Craig Parker hits hat-trick as AFC Sudbury defeat Soham Town Rangers 5-2
- Credit: Archant
A Craig Parker hat-trick and two goals from Jordan Blackwell inspired AFC Sudbury to their second 5-2 victory of the season, at the Wardale Williams Stadium, last night.
Parker put the Ryman North high-flyers 2-0 up at the break then netted his third after the interval, in between Blackwell’s two strikes, as the west Suffolk side returned to the top of the table.
Wayne Goddard pulled a goal back for Soham to make it 3-1, before Luke Stanley scored a late consolation.
This wasn’t vintage Sudbury, and at times they were sloppy in possession, but when you are promotion challengers, these are the sort of games that separate the wheat from the chaff.
The result means there have now been 32 goals scored in five games on Sudbury’s new 3G pitch this season and, in the end, the hosts ran out comfortable winners, but found their visitors a tough nut to crack in the opening half hour.
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AFC were searching for their fourth straight league win, while Soham were looking to improve on a record of six league defeats from seven this season and they provided stubborn opposition.
But, just as the game looked to be heading towards the break goalless, Parker scored his fifth goal of the season, out of nothing, on 36 minutes.
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The midfielder picked the ball up with his back to goal, on the edge of the box, turned neatly and weaselled his way though a crowd, slipping the ball past Harry Reynolds from 12 yards out.
The hosts were happy to slow the pace down after the goal but, having been sloppy in possession at times, they failed to make inroads on the Soham goal.
However, they did grab a second a minute before the break, with just their second shot on target.
Liam Wales broke down the right and cut into the box, before passing to Luke Callander. He, in turn, found Parker who, 10 yards out, fired a composed right-foot finish into the same corner as his first.
The scoreline was harsh on Soham who then almost conceded a third straight from kick-off, Wales beating the goalkeeper to the ball and lifting it towards goal, only for it to be cleared off the line by Jordan Gent.
Soham put on early pressure in the opening moments of the second half but were soon three-down after being caught on the break.
Kojo Ofori-Gyasi failed to cut a ball out down the right and Callander motored into the box before squaring for Blackwell who tapped home from close range on 48 minutes.
The game looked over until Sudbury switched off from a corner on 56 minutes and, after failing to clear, Goddard pulled a goal back with a half-volley from 18 yards.
Soham’s tails were up and Robbie Nightingale then had a goalbound shot blocked by Ryan Henshaw.
The visitors’ defensive deficiencies reared their ugly heads again soon after though and Parker completed his hat-trick, running on to a long ball forward and beating the keeper with ease.
Callander then hit the outside of the post with a fierce strike as the hosts looked to step up a gear.
Blackwell scored his second of the night on 75 minutes and then almost fed substitute Wayne Blackman for a sixth, but Reynolds was quick off his line to concede a corner.
Wales was next to try his luck as Sudbury cruised, hitting the woodwork from a tight angle, before Jack Newman hit the side netting.
Soham were not finished though and scored a consolation through Stanley’s close-range volley.
n Elsewhere last night, Needham Market’s miserable season continued as they lost 6-0 at Wingate & Finchley. Mark Morsley’s newly-promoted side are still to taste victory in the Ryman Premier.
In Ryman North, Bury Town drew 1-1 at Wroxham, Sam Reed grabbing a 55th-minute equaliser, while Long Melford were 3-0 winners at Newmarket Town in the Thurlow Nunn Premier Division.