LEISTON boss Stuart Boardley said his side’s profligacy in front of goal almost cost them dear in their KBB NEFF Suffolk Premier Cup Semi-Final.
The holders defeated Ipswich Town Under-18s 2-1 at the Goldstar Ground, home of Felixstowe & Walton United, on Wednesday night to reach the final.
Leiston led 1-0 at the interval courtesy of captain Tom Bullard’s 14th minute goal, but the Town youngsters grew into the game and deservedly equalised via Tom Hughes after 68 minutes. Leiston players are pictured above celebrating Bullard’s opener. Photograph: Paul Voller.
With the prospect of penalties looming, 17-year-old substitute Harrison Bacon swept home the winner in the 92nd minute to send Leiston into the final at Portman Road on May 8th.
Boardley, whose side were without Noel Aitkens, Patrick Brothers, Dominic Docherty and Byron Lawrence, said: “We were short tonight and so had five young lads on the bench as we have a squad full of injuries and illness.
“Ipswich put out a strong under-18 side including the likes of Brett McGavin, Conor McKendry and Kai Brown, and they probably had the better of the game.
“However, in the first-half we had four or five gilt-edged chances and didn’t take them. We needed to be more ruthless than we were. If we had made them count we could have put the game to bed.
“We knew the longer the game went on their fitness would tell and they passed the ball well and got their equaliser.”
It was Bacon, scorer of the decisive penalty in the shoot-out win against Lowestoft Town in the quarter-finals, who broke Ipswich’s hearts in injury time.
Boardley said: “Harrison Bacon is having quite a competition, and that was a pretty special moment for him.
“He has been great for us, but he is a young lad and we have to be careful with his development as the Southern League is a physical league to play in. We are hoping he will develop into a good player for us.
“We had four under-20s on the pitch at the end of the game – Harry Knights, Harrison Bacon, Josh Cheetham and Mason Sinclair – and they have done well tonight."
In the final Leiston will face either Felixstowe & Walton United or Stowmarket Town, who will meet on March 26th, after Tuesday’s tie at Hadleigh United FC was postponed due to a waterlogged pitch.
Boardley, who was on Ipswich Town’s books as a youngster, said: “It will be a special occasion for me leading the team out at Portman Road, although I didn't have a particularly good record there as a player, after playing for Leiston for such a long time.
“It will be a tough final, whoever we play, whether it is Felixstowe & Walton or Stowmarket.”