AFC Sudbury match report
match report by Simon Grier
Hayden Bird took a risk by resting five of the starters from Ks’ previous game but it paid off when a late Dan Bennett strike ensured that they beat AFC Sudbury 2-1. It’s the first time since the 1998/99 season that Ks have got through at least three rounds in both the FA Cup and the FA Trophy.
If the gamble had not paid off then Ks would have faced a midweek trip to Suffolk for a replay on Sudbury’s 3G pitch. Instead, a clear week now gives Bird the chance for ideal preparation for the club’s biggest game in over 18 years.
In the first 15 minutes it didn’t seem there was much risk at all that Ks wouldn’t win. Bird’s men were rampant, camped in the visiting half and putting goalkeeper Paul Walker under constant pressure.
But a goal steadfastly refused to come. Walker saved a Fabio Saraiva free kick and then got up well to also block Bennett’s powerful rebound, before the defence scrambled it away. He denied Bennett twice more in quick succession; first after a neat move involving Calum Davies and Dan Thompson and then after a low cross from Youssef Bamba. And on the quarter hour mark he made another good save when a Thompson 20-yarder caught a deflection.
But Walker held firm and the chances dried up for Ks as Sudbury managed to settle more into the game. Bennett and Thompson missed the target with the remaining chances of the half, while Sudbury began to look dangerous themselves – Rob Tolfrey had to save from Sean Marks and Ks did well to clear a dramatic goalmouth scramble.
Shortly after the break Ks were made to pay for not scoring while they were on top, Callum Harrison steering home a low cross close range.
But Ks quickly restored parity with a fine move, Thompson neatly flicking the ball round the defence to set Davies up for a fine left-footed finish.
Ks began to control the game more again but struggled to find the winner. Davies twice came close and Bennett fired over after good work from Reece Hall but as the clock ticked down, a replay began to look increasingly likely.
With just two minutes remaining though, Jerry Puemo thundered a header off the bar following a Kenny Beaney corner. Bennett slammed the rebound goalwards and although it appeared to have been cleared off the line, the linesman flagged for a goal and Ks could celebrate their passage into the first round proper.
AFC Sudbury: Paul Walker, Lewis O'Malley, Baris Altintop, Ben Hammett, Adam Bailey-Dennis, Joe Grimwood, Ben Hunter, Billy Holland, Sean Marks, Callum Harrison, Tom Maycock.
Subs: Freddie King (for Joe Grimwood, 90m+2), Liam Bennett (for Ben Hunter, 86m), Tom Dettmar (for Callum Harrison, 78m), Harry Critchley, Reece Harris, Luke Craigie.