AFC Sudbury continued their domination of the Veo Suffolk Under-18 Midweek Cup with a seventh successive victory.
They defeated Needham Market 5-1 in Wednesday night’s final at Colchester United FC, but their opponents matched them before conceding four goals in the final 30 minutes.
The final scoreline arguably flattered the winners as the turning point came in the 59th minute when AFC Sudbury keeper Ryan Dunne pulled off a splendid save to deny Seth Chambers’ shot on the turn following Ollie Fraser’s cross from the right.
Needham Market goalkeeper Lawrence Robinson is beaten by Bobby Badham's 30-yard rocket that arrowed into the top corner in first-half injury-time. Main photograph: AFC Sudbury players celebrate their victory. Photographs: Paul Voller
That came ten minutes after Needham had equalised through James Letts, who swept home after Dunne had parried a shot from the impressive Fraser.
The Marketmen had fallen behind in first-half injury time to a superb Bobby Badham strike from 30 yards that flew into the top corner.
Within two minutes of Dunne’s heroics, AFC Sudbury had regained the lead, Jamie Bennett displaying good footwork to cut in from the by-line on the right before shooting into the far corner.
Liam Pearce then twice split the Needham defence in the 70th and 79th minutes with through balls for Reuben Swann to race clear and finish with aplomb.
Kaya Donohue then added a fifth in the 90th minute after dispossessing centre back Stanley Fovargue and rounding keeper Lawrence Robinson.
AFC Sudbury goalkeeper Ryan Dunne pulls off a superb save to deny Seth Chambers (red shirt, No.9) giving Needham Market the lead in the 59th minute. Photograph: Paul Voller
Six of the AFC Sudbury side that started Wednesday's final also did so in the 2-0 loss to Framlingham Town last Friday's CNet Training Suffolk Senior Cup Final, with a further five members of Wednesday's squad also involved on Friday.
AFC Sudbury manager Danny Laws said afterwards: “Myself, Dave Cannon and Craig Power have been involved with all seven finals and that is testament to those guys and the work we have put in and also the support the football club give us to achieve that.
“I particularly enjoyed that one tonight – it is one of the most pleasing along with last season’s final against Ipswich Town and one of the finals at Portman Road when Isaac Skubich scored twice (a 4-1 win versus Walsham-le-Willows in 2019) as we had to really work hard against a good side.
“After the disappointment of Friday night, it takes not only character and looking at yourself in the mirror but planning and organisation to come back and deliver a performance like that.
“The Veo camera will have caught two special moments – that great strike by Bobby Badham and then the save by Ryann Dunne, which was huge, and I am so pleased for both those boys and the whole squad, particularly the second years.
“Reuben Swann is a first year who has shown his quality tonight – he suffered a broken leg when he was an under-16 here at Colchester United and deserves great credit for getting himself back to the level that he has.”
Needham Market manager Colin Grogan agreed that Dunne’s save from Chambers’ shot was the turning point in the match.
He said: “Little things like that define games. Their keeper made a great save and they have gone down the other end and scored. It’s a tough one to take.
“But I can be proud of the boys and they can be proud of themselves competing against a very good side and creating good opportunities and we could have scored more than the one we did.
“For the first years it is a learning process for them and taking something away from tonight and being able to come back stronger next year.”
AFC Sudbury's Reuben Swann (yellow shirt) scores his second and his side's fourth goal with a low left-foot shot. Photograph: Paul Voller
The cup and medals were presented by Suffolk FA Life Member and former Chair David Porter, who donated the trophy, and Suffolk FA Chair Phil Lawler.
Needham Market: Lawrence Robinson, Clayton Osborn, Brandon Greenleaf, Flynn Crosthwaite, Ben Smith, Stanley Fovargue, Luca Braddon, Taylor Clark, Seth Chambers, James Letts, Ollie Fraser. Used subs: Dimitri Gayle, Eddie Barker, Ed Barker, Travis Buxton. Unused sub: Roan Tucker.
AFC Sudbury: Ryan Dunne, Louis Arnold, Bobby Badham, Ciaran Burke, Jamie Bennett, Tom Chilvers, Jack Ladbrook, Alfie Lambert, Liam Pearce, Bobby Rea, Reuben Swann. Used subs: Jamie Eveleigh, Kaya Donohue, Oliver Hart, Brae Smith. Unused sub: Jack Catley.
Referee: Ady Sannerude.