AFC Sudbury’s FA Trophy dream ended by Macclesfield Town
AFC Sudbury’s fairytale run in the FA Trophy may have ended on Saturday, but it was not without a fight.
The Suffolk side gave a good account of themselves against Macclesfield Town, of the National League, but ultimately fell to a 3-1 defeat in the Second Round Proper.
Two-nil up after 32 minutes, the victory was a relatively comfortable one for the Silkmen, who were the first-ever winners of this competition in the 1969/70 season.
Keen to perform on their big day (this is the furthest AFC have ever gone in the Trophy), Sudbury were competitive throughout and enjoyed their fair share of possession against a team who lost 2-1 to Lincoln City – Ipswich Town’s FA Cup opposition -–earlier this season.
It could have been different though. The Silkmen were in full control in the first half, and wasted two big opportunities early on.
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After just two minutes, Marcus Garnham played himself into trouble, and was relieved to see Ollie Norburn’s fizzing drive smack into the billboards behind his goal.
Garnham’s hesitant distribution caused problems for Sudbury again in the 15th minute, but Anthony Dudley could only drag wide from Omry Perel’s pass.
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Sudbury created their first opportunity of the game in the 21st minute when Sam Bantick robbed Laurie Bell on the halfway line, but saw his ambitious effort fly harmlessly over.
Macclesfield took the lead two minutes later, and Sudbury will still be disappointed in the manner the goal was conceded. Following an unsuccessful AFC corner, a long punt from shotstopper Craig Ross was allowed to bounce, and Grimsby loanee Rhys Browne, on his debut, scampered away from Adam Tann before clinically finishing.
A similar goal saw the lead doubled in the 32nd minute, with Dudley ghosting into the area before smashing his shot past Garnham. It could have been a long afternoon for the Suffolk side at this point, with both goals a little too easy for Macclesfield.
But, to their credit, the Yellows rolled their sleeves up and made a game of it in the second period, with Craig Parker impressing in midfield.
Parker was involved moments after the break, linking up with Robert Eagle and Tyler French, as the latter saw his cross well-held by Ross.
In the 63rd minute, Macclesfield almost added a third goal in spectacular fashion, Bell nearly breaking the Sudbury crossbar with a thumping effort from all of 30 yards, with Garnham saving well from Dan Cowan on the rebound.
Garnham was then at his best to deny Bell with his feet, while Danny Crow’s introduction gave Sudbury more bite upfront, although it was Macclesfield who scored the next goal in the 84th minute.
The Yellows surrendered possession in midfield, and were punished as substitute Jack Sampson neatly finished inside Garnham’s near post.
Still, Sudbury kept going, and in the 87th minute, they got the goal their efforts deserved. Fine work from Parker on the edge of the box, linking up with Aidan Austin and Crowe, presented Liam Wales with a chance he couldn’t miss.
There was still time for Austin to go close for AFC, while Sampson and Perel spurned good opportunities for the visitors, but a 3-1 scoreline was a fair reflection on a decent game that saw Sudbury applauded off at the end by a 505-strong crowd.