KIRKLEY & Pakefield Manager Mark Willis had mixed emotions after seeing his side bow out of this season’s Omni Freight Services Suffolk Premier Cup at the semi-final stage.
The club, who were aiming to reach the final of the Premier Cup for the first time, lost 3-1 to Leiston at Lowestoft Town FC on Tuesday night.
Bostik League Premier Division Leiston fell behind to Kyle Haylock’s second-minute header, but recovered to equalise three minutes later through Christy Finch.
Jake Reed put Leiston in front after 25 minutes, and their place in the final was confirmed when Finch added his second in the 92nd minute.
Thurlow Nunn League Premier Division side Kirkley, who play two levels below Leiston, acquitted themselves well, and had chances in the second-half to draw level.
Willis said afterwards: “On the one hand I am massively disappointed at not progressing as in cup football you want to win the match, and we have not won it.
“On the flip side there were some excellent performances from all my lads. Their work rate was outstanding as they had a lot of running to do!
“For the players to maintain their quality of passing and decision-making after having to work that hard was really pleasing as they put in a real shift.
“We competed throughout, but there was a period when we were on top in the second half and creating chances, but unfortunately we could not get an equaliser.
“We still had half-chances at the end of the game, and with a slice of luck would have scored and taken it to penalties, but we got punished with the third goal right at the death.”
Willis, who was appointed manager in July 2016, added: “Credit to Leiston, who have had a job to do which was to get to the final and it is a job they have done.
“I would like to wish them all the best not only for the final itself but in their pursuit of reaching this season’s play-offs.”
Leiston will face Bury Town in the final at Portman Road, subject to Ipswich Town not being involved in the play-offs, in May.
Kyle Haylock is pictured above being mobbed by his Kirkley & Pakefield team-mates after putting his side ahead. Photograph courtesy of Steve Wood.