Shropshire Star

AFC Telford United 3-2 AFC Sudbury - Report

On a day when the terraces were filled with talk of Hollywood, Bucks manager Kevin Wilkin


asked some of his best performers in supporting roles rise step into the limelight and

become the leading men.

They did so, but although this was a game and performance that looked to have been

scripted to fit in with the sense of optimism permeating through the club, visiting Sudbury

ensured there were a few unexpected plot twists.

One week ago, Wilkin went into the first of two tough away matches with a full complement

of senior players to select from. The Bucks emerged from those games with maximum

points, but they weren’t achieved without cost.

Nathan Fox, Fraser Kerr, and Ricardo Dinanga were all absent from this fixture, their injuries

a legacy of those wins over Stratford and Stamford, meaning Wilkin had to reorganise his


Sam Whittall dropped back from midfield to partner Orrin Pendley in central defence whilst

fellow midfielder Jordan Piggott continued at left wing-back for Fox. Their absence in the

middle of the park meant recalls for the vastly experienced Kyle Storer and, at the opposite

end of the experience scale, Ty Webster.

Byron Moore moved to the left in place of Dinanga, meaning a midfield trio of Storer,

Webster, and Remi Walker, and all three were goal-scorers, with Walker the match-winner

and stand-out performer.

Sudbury arrived from Suffolk in the division’s relegation positions, but their record

suggested they may not be the fall guys some anticipated they would be. They lost six points

from their tally when two wins against the now-defunct Nuneaton Borough were wiped

from the league table, and they inflicted a rare defeat on leaders Needham Market in

January, a task that was beyond the Bucks.

Kyle Storer (AFC Telford United Midfielder) takes the penalty and finds the back of the net

Things went to according to plan for Wilkin’s team in the initial stages, and their energy had

Sudbury pinned in their half. An early corner was headed across the six-yard box by

defender Pendley and Montel Gibson, in good scoring form, was close to turning the ball

home on the stretch, just failing to make contact.

They didn’t have to wait too long, however; in the ninth minute, a good passing move

located Piggott in an advanced position but as he headed into the penalty area a clumsy

challenge clipped his heels and there could only be one decision.

Storer stepped up to take the resulting penalty kick, and although keeper James Philp dived

to the side that Storer chose, the ball was despatched low and at pace into the corner,

beyond Philp’s fingertips.

In such circumstances, the defending side would hope to regain their composure, but

Sudbury appeared to panic and within a minute they conceded again. Gibson was involved

as the Bucks swarmed goalwards, and when a shot was blocked by the Sudbury defence,

Webster was alert to the loose ball and nipped in, clipping a shot past Philp to his left from

around the penalty spot.

A third goal would have finished the contest early, and Gibson went close when he broke

through and Philp turned aside his shot.

Whether the Bucks felt that it was simply a matter of time before they scored again is

something we don’t know, but Sudbury appeared to feel that the best response to their

situation would be to have a go, and it worked.

They should have cut the lead to one goal in the 19 th minute when Joshua Allen met a low

cross from the right into Brandon Hall’s six-yard box; however, his side-footed finish was too

light a touch, and it squirted off his foot and went wide to Hall’s right.

It was a warning, and as Sudbury began to get the quicksilver Malachi Napa onto the ball,

the game began to change.

Napa was causing Ellis Myles problems on the Bucks' right, and he fell victim to a few

mistimed tackles. The Bucks dealt with the resulting set-pieces comfortably enough, but

Sudbury sensed some vulnerabilities.

Wilkin’s team wasn’t sitting on their lead, but their attacking moves lacked the early

impetus they’d shown. Philp plucked a Storer chip for the air, just underneath his crossbar,

and Myles landed a cross onto the roof of Philp’s net; however, they were to spurn a great

chance just before the interval. Walker, who seems to get better with each passing week,

kept possession in the 18-yard box and found Ellis Brown to his right. Brown had space,

defenders having been drawn to Walker, but Philp blocked his low left-footer from close


Ahead at the break but not wholly convincing, Wilkin’s side appeared less assured

defensively, and that was reinforced when Sudbury cut the deficit with less than a minute

gone in the second half. Locating Callum Page on or around the penalty spot, his placed

finish crept past Hall to his left and into the corner.

The goal converted Sudbury’s hope into belief, and they began to search for an equaliser.

The Bucks did have an opportunity from a free-kick, Storer heading powerfully at the far

post but straight into Philp’s hands, and Sudbury responded with an off-target Napa shot

that cleared the crossbar.

The next goal, if there was to be one, would be critical, and it went to the Bucks, just after

the hour. Walker had gone close a minute or so earlier when he and his colleagues appeared

to be guilty of taking too many touches, only for Walker to create space for a low shot that

was deflected away for a corner.

The corner was cleared, but the Bucks made the most of the momentum shift, and in the

63 rd minute, Walker scored his third and surely his best goal of the season. With the away

side under some pressure around their box, space opened on the left edge of the hox and

Walker put the ball onto his right foot, allowing him to strike a curling shot that found the

top corner to Philp’s left. It was the kind of goal that was going in from the moment Walker

struck it.

With a two-goal lead restored, the Bucks began to find their groove again, moving the ball

around and moving Sudbury with it. Ellis Brown stabbed a shot goalwards from Walker’s

pass and an energetic burst from Myles into the box saw him poke the ball goalwards, Philp

able to cover it at his near post.

In the 72 nd minute, Storer appeared to be in trouble when he went into a 50/50 challenge

with Romario Dunne. The Sudbury man yelled out as Storer caught him painfully and the

speed with which referee Harry Tarrant went to his pocket suggested Storer was going to

get more than the yellow card he received.

Dunne was back on his feet after treatment but failed to emulate his Brazilian namesake’s

poise in the penalty area a few minutes later, meeting a corner from the left but appearing

to simply let it hit him. The ball trundled out for a goal-kick.

Defender Charlie Lewis, venturing further forward, fired a shot well wide from 25 yards, and

Wilkin introduced Matty Stenson for the tiring Gibson.

Sudbury was soon to grab a lifeline, and it was Page who was on the right page of the script

again, guiding home another well-placed shot that wasn’t powerful but had enough on it to

beat Hall’s fingertips. There was a whiff of controversy about the goal too; in the build-up to

it, defender Olumide Oluwatimilehin looked to have barged Webster to the floor, and his

ball forwards then appeared to be won by a Sudbury player in an offside position.

Myles left the field before the restart, replaced by Steff Jones, and the Bucks were once

again in a suspense thriller; however, without the steadying influences of Kerr and Fox,

Wilkin’s side showed that they may be absorbing enough of their absent colleagues’ positive

influence to manage the game successfully. Six additional minutes contained few alarms,

and the Bucks registered a fourth successive win to remain in fourth place in the table,

extending their gap over fifth-placed Leamington into the bargain.

AFC Telford United: Hall, Myles (Jones 85), Piggott, Storer, Pendley, Whittall, Walker,

Moore, Webster (Styche 88), Gibson (Stenson 81), Brown.

Subs: Yusuf.

Cautioned: Storer.

AFC Sudbury: Philp, Tarpey (Hunter 64), Oluwatimilehin, Lewis, Dickens, Turner (Bradley 64),

Napa (Oteng 90), Page, Dunne, Allen, Pinnington.

Subs: Bradbrook, Caley-Brown.

Cautioned: Lewis, Oluwatimilehin.

Referee: Harry Tarrant.

Assistants: Joseph Rowley, Richard Booth.