ASSISTANT manager Tom Rothery said his Needham Market side should have had their Turners Hyundai Suffolk Premier Cup Semi-Final won by half-time.
The Marketmen led 2-0 at the break though Seth Chambers and Ben Fowkes, but Kirkley & Pakefield rallied in the second period and halved the deficit through Kyle Haylock on the hour.
It needed a third goal scored by Fowkes in the 90th minute to settle the outcome of Tuesday’s last-four tie at Leiston FC.
Rothery said: “You have got to give them credit. You always have to look at what a team does. In the first half I thought we were by far the better team and in the second half they came out and had a go.
“I don’t want to be disrespectful to them but if we come in at half time 4-0 that’s not an unfair reflection of the game.”
Rothery felt his side were denied a legitimate goal after just four minutes when Needham’s players believed the ball had crossed the line following Luke Ingram’s header.
However, he admitted they missed other opportunities to kill off the tie – a problem that has plagued the Pitching In Southern League Premier Central side all season – before Fowkes settled the outcome.
“The way we have been this season we probably would have conceded knowing us, so the third goal obviously helps and relaxes us a little bit on the sideline and relaxes us on the pitch,” he said.
Ben Fowkes (red shirt, on ground) slides home Needham Market's second goal after a mistake by Kirkley & Pakefield goalkeeper Alex Blowers to put his side 2-0 up after half-an-hour of Tuesday's Turners Hyundai Suffolk Premier Cup Semi-Final at Leiston FC. Main photograph: Kirkley & Pakefield player-manager Jack Herbert (blue shirt, No.5) contests a corner with Needham Market captain Keiran Morphew (red shirt). Photographs: Paul Voller
Looking ahead to the final against Leiston at Colchester United FC on Thursday, April 21st, Rothery said: “They are a good side and they are going to finish higher than us in the league, so we won’t under-estimate them in any way, shape or form.
“They have got the same schedule as us so it is going to be tough – four games in seven days for both teams, so I am sure they will do the same as us and rotate their squad as much as possible.
“Probably like us they haven’t got they haven’t got the biggest squad so it will be tough, but you want to be in finals and it is something to look forward to.”
Kirkley & Pakefield player-manager Jack Herbert said he was proud of his side’s display despite their defeat.
“I thought we gave a good account of ourselves, especially in the second half. We always knew it was going to be a tough ask with they quality they have got and being two leagues above us, but I am extremely proud of the boys and they should be proud of themselves. They have done the club proud as well, so I am over the moon with them,” he said.
Herbert said he told his players at half-time that they had nothing to lose in the second period.
“I just said look boys we have nothing to lose now, it is almost a free hit. We are going to go back to a familiar formation and see how much you fancy it now and how much you want to go out and test yourselves against a team that’s two leagues above.
“We started to throw the kitchen sink at it and towards the end and we were going to move myself up front for any flicks and just take a gamble.
“They hit us on the counter in the last couple of minutes and sealed the game, but it could have been anyone’s.”