Smith and deputy to stay at AFC

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AFC Sudbury’s management duo of Nicky Smith and Chris Tracey have extended their contracts with the club by 18 months.

As exclusively revealed in last week’s Suffolk Free Press, Smith’s future was up for discussion in a meeting with chairman Phil Turner.

However, Smith and Tracey have signed deals to continue in their roles of manager and assistant — a decision ratified by the AFC board on Tuesday.

“At the end of last season I was thinking we needed to get to the play-offs because I felt like we were underachieving,” said Smith.

“But, the board are really pleased with the young team we are putting together, so Chris and I spoke about it and decided to accept their offer.”

New signing Robbie Martin had a tough debut on Saturday against East Thurrock, but Smith feels his quality will boost AFC’s chances of making the play-offs.

Martin, who has played at Havant and Waterlooville, Braintree Town and St Albans, has extensive Conference South experience. “He can inject some creativity into the side,” said Smith.

“He has experience, he is quick and we will play him out wide. He can give us that little lift that we need.”

Smith is looking at the 70-point mark if AFC are to make the play-offs. After Tuesday night’s goalless draw against Tilbury, AFC are on 49 points with nine games left. “I’ve told the players it’s not about performances now, it’s all about results.”

He was left frustrated and disappointed by Saturday’s defeat. “It looked a 0-0 until the penalty,” he said. “It wasn’t a penalty, and it turned the game. That’s not sour grapes, the better side won, but that was a critical decision.

“I take my hat off to their manager. Their defence was well organised and kept us out. They had done their homework, and we never looked like scoring. They are probably the best side we have played all season.”

AFC will be without the services of tough-tackling Jack Wignall for part of the run-in following his dismissal on Saturday, a straight red for a mistimed challenge. AFC were already 2-0 down, and that ensured there was no way back.

AFC visit Waltham Abbey in the league on Saturday (3pm), looking for revenge for the 4-2 defeat in February, and are home to Thamesmead Town on Tuesday (7.45pm). The teams drew 2-2 earlier in the season.

n Week 46 winners in the AFC Gold fundraiser are: £100 Mrs K Ford (247), Queens Road, Sudbury; £10 T Hale (296), Queensway, Great Cornard; £10 C Tracey (289), AFC Sudbury.