Lagshan Sivakumar joins AFC Sudbury from Diss Town and along with Ross Wall and other debutants makes big first impression
The last week has seen AFC Sudbury’s joint managers served up quite a selection headache when it comes to picking the team to travel to basement side Hullbridge Sports on Saturday (3pm).
Striker Ross Wall signed from Pitching In Isthmian League North Division rivals Coggeshall Town ahead of the weekend and scored two goals in a 31-minute cameo off the bench to help secure a 4-2 victory at home to Tilbury.
He was not involved on Tuesday as Rick Andrews and Angelo Harrop made 10 changes for the Velocity Trophy (Isthmian League Cup) first round tie at his former club.
But the Yellows bosses were left delighted with how a side containing four debutants secured a 2-2 draw against a strong Coggeshall side before triumphing 3-1 on penalties.
After they fell behind to Jermain Francis’ 11th-minute opener, recently-turned 17-year-old academy striker Colby Hillyard marked his first senior appearance with a goal before the interval.
Christian Frimpong put AFC into the lead just before the hour mark but Alex Teniola equalised six minutes from time to send the tie to penalties.
Goalkeeper James Askew – who played for Long Melford on Saturday after a loan was arranged to help them out with cover – went on to star in that with three saves while the winning spot-kick was scored by another debutant in wide attacker Lagshan Sivakumar. The 19-year-old had shone with four goals from two appearances at Thurlow Nunn League First Division North Diss Town after joining from lower-league Mattishall after a spell with Dereham Town.
Andrews said: “He was recommended to me by someone I worked with and trained with us last Thursday and did well.
“We were looking to get him involved at the weekend but the paperwork wasn’t done in time.
“He is a pacey winger who is very direct and confident on the ball.
“He caused them (Coggeshall) problems and scored the winning penalty which was good.
“He is definitely one for the future. He will train again Thursday (tonight) and we will go from there.”
The fourth debutant, who like the others also started, was left-sided centre-back Conor Smith, who has had to bide his time for first competitive outing at the club.
Andrews said of the former Wivenhoe Town and Cambridge United youngster: “Conor joined us in pre-season and he injured his heel in a game with Ipswich Town Under-23s.
“It took a while to clear up but he has been coming to the games and watching us and working hard to come back.
“He did well, he is a good size at 6ft 2ins and is confident on the ball.”
He was also pleased with the displays from academy duo Lonton, a wide player previously with Tottenham Hotspur, and Hillyard, as well as the night in general.
“It shows the strength in depth we have,” he said.
Of Wall’s addition, with the experienced frontman having fired Coggeshall to promotion to Step 4 in a 2017/18 campaign which saw him start out in an AFC Hornchurch side which went on to win AFC’s division, he said: “We identified him and a couple of others in the summer but it did not happen.
“When we played them in the summer, even though we won 3-0 he was unplayable with winning every header.
“Obviously when we lost Romario Dunne (ACL injury) we knew we would have to go out again and we thought we would try our luck.
“He clearly liked what he heard and he came in and scored two goals on his debut.
“He gives us what I call an old-fashioned centre-forward, winning headers and holding the ball up. He is a good lad and will be good in the changing room.”
Third-placed Sudbury showed good powers of recovery to win the weekend’s game with Tilbury.
Jake Clowsley drew the hosts level at 1-1 with 57 minutes on the referee’s watch, but within 60 seconds they had fallen behind again to an Oliver Spooner goal.
However, the Yellows rallied as Wall’s headed double sandwiched a penalty from Cruise Nyadzayo to wrap up all three points with Tilbury having seen Ryan Boswell receive a second yellow card in the 64th minute.
Saturday’s trip to basement side Hullbridge Sports (3pm) is quickly followed by a trip to mid-table Hashtag United on Monday (7.45pm).