Basildon United had to settle for a point against AFC Sudbury after first half strikes from Tyrone Baker and Sonny Dutton’s penalty were cancelled out. Revitalised after the break, the Suffolk side stormed back, levelling through Danny Collinge and Marley Andrews.
Changes aplenty have been seen at the Essex Isthmian North club in the past fortnight. Following the resignation of manager, Alex Salmon, after only one League match, former Bowers & Pitsea U-23 manager, John Guyton, was installed in the hot seat on September 21st. Ten incoming signings immediately followed, accompanied by a number of departures.
Even if swiftly executed, this does not appear to be an acquisition strategy aimed solely at boosting numbers. Leafing through the contacts book, Guyton is sticking to tried and tested, mining a rich seam of talent. Seven arrivals come from his Bowers team while Dutton and Baker are both known quantities from his previous coaching experience at AFC Hornchurch.
Those that adhere to the mantra that winning with kids is not possible might wish to look away. After conceding a late winner in a narrow defeat against Romford in his first League match in charge, Guyton’s boys got the fans buzzing with an eye-catching six goal demolition of Great Wakering in mid-week. Whilst in no way the finished article, the result does provide an early indication of the merits of giving young talent its chance to shine.
Revisions to winning sides are usually resisted and this proved to be the case with the Bees unchanged from the last match. Sudbury, on the back of defeats in the last five games in all competitions, sought to shore up a leaky defence. Four changes included new arrival on loan from Colchester United, Danny Collinge, at centre-back. Lewis O’Malley came in at right-back for Alfie Adams and winger, Marley Andrews returned to the fold after injury.
Sudbury started the brighter with attacking midfielder, Tom Maycock, making headway down the right-hand side on several occasions during the opening ten minutes. During the match, the 19 years old, academy product, who caught the eye with his quality, was to prove to be a potent attacking outlet for the Suffolk side. As an early warning, his precise cross found Billy Holland who let Basildon off the hook by miscuing when well-placed.
The kids learnt fast, breaking quickly and capitalising on a poor clearance from the Sudbury defence, to open the scoring. Baker, who shone in an attacking role for Basildon, left his position on the left flank to pick up possession in the centre of the pitch. Full of the ambition of youth, he resisted the short pass to a team-mate and went for goal. His fine, swerving strike from 25 yards flew unerringly into the top corner to give the Bees the lead.
Sudbury, who enjoyed good possession but were somewhat profligate in front of goal, came back through Maycock. Another cross caused havoc in the Basildon six-yard area. Initially veteran striker, Sean Marks, had a weak shot blocked before a far post header by defender Joe Grimwood had to be palmed away from the top corner by Basildon’s George Marsh. A weak shot from Maycock and a Ben Hunter daisy cutter from range failed to trouble Marsh.
The game morphed into a spell where little happened as possession was regularly exchanged and little action took place of note. Basildon’s right back, Fahad Nyanja changed all that with a menacing break forward into the box. Found by Bradley Greene’s pass, his shot was beaten away by the advancing Luca Woodhouse who narrowed the angle smartly.
It would be another defensive error that let in the Bees for their second just before half-time as Collinge dawdled on the ball on the edge of the penalty area. Nipping in, striker George O’Connor picked his pocket and was tripped by Woodhouse as he headed towards goal. The Bees may have exited the FA Trophy on penalties at Northwood two weeks ago but you would never have noticed. Dutton’s penalty was hard and true into the corner.
Sudbury made one change but re-emerged in the second half completely revitalised. A different proposition faced Basildon who came under sustained pressure from the re-start. Maycock was the instigator, his cross allowing Collinge to turn from villain to hero, as the defender headed powerfully home to haul his new side back into contention.
With momentum clearly shifting, Basildon had to rely on a perfectly timed tackle from Nyanja to dispossess substitute, Freddie King, motoring into the penalty area. Visiting full-back, O’Malley, who was a lively second half presence stung Marsh’s fingers with a rising shot. A speculative strike wide from King followed as Sudbury turned up the heat.
As the chances started to accumulate, it was over to Maycock to set up the equaliser. Crossing from the left, Andrews well-placed in the centre spun to send a lofted finish high into the net to level up the scores just past the hour mark. It could have been worse minutes later as Hunter lashed a shot against the Basildon post with twenty minutes left.
Despite being outplayed in the second half, the Bees could still have won the game as substitute, Callum Boylan, almost sneaked a winner. Pouncing on hesitancy from Woodhouse, he seized possession. Under pressure, and from the angle, he could only curl his shot wide of the goal. A late freekick dispatched by Basildon’s Greene also went close.
All in all, Basildon will settle for a vital point. Sudbury are clearly a lot better side than five previous defeats would indicate. Basildon can take a lot from a clinical first half and derive some comfort from holding on after coming under severe pressure after the break. There were chances to win but a draw seems fair against an improving Suffolk side.
Basildon United 2 AFC Sudbury 2
Basildon United: ’11 Baker; ’44 Dutton (pen)
AFC Sudbury: ’51 Collinge; ’61 Andrews.
1 George Marsh; 2. Fahad Nyanja; 3. Joshua Rusoke; 4. Samuel Girling (15. Billy Purdy, ’58); 5. Ben Steward; 6. Jack Grosvenor; 7. Tyrone Baker; 8. Bradley Greene; 9. George O’Connor (14. Callum Boylan, ’70); 10. Sonny Dutton (12. Kamal De Bourg, ’65); 11. Samuel Jeremiah
1 Luca Collins; 2. Lewis O’Malley; 3. Joe Whight; 4. Billy Holland; 5. Joe Grimwood; 6. Danny Collinge; 7. Kane Munday (14. Freddie King, ’46); 8. Ben Hunter; 9. Sean Marks; 10. Tom Maycock; 11. Marley Andrews (12. Ethan Mayhew, ’77).