AFC Sudbury 3-1 Needham Market
By Darrell Allen at the Jobserve Community Stadium (7/5/22).
Above: AFC Sudbury celebrate with the trophy after their 3-1 win over Needham Market. Photo: AFC Sudbury.
Colchester United’s Jobserve Community Stadium was the venue on Friday night for the 2022 Suffolk FA Cup Final between two tier six teams, AFC Sudbury and Needham Market.
Sudbury played in their traditional yellow shirts with Needham Market in their usual red.
The Suffolk FA had organised the evening well and ensured that the best possible atmosphere would be created with one stand open. Additionally, AFC Sudbury supporters were allocated the left hand side of the stand and Needham Market supporters on the right as you were looking at the pitch.
Sudbury started the game with vibrant energy and enthusiasm as they began to pass the ball between themselves to get everyone confident in the initial phases.
However, they did not have it their own way as Lina Nagib had a chance from close range for Needham. Lois Balfour then found Ellie Rossiter but it was cut out by Sudbury. Needham did have penalty appeals waved away.
It was Sudbury who took the lead when a fine ball was picked up on the left by Evie Creaton who slotted beyond Clark in the Needham goal.
Sudbury doubled their advantage shortly afterwards when Kate Edwards found Creaton who forced a great save from Clark but the ball rebounded to Allen who finished well beyond Clark to put her team into a commanding position.
Sudbury continued their dominance as they looked to put the game out of sight. The next big chance was Alex Penny firing a ripper of a shot across the goal face and it needed a super outstretched save from Clark to prevent further damage to the scoreline.
Needham were next to have chances as a series of corners saw the best chance fall to an unmarked Ele Catchpole who fired over the bar.
Following a break in play for an injury and subsequent treatment required to the Sudbury keeper Millie Carter, it was Catchpole herself who had a decisive impact this time. A floated free-kick hit the crossbar and Catchpole was there to head in and spark wild scenes of celebration on the Needham dugout and amongst their fans.
The arrears had been reduced at a vital moment just before the break and there was renewed sense and belief that a remarkable turnaround could come in the second half.
However, Sudbury started the second half just as hungry as they began the first and scored immediately afterwards to restore their two-goal lead. A ball across the box from Creaton found Allen found who shot out to Penny who was there to finish. This was the moment when everyone in the ground knew the destination of the cup was Sudbury.
Needham tried to find a response as Abbie Fisher floated a free-kick just wide. Sudbury’s Phoebe Guiver had a shot from distance saved by Clark which fell to Allen but Clark was there again as this time stopped the shot with her legs.
The Sudbury captain Boni Shepherd was here, there and everywhere for the cause running her heart out for her club and ensuring they would experience no danger towards the climax. Alex Penny fired a late free-kick over the bar and that was the final act of a special night for Sudbury.
The victors game took the trophy by the authority of by scoring at the right times, two in the first 15 minutes and their other straight after the break to restore the two goal advantage. Whilst there was plenty of excellent football from Needham Market, this was Sudbury’s night and deservedly so.
Teams: AFC SUDBURY: Carter, Harrison, Provan, Mchale, Shepherd, Crawford, Edwards, Guiver, Creaton, Penny, Allen. Substitutes: Candice, Jeffrey, Smith, Dodd, Silva.
Scorers: Creaton, Allen, Penny.
NEEDHAM MARKET: Clark, Pannifer, Thomas, Bloomfield, Catchpole, Rossiter, Henderson, Balfour, Etheridge, Nagib, Fisher. Substitutes: Ward, Brown, Wakefield, Sharp, Hall