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Hadleigh United continue positive start by knocking AFC Sudbury out of Suffolk Premier Cup





Hadleigh United played the role of the underdog to the letter on Tuesday evening to advance beyond higher-league AFC Sudbury in the second round of the Suffolk Premier Cup.

Christian Appleford’s men put their bodies on the line, made goal-line clearances, got the little bit of luck they needed and to their credit, also looked to pose a threat on the counter when the opportunity arose.

And they also had to show plenty of mental resilience after being pegged back in stoppage time to draw 1-1, before overturning a deficit in the subsequent penalty shootout to triumph 5-4 on sudden death kicks.

“We played well. We’ve got a real fearless attitude about us this year and we’ll give anyone a game when we are on it,” said the Hadleigh boss.

“We had a few players missing through injury, but those who have come in that have been waiting for their chance stepped in and did well.

“Everyone has done a proper disciplined job from the first minute.

AFC Sudbury's recently returned goalkeeper Luca Collins makes a good start to the penalty shootout with a save Picture: Mecha Morton
AFC Sudbury's recently returned goalkeeper Luca Collins makes a good start to the penalty shootout with a save Picture: Mecha Morton

“You know they are going to dominate the ball, so we had to stay switched on and be good defensively.

“But I also felt we caused them problems when we went forward.

“There is a good spirit and a never-say-die attitude about us, and that showed tonight.”

Hadleigh made the breakthrough in the 76th minute when Jake Eady flicked out a boot to divert Matt Paine’s driven effort from distance into the net.

Jake Eady (partially obscured) sticks out a leg to put the hosts in front Picture: Mecha Morton
Jake Eady (partially obscured) sticks out a leg to put the hosts in front Picture: Mecha Morton

Step 4 Sudbury piled on the pressure thereafter and the resistance was finally broken in the second minute of stoppage time by Billy Holland, who powered home a header from close range.

But while Hadleigh goalkeeper Nick Punter had little chance with that effort, he was the hero during the spot kicks with two saves – including a decisive stop to keep out Lewis O’Malley.

On Saturday, Hadleigh will switch their focus back to continuing their impressive start to the new Thurlow Nunn League Premier Division season when they head to Ely City (3pm).

Hadleigh's Dan Knight takes a penalty in the shootout Picture: Mecha Morton
Hadleigh's Dan Knight takes a penalty in the shootout Picture: Mecha Morton

Saturday’s 2-1 home win against Woodbridge (Kade Ivatt, Paine) made it four victories from their opening six fixtures – good enough to be fifth at this early stage.

It’s a far cry from the same point last term, at which point Hadleigh had picked up just four points.

Tom Maycock and Matt Paine battled for possesion at The Millfield Picture: Mecha Morton
Tom Maycock and Matt Paine battled for possesion at The Millfield Picture: Mecha Morton

Appleford added: “It’s been a good start. The two league games we lost, we deserved a point in both of them as well.

“We will keep working hard. We know there is still a lot to do and nobody is getting carried away.

“It’s only six games but we’ve got a good group who want to work hard and put things right from last year.

“We are playing some good attacking football and hopefully that continues.

“Ely have a good start as well to be fair. They are going to be a tough side and they always play the pitch well.

AFC Sudbury captain Joe Whight takes a penalty Picture: Mecha Morton
AFC Sudbury captain Joe Whight takes a penalty Picture: Mecha Morton

“We’ll go there looking for the win – that is how we will approach every game this season. If we perform like we have tonight then we have a good chance.”

Appleford is hopeful Kyle Cassell will be fit for the trip to Ely.

Hadleigh: Punter, Ross, Eady (Holder 85’), Paine, Elliott, Van-Oene, Ferguson (Murphy 46’), Dinnell, Glover, Ivatt, Ransome (Knight 77’)

AFC Sudbury: Collins, Adams (Girling 46’), Munday, O’Malley, Grimwood, Whight, Hunter, Holland, Marks, Maycock, Mayhew (Ambrose 79’)

Free Press Man of the Match – Max Dinnell: An all-round performance from the Hadleigh midfielder, who used the ball well and put in his fair share of tackles.