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AFC Sudbury manager Marc Abbott left full of pride after Yellows complete their great escape





AFC Sudbury manager Marc Abbott spoke of his pride in an ‘unbelievable achievement’ after his side completed their great escape to secure the club’s first ever back-to-back seasons at Step 3 of the non-league pyramid.

The Yellows had seen six points wiped off their total in January following Nuneaton Borough’s financial collapse and had been left seven points adrift of relegation rivals Hitchin Town heading into the final four games of the Pitching In Southern League Premier Central campaign.

But three straight wins, coupled with a trio of defeats for the Cambridgeshire club, had seen them head to top-four side Leamington on the final day on Saturday two points above Hitchin and only needing to avoid defeat to guarantee survival.

AFC Sudbury manager Marc Abbott embraces former professional Simeon Jackson amid the survival celebrations at Leamington Picture: Steve Screech/AFC Sudbury
AFC Sudbury manager Marc Abbott embraces former professional Simeon Jackson amid the survival celebrations at Leamington Picture: Steve Screech/AFC Sudbury

In the end a 2-0 defeat in Warwickshire, after second-half goals from Callum Stewart (50’) and Jack Edwards (77’), as the hosts secured a home play-off semi-final, left a nervy wait at full time for news of 10-man Hitchin’s goalless draw with Stourbridge being confirmed to begin the celebrations with their travelling fans.

Once things had calmed down, Abbott, who had to almost start from scratch rebuilding the squad on his arrival in the summer, following budget cuts that saw promotion-winning manager Rick Andrews lead the departures, reflected on a special achievement.

“I’ m really proud of the club and really proud of the team, I think the players were fantastic and they deserve huge credit,” he said in his post-match interview on the club’s X account.

AFC Sudbury's players and coaching staff celebrate retaining their Step 3 status on the final day at Leamington Picture: Steve Screech
AFC Sudbury's players and coaching staff celebrate retaining their Step 3 status on the final day at Leamington Picture: Steve Screech

“The noise from the supporters today was another level with the way they got behind the players throughout, even 2-0 down we were still hearing them.

“It was a brilliant, brilliant day, obviously the result aside, but I think you've got to give Leamington huge credit, they are a very, very good side and I actually think they will go all the way in the play-offs, and I hope they do because they are a really good club.”

After finishing the campaign with five wins and a draw from their final 10 matches, Abbott is hopeful they can ensure they are not in the same position next season.

“What an achievement for us,” he said, “Obviously four games ago we were written off and the players bounced back and what an unbelievable achievement to keep this club at Step 3 and we hope we can build on this now.

“We have had 10 games and 16 points so ultimately that is great form and if you hit those amount of points next season you are around 60 points at the end of the year (enough for a ninth-placed finish this season).”

He added: “I think everyone across the club deserves it; supporters, players, board members, family members throughout the club. Just unbelievable, what an achievement.”

Of the scenes at the full-time whistle, as they learnt they had survived by a point, he said: “Unbelievable, really, really good scenes but obviously something I personally do not want to experience again to be honest.

“That final whistle was crazy, emotions were everywhere.

“We didn’t know what to think. Obviously commiserations to Hitchin, they started the season unbelievable and have got some really, really good players there.

“Obviously for us we’re happy, for them they’ll be back as they’re a very big club and we wish them well going forward because it is never nice for anyone going down and it had to be someone. We’re pleased that we’ve stayed at this level.”