Defensive naivety is what Sean Marks believes cost AFC Sudbury an early FA Cup exit, but he had no issues with lower-league Deeping Rangers being worthy of their place in the next round.
Jordan MacLeod’s 63rd minute strike, his second on the night, proved to be enough for the Step 5 side to set up a trip to Step 3 Hendon courtesy of a 3-2 victory in the first round qualifying replay in Suffolk on Tuesday, following a 2-2 draw in Lincolnshire on Saturday.
It was MacLeod who had replied to Marks’ 35th minute header at the weekend just past the hour mark before Freddie King’s 20-yard 84th minute drive salvaged a replay four minutes after Scott Mooney’s strike.
Tuesday’s replay saw Marks slide AFC into a lead within 50 seconds before a free header from Sam Murphy replied three minutes later.
MacLeod was to prove a thorn in Sudbury’s side again as he converted the first of two breakaway goals expertly in the 23rd minute.
Marks also finished off a long ball to make it 2-2 seven minutes into the second half, but MacLeod repeated his trick to restore his side’s lead. And they were unfortunate not to extend it, in the end.
“I think Deeping Rangers deserved it as they played really well,” said Marks, who now has six goals, four in the FA Cup, following his summer move from Hornchurch.
“I thought the times where we did pass it we were good, and then we were a bit naive at the back and we were punished.
“Good on them. I hope they do well against Hendon, to be honest. But it is not nice for us, of course, and the players will reflect on it. It was thoroughly deserved though. It is just one of these things where we have to learn from these mistakes.
Last September Sudbury brought higher-league Bognor Regis Town back to King’s Marsh where they staged a thrilling comeback to progress 3-2.
The expectant home crowd hoped they would be able to witness something similar if they got into any trouble against their lower-league opponents, particularly giventheir last-gasp 4-3 victory against Romford in the previous match they had witnessed on the 3G pitch.
With a contrast of styles identified between the two sides following the weekend’s entertaining draw, manager Mark Morsley changed formation from a 4-4-2 diamond to a 3-5-2 wing-back system in a bid to grab the initiative in the replay from the wide areas. Two changes to personnel were made, with Harry Critchley coming in for Ethan Mayhew and Saturday’s late equalising hero King starting ahead of Tom Maycock.
The plan looked to be working a treat when Critchley burst down the left and was eventually able to provide a low cross from which Marks stabbed the ball home inside the first minute.
But Deeping were rapid on the break, and after goalkeeper Paul Walker pushed an effort up and over his crossbar, the marking from the left-sided corner was slack while the powerful glancing header from Murphy was unstoppable.
The visitors were only to be denied taking the lead within a minute of equalising after Walker made a superb low diving save to push Mooney’s header around his right-hand post.
The breathless end-to-end start continued as Billy Holland’s header fizzed past the far post before Joe Griwood made a good block after a mislaid pass from Baris Altintop let in MacLeod.
The same player then fired high into the side-netting with the travelling supporters in The Brian Tatum Stand having their celebrations cut short.
But their shouts of joy were soon for real as an arrowed pass from half-way sent MacLeod through, and he got clear of Critchley before firing in from the edge of the area with Walker’s hand unable to keep it out.
The response from Sudbury was good though as they fired a volley of chances in at The Clarets’ goal, only to somehow not find the back of the net before the half-time whistle went.
Critchley’s powerful angled effort was tipped over, Holland’s header blocked, while goalkeeper Lewis Elsom made a double save to deny Ben Hunter and then King.
Marks then turned two defenders inside out before firing agonizingly wide, while Liam Bennett was thwarted by Elsom coming off his line to block at his feet.
It was important AFC carried on where they left off from the restart, but it was Deeping who stole the initiative with Charlie Coulson’s long-range effort coming back off the crossbar before MacLeod headed the rebound over.
Marks then converted a long ball over the top on 52 to make it 2-2, but it did not shake The Clarets off their task and MacLeod finished exquisitely from a quickly-taken long goal-kick in the 63rd minute.
From there Sudbury’s chances dried up and only Walker, who turned Luke Anderson’s hanging shot across the upright, kept them in with a shout.
The best they created was substitute Ellis Girling’s pull-back to Tom Dettmar in the area, but his shot was straight at Elsom.
AFC Sudbury: Walker, Bennett, Critchley (E Girling 82’), Altintop, Grimwood, Whight (c) (Maycock 69’), Holland, Hunter, Marks, King (Mayhew 69’), Dettmar. Unused subs: Hammett, O’Malley, S Girling, Wright (GK).
Free Press Man of The Match: Paul Walker. Without their goalkeeper’s saves it would have been a more punishing score.
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