AFC Sudbury 0
Needham Market 2
Lee Norfolk felt AFC Sudbury suffered from giving their higher-league opponents too much respect early on as they exited the Suffolk FA Premier Cup to Needham Market on Tuesday.
A goal early in each half, from Ryan Gibbs and captain Gareth Heath ended up seeing the Suffolk Premier Cup holders, who won the competition under AFC manager Mark Morsley last season, comfortably through.
The young Yellows, who gave a debut to new signing Reece Dobson, had been largely on the back foot in the first half before dominating possession after the break, while being unable to recreate some promising chances from the first period.
“It is always disappointing to lose a game, but this was not really on the list of priorities,” said assistant manager Norfolk.
“We want to try and get some form in the league.
“I think the lads probably gave Needham too much respect in the first 20 minutes before we started to believe in ourselves and the way we were playing.
“Eventually we got ourselves in the game, but at that stage we were already a goal down.
“As the game went on we made a couple of changes and tweaked it a little bit and got a bit more belief and possession and created some chances.
“We missed chances in the first half, although we didn’t play very well; whereas in the second half we played better but didn’t have many chances.
“It was a funny game in that respect, but we have taken some positives out of it.”
Morsley made three changes to the side which came from behind to seal a dramatic 3-2 home win over Tilbury on Saturday.
Tyler French returned to the heart of the defence following his suspension, while Ben Hunter was rewarded for his goal and performance from the bench on Saturday with a starting place, alongside new addition Dobson.
Milo Grimes, Tom Dettmar and Max Booth were the trio to drop out.
It only took Morsley’s former side four minutes to get ahead in the tie, with AFC failing to deal with a ball into the box and Paul Walker saving well from Heath, only for Gibbs to react quickest to fire the loose ball into the roof of the net.
Clowsley fired wildly over at the other end before only an unnecessary touch on former AFC man Adam Mills’ shot, by Dan Morphew, prevented Needham doubling their advantage in the 13th minute, with the assistant referee signalling for offside.
AFC had been looking far too open at the back but managed to force a save out of Danny Gay at the other end when Eaton-Collins got a toe on Clowsley’s dangerous cross.
Dobson engineered some space before firing over, while Ingram’s effort at the other end, following Walker’s punch on a corner, went wide.
Walker was soon called into action again to make a good low save from Ingram’s angled drive, before Sam Mills saved a certain goal from Adam Mills with a good block.
AFC came close to levelling when Clowsley’s effort almost caught Gay out, while Walker made another good save, from Ingram, as the game continued to ebb and flow.
With four minutes until the break, the home side thought they had their equaliser when Clowsley’s strike from range was parried up in the air by Gay, but Colclough, following in at the far post, could only send his shot cannoning to safety off the crossbar.
The half ended with Sam Mills being fortunate not to conede a penalty when pulling Adam Mills back, with the incident which warranted a free-kick on the edge of the box seeing the forward have to go to hospital with a serious shoulder injury.
The second half was only five minutes old when Needham edged into a 2-0 lead, Walker saving a first effort from the untracked run from Heath before he converted at the second attempt.
The rest of the game was desperately short on chances, with the Marketmen happy to soak up AFC’s pressure.
Sudbury, who lie 15th in the table, now face two away tests, at 10th place Waltham Abbey in the Bostik League Division One North on Saturday (3pm) and at Bostik South side Thamesmead Town in the Velocity Trophy (League Cup) second round on Wednesday (7.45pm)
Former Norwich City youth striker Eaton-Collins signed an 18-month contract over the last week and Norfolk hopes it will see the club get the best out of him.
“It is good for him to get a bit of stability now and concentrate on his game,” he said.
AFC: P Walker, Colclough (Maycock 62), Clowsley, Mills, French, Whight (c), Hunter, Peters, Eaton-Collins (Mundawarara 62), McKenzie (Henry 74’), Dobson. Unused subs: J Walker. Attendance: 222
Free Press Man of The Match: Jake Clowsley: Broke forward well and was unlucky not to end up with a goal.
n AFC Gold week 8 winners: £100 (177) P Turner, AFC Sudbury; £10 (239) Mrs M Turner, AFC Sudbury; £10 (280) S Haynes, Gaol lane, Sudbury.