TWO goals in first-half injury time set AFC Sudbury on their way to a fourth successive victory in the KBB NEFF Suffolk Boys’ Under-18 Cup Final.
AFC Sudbury defeated Walsham-le-Willows 4-1 at Portman Road in Thursday night’s final to maintain their monopoly on this competition.
However, they had to come from behind as they trailed to a sixth minute strike from Jack Spampanato, before equalising six minutes later through Ross Crane. Isaac Skubich then scored twice in a minute to make it 3-1, Oliver Gravett adding a fourth early in the second period.
Walsham, winners of the Thurlow Nunn Youth League Central Division, stunned AFC Sudbury by taking the lead with just six minutes played, Spampanato drilling a low shot just inside Sam Wright’s right-hand post from 25 yards.
Dan Stobbart, who impressed for Walsham when they won the Days Sports Suffolk Senior Reserve Cup a fortnight ago, clawed away a header from AFC Sudbury skipper Adam Hanson before parity was restored in the 12th minute.
Left back Crane took advantage of hesitancy in the Walsham defence to drive forward and beat Dan Stobbart with a low cross-shot into the far corner of the net.
Dan Stobbart denied Crane a second soon after and then produced a flying save to keep out a well-struck Hanson shot, before Skubich’s defence-splitting pass played in Gravett but his flicked effort went just wide.
Walsham-le-Willows' substitute Harry McKeown takes on AFC Sudbury right back Liam Bennett during the second-half of the final. Photographs: Ben Pooley
At the other end Will Stobbart sent a dipping effort onto the top of the AFC Sudbury crossbar before a lovely passing move by AFC Sudbury ended with Tom Maycock’s shot being saved by the legs of Dan Stobbart, who then thwarted the same player at close range.
However, just when it looked as though the teams would go into the break all square, Skubich scored with a low shot from the edge of the penalty area in the second of three additional minutes and then volleyed home a third from close range following Liam Bennett's right-wing cross.
AFC Sudbury then effectively killed the game five minutes into the second half when Gravett added a fourth, after the Walsham defence failed to clear Crane's cross from the left. Gravett had three chances to add to their tally, and Dan Stobbart saved from substitute Nathan Read in injury time.
Little was seen of Walsham as an attacking force in the second half, although captain Kehan Whitby shot over the angle of bar and post after a driving run into the penalty area late on, but Sudbury repeated their three-goal margin of victory over the same opponents in the 2017 final.
The cup and medals were presented by former Suffolk FA Chairman and Life Member David Porter and Roger Peck, a director of competition sponsors The KBB Centre.
AFC Sudbury: Sam Wright, Liam Bennett, Ross Crane, Ben Hammett, Joe Grimwood, Baris Altintop, Oliver Gravett, Adam Hanson, Freddie King, Isaac Skubich, Tom Maycock. Used subs: Nathan Read, Luis Berkane, Tom Gardiner, Josh Buckles, Brad Sayer.
Walsham-le-Willows: Dan Stobbart, Marley Browne, Jordan Asker, Taylor Waterson, Harvey Hubbard, Konnor Dixon, Will Stobbart, Jack Spampanato, Joe Mower, Kehan Whitby, Matthew Glover. Used subs: Ben Harris, Harry Roberts, Harry McKeown, Ryan Stiff.
Referee: Liam Chinery.