Third Qualifying Round Reached
By Tony Simpson
Four Goal Margin
A.F.C.Sudbury welcomed Romford to the Wardale Williams Stadium on a wet afternoon for a Second Qualifying Round tie in the Buildbase F.A. Trophy. Sam Clarke sat this one out whilst serving a suspension with James Baker taking the Captain’s armband.
A minute’s silence was observed before kick-off in honour of all those who have made the ultimate sacrifice.
Sudbury kicked off the game attacking left to right as seen from the Brian Tatum Stand. The fist real opening occurred in the eighth minute when Jamie Dick’s free-kick for Romford bounced awkwardly ahead of Marcus Garnham who fell to his right to save with characteristic skill. James Baker’s superb stopping tackle on McKenzie allowed A.F.C. Sudbury to break and Sam Bantick’s shot was pushed away by Callum Chafer in the Romford goal for a left wing corner. The set-piece came to little, but in the eleventh minute Rob Eagle’s fine cross was headed just over the crossbar by Luke Callander, making a welcome return for Sudbury this afternoon. A minute later and Dylan Williams’ superb run along the right saw him cut into the penalty area and send a cross low and dangerously through the heart of the Romford defence.
On fourteen minutes A.F.C. Sudbury took the lead. Luke Callander latched onto a poor clearance and stabbed a precision pass into Sam Bantick who made no mistake from twelve yards.
Sudbury won a seventeenth minute corner thanks to Jack Wilkinson’s fine cross from which Rob Eagle’s shot was deflected wide off the Romford defence. Eagle’s corner kick was met by the head of Craig Parker, but the well-positioned Chafer dealt with the danger with ease. Rob Eagle’s influence on proceedings continued and in the twentieth minute he sent a swerving shot just over Chafer’s crossbar.
A rare Romford sortie forward saw Ayodeji Olukoga fire a shot on goal deflected off Adam Tann for a corner from the right wing. Jack Wilkinson rose well to head clear as the home defence again proved too stubborn for the visitors to breach. Wilkinson found Rob Eagle on thirty-two minutes whose shot was blocked as the visitors continued to work hard to repel the home front runners.
On thirty-seven minutes A.F.C. Sudbury should have doubled their lead. A scramble in the home penalty area saw shots from Luke Callander, James Baker and Craig Parker answered with desperate blocks which somehow repelled the hungry Sudbury attack.
Chinedu McKenzie sent a fine hanging cross into the A.F.C. Sudbury penalty area which Marcus Garnham rose brilliantly to gather. McKenzie then had a chance to level from close range, but Garnham stuck out a right hand with great nonchalance to save and gathered the loose ball. McKenzie’s trio of chances came when, in the final minute of the half, he got clear through only to hit the ball wide of the left hand post.
Half-Time;- AFC Sudbury 1 Romford 0
The threat and pace Chinedu McKenzie almost paid dividends for the visitors as he broke clear on fifty-one minutes. Marcus Garnham swooped down low to block brilliantly and keep the home side ahead. Within a minute Sudbury had replied when Rob Eagle’s cross was met by the head of Luke Callander and brilliantly saved by Callum Chafer.
Ryan Henshaw snuffed out another Romford attack and Sudbury’s break saw Sam Bantick tee up Luke Callander whose chip was tipped over the crossbar by the impressive Chafer. Tyler French sent a fine cross at pace through the Romford penalty area which was punched clear by Chafer. Despite an energetic start to the half from Romford,
Sudbury were finding their feet and starting to rule possession. They made this dominance count just shy of the hour. Luke Callander drilled a cross through the Romford penalty area and Craig Parker arrived to thump the ball home.
Sudbury replaced Sam Bantick with Jordan Blackwell immediately after the goal. Now it was all Sudbury. Three minutes later and Luke Callander had a free-kick parried by Chafer. Tyler French then raced along the right wing, exchanging passes with Blackwell. The substitute found Callander whose cross reached Eagle and his shot was deflected for a right wing corner. Rob Eagle delivered and Adam Tann headed narrowly over Chafer’s crossbar. Tyler French sent a fine right wing cross over to Rob Eagle and Chafer once again saved with great brilliance.
On seventy-nine minutes Aidan Austin replaced the impressive Dylan Williams for the home side. Rob Eagle was again denied by Callum Chafer with five minutes left and the Sudbury number eleven must have wondered what he would have to do to find his name on the scoresheet!
Within a minute it was three for the home side, Craig Parker notching his brace when Jordan Blackwell’s stunning movement and run saw him send over a killer cross from which the Sudbury marksman made no mistake, passing the ball beyond the reach of Chafer.
The gods finally relented for Rob Eagle whose brilliance deserved the goal he was finally to get. He picked up possession on the edge of the penalty area, turned and sent a sweet swerving shot into the bottom corner of the net. Liam Wales broke free through the centre just before added time, but his shot went left of the far post after he had beat Callum Chafer to the ball.
5-0 would have been a little harsh on a Romford side whose effort was excellent and, but for a little luck in front of goal, they may have had a bigger bearing on the outcome. Sudbury however, were excellent. The defence was brilliantly organised and their football on the break always dangerous. Jordan Blackwell’s cameo at the end had the Romford defence at sixes and sevens as he turned them inside out.
Monday sees the draw for the next stage of the Buildbase F A Trophy and Tuesday evening the side travel to Needham Market for a quarter-final tie in the Suffolk Premier Cup.