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Histon make FA Cup progress but slip up to AFC Sudbury in the BetVictor Isthmian League, North Division

Ed Rolph fends off a challenge in Histon's clash with AFC Sudbury. Picture: Keith Heppell
Ed Rolph fends off a challenge in Histon's clash with AFC Sudbury. Picture: Keith Heppell

Lance Key was left to weigh up the pros and cons of mixed fortunes for Histon over the course of the bank holiday weekend.

The Stutes progressed to the first round qualifying of the FA Cup with a 2-1 win over Bury Town last Saturday.

Evan Key had given Histon the lead after 10 minutes, but Ryan Stafford equalised for Bury seven minutes later.

Ed Rolph restored Histon’s lead early in the second half, after being put through by Danny Gould, and they held on for the victory despite having Evan Key sent off late on.

It was a different story on bank holiday Monday as Histon struggled to get going at home to AFC Sudbury in the BetVictor Isthmian League, North Division.

The stifling conditions were clearly taking their toll as there was no rhythm or fluency to their game against a young and energetic Sudbury side who caught the eye.

Sudbury went ahead through the unmarked Sean Marks’ header in the 17th minute, and they doubled their lead when Freddie King dispossessed Rob Ruddy to then round keeper Phil Peachey and score.

Danny Gould let fly with an unstoppable shot in the 49th minute to give Histon hope but, after an unmarked Simon Swinton had flashed a header wide, King and Marks scored again inside the last 10 minutes to give Sudbury a 4-1 win.

Histon manager Key had no complaints about the result, pointing to the conditions as a factor and his team’s ability to shoot themselves in the foot.

“It’s two games in three days in 30 plus degrees and we carried four or five,” he said.

“I think when you have a bigger stature of player in your team, in the nicest sense of the word, they’re bigger men and you look at their side, they were younger and more athletic in a way and they coped with two games in three days better than we could.

“They moved and manipulated the ball well. The disappointing thing is the way we started, and it set the tone for the game.

“We were poor in the first 15 to 20 minutes, as if we were waiting to concede to see if we got a reaction.

“We didn’t push on after we scored. Their striker is 35, a big lad, but you can see he has played at a higher level as he gave our centre-backs a torrid afternoon with his experience.

“He had a very good touch and movement, and it summed up their ethos as in the 93rd minute, he has chased back Max York to his own 18-yard box to make a challenge.

“If you can have that enthusiasm from a 35-year-old, it’s going to spread down to the rest of the players and I think that just showed they had more about them than we did.”

The defeat to AFC Sudbury was a second home league defeat out of two, following the 3-1 reversal to Heybridge Swifts on the opening weekend.

It has been a bit of an eye-opener for Histon, especially after they made Bridge Road a fortress during their title-winning campaign last season.

“It shows the level as you move up one league, it is huge,” said Key. “It shows the standard is much better.”

An argument can be made that if Histon were to choose which game of the two to win over the bank holiday weekend, then it would have been making progress in the FA Cup.

There is a significant financial benefit involved, although Key stressed that their preference would have been to win both matches.

“From a club’s perspective, the FA Cup is probably more important as over the course of 38 games you would hope that you can win enough games to stay in this league,” he said.

“We’ve said all along that we need to consolidate this year to see how good this league is because it’s our first time in it for a while.

“If we can do that and finish in mid-table or just below, and get three or four wins in the FA Cup, it’s huge.

“You always want to win games. But from the club’s perspective you win the £3,000 in that round and then go into the next round.”

Histon have been drawn at home to Maldon & Tiptree in the next round of the FA Cup.

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