KIRKLEY & Pakefield manager Mark Willis cited the ‘fine margins’ of cup football after seeing his side lose to Ipswich Town in the quarter-finals of the Suffolk Premier Cup.
Ipswich Town, who fielded their Academy Under-18 side, won 3-1 at Walmer Road on Tuesday evening to reach the semi-finals of the competition for the first time since the 2012-13 season.
After a largely uneventful and goalless first-half, Kirkley came close to breaking the deadlock in the 50th minute, Ipswich keeper Toby Egan blocking Lewis Hammond’s effort with his legs and Lee Will’s follow-up effort struck the crossbar.
The visitors then took control of the tie with two goals in the space of four minutes.
Kian Ronan put Ipswich (pictured above wearing an all orange kit) ahead in the 58th minute with a well-struck shot into the bottom corner and after Jack Herbert was adjudged to have fouled Zak Brown, the midfielder picked himself up to convert the penalty.
Left back Tommy Smith rifled home the third from just outside the area in the 75th minute, before Luca Vega, whose header hit a post in the opening period, brought down Herbert and Lee Will scored a 92nd minute consolation from the spot.
Kirkley boss Willis, whose Thurlow Nunn League Premier Division side side reached the semi-finals last season before losing to eventual winners Leiston, said: “In the first half we competed well and looked the most dangerous side going forward.
“We contained them really well and they did not have their first shot on goal until the 40th minute.
“We were asking questions and putting the ball into dangerous areas and going in level at half time we felt positive about the second-half.
“Before they scored we had a golden opportunity ourselves, the keeper saved the first effort and the second one has hit the crossbar and come back out.
“Fine margins decide games as they went up the other end and took their chance with a clinical finish and that changed the game.
“Our centre half (Jack Herbert) was not happy with the penalty he conceded, and at 2-0 down it is then an uphill struggle and they kept the ball well and saw the game out.
“I felt the referee gave us a penalty as he gave them one, but credit to our lads who stuck to their task even though they were 3-0 down, although I wouldn’t expect anything else of them.”