Dockers slump to defeat in the mud

Tilbury 1 v 2 AFC Sudbury

AS might have been expected, given their respective Ryman One North league positions, Sudbury came out on top of Saturday’s hard-fought clash at a muddy and slippery Chadfields reports the Thurrock Enquirer.

Tilbury took a first half but found themselves pegged back and reduced to ten men as the points slipped out of their grasp in the second half.
Sudbury started the brighter and in the opening exchanges on a pitch that probably mirrored others in the division where the action had been called off, they looked the better side.

Daniel Emmanuel was the game’s most exciting player in the early stages, skipping over the mud and standing water to tease the home defence, but he was unable to make the most of his opportunities, the best of which was a one-on-one with home keeper James Marrable on eight minutes, with the Dockers’ stopper getting down to make a good save.

So it was against the run of play on 13 minutes when Tilbury took the lead, Bradley Barnes working the space to dig out a lofted cross from the left which fell to Chas Liddiard who was given the time and opportunity to control the ball and pick his spot from close range.

The goal was against the run of play and in contrast to the rest of the first half when Sudbury created the best chances, never going closer than on 16 minutes when Jack Wignall struck the bar with a header and Tom Devaux bundled the rebound goalwards only for Marrable to snatch the ball into his grasp with Sudbury claiming it had already crossed the line,

Tilbury’s attacking forays were few and far between but on the half hour, after another promising Emmanuel run had been snuffed out, goalkeeper Nicky Eyre had to quick to snuff out a quick Dockers counter attack.

And soon afterwards Eyre had to be alert, diving to gather a strike from Barnes, who had the ball in the back of the net from the follow-up attack, only to be denied by a raised flag for offside.

It was a thwarted attack that nevertheless sent Tilbury into the break on a high, but they were brought down to earth in the opening minutes of the second half when Dave Wareham got on the end of an early cross and smashed home an equaliser.

With the match evenly poised a pivotal moment arrived on 65 minutes when Sudbury’s Daniel Swain and Docker Ben Bradbury challenged for the ball on the halfway line. Bradbury was undoubtedly second to the ball, with both feet off the ground, but Swain’s attempt to get the ball also saw him leave the deck. The Sudbury man came off worst from the aggressive encounter and ref Dave Bushell, who was just five yards away from the clash, consulted with his assistant before producing a red to add to Tilbury’s disappointing disciplinary tally.

Bradbury was irate and aggressively challenged both ref and linesman which may lead to further problems – though he had the good grace afterwards to concede he was airborne in the challenge.

Though they were down to ten men, Tilbury actually raised their game from then on and began to push Sudbury back – though they didn’t create a clear cut chance.

Sudbury seemed content to sit back and try and catch Tilbury on the counter – a philosophy which worked perfectly when Aaron Matthews dwelled on the ball when leading a Tilbury attack and, after being dispossessed, was miles out of position as Sudbury broke quickly and his counterpart sub Josh Turner got on the end of a quick riposte and drilled the ball home.

From then on Tilbury looked and played like a beaten side. The spirit was willing but the reality was bleak as they were closed out.
Sudbury might well have had a third goal when Emmanuel flicked a header goalwards and was only thwarted by a superb save from Marrable, but ref Bushell did his own credibility little good by awarding a goal-kick, presumably mistaking the crossbar for Marrable’s outstretched arm.

Things got a little fractious in the closing stages, with Wignall possibly lucky to stay on the pitch after an aggressive challenge. Bizarrely after being booked, and without any involvement of the Sudbury physio, he was sidelined by Mr Bushell, who waited until play restarted before waving him back onto the field of play.

Quite what rulebook the ref was working to is beyond this writer but it would be unfair to put the match outcome on the official – indeed he deserves immense allowing the game to be played on a difficult, but certainly not unplayable surface.

Sudbury were certainly the better and more deserving side on the day, but they will have to up their performance level if they are to challenge for a play-off spot, while Tilbury should certainly be safe if they keep up the level of commitment they showed.

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