GYM United’s brave bid to become the first Suffolk side to lift the FA Sunday Cup faltered at the final hurdle in heart-breaking fashion.
Two goals in the second-half of extra time saw the Suffolk side lose 2-0 to holders Hardwick Social at Sheffield United’s Bramall Lane ground on Sunday.
The Stockton Sunday League said always looked the more likely to score, but Gym battled to the bitter end and deserve great credit for pushing their opponents to the limit.
A scrappy own goal, which went into the net via the unfortunate Charlie Robinson, finally broke the deadlock in the 107th minute, and a second six minutes later from Sonni Coleman confirmed victory.
The Premier Logos Bury & District League side – the first from Suffolk to ever reach the final of this natonwide competition – could have no complaints at the outcome.
Goalmouth action was at a premium in the opening period, with Nathan Clarke’s last-ditch tackle thwarting James Ward early on and James Risbrough’s header beyond the far post from the resultant corner hitting the side-netting.
Duncan McNally saved at the expense of a corner in the 32nd minute as Ward, whose breaks from midfield were a threat throughout the match, stabbed goalwards from Chris Stockton’s left-wing cross.
Gym United ’s only attempts on goal came just before that as first Max Melanson from 25 yards and then Andrew Wood from even further both sent free-kicks sailing over the crossbar.
The holders got on top more after the interval and player-manager Matt Morton and fellow centre back and captain Clarke were outstanding as they kept Gym United in the game.
The one time Clarke lost Coleman, who got goalside, his cross saw Jamie Owens head over the crossbar at the back post.
Little was seen of Gym United as an attacking force in the second-half, but they defended resolutely, Morton getting back to tackle Stockton after a slip from Sam Bond.
McNally comfortably held Owens’ overhead kick, before Gym tried to change it with two substitutions in the space of three minutes.
However, extra time began as the 90 minutes ended with Nathan Mulligan sending shots just over their crossbar.
The deadlock was finally broken in the 107th minute, McNally changing his mind and coming for a ball to the near post and colliding into Clarke.
The ball looped up and as an opponent attempted to toe-end it home it struck Robinson. Despite Stuart Walker’s efforts to clear the ball was adjudged to have crossed the line.
Gym United resistance was finally broken, and their fate was sealed six minutes later when Morton’s pass to Clarke saw Nathan Mulligan pounce and square for the unmarked Coleman to roll home into an unguarded net.
The Gym United players and management and pictured above applauding their supporters at the end of the game.
Gym United: Duncan McNally, Sam Bond, Matt Morton, Nathan Clarke, Danny White (sub Stuart Walker, 105 mins), Ross Bailey, Liam Bolton (sub Charlie Robinson, 75 mins), Jack Brame, Max Melanson, Tanner Call (sub Wayne Proctor, 72 mins), Andrew Wood. Unused subs: Will Viner, Shaun Thorrold.
Hardwick Social: Michael Arthur, Joe Carter, James Risbrough, Steven Roberts, Craig Bishop (sub Dale Mulligan, 113 mins), Tom Coulthard, Nathan Mulligan, James Ward, Sonni Coleman, Jamie Owens (sub Matthew Garbutt, 98 mins), Chris Stockton (sub Joe Posthill, 107 mins). Unused subs: Jake Petijean, Kallum Hannah.
Referee: Kevin Johnson (Somerset FA).