All roads lead to AFC Sudbury . . . big Bognor Regis Trophy preview. Maidstone are the carrot

AFC Sudbury manager David Batch

AFC Sudbury manager David Batch - Credit: James Ager

All roads lead to AFC Sudbury’s Wardale Williams Stadium tonight as David Batch’s side entertain Ryman Premier Division Bognor Regis Town in an FA Trophy first round qualifying replay.

The west Suffolk side were unlucky not to put the Sussex-based team out of the competition on Saturday, when a stoppage-time equaliser from Ollie Pearce earned Bognor a second crack this evening.

Batch will be hoping his side’s chance hasn’t gone but a similar performance to the one his team produced in the second period at Bognor, will do him nicely.

“We were really good in the second half at Bognor, even if our first-half performance was only six out of 10,” Batch said.

“Their equaliser was a massive fluke in the last minute of the game, so we left Bognor disappointed but on the flip side our performance was excellent in that second period.

“If we play to that level again, we stand a good chance of progress.”

Progress for either AFC Sudbury or Bognor Regis will mean a trip to Maidstone in the next round, something both sides will relish – if for no other reason than the gate receipts!

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“You get a share of gate receipts in the Trophy and with Maidstone getting about 2,000 fans each game, that’s nothing to be sniffed at,” Batch added.

“But we have got to get past Bognor first. I hope our fans can get behind us and help us.”

For Batch it is not a case of the League having more importance than the Trophy.

“The next game is always the most important game for me,” he added.

“As far as I’m concerned you take what you can get, when you can get it.”

Meanwhile Leiston midfielder Gareth Heath knows the importance of tonight’s FA Trophy replay between the Blues and Leighton Town.

Heath and his team-mates drew 2-2 with the Bedfordshire-based side at Victory Road on Saturday.

And tonight they face the cross-country trip west to try and finish the job off – a home tie against Bristol-based Paulton Rovers the reward for the victors.

“Financially the FA Trophy, like the FA Cup, is important to the club,” Heath said.

“And as our FA Cup run was not good this season (Leiston lost 1-4 to Hendon in the second qualifying round), we owe the club a good Trophy run.

“It’s not going to be easy but as a club we are now getting used to travelling on Tuesday nights, so tonight is not a problem.”

Heath notched the Blues equaliser at Victory Road on Saturday as Richard Wilkins’ side fought back from two goals down to earn tonight’s replay.

Through to the second qualifying round of the Trophy already, Witham have been drawn at home to Truro City, while Heybridge Swifts travel to Lewes.

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