MELTON United defeated Elmswell 4-3 in a topsy-turvy 2019-20 McDonald’s Suffolk Primary Cup Final.
They had to come from 2-0 and 3-2 down against ten-man Elmswell before emerging winners in the delayed final at Greens Meadow, home of Stowmarket Town FC, on Wednesday night.
The final, delayed since the end of last season due to COVID-19, promised to be a closely-fought affair between two sides who were both promoted from Division Three of the Macron SIL last season.
And so it proved in a match played for large parts in pouring rain in difficult conditions in front of a good-sized crowd of 222.
Melton started the stronger and Matt Spink had a shot cleared off the line in a goalmouth scramble in the 24th minute, before Elmswell went to the other end of the pitch and Kieran Waller cut in from the left to send a low shot into the bottom far corner.
Elmswell's Kieran Waller (No.11) is congratulated after putting his side into the lead in the final. Main photograph: Melton United celebrate after receiving the cup. Photographs: Paul Voller
Elmswell extended their advantage five minutes later when a right-wing cross was pushed out by goalkeeper Daniel Barnett and struck centre back Sean Brownell before crossing the line for an own goal.
Melton got themselves back into the game in the 41st minute when player-manager Jerome Laidlaw squared the ball to Tyron Bright and his sweetly-struck shot was perfectly-placed into the top far corner.
Parity was restored ten minutes into the second period as Melton centre back Richard Burgess climbed highest to head home from a hanging right-wing cross.
Their joy was shortlived as two minutes later Ryan Jolly’s left-wing corner caught out keeper Barnett, who was unable to prevent it from going straight into the net to put Elmswell 3-2 up.
Arguably the turning point of the match came in the 69th minute when Elmswell centre back Josh Curtis received a straight red card for a bad tackle on opposing skipper Ben Fowler.
Three minutes later Melton were level as Warren Taylor-Holt was adjudged to have handled on the edge of his own penalty area and Matthew Hough dispatched the spot kick.
Melton United's Tyron Bright (far left) curls a perfectly-placed shot into the top corner of the Elmswell net to score Melton's first goal. Photograph: Paul Voller
The clock was on 85 minutes and the prospect of penalties was looming when a left-wing corner was headed back across goal and Bright got the all-important touch for the winning goal.
Elmswell penalty appeals were waved aside three minutes later as Jed Hughes went down in the box under a challenge by Barnett, but Melton held on to lift the cup.
Paul Miller, Business Manager of McDonald’s at Whitehouse in Ipswich, represented the competition sponsors at the presentation ceremony.
Elmswell: Marcus Fuller, Chris Couves, Ryan Norman, Warren Taylor-Holt, Harry Baker, Josh Curtis, Ryan Jolly, Ben Humphries, Ryan Mannell, Jed Hughes, Kieran Waller. Used subs: Matt Lucas, Will Gudgeon. Unused subs: Charlie Ovis, Evan Scase, Ash Farmer.
Melton United: Daniel Barnett, Brendan Daly, Charlie Bixby, Ben Fowler, Sean Brownell, Richard Burgess, Matt Spink, Luke Covey, Matthew Hough, Joe Southgate, Tyron Bright. Used subs: Philip Jude, Jerome Laidlaw. Unused subs: Nico Williams, James Selby, Kye Hunter.
Referee: Dean Knight.