Haringey Borough v AFC Sudbury – 6 October 2018

Haringey Borough v AFC Sudbury

Saturday brought the excitement of the next stage of the FA Cup following a thoroughly miserable Friday evening watching West Ham lose at Brighton. My pre-game routine was a familiar one as I plotted the best route to Coles Park while watching the rain splatter against the window. In fact, everything felt a little habitual. Haringey Borough were playing their second home FA Cup tie in two weeks and for the second time in the competition they were facing one of last season’s Bostik North rivals.

Boro’s opponents today were AFC Sudbury. The Suffolk based outfit had been widely tipped to challenge for promotion at step four this season, but their league form has been patchy, at best. In the FA Cup, however, the Suds have been imperious. They’d already seen off step three Royston Town before they faced Haringey’s Bostik Premier Division adversaries Bognor Regis Town. Sudbury vanquished the South Coast side 3-2 late on in a replay. 

Score: 2-1
Competition: FA Cup Third Qualifying Round
Ground: Coles Park
Attendance: 209
Ticket: Β£10
Programme: Β£1
Refreshments: Β£2 (tea and Kit-Kat)
Dogs spotted: 1

The form

Boro had put together a run of five consecutive wins since their victory over Brentwood in the First Qualifying Round. Their impressive momentum, however, had come to screeching halt against Harlow Town on Monday night. Boro fans felt the Essex Club, who have a habit of producing the odd unexpected result, were the beneficiaries of some questionable officiating. Sudbury had been knocked out of the Velocity and FA Trophies either side of their win over Bognor. Their last two league outings had also been defeats.

The two sides met twice in the Bostik North last season with Boro winning both games, a 3-0 win at Coles Park and a 2-1 victory in Suffolk. It is the Suds, however, who arguably boast the better FA Cup record. They made the First Round proper in 2001 where they were beaten 6-1 in Darlington. They’ve also made the Fourth Qualifying Round on two occasions to Haringey’s one.  Sudbury won the only previous FA Cup meeting between the two having won 5-1 in a 2005 Extra-Preliminary Round clash.

Haringey Borough v AFC Sudbury
AFC Sudbury have attacking corner against Haringey Borough

The party stand

The rain, fast becoming a mainstay of FA Cup afternoons at Coles Park, was accompanied by a rather vicious cold wind. This meant the majority of the crowd of 209 were huddled into the main stand  Musty old coats and scarves, were rudely awakened from their post ‘Beast from the East hibernation. Tea and chips were clutched firmly as cheerful Suffolk accents infiltrated the Bell End. As is usual at Coles Park there was plenty of fun to be had under the slightly leaky roof. The players were serenaded by the newest addition to the Bell End, a saxophonist, as they came out into the rain. A few in yellow could be seen smiling while visitors in red looked a little bemused.

The visitors started the game well while the home side looked a little rusty. Olufemi and Kirby were missing from the usually settled Boro defence. Rowe came in at centre back while Ademiluyi deputised at right-back. It took the new-look back four some time to settle. The Suds, resplendent in a clearly freshly washed kit, were quick to expose some early nerves. Phil Kelly held the ball up well and late runners were keen to attack the Boro penalty area.

The visitors had a couple of half chances but were soon ahead. Kelly’s shot was only parried by Pajetat. The rebound then hit O’Donoghue and ended up in the back of the new yellow and blue net. The usually reliable left-back looked a little shaken by his own goal. He had a couple of nervous moments during the rest of the first half.  Boro picked up the intensity in the search for an equaliser. Aresti’s shot from the edge of the box hit the post and McKenzie was then flagged offside as he rolled the rebound over the line. 

Haringey Borough v AFC Sudbury
Haringey Borough win a corner

They didn’t have to wait too long to draw level though. A set piece led to a scene of pinball in the box. Eventually, McKenzie poked home to maintain his record of scoring in each round Boro have played in. You couldn’t quite hear the rollicking the home side got at half-time but you could sense it was happening. They looked a different side in the second half. The small group of visiting fans behind the goal had a lot less to celebrate. McKenzie then fortuitously added the winning goal. Mitchell found some space in the box and got a shot off. The striker stuck out a foot, or shin, and deflected the ball past the Sudbury keeper.

The visitors, now behind despite being the better side for much of the game, surged forward to try and force a replay. A more direct approach caused a few headaches but Rowe and Mitchell looked solid. They did, however, manage to fashion a couple of good, late chances. Unfortunately, for the fans who’d made the trip from Suffolk the Suds couldn’t hit the target.

Haringey Borough v AFC Sudbury
Haringey Borough swing over an attacking free-kick

Boro one win away from history

Haringey held on for the win and progress to the Fourth, and final, Qualifying Round for the second time in two seasons. They will find out on Monday who they will face as they try and make history by making the First Round proper for the first time. The historical aspect now outweighs the financial rewards. The excitement leading up to the next round will undoubtedly make for a memorable day wherever the next round takes them.

Star player: Chinedu McKenzie