Great win as festive period begins
Sudbury hit eight as Dereham fall to bottom of the table
For the majority of the 194 brave souls who came to the MEL Group Stadium on a bitterly cold, windy and wet December afternoon it will be a day to remember as AFC Sudbury hit the back of the net eight times and in doing so left Dereham Town propping up the table in the Bostik North Division. Hero of the afternoon was Reece Harris who scored a hat-trick in just eight minutes early in the second half to make sure there was no chance of any Dereham revival.
AFC showed intent from the start forcing Elliot Pride in the Dereham goal to tip over from Darryl Coakley in the 5th minute before Ben Hunter and Paul Hayes combined with Hunter flashing a shot across the face of the visitors goal. Joe Whight sent a free-kick just over following a foul on Callum Harrison as AFC continued to dominate while young full-back Liam Bennett cut in from the right and got away a shot that Pride gathered.
It was all Sudbury and Harrison had a shot that was straight at Pride on 16 minutes while a shot by Tom Dettmar was blocked by a Dereham defender allowing Pride to gather. AFC were getting ever closer and a delightful run by Bennett set up another attack which saw Hayes hook the ball over the top with Pride just managing to get the the ball ahead of an in-rushing Harris.
Bennett had another run and shot for AFC before on 22 minutes the deadlock was broken. A long clearance by Tyler French was superbly taken down on the outside of his boot by Hayes who sent a chip over Pride, the ball going in via the inside of the post. Sudbury who had totally dominated the opening period continued to create chances with Pride saving from Harris before Hayes saw his snap effort from the edge of the area fly inches wide.
Dereham's first real attack did not happen until the 33rd minute when Daniel Beaumont got in a cross from the right which Paul Walker easily gathered and then the same player had a free-kick for the visitors that went straight at the Sudbury keeper.
Hayes curled home his and Sudbury's second on the 40 minute mark following a pinpoint pass by Dettmar left the AFC frontman to stroke the ball home first time. From the restart Dereham went close when a looping cross from Jamie Forshaw deflected off Billy Holland and bounced kindly for Joe Gatting who flicked his header past Walker but just over the crossbar.
AFC continued to look dangerous on every attack and added a third in the 42nd minute when Harrison played the ball to Hayes who returned the favour setting up Harrison to curl a delightful shot over the outstretched hand of Pride and into the top corner. Sudbury kept surging forward and Harrison picked up the ball on the half-way line for AFC and went on a run that saw him get away a fierce shot that Pride could only block, the ball breaking to Harris who struck his effort against the post although it would have been ruled out for offside.
As the half closed Dereham had a good chance to reduce the arrears when Gatting was sent clear but Walker raced from goal to superbly block with his feet.
Half-Time: AFC Sudbury 3 Dereham Town 0
Dereham looked to start the second half a bit brighter and George Quantrell played in Gatting for the visitors but Walker was quick off his line to smother before Gatting had the opportunity to score.
Sudbury soon regained the upper hand and added a fourth on 53 minutes when Harrison lobbed the ball over the top of the Dereham defence where it was met by the onrushing Harris who sent a first time chip over Pride and into the net. Bennett then played in Hayes who was on a hat-trick but the frontman unselfishly crossed for Harrison whose effort was scrambled clear. Then Hayes had the ball in the net following a cross by Holland but it was ruled out for offside.
Harris scored his second and Sudbury's fifth on 58 minutes when Hunter won back possession inside the Dereham half and threaded a neat ball through to the unmarked frontman who slotted coolly past Pride in the visitors goal. Harris completed his hat-trick on 61 minutes after being played in by Hayes. The frontman gathered the ball and then eluded three Dereham defenders before firing past Pride for the home sides sixth goal.
Both teams then made changes with Joe Grimwood replacing Whight who was returning from injury for AFC and Samuel Tinkler coming on for Forshaw for Dereham. Lewis Johnson fired over for Dereham while Hunter dragged an effort wide for AFC following a twisting run before on 67 minutes Dereham pulled a goal back when Sudbury only half cleared a cross by Thomas McLeish allowing Owen Murphy to play in Gatting whose first time shot flew into the bottom corner. Dereham raced to recover the ball to the half-way line, was the comeback on?
Mekhi McKenzie replaced Hayes for Sudbury with 20 minutes remaining and almost immediately he played in Harris who pulled a fine save from Pride who blocked his effort for a corner. Gatting continued to look the main threat for Dereham as he fired over on 74 minutes before AFC made their final change with Tom Monk, returning after illness replaced hat-trick hero Harris.
Monk soon made his mark crashing home on the half volley following a great cross by Dettmar. Dereham scored a second consolation in the 88th minute when Holland gifted possession to Quantrell and Dereham broke with Beaumont setting up Gatting for his second of the afternoon. Then a minute later Monk lost possession and Dereham broke with Beaumont forcing Walker to dive to his left to push the ball for a corner. Then Beaumont again crossed for Dion Frary who somehow managed to put the ball over from 6 yards when it looked easier to score.
The final goal of the match came in the second minute of stoppage time when Bennett broke down the right before squaring to Harrison who in turn set up McKenzie who beat his man before slotting home.
So a great win for Sudbury in a high tempo performance in their last game before Christmas leaving the side in high spirits in anticipation of the visit of Mildenhall Town to the MEL Group Stadium on Boxing Day with a 1pm kick-off.