Trialists on Target as U23s Win at AFC Sudbury
Saturday, 20th Jul 2019 18:33 by Russell Claydon
Two trialists were on target as Gerard Nash's U23s side won 4-2 at AFC Sudbury, reversing last week’s scoreline in their opening friendly at Coggeshall Town, while striker Aaron Drinan netted a brace.
With the first team having used a number of his regular U23s players in the 5-0 win at Colchester United on Friday evening, Nash fielded a young side which included two trialists in the starting XI.
Portugese-born Quevin Castro (pictured above, centre), who was youngster at Sporting Lisbon and made 40 appearances for Thurlow Nunn League Premier Division side Thetford Town last season despite not yet being 18, started in a holding midfield role in the number eight shirt.
The number 10 slot behind Drinan was occupied by Scottish-born John Robertson, who has made two substitute appearances for Scottish Premiership side St Johnstone, having come through their youth system. Like Castro, he is due to turn 18 next month.
It was rumoured Paul Lambert would be in attendance which proved to be incorrect, though vice-captain Cole Skuse was among those in the crowd at The MEL Group Stadium.
AFC Sudbury, who play in the fourth tier of non-league in the BetVictor Isthmian League North Division on a 3G artificial pitch, had gone into the game having had some eye-catching recent pre-season results against higher-league teams.
They had followed up last Saturday's 3-0 home win against Leiston with a 1-1 draw with Haringey Borough on Tuesday, also at their King's Marsh base.
But they made a slow start against the Blues who punished them from one of their first attacks to take the lead inside four minutes.
Trialist Robertson got away down the right and cut the ball back for Lounes Foudil who weaved his way across the box before seeing his shot blocked. But it fell kindly for Irishman Drinan who fired it emphatically beyond Paul Walker.
The Sudbury goalkeeper, who has previously represented Northampton Town, was called upon to make several good saves to keep his side in touching distance.
Drinan was denied a second goal from the edge of the area by a good low save before Walker twice thwarted Robertson, first coming smartly off his line to save at his feet before then pushing an effort from the same player round his near post.
Sudbury were forced into an early change in the 16th minute when midfielder Reece Harris limped off, replaced by youngster Matt Woodridge.
Although Town were playing the ball about nicely, the non-league hosts were growing into the game after a shaky start. And after a cross-cum-shot from wing-back Liam Bennett sailed over, they drew level after a Blues defensive error in the 29th minute.
A deep ball from the left-back area, following an Ipswich attack, looked to be causing no danger, but academy scholar Louie Fehrenbach got the ball caught under his feet.
Sudbury's 17-year-old striker Freddie King, the son of professional snooker player Mark King, pounced and nipped it off him before bursting forward and firing in a cool low finish beyond Toby Egan.
Brett McGavin, who played in Sudbury's league on loan at Bury Town during 2017/18, almost restored Town's lead four minute later but Walker tipped over his fierce effort from the edge of the area.
The same player fired over shortly after from a similar distance after Kai Brown had done well to find him after cutting in from the left wing.
Republic of Ireland international Drinan got them back in front though from the penalty spot soon after, in the 37th minute.
Kai Brown again caused trouble down the left, cutting in along the touchline before Adam Bailey-Dennis's dangled leg clearly caught him and not the ball. Drinan fired his penalty kick low beyond the reach of Walker into the bottom left-hand corner.
The Sudbury goalkeeper denied Drinan a hat-trick soon after, saving at the striker's feet.
The dreadlocked player received the ball only after Sudbury players had appealed in vain for a foul on Bennett in their right-back area. But the youngster showed calmness on the ball again before firing a shot from the apex of the box that curled up off Bailey-Dennis and dropped into the far corner of the net.
The Blues made a host of changes at the break, which include a change of goalkeeper with Jake Alley coming on, while Alex Henderson, Allan Viral and Zak Brown entered the fray for Castro, Drinan, Webber and Egan.
Sudbury also made a couple of changes, which undoubtedly disrupted the flow of the game.
The visitors came close to a fourth early on though as Foudil did well down the right and put a tasty cross into the far post that Kai Brown, stretching, volleyed wide.
Just before the hour mark Sudbury came close to pulling one back on the break but Ben Hunter, the grandson of Town legend Allan Hunter, fired over after a good run.
Substitutes started to roll on and off for both sides with little in the way of further goalmouth action until Town's fourth in the 73rd minute, again from the penalty spot.
Within four minutes Sudbury, who were given a much better account of themselves than in the first half, made it 4-2 with a cool low finish from the edge of the box from Ben Hammett after gaining a yard on Tommy Smith.
Buoyed from the goal, which was celebrated with vigour, the young non-league side had Ipswich on the back-foot in the closing stages, with Bennett and goalscorer King forcing saves out of Alley.
An enjoyable game drew to a close with Town recording a 4-2 victory. The talk from the travelling Ipswich fans was about the impact of the trialists Castro and Robertson, who both looked to have shown Nash what they can bring to the party, though it is likely he will look at both again at Lowestoft on Wednesday.
Meanwhile, the Blues' U18s were beaten 4-2 by Evo-Stik League South Premier Division Central Leiston at Victory Road with Nyan Mesuria netting both Town goals.
U23s: Egan, Cotter, Smith, Fehrenbach, Webber, McGavin, Foudil, Castro (trialist), Drinan, Robertson (trialist), K Brown. Subs (rolling and all used): Z Brown, Henderson, Scott, Barek, Viral, Healy.
Photo: Richard Marsham (Suffolk Free Press)
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