THREE second-half goals saw Woodbridge Town come from behind to knock-out holders Achilles and book their place in the final of this season’s CNet Training Suffolk Senior Cup.
The Touchline SIL Senior Division champions-elect led at the interval through Liam Hillyard’s well-taken 40th minute strike.
But the Thurlow Nunn League Division One leaders came back strongly in the second period, Dale Hammond equalising before Ryan Keeble and substitute Callum Sinclair netted in the final 15 minutes to secure a 3-1 success.
After being second best in the opening 45 minutes, Woodbridge deservedly reached the final of the competition for the first time since lifting the trophy thanks to a 4-0 success against Saxmundham Sports in the 1993-94 season, the club having competed in the Suffolk Premier Cup for most of the intervening years.
An entraining match worthy of the final itself was watched by a bumper crowd of 409 at a misty Goldstar Ground, home of Felixstowe & Walton United FC, who saw Achilles go close twice in the opening quarter.
Former Felixstowe skipper Matt Ryland’s 25-yard free-kick was tipped over the crossbar by Woodbridge keeper Alfie Stronge after 13 minutes, and four minutes later Ivan Buxton saw his effort go just the wrong side of the far post after he seized on a back pass.
Matt Mackenzie, another former Seasider, made a fine crossfield run, cutting in from the right and then fired over the bar from Keeble’s return pass on the half-hour.
Hillyard hooked over from Josh Merritt’s right-wing cross, before Mackenzie’s header back across goal struck the inside of the post from Taylor Southgate’s pin-point diagonal cross.
Four minutes later the holders went ahead when Scopes failed to cut out a through pass and Hillyard broke clear to steer his shot beyond Stronge and just inside the far post.
The turning point arguably came five minutes after the break, Gavin Van Oene advancing down the right after a poor pass from Hammond was intercepted and sending a curling effort just the wrong side of Stronge’s far post.
Hammond atoned six minutes later, the left back popping up on the edge of the penalty area to control a headed clearance and send a rising right-foot drive past Chaplin.
Woodbridge started to get on top as Achilles visibly tired and the stretching Mackenzie was twice unable to convert crosses.
The Woodpeckers got their noses in front in the 73rd minute, Keeble producing a smart finish from the edge of the penalty area after the ball was laid into this path. Aaron Churchyard (red shirt, No.5) and team-mate Mark Ray are pictured above celebrating Keeble’s goal. Photograph courtesy of Paul Voller.
Keeble was immediately replaced by Sinclair and it was he who wrapped the tie up, fellow substitute George Bowman releasing Mark Ray whose low cross was expertly back-heeled home by the left winger.
Woodbridge had further chances to increase their lead, Chaplin saving from both Alex Greggor and Ray in the closing stages before the whistle blew to signal their first final appearance for 24 years.
Achilles: Shaun Chaplin, Josh Merritt, Joe Revell, Kieron Donovan (sub Sean Hanley, 80 mins), Matt Ryland (sub Matt McCarthy, 85 mins), Andy Coote, Gavin Van Oene (sub Danny Garrad, 65 mins), Dave Grimwood, Liam Hillyard, Ivan Buxton, Lee Grimwood. Unused sub: Sean Bell.
Woodbridge Town: Alfie Stronge, Sean Rea, Dale Hammond, Taylor Southgate, Aaron Churchyard, Liam Scopes, Matt Mackenzie (sub Jake Green, 87 mins), Alex Greggor, Mark Ray, Carlos Edwards (sub George Bowman, 82 mins), Ryan Keeble (sub Callum Sinclair, 75 mins). Unused sub: Baden Holmes.
Referee: Paul Quick.