Gwent County League Division Three - Sudbrook CC 2 Machen 0
SUDBROOK CC opened a nine-point lead at the top of Division Three with a hard-fought 2-0 home victory against second-placed Machen last Saturday.
The leaders needed to dig deep and weather heavy pressure early on as a talented and committed Machen went for a quick score.
But Sudbrook rode out the storm and managed to assert their own pressure by scoring first.
Only Ben Miles knows if his deep, dipping free kick was an attempt to catch Machen keeper Jason Kidley off his line but that was exactly what happened.
Kidley may have had one eye on Sudbrook’s skipper Steve Phillips as he steamed in hoping to connect but the end result was the same – the ball nestling in the back of the net.
The free kick was one of a series earned by Keenan Perrett who helped to stretch the visitors’ defence on the right while Richie Lloyd operated on the left – until he was forced to limp off following a late tackle which left him writhing on the ground in pain. New signing David Lloyd was sent on to replace him.
Although Machen continued to mount attacks, the home defence with Phillips and Jamie Green in imposing form, repelled them and apart from the occasional cross or corner, keeper Steve Hepple had little to do.
After their half-time team talk, the visitors exerted a lot more pressure and were, as one Sudbrook supporter pointed out, the better team.
Sudbrook were restricted to counter-attacking as Machen went for an equaliser but Perrett and Rob Thorn offered a constant threat and that came to fruition when Perrett picked up a pass, ran at the defence but saw his low shot hit the far post and bounce out to Thorn.
His shot was blocked but the ball ran free to Perrett who scored into an empty net.
Machen threw caution to the icy wind and Sudbrook were denied a third when Perrett, on a one-on-one run at Kidley, squared the ball to Thorn who was adjudged to have been offside when he “scored”.
After the game, Sudbrook manager Daryl Cann admitted his men had been forced to battle for the three points.
“The first 15 minutes we could tell we were in a battle with Machen pressing really high and not giving us a second on the ball,” he said.
“Our defence was superb though and we started to come into the game and our confidence grew as the half went on.
“I thought we thoroughly deserved the goal after soaking up everything Machen had to throw at us and hitting them on the break.
“All in all, it was a fantastic result. I thought the boys were brilliant today - we gave everything and deserve to be nine points clear.
“Machen are a very good team and I can see why they are so high up the table but we fully deserved the win!”
Sudbrook face another promotion rival this Saturday when Rhymney are the visitors.