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AFC Sudbury manager Marc Abbott calls for players to maintain inner focus as gap to Hitchin Town and safety closes to single point

AFC Sudbury manager Marc Abbott has called on his players to maintain their focus heading into their last two games to prevent wasting a ‘great chance’ to pull off the great escape.

The Yellows secured a memorable 2-0 away win at Bromsgrove Sporting on Saturday to breathe new life into their quest for survival in the Pitching In Southern League Premier Central, closing the gap to Hitchin Town – who lost 1-0 at home to Halesowen Town – from four points to just one.

Sudbury begin their two-game run-in with their final home game on Saturday, with already-relegated Long Eaton United, who have lost their last four matches, the visitors (3pm).

AFC Sudbury manager Marc Abbott will oversee his side’s last home game on Saturday Picture: Richard Marsham
AFC Sudbury manager Marc Abbott will oversee his side’s last home game on Saturday Picture: Richard Marsham

And Abbott wants to see more of the same from his side this weekend to ensure they take the fight down to their final match, at fourth-placed Leamington, the following Saturday.

“Firstly we’ve had to focus on ourselves,” he said, reflecting on Saturday’s events.

“Naturally with the time of season and context of what could happen there was a slight eye on it (Hitchin’s game) but nothing that deflected from what we were trying to do and I think that’s got to be the case for the next two games as well.

Simeon Jackson scored his first AFC Sudbury goal at Bromsgrove Sporting on Saturday Picture: Richard Marsham
Simeon Jackson scored his first AFC Sudbury goal at Bromsgrove Sporting on Saturday Picture: Richard Marsham

“I think if we focus on ourselves and bring the two performances together for the last two games then we’ve got a great chance.

“We’ve got to continue doing what we’re doing. We’ve got some really good players in the group, some really focused players and we’ve got ourselves in a really good position.

And after seeing the players after Saturday we definitely don’t want to waste it, and the players won’t want to waste the opportunity.”

After Jack Cawley had been required to clear off the line in what was an otherwise promising first half for the visitors at Bromsgrove Sporting, Sudbury made the breakthrough in the 63rd minute when Simeon Jackson got across his marker to turn in Joe Neal’s delivery into the box.

A handball saw AFC concede a penalty but keeper James Bradbrook made a fine low save to keep them ahead before a Josh Allen thunderbolt put the result beyond any doubt six minutes from time.

“I thought it was a very hard-working, honest performance,” said Abbott.

“I think with the nature of what could have happened I thought the players were all very calm while playing on the edge to put in a resilient performance.”

He added: “The penalty save obviously galvanised everyone and really brought the best out of everyone, and the second goal finished them to be honest.

“It was great timing and a great moment with the supporters behind the goal. And it was unbelievable to keep a clean sheet at a place as tough as that.”

Jackson’s goal ensured the former Gillingham and Norwich City promotion winner has now scored across all of the top seven tiers of English football.

And while Abbott was pleased to see him break his duck in his fourth game, it is the 37-year-old’s overall contribution since he came in which has delighted him.

"Simeon’s been fantastic since he came in and we were pleased he got his goal but he’s brought more than just goals to us,” he said.

"I think what he’s shown on the pitch, off the pitch and during the game supporting players has been far greater than goals but that was an important goal and an important moment. We were really delighted for him.”

Fellow forward Romario Dunne is available after suspension for Saturday’s game with Sudbury once again knowing they would be relegated if the lost and Hitchin, who are at seventh-placed Stamford, win.

National finals for academy sides

Meanwhile, AFC Sudbury Academy are set to contest two national cup finals on the same day on Wednesday, May 1.

The girls will kick off at 1pm in the National Youth Football League Cup against Northampton Town at their Sixfields stadium in a repeat of last year's final.

It will then be a 7pm kick-off for the boys against Thomas Telford School in the England College FA Knockout Trophy Final.at Accrington Stanley’s Wham Stadium.

Sudbury earned their place in the final yesterday with a 4-2 success against Park View Academy of Sport up in Chester-le-Street in County Durham.