Parker’s strike secures the Ryman North title for AFC Sudbury

AFC Sudbury clinch the Ryman North title.

AFC Sudbury clinch the Ryman North title. - Credit: Archant

Craig Parker was the toast of AFC Sudbury after his strike secured the west Suffolk club the Ryman North championship at Tilbury on Saturday.

Craig Parker was the toast of AFC Sudbury after his strike secured the west Suffolk club the Ryman North championship at Tilbury on Saturday.

Parker was ‘Johnny-on-the-spot’ as Luke Callender’s cross-cum-shot eluded everyone, leaving an unmarked Parker to steer the ball home on 40 minutes.

It was the only goal of the game and the goal that clinched Sudbury a title they had been destined to look like winning for more than a month.

The only team that could catch Jamie Godbold’s team before kick-off was Harlow Town – and they needed to win every game. On Saturday they could only draw at Phoenix Sports.

However, all that mattered not.

This was all about Sudbury and the rest of the league could sit and wait.

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The yellow and blues and their army of fans swelled the Chadfields Stadium, alongside the docks on the Essex coast.

They came in expectation – and their team did not let them down.

OK, this was not football at its purest, far from it. The pitch was bobbly and there was far too much at stake.

But in general, Sudbury controlled the game and made it 32 league wins out of 43 so far this season.

The victory saw them go through the 100-point barrier and Godbold’s team still have three games left, including the little matter of the west Suffolk derby at Bury Town on Wednesday night.

If they hadn’t started planning for Ryman Premier football, they can very much start in earnest now.

On Saturday chances were at a premium.

The visitors from Suffolk started confidently, showing few signs of nerves.

Callender was a constant menace up front and he had two early shots, one that Tilbury keeper Clarke Bogard palmed wide, the other that just went wide.

Good work by Ben Robinson saw his cross put just over by Parker and Callender headed wide a Danny Cunningham free-kick, with just 20 minutes on the clock.

The lack of an early goal from the visitors seemed to give Tilbury confidence and they came more into the game as the half wore on.

Their best player, Francis Babalola, brought a save out of Marcus Garnham.

Parker’s goal came just a the right time, five minutes before the break and with Sudbury only needing a draw to win the title, sent them into the dressing room on a high.

The second half lacked even more quality than the first, but for Sudbury it was all about the result.

Parker made room for himself but fired narrowly over, while Garnham tipped over a Emiel Aiken effort on 78 minutes. Callender had a chance to make the game safe for Sudbury in the last minute, but shot wide.

It all mattered not, as referee Mr Davies signalled the end of the match and the celebrations began.

Relentless Sudbury – champions of Ryman North – and fully deserved too.

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