Tough battling draw on day of remembrance
By Darren Theobald
AFC Sudbury gain another point as Basildon Utd visit.
A.F.C. Sudbury welcomed Basildon United from across the Border and included Liam Bennett in the starting eleven for his first team debut. Before the game started the Sudbury Branch of the Royal British Legion marked Remembrance weekend with pipes and drums and a minute’s silence for the fallen. The match day programme featured a poignant and superbly researched article on the Sudbury footballers who lost their lives in the First World War, on this the 100th anniversary of the armistice.
A.F.C. Sudbury kicked off the game attacking from left to right as viewed from the Brian Tatum Stand. Paul Walker was in action early to grab the ball as the pace of Brian Moses, Basildon’s tall number nine, briefly threatened. Sudbury’s first opportunity came in the second minute when good work by Callum Harrison allowed Phil Kelly to shoot at goal, but his effort flew over the crossbar. On six minutes Mekhi McKenzie beat Basildon ‘keeper Johnson Lamar to the ball on the left hand edge of the penalty area, but the ball rolled out for a goal-kick. Two minutes on and Kelly swept the ball into Billy Holland whose fierce drive was straight at Johnson Lamar. Within ninety seconds Holland again fired towards goal, this time his shot fizzed over the Basildon crossbar. At the other end, the tricky Moses screwed a shot wide of the left hand post when well placed. As the game swung from end to end, next it was Phil Kelly cutting in from the left to place a low shot just wide of the far post.
After an intercepted pass out of the home defence, Liam Bennett halted Basildon progress with a fine stopping tackle on half way as he settled in to first team life with aplomb. A twentieth minute corner from Darryl Coakley fell to Billy Holland whose shot was blocked and ultimately cleared upfield. On twenty-three minutes Basildon almost took the lead when Fahad Nyanja broke free only to be denied by a superb block by Paul Walker rushing out of the home goal. On twenty-six minutes Sudbury had their chance to wrestle the lead when Darryl Coakley’s cross was nudged on by Callum Harrison and Mekhi McKenzie’s shot was headed clear to Ben Hunter whose shot went wide. On twenty-nine minutes Jeffrey Cobblah’s well-delivered corner fell for Ashley Pibworth just yards from goal, but Paul Walker rose to tip the ball over the crossbar with another fabulous save.
From the resultant corner, played short, Andre Spence sent a shot towards goal which thumped the home crossbar. Robert Hodgson then underlined the visitor’s grip on possession, when he headed a cross wide of the home goal. Callum Harrison and Phil Kelly were shown yellow cards in quick succession, before Moses again threatened the home goal, but Joe Whight was on hand with a fine block. On forty minutes Moses glanced a header wide of the home goal, and in injury time Moses again threatened after picking up a loose ball, but again good work at the back by Sudbury saw his shot blocked.
A sluggish start to the second half with Sudbury a little more controlled in possession, saw the first real chance fall to the home side after fifty-five minutes. Mckenzie flicked on Coakley’s cross, and Phil Kelly hit his shot wide of the goal. Basildon almost took the lead on fifty-eight minutes as Moses looked to square the ball for Ryan Reed to slide the ball home, but again Paul Walker swooped to extinguish any idea of a goal. Perhaps the best chance for the visitors arrived on sixty-three minutes when Conor Mead’s searching ball was controlled by Moses, whose shot left the King’s Marsh Stadium by the aerial route when the Basildon striker should surely have scored. On sixty-four minutes the industrious and hard-working Liam Bennett crossed from the right and the ball was reached by Basildon ‘keeper Johnson Lamar just ahead of the on-rushing Phil Kelly.
Substitute Reece Harris shot without venom on sixty-five minutes and his shot went wide. On seventy-two minutes Ben Hunter found Phil Kelly on the left and his cross reached the Basildon ‘keeper Johnson Lamar just ahead of the forward run of Tyler French. On seventy-seven minutes Grant Webb shot straight at Paul Walker as the rain began to lash down on the King’s Marsh. Tom Dettmar came on for the last ten minutes, replacing Liam Bennett whose performance had been outstanding all afternoon and was greeted with a warm round of applause from the home fans. Sudbury had the ball in the net in the third of four added minutes, but Mekhi McKenzie’s finish from a Phil Kelly pass was ruled offside.