DIVISION ONE NORTH
Soham Town Rangers 0
AFC Sudbury 2
Player-manager Robbie Mason has called on his Soham Town Rangers squad to dig deep and find some self belief after their winless run of league form stretched to four matches on Tuesday night.
It was two set-piece goals in the first half that put visiting AFC Sudbury in the ascendancy at Julius Martin Lane, to which the hosting Greens had no response after the restart.
Indeed, on what was an ultimately frustrating night for the boss, it was not until the 75th minute that Mason’s men managed to work Paul Walker in the away side’s goal.
Attention now switches to Saturday’s home clash with Barking (3pm) — a side who like Soham have amassed eight points this term — before a trip to bottom-of-the-table Norwich United on Tuesday night.
And as far as Mason is concerned, those are games his side must be collecting maximum points from, sparking his rallying call.
“It is all about belief. You can see some of the lads are getting their heads down,” he said.
“You will not get anything out of football unless you put it in. If you start showing frustration then your head has gone.
“We have got to pick ourselves up because we have a month of games against teams we should be looking to beat.
“We are getting branded a young team but we cannot be using that as an excuse.
“The months are rolling round now and we are almost into October, so the next couple of months are crucial.”
He continued: “We were superb against Norwich (a 4-1 win in August) and ever since then it feels like we have been trying to get back to that point.
“They set the standard in that game — we know how well they can play.
“We need to win those games (against Barking and Norwich) and that will spark things.
“The boys need to make it about themselves and have that bit of belief in what they are doing.”
A lacklustre opening to proceedings on Tuesday was illuminated by Sudbury’s Adam Mills in the 22nd minute.
Neither side had mustered a shot on or off target up until that point, but the visitors’ in-form number 11 left Soham goalkeeper Josh Pope no chance with a curling free-kick from 25 yards out that flew into the top corner.
By chance, the game’s second attempt — 11 minutes later — doubled Sudbury’s lead.
Mills turned provider on this occasion, floating in a free-kick from wide on the right that Soham failed to clear.
The ball broke kindly for Louis Blake and while there was more than an element of good fortune about his finish, it looped up over Pope and into the net.
Soham’s one chance of note before the interval was presented to Dan Hobbs, who was put clean through following an error in the AFC defence in the 39th minute.
But with a retreating Tyler French breathing down his neck, Hobbs rushed his shot and blazed well over the crossbar.
Harry Norman powered a header wide of the target as Soham made a brighter start to the second half, while up the other end Pope showed good reflexes to thwart Dave Cowley from close range.
The intensity somewhat petered out for a period after that, with Sudbury happy to invite Soham on and then look for the pace of their wide players when they regained possession.
The hosts finally registered an effort on target 15 minutes from time when Joe Carden’s back-post corner was nodded goalwards by Callum Russell, only for Walker to intervene with a smart stop.
And the Sudbury goalkeeper was again alert five minutes later, this time getting down low to hold Harry Norman’s powerful header.
Centre-back Norman flashed another shot over in the dying embers, after which Sudbury saw out the three minutes of stoppage time with minimal fuss to secure a fifth straight win and their four under the stewardship of interim boss Danny Laws.
On top of that, The Yellows have also leapfrogged 18th-placed Soham in the table, moving up to 13th position.
Soham: Pope, Bankole (Conway 58), Buddle, Norman, Mochalski (Maina 76), Kaye, Russell, Clayton, Cohen, Hobbs (Tricks 46), Carden
Journal Man of the Match - Josh Pope: Made a couple of really good saves in the second half to keep his team in contention.
n On the transfer front, Soham have lost the services of striker Matt Allan, who has joined Godmanchester Rovers.
Allan netted five goals in 11 appearances for The Greens following his summer switch from Histon.
In terms of incomings, midfielder John Kaye has returned to the club and featured in the 2-0 loss to Haringey Borough on Saturday and the defeat to Sudbury.
Kaye initially joined Soham in January from Cambridge City, where he had previously been captain.
Mason has also added to his options with the signing of the versatile Alfie Connor from Kettering Town.