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AFC Sudbury boss Marc Abbott wants side to attack survival decider at Leamington despite point being good enough to trump Hitchin Town





AFC Sudbury manager Marc Abbott takes his side to Leamington in Saturday’s final fixture (3pm) knowing avoiding defeat is now set to secure their survival at Step 3, but he says taking a conservative approach is not in their thoughts.

The Yellows had looked to be almost dead and buried less than a month ago when a 3-0 defeat at soon-to-be champions Needham Market had left them seven points adrift of Hitchin Town with four games to go.

But three straight wins – including Saturday's 7-1 home thumping of already-relegated Long Eaton United – coupled with a trio of defeats for Hitchin has turned the situation on its head to leave AFC a point outside the drop zone.

Malachi Napa celebrates putting AFC Sudbury 2-1 ahead against Long Eaton United at the beginning of the second half Picture: Steve Screech
Malachi Napa celebrates putting AFC Sudbury 2-1 ahead against Long Eaton United at the beginning of the second half Picture: Steve Screech

A superior goal difference, currently 11 better than Hitchin’s, means a draw would virtually guarantee a second season in the Pitching In Southern League Premier Central after a testing campaign that saw them have six points removed in January, following Nuneaton Borough’s league withdrawal after a financial collapse.

However, Abbott is not looking for his side to keep things tight with a draw in mind to get things over the line at a fourth-placed Leamington side who are yet to confirm their play-off place.

He said: "No, I don't think that's been our game-plan all year.

Josh Allen (left) celebrates his second goal and AFC Sudbury’s fifth in Saturday’s 7-1 win Picture: Steve Screech
Josh Allen (left) celebrates his second goal and AFC Sudbury’s fifth in Saturday’s 7-1 win Picture: Steve Screech

"I think we've got match-winners, we've got players that are effective at the top end of the pitch and I also think we can defend now really well as a team.

"I don't think we need to change the way we play because of the context of what the day looks like.

"Like we said to the players after the game (against Long Eaton), all the focus is on us on Saturday.

"It doesn't matter about the noise around us, if we do our job we're going to be successful this season, so I think that game-plan won't change."

AFC lost the reverse fixture to Leamington 1-0 on November 18 but head to St Albans in Hertfordshire brimming with confidence after stringing three wins together for the first time this season and knowing if Hitchin fail to beat visiting 13th-placed Stourbridge they will be celebrating survival whatever their result.

"Obviously we know Leamington are a good side and full of experience,” said Abbott.

"I also think they will be cautious of playing us at this time of the season.

"We've got energy, we've got athleticism and we've got goals. We'll be going there to win.

“We have to focus on ourselves like we have done over the last three weeks.

"Of course, we're in the best position possible, considering what things looked like four weeks ago.”

In Saturday’s final home game, Josh Allen had put them ahead in the 33rd minute but Jamie Hanson levelled before the break.

However, after Malachai Napa tapped in a cross within a minute of the restart, AFC did not look back.

Allen’s shot deflected in off Simeon Jackson’s back in the 53rd minute and Napa found the bottom corner for 4-1 less than a minute later.

Allen finished off from a long ball for his second on the hour mark and fellow Luton Town loanee Jacob Pinnington added a sixth after a fine run.

Substitute Callum Page completed their biggest win of the season – since the 6-1 win in the reverse fixture – in the 92nd minute with a curling finish.

Abbott reflected: “It was a brilliant occasion with the supporters and youth academy players present and our message was to excite them.

"In parts of the first half I thought we done that really well and obviously the way we started the second half was the perfect start with scoring two early goals and going 3-1 up.

"Then I guess we know we've got good players and creative players and I think then the players really, really enjoyed their last 45. It was fantastic.”

Abbott confirmed he has a fully fit squad ahead of Saturday.