Essex Senior League FA Cup giantkillers FC Romania stun Ryman North’s AFC Sudbury with a resounding victory as the magic of the cup hits the First Qualifying Round
- Credit: Archant
Essex Senior League FA Cup giantkillers FC Romania were at it again on Saturday as they overcame Ryman North outfit AFC Sudbury in a famous victory for the Hertfordshire-based side.
Fresh from defeating Heybridge Swifts, also of the Ryman North, in the previous round, FC Romania went one further here with an excellent display that saw them deservedly topple a below-par Sudbury side, and progress into the Second Qualifying Round of the competition.
Roared on by a host of noisy followers, bedecked in the colours of the Romanian flag, FC Romania’s victory was even more incredible as they won it with 10 men, following centre-half Ion Costache’s first half red card for a cynical last-man tackle.
AFC Sudbury boss David Batch cut a disappointed and frustrated figure post-match.
“I thought we were just really poor,” said the AFC chief.
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“We were really lacklustre, we had no urgency about our play, we had no tempo in our play, in possession we were slow, and out of possession we were lethargic so we got what we deserved.
“Congratulations to them (FC Romania) because they’re through and they deserved to beat us.”
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FC Romania, whose playing squad and management is made up almost entirely of Romanian-born players, got off to a dream start after the classy Sorin Bugiu bundled home.
After both Payton Swatman and Stefano Mallardo failed to clear for Sudbury, Bugiu ghosted in unmarked to swoop home Cornel Cornea’s inch-perfect cross.
Batch’s men responded strongly to the shock setback though, and after Tuesday night’s star duo Kris Newby and Ayrton Coley combined – the latter breached the FC Romania back-line before rounding Nicusor Banica to equalise.
From then on, it was literally one-way traffic in the first half as Sudbury dominated proceedings with FC Romania struggling to get a kick of the ball at all.
Dynamic winger Newby, fresh from scoring a superb hat-trick against Great Wakering on Tuesday evening, then thought he’d scored his fifth goal in three games when he headed home a cross from the right, only for the goal to be controversially ruled out for offside.
The complexion of the game then completely changed in the 25th minute when Costache clumsily tumbled over the dangerous Coley who was clean through on goal.
The FC Romania skipper was the last man, it was a certain dismissal, and referee Alexander Guy had no choice despite the defender’s in vain protests.
Many inside the impressive Wardale Williams Stadium must have then thought that Sudbury would surely go on to use their numerical advantage to claim a comfortable victory against a side situated in the league below them. They were wrong.
For the rest of the half, FC Romania stopper Banica was a busy man – dealing with a host of dangerous Sudbury crosses and shots.
After smartly holding Michael Shinn’s free-kick, the agile number one also denied James Baker, playing at centre-half due to the unavailability of Craig Pope and Ryan Henshaw, with a flying save to his left.
With the scores level at half-time, FC Romania always had a chance – and a magnificent second-half display turned the game in their favour.
Crafty central midfielder Petru Petaru grew into the game, and only a smart save from a previously untested Alex Archer denied him early in the second-half.
Inspired by their promising opening, FC Romania had two massive chances shortly afterwards that they squandered.
After an inept clearance from Archer found Ille Vasile a fair distance out from goal, the stumbling Baker blocked the winger’s weak effort, while Bugiu should really have done better when his harmless effort drifted wide after Baker had slipped at a crucial moment.
The visitors kept plugging away though and their big moment came in the 72nd minute when danger-man Bugiu spun away from Lawrence Yiga before feeding Petaru who danced his way into the box before burying an effort, causing havoc amongst the partying FC Romania fans.
Andre Baciu almost added a third goal moments later with an outrageous effort from 40 yards that left Archer sweating all the way as the ball landed on the roof of the net.
Sudbury were growing increasingly frustrated as their opponents snuffed out any chance of an attack with the formidable partnership of Claudiu Vilcu and Dragos Ciolca seemingly unbreakable at the back.
The pair were colossal throughout – especially 6ft 4ins Vilcu, who after moving to centre-half, following Costache’s dismissal, was a calming influence for the visitors.
Baker then had a chance to rescue a replay for Sudbury late on but could only volley at Banica.
And in stoppage time, FC Romania were in dreamland as substitute Lazar Kumanov poked home George Marin’s cross from close-range to spark wild Romanian celebrations in the stands and on the pitch.
AFC Sudbury - Archer, Swatman, Flynn, Yiga, Baker, Mallardo (Davidson), Shinn, Clarke, Newby, Wilkinson (Reed), Coley. Unused subs: Blackwell, Kemp, Maxwell, Kemp.
FC Romania: Banica, Dumbrava (Vintila), Cornea, Costache, Ciolca, Baciu, Petaru, Tudosa (Marin), Vasile, Vilcu, Bugiu (Kumanov). Unused subs: Darabant.
Referee: Mr. Alexander Guy.