IN a week of extraordinary cup comebacks, Achilles withstood Cornard United’s attempt to overhaul a three-goal deficit and win this season’s CNet Training Suffolk Senior Cup Final.
Achilles led 3-0 as the clock ticked towards 90 minutes, before a four-goal finale in time added-on saw the Touchline SIL Senior Division side win 4-3 as Cornard finished with ten men after Lewis Blanchett was sent off in Friday night’s at Portman Road.
After the heroics of English clubs Liverpool and Tottenham Hotspur in winning from seemingly hopeless positions in the UEFA Champions League this week, this most welcome of English footballing ‘diseases’ is showing signs of filtering down to Non-League level.
Cornard United captain Dan Clark handles the ball while on the ground to concede a 19th penalty from which Achilles opened the scoring. Photographs: Paul Voller
Felixstowe & Walton United, apparently dead and buried in Wednesday evening’s KBB NEFF Suffolk Premier Cup Final, came back from 3-0 down to score twice in the last five minutes before losing 3-2.
Now it was the turn of Thurlow Nunn League Division One North Cornard to show their fighting qualities in a lost cause after Achilles also led 3-0 and were on course to complete their second win in this competition in three seasons.
Cornard, whose only previous Suffolk Senior Cup success came 30 years ago, did not deserve to be three goals behind. Indeed, they came close to taking a 10th minute lead when left-back Brad Dix exchanged passes with Jack Graham and rattled the crossbar from 25 yards.
Achilles took the lead in the 19th minute when Cornard centre back and captain Dan Clark was adjudged to have handled a left-wing cross while on the ground after slipping and Gavn Van Oene converted from the penalty spot.
Cornard had the ball in the Achilles net as Sean Bartlett tapped home after Andy Schofield, who along with brother Michael was being watched by his father after flying over from Australia, had knocked the ball past onrushing keeper Danny Crump, but Bartlett had strayed offside.
Achilles doubled their advantage in the 34th minute when Lee Grimwood got away down the inside right-channel and as he shot was challenged by Clark, the ball ricocheting into the top corner of the net via the underside of the crossbar past the helpless Grove.
Achilles striker Lee Grimwood (red & black shirt) shoots as he is challenged by Cornard United defender Dan Clark (blue shirt, No.6) and the ball ricochets into the top corner of the net for Achilles' second goal
It was arguably an own goal, but Lee Grimwood’s celebrations left no doubt as to who he thought it should be credited to. It was turning into a night to forget for Clark, who was experiencing a torrid time after being booked and almost gifting Gavin Van Oene a second goal.
Again Cornard should have scored when Dix sent a diagonal ball out to Max Dinnell on the right and it looked as though Bartlett would convert his low cross but it somehow evaded his outstretched boot.
Hanley sent a powerful drive over the Cornard crossbar and then Grove denied Field and Darren Van Oene’s follow-up struck Dix and went wide for a corner as half-time approached.
The result appeared to be a foregone conclusion when six minutes after the resumption, two players making their final appearances after stellar careers combined for Achilles’ third.
Lee Grimwood (No.4) is congratulated by his Achilles team-mates after scoring his side's second goal against Cornard United.
Andy Crump strode forward and fed Dave Grimwood, scorer of the winner for Grundisburgh against Hadleigh United in the 2008 final, and his low shot found the bottom far corner of Grove’s net.
It just was not Clark or Cornard’s night as he sent his header back across the face of goal from Blanchett’s right-wing corner, before Field’s curling effort was just wide of the far post following a good move down the Achilles left.
Blanchett was booked after an incident involving Lee Grimwood, who appeared to deliberately kick the ball at him while on the ground, and then received a second yellow for dissent. Cornard joint player-manager Michael Schofield was so incensed he found his way into the referee’s notebook too.
Cornard pulled one back in the 90th minute, Charlie Hayes heading home after Andy Schofield’s header was blocked following Michael Schofield’s free-kick.
It appeared to be no more than a deserved consolation that was soon wiped out as Achilles substitute Ryan Wragg, in acres of space, swept home from Field’s cross two minutes into time added on to restore the three-goal buffer.
But two minutes later Andy Schofield headed in from a corner, before substitute Ezra Drann raced clear of the Achilles defence to steer his shot beyond Danny Crump and make it 4-3 in a breathtaking finale.
Achilles: Danny Crump, Darryn Van Oene, Lewis Kincaid (sub Joe Revell, 55 mins), Lee Grimwood, Matt Ryland, Andy Crump, Gavin Van Oene, Dave Grimwood (sub Ryan Wragg, 68 mins), Sean Hanley (sub John Boorman, 81 mins), Connor Field, Ivan Buxton. Unused subs: Lee McGlone, Ash Reilly.
Cornard United: Matt Grove, Michael Schofield, Brad Dix (sub Kyle Hurley, 75 mins), Ryan McGibbon (sub Christian Walsh, 71 mins), Charlie Hayes, Dan Clark, Max Dinnell (sub Ezra Drann, 71 mins), Andy Schofield, Sean Bartlett, Lewis Blanchett, Jack Graham. Unused subs: Lewis Brennan, Dave Dowding.
Referee: Ed Frazer.