blocked after the corner that followed.

The second goal came thanks to the never-say-die attitude of Aaron Gardiner.

It looked like the ball was going out for a throw to Lewes but he chased and collected it and chipped a ball forward towards Banya.

Thomsett attempted to cut it out but his header only flicked it on perfectly for Banya to chase.

Although Standen raced out to push him wide to the right, and defenders were tracking back, Banya kept his composure and then laid the ball into the path of Bennett to smash it home.

Ninety minutes was already up when Lewes got a potential lifeline. The ball was loose from a Lewes corner and Banya chased it out to the far left corner of the penalty box to try and hoof it clear.

But Marc Cable went down under his challenge and Lee Newman scored from the spot.

Lewes threw everyone forward in the final minutes but made no clear chances.


Lewes: Standen, Barham, Head, C Johnson, McCallum, Cable, Dicker, A Johnson, Francis, Thomsett and Newman. Subs used: Beeston and Rice.

AFC Sudbury: Nower, Rayner, Bishop, Tracey, Howlett, R Devereux, Cheetham, Gardiner, Bennett, Banya and Betson. Subs used: Norfolk, Owen and Hyde.

Attendance: 1,520

Referee: P Melin, Frimley.

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