AFC Sudbury fall to first defeat of season, against Tonbridge Angels

AFC Sudbury entertain Tonbridge Angels at the Wardale Williams Stadium on Saturday.
Rob Eagle

AFC Sudbury entertain Tonbridge Angels at the Wardale Williams Stadium on Saturday. Rob Eagle - Credit: Archant

Tonbridge Angels inflicted the first defeat on AFC Sudbury to join Leiston as joint leaders of the Ryman League Premier Division by virtue of a solitary first-half goal.

This was always going to be a tough assignment for the home side against the much fancied Angels who have only conceded two goals thus far and who are expected to be vying for top spot in May.

Although Sudbury were handicapped by two first-half injuries there was little doubt that the visitors were the better side and threatened to add to their lead but Marcus Garnham made two excellent saves to keep the home side in contention at the break.

It was a lively start and Nathan Elder had a great chance for the visitors miscuing in front of goal.

At the other end Aaron Greene released Craig Parker but his effort was blocked and then Rob Eagle sent Luke Callander through but his angled shot struck the side netting.

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Tonbridge might have taken the lead in the 10th minute when Ryan Henshaw lost possession and Elder seized upon the loose ball and his fierce strike was brilliantly saved by Garnham.

However the visitors went ahead in the 24th minute when Luke Allen’s surging run resulted in Craig Dundas making ground down the right and then crossing and Allen, who had ghosted into the box, drove past Garnham.

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Sudbury had their moments and a 40 yard ball into space enabled Sam Bantick to penetrate into the box but keeper Anthony Di Bernardo smothered the ball at his near post.

The home side then lost Callander and moments later Parker too who had to be carried off on a stretcher.

On 32 minutes Nick Wheeler cut in from the left and unleashed a fierce strike that Garnham did well to save diving low to keep his side in the game.

Sudbury had a good chance when Jack Parter was dispossessed enabling substitute Liam Wales to surge forward into the box, but he tried to chip the keeper and Di Bernardo was well positioned to foil the attempt.

The visitors then almost extended their lead when Wheeler’s corner was headed against the woodwork by Dundas, and then Garnham distinguished himself with brilliant double point blank saves.

Firstly he denied Elder’s volley from four yards with an exceptional reaction save and seconds later thwarted Wheeler low down.

Sudbury showed commendable spirit and Bantick had shots blocked, but the visitors continued to threaten and Garnham dived acrobatically to push away a cross and then was again at full length twice to prevent Allen.

Despite a grandstand finish Sudbury could not conjure up an equaliser and Tonbridge deserved their sixth win.

Sudbury manager Jamie Godbold expressed his disappointment that his side had not fulfilled their full potential against strong opponents.

He added that they had lacked creativity but stressed that they are making considerable progress given their promotion from Ryman League Division One North to the Premier Division was only last May.

He conceded that Tonbridge were a good side and will be in contention at the end of the season.

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