Lacklustre play-off final sees Swifts' promotion hopes thwarted
By Nub News Reporter
29th Apr 2023 | Football
AFC Sudbury 1, Heybridge Swifts 0
A single extra time goal from Sudbury's Jake Turner decided today's (Saturday, 29 April) Isthmian North play-off final, leaving Heybridge thwarted but nevertheless proud of an extremely successful season.
A crowd of 1,257 packed Sudbury's MEL Group Stadium and saw a goalless 90 minutes of normal time.
The hosts made a good start. They dominated the opening exchanges and created several half chances and had a couple of half decent penalty shouts waved away.
Swifts' first real chance didn't arrive until the half hour when Sam Park received the ball just outside the box, ran a few yards along the edge, then curled in a fine shot that dipped just over the bar.
Swifts were forced into a change six minutes before the break when Ryan Boswell had to limp off, Louie Arrowsmith his replacement. Arrowsmith was immediately called into action as the hosts attacked down the left, some frantic defending required to deal with the danger.
The half came to an end after five added minutes.
The second half started like the first and Sudbury were in the ascendency but couldn't break the deadlock and as it progressed both goalkeepers were spectators rather than active participants.
It would be fair to say that there wasn't a realistic chance in the entire second stanza.
The deadlock was finally broken in the first period of extra time.
Sudbury had again seized the initiative and Swifts keeper Thomas Wray had saved from Turner before a goal finally materialled eight minutes into he first period of added time when Turner this time gave Wray no chance with what proved to be the deciding strike.
There were brief flurries from Heybridge as they tried to turn the match on its head and they did threaten seriously for the first time in the closing minutes – but Sudbury weathered the storm and were able to claim victory and promotion to the Isthmian Premier.
Swifts will once again rue that the footballing gods were against them. They were denied promotion from the same division in 2019 after winning the play-offs but ruled ineligible by a bizarre situation where the FA created one more promoted team than spaces were available.
Today offered the chance to right a wrong but it was not to be.