GALLERY: Ten-man AFC Sudbury lose out to to Maidstone United in Ryman League Cup Final
- Credit: Picture: Steve Waller
AFC Sudbury suffered heartache in the final of the Robert Dyas League Cup, losing to hosts Maidstone United at the Gallagher Stadium in Kent last night.
Maidstone were always going to be the favourites to lift the trophy, having won promotion from the Ryman League South last season and flying high again this term.
Sudbury, operating a division below their hosts, provided stiff opposition, but were eventually undone by a first-half goal by Michael Phillips and a late brace from Frannie Collin.
The visitors were trailing at the break, when Phillips swept home the rebound after Alex Archer had blocked Alex Brown’s initial shot on 36 minutes.
David Batch’s side thought they had equalised in the 75th minute, only for Ryan Henshaw’s close-range header, from a corner, to be ruled out for a foul on keeper Lee Worgan, inside a congested six-yard box.
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And Henshaw’s misery was complete when he was sent off for chopping down Zac Attwood in the box in the 83rd minute, enabling Collin to convert the ensuing penalty.
Collin then ran through uncontested, in stoppage time, to seal Sudbury’s fate with a third.
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It was the second time Sudbury had lost in the final of this competition, having been beaten on penalties by another Kent club, Ramsgate, in 2008.
Sudbury actually settled well on the 3G artificial surface, and they came close to grabbing the lead on five minutes.
Winger Ryan Horne let fly with a swirling 25-yarder which keeper Worgan did well to save to his right.
Not surprisingly, the Stones did dictate the early possession but Archer was not required to make a save until catching a goal-bound free-kick by Collin in the 12th minute.
Three minutes later and livewire James Akintunde engineered a swift Sudbury break. He slipped a pass through for Horne to run onto, but the latter’s attempted shot was charged down by Jack Sullivan.
Only the woodwork denied the hosts an opening goal in the 35th minute. Defender Steve Watt’s towering header soared over keeper Archer, but cannoned back off the bar and dropped to safety.
However, just 60 seconds later and the Stones did take the lead, Phillips bundling home the loose ball after Archer had blocked Brown’s initial shot.
Sudbury almost sneaked an immediate equaliser. Michael Shinn’s delivery was deflected towards the far post, where Henshaw’s instinctive prod goalwards was kept out of the net by an instinctive save from Worgan.
Into the second half and Sudbury gradually began to exert some pressure – a well-struck 20-yard drive by Jamie Forshaw was well smothered by Worgan in the 65th minute.
The Stones rattled the woodwork for the second time in the 71st minute, substitute Stephen Butcher’s rasping 25-yarder beating Archer all ends up, before ricocheting back off the bar. Sudbury thought they had equalised with 15 minutes remaining, when Henshaw headed home a corner, but the goal was ruled out for a foul on keeper Worgan.
But the Stones dominated late on. Henshaw was show the red card, for hauling down Attwood in the 83rd minute. Collin dispatched the penalty and then netted his second, and the Kent club’s third, on 92 minutes.