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AFC Sudbury Academy overcome Ipswich Town to win sixth straight Suffolk FA Under-18 Boys Midweek Cup



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AFC Sudbury's Academy continued their perfect record in the Suffolk FA Under-18 Boys Midweek Cup final this evening.

The Yellows' batch of Under-18s had won this competition on each of the five occasions in which they have entered it – and the silverware will once again be homed inside the MEL Group Stadium trophy cabinet after tonight's 3-2 victory over Ipswich Town Under-16s at Colchester United's Jobserve Community Stadium.

That said, Sudbury certainly did not have all their own way against an Ipswich side that started with six players that had begun the Professional Development League Cup final win at Coventry City's expense earlier this week.

AFC Sudbury captain Dan Smith holds aloft the trophy. Picture: Mecha Morton
AFC Sudbury captain Dan Smith holds aloft the trophy. Picture: Mecha Morton

Yet it was a night that belonged largely to Josh Stokes, who recently signed a contract with Sudbury. Released by Ipswich – the club he supports – as a 16-year-old, he showed his former club what they are missing with two goals and an assist to be the difference maker.

It was a bright start from Sudbury and in particular their right winger Dylan Kirk. His pace caused the Ipswich rearguard problems on more than one occasion during the opening exchanges, particularly in the ninth minute when he fizzed an inviting delivery across the face of goal with no team-mate on the scene to apply the finishing touch.

The Yellows' best chance of the first half was carved out in the 17th minute via Stokes' lofted pass, which lone frontman Jayden Cohen latched on to ahead of advancing Ipswich goalkeeper Woody Williams. However, the defenders got back well and just as Cohen pulled the trigger, Fin Steele got back to make the all important block.

Jayden Cohen won the penalty that got Sudbury level just after half-time. Picture: Mecha Morton
Jayden Cohen won the penalty that got Sudbury level just after half-time. Picture: Mecha Morton

Within 60 seconds Steele had forced a smart stop from Sudbury goalkeeper Ryan Dunne up the other end – and it was a moment that seemed to spark the young Tractor Boys into life in an attacking sense.

Alex Graham will feel he should have done better when afforded time and space inside the Sudbury box in the 26th minute before Ollie Davis forced Dunne into a flying save moments later.

Ipswich's movement off the ball was becoming more fluid and in the 27th minute it brought about the opening goal. Seth O'Neill made a determined run forward from right-back and after picking up possession inside the area his low effort drifted across Dunne and inside the far post.

In contrast, Sudbury's first-half showing was largely dominated by wastefulness in possession. They would often work their way into Ipswich territory, but the quality required to breach the defence was lacking.

Josh Stokes is mobbed by team-mates after making it 3-1 to Sudbury. Picture: Mecha Morton
Josh Stokes is mobbed by team-mates after making it 3-1 to Sudbury. Picture: Mecha Morton

So whatever was said by coaches Danny Laws and Dave Cannon during the break should be bottled up and sold for a decent price because the serial winners of this competition looked a different outfit going forward straight from the resumption.

Within two minutes they had forced their way into the Ipswich box, only for Cohen to be upended by a couple of challenges. Williams guessed correctly but there was no way he was getting near to Stokes' well driven shot from the spot.

And four minutes later they were in front as Stokes turned provider, picking up the ball midway inside the Ipswich half and driving forwards before threading a perfectly weighted pass through for Oliver Lonton to get the better of Williams.

Yet, any hopes that Ipswich would simply roll over and accept their fate were soon eradicated when they twice forced Dunne into action in quick succession. On the first occasion he got down really well to turn Davis' shot around the post and then he stuck out a boot to thwart substitute Nico Valentine.

Oli Lonton fired in to make it 2-1 to Sudbury. Picture: Mecha Morton
Oli Lonton fired in to make it 2-1 to Sudbury. Picture: Mecha Morton

As the old saying goes, the next goal in this game was always going to be crucial and in the 74th minute it went Sudbury's way. There was not much on in terms of a pass for Stokes around 25 yards from goal and so he unleashed a driven shot that flew low into the bottom right-hand corner of Williams' net.

The goal seemed to knock the stuffing out of Ipswich for a while as Sudbury set about scoring a fourth. However, the boys in blue held firm, regrouped and then set up a nervy finish by pulling a goal back nine minutes from time. Dunne – so impressive all night to this point – dropped a routine catch and Rio Oundie-Morgan pounced to roll the ball into an empty net.

And there was the odd worrying moment towards the end as Dunne was forced into a smart save with his foot in stoppage time before captain Daniel Smith hacked clear off the far post to make sure of the triumph.

AFC Sudbury: Dunne, Hunter (Gee 83'), Byrne, Carroll, Newland (Rea 67'), Smith, Strachan, Stokes, Kirk (Chivers 78'), Cohen (Hillyard 62'), Lonton (Arnold 72')

The players were all smiles for the cameras after their victory. Picture: Mecha Morton
The players were all smiles for the cameras after their victory. Picture: Mecha Morton

Ipswich: Williams, O'Neill (Nkansa-Dwomena 80'), Logan, Barbrook, Steele, Okunowo (Valentine 51'), Taylor, Turner, Davis, Graham (Manly 46'), Oundie-Morgan

Suffolk News Man of the Match – Josh Stokes (AFC Sudbury): Two goals and one assist says it all.