AFC Sudbury lose on penalties to Brentwood Town in Ryman North play-off semi final
- Credit: Su Anderson
Goalkeeper Ollie Bowles was the hero as AFC Sudbury’s promotion dream was ended on penalties by 10-man Brentwood Town on Wednesday night.
Bowles, outstanding during normal and extra-time, saved from Yellows’ normal penalty taker James Baker and Kris Newby as the Essex visitors emerged 4-1 winners, their spot kicks impeccable.
Normal time had seen a flurry of chances for both teams in this Ryman North play-off semi-final, with Bowles denying Luke Callander twice and Newby, whilst Craig Parker was denied by both post and bar.
Brentwood also had chances to win it but Marcus Garnham denied Sam Bantick, James Love and Tom Richardson.
After a tepid start by both teams, AFC’s Jordan Blackwell then made a key interception in his own box on 26 minutes to stop Brentwood’s Sam Bantick having a shot.
Brentwood’s Danny Dafter was booked for a heavy challenge on Parker and from the resultant free kick, Bowles made a save to palm Newby’s low, deflected free-kick wide.
From the corner, a scramble in the goalmouth saw the visitors fail to clear their lines and Parker volleyed against the bar from 12 yards.
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Callander was the next to try his luck for AFC, firing a long-range volley just over the bar after his initial free-kick had hit the wall.
The visitors had barely had a sniff at goal but after Ollie Berquez played a loose ball, Sherwin Stanley was only denied a shot from close-range by a combination of defender Ryan Henshaw and Garnham.
Bowles had been the busier of the two ‘keepers and made a miraculous point-blank save in the 42nd minute, the stopper tipping the ball wide after Parker’s shot hit the post then ricocheting off Brentwood’s James Love, before heading towards goal.
The visitors stepped up the pressure early in the second half and Garnham had pull out all the stops to deny Bantick with a superb reflex stop on 48 minutes, the winger having taken the ball down superbly.
Bantick then drew a foul from Baker on the edge of the Sudbury box and from the free-kick, Ryan O’Rawe glanced a header wide.
The hosts had been on the back-foot for most of the early part of the second half but after Henshaw’s ball forward, Callander lost out in a one-on-one duel with Bowles.
Sudbury skipper Sam Clarke then saw a 25-yard shot go wide as the game became stretched, before Newby tested Bowles at his near post.
Sudbury had a let-off when, after Henshaw and Baker had committed themselves on the half-way line, Love broke away for the visitors but completely fluffed his lines, the ball sailing into the hands of Garnham.
Sudbury hit back and Callander was denied by Bowles at the near-post before the ‘keeper palmed Berquez’s close range header clear.
Clarke and Brentwood’s Ngandu were then booked for a scuffle as tempers flared.
As the game moved into stoppage time, Henshaw made a crucial tackle on the edge of his box before Tom Richardson almost won the tie with a header that glanced just wide.
Bantick was booked for diving in the penalty box as the game entered extra-time, before Parker’s header was cleared off the line.
Baker was cautioned for a crunching challenge on Bantick, before Ngandu was dismissed for a second booking after a foul on Clarke. From the resultant free-kick, Henshaw headed over.
The visitors had a golden chance to win it on 111 minutes but Garnham palmed Richardson’s shot out for a corner after the substitute had been put through on goal.
Terry Rymer and Clarke spurned further chances for AFC as the game went into penalties.
Richardson, Jason Dobbs, Love and Martyn Stokes, with the decisive kick, scored for the visitors, Baker seeing his side’s first effort saved well by Bowles.
The keeper then denied Newby with his legs before Stokes sent Garnham the wrong way from 12 yards.
It was a disappointing end to the season for Jamie Godbold’s men who missed out on a chance to host Thurrock in Sunday’s final.