LIAM Hillyard fired Felixstowe & Walton United into their first KBB NEFF Suffolk Premier Cup Final for five years.
The striker scored twice as the Seasiders defeated Stowmarket Town 3-0 in their delayed last-four tie at Millfield, the home of Hadleigh United FC, on Tuesday. It will be their first appearance in the final since losing 4-1 to Bury Town at AFC Sudbury in 2014.
Hillyard, who re-joined Felixstowe from Achilles earlier this season, produced a man-of-the-match display as the Bostik League North side eased into the final in front of a crowd in excess of 500.
There was little to choose between the two teams until Felixstowe took the lead in the 37th minute through Joe Francis, with Hillyard (pictured above firing a shot goalwards) adding a second five minutes later.
Felixstowe confirmed their place in the final, where they will face Leiston at Portman Road on Wednesday, May 8th, courtesy of Hillyard’s stunning 82nd minute strike.
Both sides created chances in a frantic opening 20 minutes, but neither was able to take advantage.
Miles Powell had a shot well blocked and Stowmarket keeper Callum Robinson saved Ethan Clarke’s follow-up effort, before Powell headed a corner over inside the first ten minutes.
Josh Mayhew then played in strike partner – and cousin – Ollie Canfer in the 13th minute, but Jack Spurling saved with his legs, before Sam Nunn’s header was cleared off the line by Joe Bloomfield as Stowmarket searched for a breakthrough.
Felixstowe & Walton United players celebrate after Liam Hillyard scored his first goal to make it 2-0 against Stowmarket Town. Photographs: Thomas Bradford
Francis should have done better when he stabbed Powell’s left-wing cross straight at Robinson and then poked the rebound wide, before Jack Baker shot just wide of the far post at the other end.
However, Francis atoned for his earlier miss when he glanced home a header just inside the far post from six yards out following Clarke’s right-wing corner.
Hillyard then made it two in the 42nd minute, turning well inside the area to create space before burying a low right-foot shot between Robinson and his near post.
Thurlow Nunn League Premier Division Stowmarket came out on the offensive at the start of the second period and Spurling had to tip a George Quantrell cross onto the top of the crossbar.
Felixstowe withstood a flurry of pressure and came to extending their advantage after 72 minutes, substitute Kye Ruel and Nunn challenging for a high ball as Robinson advanced to the edge of the area and the ball bouncing against the outside of the post.
However, their passage to Portman Road was complete ten minutes later when Hillyard rifled a rising drive beyond Robinson from the edge of the area.
Felixstowe & Walton United: Jack Spurling, Joe Bloomfield, Ethan Clarke, Josh Kerridge, Rhys Barber, Dan Davis (sub Jamal Wiggins, 74 mins), Joe Francis (sub Rhys Henry, 70 mins), Jack Ainsley, Liam Hillyard, Miles Powell (sub Kye Ruel, 70 mins), Jordy Matthews. Unused subs: Stuart Ainsley, Darren Mills.
Stowmarket Town: Callum Robinson, Ollie Brown, George Quantrell, Phil Weavers, Sam Nunn (sub Robbie Sweeney, 74 mins), Tom Matthews, Scott Chaplin, Luke Read, Jack Baker (sub Robbie Linford, 74 mins), Josh Mayhew, Ollie Canfer. Unused subs: David Kempson, Anton Clarke, Craig Brand.
Referee: Paul Quick.