Colchester United out-gunned by AFC Sudbury in 20th anniversary celebration match which provides memorable milestone birthday for Joe Grimwood
Joe Grimwood received the perfect 18th birthday present from his AFC Sudbury team-mates as they combined to run riot in a nine-goal thriller against a Colchester United Under-23s side on Tuesday.
The 6-3 victory provided a fantastic spectacle for the Yellows to sign off their pre-season campaign and also to celebrate what the club has become after the Sky Bet League Two club were invited over to mark AFC’s 20 year anniversary.
Former Sudbury Town striker Steve Parnell was in the stands as an invited guest of honour, and saw a new goalscoring hero announce himself on the pitch.
Sean Marks, a summer signing from higher-league Hornchurch who fired Braintree Town up the football pyramid, proved his prowess in the penalty box by tucking away the opener in the 11th minute from a perfect low cross from Reece Harris.
That came after a shaky start from the Yellows, who held out during some early pressure from a side which featured promising new signings Luke Ige (Aston Villa), Danny Collinge (Stuggart), Matt Weaire (Brighton) and Kwame Poku (Worthing).
AFC visibly grew from there and went into the break with a 3-0 half-time lead as Marks’ poaching instincts paid dividends again in the 17th and 34th minutes.
Firstly, he had himself in the right place at the right time to convert the rebound to Harris’ blocked effort after some haphazard Colchester defending, before grabbing his third in front of an empty net to complete a sweeping move. Tom Maycock had scooped the ball up over the backline and Billy Holland touched it across into Marks’ path to take the stranded goalkeeper out of the game before the 33-year-old cooly finished.
In-between those strikes the hosts were indebted to some more fine goalkeeping from Paul Walker, including a 28th minute full length dive to deflect an unnamed trialist’s (no10) shot up and over his crossbar.
Despite the subs starting to mount up as play resumed after the interval, the game continued to be an entertaining affair with Marks notching his fourth via a close-range header from a great Harris cross within a minute of a stunning strike from Colchester’s trialist wearing number 16.
Poku pulled another back in the 67th minute before a stunning free-kick from Louis Dunne made it 4-3.
But Sudbury, with a very young team finishing the game, showed what they are made of with two more goals inside the final 10 minutes.
Freddie King fired home from inside the box in the 80th minute before his driving run two minutes later played in Panashe Mundawara who sent a shot from the apex of the penalty area arrowing in the top corner.
It was the perfect way to cap a fine celebration for Grimwood and the club.
The 18-year-old came on at half-time and said: “It was a bit mental. It was good but tiring.
“Conceding three obviously isn’t great but it was a good scoreline and is good for the fans.
“Winning like that brings the team together and we can’t wait to start the season now.”
Having had his breakthrough season in 2018/19 disrupted by glandular fever, he revealed his primary target is to keep building his fitness ahead of trying to nail down a spot in Mark Morsley’s first team.
“I am probably now just getting back to full fitness,” said the player who still managed to make 24 first team appearances.
“I am just hoping to get my full fitness back and then get into the first team.
“I just want to get minutes on the pitch.”
The player who graduated from the academy last season is set to start a full-time apprenticeship working at the club from September and believes the vibe in the dressing room is indicating a good season ahead.
“I feel like the team is much more together and we have all bonded well and it feels like much more of a team in the dressing room,” he said.
Asked if promotion will be the aim when they kick their BetVictor Isthmian League North Division season off at Coggeshall Town a week on Saturday, he said: “I don’t see why not.
“We have got the talent to do it. We have got to put it in every week to get the wins.
“We want to get the fans behind us here and that can help a lot.”