SUFFOLK PREMIER CUP
SPONSORED BY OMNI FREIGHT SERVICES LTD
AFC Sudbury 7
Craig Parker became Walsham’s tormentor-in-chief as the AFC Sudbury midfielder fired in four goals in a scintillating 16 minutes to send the Willows tumbling out of the Suffolk Premier Cup.
Tuesday’s tie had looked far from over at the hour mark as the visitors, who ply their trade two levels lower than AFC, sought an equaliser at 3-2 down.
But ex-Bury Town and Needham Market playmaker Parker’s 73rd-minute strike was the start of a glut of goals.
Walsham boss Smith, who like his counterpart made four changes from the weekend, a 1-0 league defeat at Stanway Rovers, reflected: “We knew it was going to be difficult because of the standard they play at and the standard we play at.
“The game probably came at the wrong time for us with the Vase coming up on Saturday. We had a few knocks and didn’t want to take chances on the boys.
“I was pleased with the boys at half-time and then we went to 3-2 and the wheels came off a bit.
“I just think we got a bit tired and didn’t go with the runners.”
AFC looked to have one foot in the quarter-finals after going 2-0 up inside 13 minutes, following Jack Wilkinson’s arrowed strike seven minutes in and Liam Wales’ near-post finish.
But to their credit Walsham heads did not drop and they were rewarded for their probing nine minutes before the break when Ryan Clarke fired in after Craig Nurse deftly flicked on Edward Elers’ deep free-kick.
The hosts went 3-1 up going into the break when Wales grabbed his second by heading in a Jack Newman free-kick.
It appeared the outcome may be in doubt when Nurse emphatically rifled a 53rd-minute penalty after Ryan Henshaw handled.
Walsham goalkeeper Craig Brand then excelled to deny Parker and a follow up from Wales before tipping over from Jordan Blackwell.
But he was eventually beaten by Parker with a measured finish after Henshaw’s ball back into the box had caught Walsham’s defence napping.
Parker got his second two minutes later following a Wales cross and he completed a nine-minute hat-trick in the 82nd minute when converting Rob Eagle’s low cross.
But after hitting the outside of the post, he got his fourth just a minute from time when he guided home another Eagle delivery to compound Walsham’s misery.
Walsham: Brand, Kawaguchi, Elers, Curry, N Clarke (Call 46), Nurse, Thorrold (Gibbs 23), Gathercole, R Clarke, Foster (Brame 69), Peters. Unsed sub: Bryant.
Free Press Man of The Match: Craig Brand