AFC Sudbury march on in Ryman North

PUBLISHED: 09:51 12 February 2016

AFC Sudbury striker James Baker battling at Maldon & Tiptree

AFC Sudbury striker James Baker battling at Maldon & Tiptree

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AFC Sudbury consolidated their position on top of the Ryman North table, with a hard-earned victory at mid-table Maldon & Tiptree on Tuesday.

Jamie Godbold’s men chalked up their 14th win from their last 16 league games, a remarkable run stretching back to mid-November, to protect their 10-point advantage over second-placed Harlow.

Sudbury had to dig deep in the first half, before Jack Wilkinson netted a terrific free-kick in first-half stoppage time.

Left-back Wilkinson’s 25-yarder curled through the defensive wall and into the back of the net – it was a goal worthy of winning any match.

The league leaders made the game safe in the 68th minute. George Clarke scampered onto James Baker’s pass to beat keeper James Bransgrove with a calm finish.

Harlow beat Wroxham 4-0 last night, but they remain 10 points behind Sudbury, with only a couple of games in hand.

Maldon shaded the first half and could count themselves unlucky to be trailing at the interval.

Sudbury teenager, Stefano Mallardo, had a good first-half in central defence, although he was caught in possession by Sam Newson on six minutes. The Jammers front-man burst through, but his cross-cum-shot was cut out by defender Ben Robinson.

The visitors struggled to get out of first gear. Jordan Blackwell did deliver a cross into the danger zone in the 15th minute, but Craig Parker was block-tackled when on the point of shooting.

Sudbury midfielder Jack Newman’s teasing cross almost led to an own goal, with Kieran Monlouis’ backward header flying straight into the grateful arms of home keeper James Bransgrove on 21 minutes.

But before Wilkinson’s opener, Sudbury’s best moment arrived in the 36th minute. A cross-cum-shot by skipper Sam Clarke was tipped away by Bransgrove, and from the ensuing corner, Parker was close to bundling home inside the six-yard box.

A minute later and Maldon almost had some joy as Joe Francis managed to power beyond the Sudbury back-line and to the edge of the six-yard box. His low cross, though, was mopped up by Garnham before Newson could pounce.

Just when it looked as though the sides would be locked together at 0-0 at the interval, up popped Wilkinson to smash home a wonder free-kick on the stroke of half-time.

Sudbury then delivered a very professional second-half display, their job made far easier by George Clarke running through to add a killer second goal in the 68th minute.

Clarke almost netted his second, and the Suffolk side’s third, in the 80th minute with a sweetly-struck 25-yarder which soared only a foot over the bar.

Keeper Garnham preserved his clean-sheet by smothering Newson’s angled drive in the 90th minute, before arching back to finger-tip Tarryn Allarakhia’s rising shot over his bar in stoppage time.

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