TWO quickfire second-half goals saw AFC Kesgrave claim the Suffolk Champions Charity Shield.
The Parkers Pitches Suffolk Junior Cup winners were pushed all the way by opponents Coddenham Athletic in the opening half of Friday’s 2-0 win at Needham Market FC in aid of the British Heart Foundation.
Indeed, it was the McDonald’s Suffolk Primary Cup holders who came closest to scoring, but they then faced an uphill battle once Tom Benjamin received a straight red card after 56 minutes.
AFC Kesgrave’s pressure duly told, and they took the lead through Emmett Klipalo in the 68th minute before Kamron Lord added the second four minutes later.
Coddenham were far from overawed against their Macron SIL Division One opponents, whose first-half finishing failed to match their approach play.
Danny Knock sent a 25-yard curling effort from the left-hand side of the penalty area just wide of the far post after 19 minutes, before the SIL Division Four side created the best chance of the half.
Michael Hammond crossed the ball for Knock to lay off and Kieren Perez forced Oliver Waters to save low to his right.
Coddenham Athletic (red & black striped shirts) put pressure on the AFC Kesgrave (orange shirts) goal during the first half of the Suffolk Champions Charity Shield. Main photograph: AFC Kesgrave players and management celebrate their victory. Photographs: Millie Edwards
After an entertaining but goalless opening 45 minutes, Coddenham were reduced to ten men when Benjamin received his marching orders for a dangerous tackle on Dan Hall as he broke forward.
The deadlock was broken in the 67th minute when Curtis Andrews took a short corner on the right to Hall, whose pin-point diagonal cross to the far post was met by a powerful head from Emmett.
Four minutes later Lord picked up loose ball just outside the Coddenham penalty area, dummied a defender and buried a low right-foot shot into the bottom corner of the net.
A flurry of substitutions followed, before AFC Kesgrave came close to adding a third in stoppage time, Tom Stone tipping Conor McCarthy’s rising drive over the crossbar.
Frazer Lord, manager of AFC Kesgrave, said afterwards: “After the first 25 minutes I thought we started to get on top and were the better team up to the sending off, but the red card did help us.
“With the quality we have got we were comfortable after that. Their keeper was the busier of the two, although we did pepper the hedge behind their goal in the first-half!
“In the second-half we were a lot better and found our rhythm and overall I am happy with our performance.”
AFC Kesgrave (orange shirts) on the attack against Coddenham Athletic (red & black striped shirts during Friday night’s Suffolk Champions Charity Shield match at Needham Market. Photograph: Millie Edwards
Coddenham Athletic manager Aaron Pryke said: “I thought we were the better side until the red card, which was unfortunate. The referee gave what he could see.
“We didn’t react to it particularly well and it took us a while to get going again.
“They are a great team. We want to test ourselves against bigger teams and we did well in the first-half.”
The Suffolk Champions Charity Shield was presented to AFC Kesgrave by Laura Gasson, Regional Fundraising Manager of the British Heart Foundation, assisted by Suffolk FA Chair Phil Lawler.
AFC Kesgrave: Oliver Waters, Charlie Bixby, Curtis Andrews, Emmett Klipalo, Andrew Garnham, Joe Bigmore, Kamron Lord, Dan Hall, Matt Oldfield, Kris Hammond, James Steel. Used subs: Owen Richardson, Rob Bird, Conor McCarthy. Unused subs: Owen Lennie, Kieran Leggett.
Coddenham Athletic: Tom Stone, Ryan Clarke, Alex Wall, Tom Benjamin, Cam Crowder, Reece Saunderson-Copping, Michael Hammond, Danny Knock, Owen Clemson, Kieren Perez, Max Holland. Used subs: Josh Abbott, Jack Bignell, Kyle Hall, Luca Mulley. Unused sub: Dan Hammond.
Referee: Sam Holman.