MILDENHALL Town added to AFC Sudbury’s miserable recent record in the Turners Hyundai Suffolk Premier Cup.
The Thurlow Nunn League Premier Division leaders won 1-0 against their higher-league hosts at the MEL Group Stadium in Tuesday’s second-round tie courtesy of Ben Nolan’s fine individual goal.
The tricky winger ran at the heart of the home defence from just inside the centre circle and finished with a low shot into the bottom right-hand corner of keeper Alfie Stronge’s net after 14 minutes.
The Hall’s manager Ricky Cornish, who described Nolan’s goal as “magnificent”, said: “I think we defended very well and hit them on the counter, which we are very good at.
“In the first-half we created a few chances and it could have been one or two more. In the second half they were camped (in our half) a little bit without causing us any problems.”
Mildenhall's Ben Nolan (red shirt) scores the only goal of Tuesday night's Turners Hyundai Suffolk Premier Cup Second Round tie despite the close attentions of four AFC Sudbury defenders. Main photograph: AFC Sudbury's Laste Dombaye (yellow shirt) challenges Mildenhall Town's Matt Green (red shirt) as team-mate Phil Weaver looks on. Photographs: Clive Pearson.
AFC Sudbury joint manager Rick Andrews said: “We huffed and puffed and they defended well and it has been our Achilles heel this season in terms of we are not scoring many goals.
“We play some pretty football but are not direct enough at times and try to walk the ball into the net, but they defended well and we wish them all the best in the next round.”
Nolan’s goal came just a minute after Stronge leapt to his left to claw away Luke Butcher’s goal-bound header from Darryl Coakley’s right-wing free-kick and then Tommy Robinson was just off target from the resulting corner.
The closest AFC Sudbury came to a first-half equaliser was in the 41st minute when Butcher got back to head off the line after keeper Josh Pope was caught out of position and chipped by Jake Clowsley.
Although AFC Sudbury had plenty of second-half possession they were restricted to shots from outside the penalty area, except for a triple miss after 74 minutes.
Pope and Butcher combined to keep out Clowsley’s close-range follow-up after two other efforts failed to find the net.
The visitors had almost doubled their lead ten minutes earlier, Dan Brown’s looping header bouncing back off the top of the crossbar from Pope’s long clearance.
Mildenhall defended solidly and doggedly to see out the tie in the closing stages and move into the last eight of this season’s competition.
Defeat for the Isthmian League North side compounded their miserable Suffolk Premier Cup record – AFC Sudbury have not appeared in the final since the 2003-04 season.
Their 4-0 victory over Bury Town that season was the club’s third success in a row; the Yellows’ most recent semi-final appearance came in the 2014-15 season when they lost 3-2 to Whitton United after extra time.
AFC Sudbury defenders surround Mildenhall Town striker James Hall (red shirt) during Tuesday night's Turners Hyundai Suffolk Premier Cup Second Round tie. Photograph: Clive Pearson.
Mildenhall will be joined in the quarter-finals by Kirkley & Pakefield, after they came from behind to defeat fellow Thurlow Nunn League Premier Division side Long Melford 3-1.
The match at Walmer Road was the only other tie of the seven scheduled to go ahead as heavy rain throughout the day resulted in five pitches being waterlogged.
An own goal in the 15th minute put Long Melford ahead before Joel Wilson restored parity for The Royals after 39 minutes.
Second-half strikes from Miguel Lopez in the 75th minute and Louis Tillet with seven minutes remaining settled the outcome.
The remaining second-round match between Needham Market and Walsham-le-Willows is scheduled to take place on Wednesday evening, kick-off 7.45pm.
Turners Hyundai Suffolk Premier Cup Second Round: AFC Sudbury 0 Mildenhall Town 1, Bury Town v Felixstowe & Walton Utd – postponed, Hadleigh Utd v Lakenheath – postponed, Haverhill Rovers v Woodbridge Town – postponed, Ipswich Town XI v Stowmarket Town at Stowmarket Town FC – postponed, Kirkley & Pakefield 3 Long Melford 1, Leiston v Brantham Athletic – postponed.
Turners Hyundai Suffolk Premier Cup Second Round: Needham Market v Walsham-le-Willows (7.45pm).