GYM United Manager Matt Morton has hailed his side’s togetherness after they became only the second Suffolk team to reach the semi-finals of the FA Sunday Cup.
The Premier Logos Bury & District Sunday League side won 3-1 against Lebeqs Tavern Courage FC in Bristol on Sunday afternoon to set up a semi-final at a neutral venue versus Liverpool side Mayfair FC on March 11th in the last four of this national competition.
In doing so they emulated the feat of Capel Plough, who reached the last four in the 1994-95 season, before losing on penalties after a replay to eventual winners St Joseph's from Luton.
Morton, who is also club chairman, said: “I said to the players both before the game and again at half-time that one of the things that separates us from other teams is not just our ability and experience, but how much everyone cares and the bond that exists between the players, through the friendships created off the field.
“That togetherness and character of the team was vital to our success against a very good side with some very good players including two ex-professionals.”
Gym only travelled with 13 players after Max Melanson and Ben Anderson, two of the eight players signed on for the club currently with Thetford Town, both picked up injuries on Saturday.
The Suffolk visitors were already 1-0 leading through an Andrew Wood goal when Lebeqs Tristan Plummer was sent off for an alleged stamp after around 25 minutes.
Plummer, who began his career with Bristol City and played for Aldershot Town and Hereford United, was considered by Morton to be the home team’s best player,
Wood, who had already scored three penalties in this season’s competition, then saw a spot kick superbly saved by the goalkeeper, who pushed his effort around a post as Gym led by the only goal at the interval.
Morton continued: “We were under pressure in the second half but defended well and they didn’t get in behind us, and then we used our pace to break away on the counter-attack.”
Wood broke clear to score the second around the hour mark and ten minutes later converted a second penalty to complete his hat-trick.
Lebeqs were awarded a penalty of their own – a decision Gym considered harsh as they felt the tackle was made outside the box and the player fell inside – which they scored with five minutes remaining.
But Gym saw the game out to reach the last four of the competition, and Morton added: “I would like to thank Suffolk FA, who covered our travel expenses, our coach company First Stop Travel, and the Bury Free Press for their support.
“Also, the Suffolk and Norfolk football community for their message of support via Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and text, including some from areas we would not have expected. This acted as a big motivator for us.”
The other semi-final will be between The Hardwick FC from Durham and New Salamis FC from London. The venues will be announced in due course.
Players from Gym United are pictured celebrating one of their four goals in the victory over White Hart. Photograph courtesy of the Bury Free Press / Iliffe Media.