GOALKEEPER Harrison Podd saved two penalties to send Leiston Reserves through to their first CNet Training Suffolk Senior Cup Final.
They beat East Bergholt United 3-1 in a penalty shoot-out after the two sides had drawn 2-2 at Notcutts Park, home of Woodbridge Town FC, on Saturday afternoon.
The 17-year-old keeper saved from Jamie McGrath and then made a superb one-handed stop from Matt Hayward, before Scott Fryer struck the post after Kyle Jay had scored East Bergholt’s with first spot kick.
James Gaffer, Kai Fletcher and Niki Shopov were all successful from the spot for the Thurlow Nunn League Division One North side to secure their place in the Final.
They will face either Ipswich Wanderers or Old Newton United, who meet in the second semi-final on Tuesday, in the final at Colchester United FC on Friday, May 13th.
Neither side had previously reached a Senior Cup Final, but it was Macron SIL Senior Division side East Bergholt who enjoyed the better of the first-half.
Podd had to leap high to his right to claw away McGrath’s header after just eight minutes from Kyle Jay’s right-wing corner to prevent East Bergholt tasking the lead.
Podd then had to get down low to his right to turn Jay’s deflected free-kick behind for a corner and it was against the run of play when Leiston Reserves went ahead in the 33rd minute.
Ollie Godbold’s right-wing corner was pushed up and onto the crossbar by keeper Sam Colver and Bak forced home the rebound from close range, with East Bergholt protesting in vain that the ball had not crossed the line.
Leiston Reserves take the lead as Tom Bak (partially obscured by team-mate Ashley Wilding, blue shirt No.10) prods home from close range after East Bergholt United goalkeeper Sam Colver (on ground) pushed a corner up onto the crossbar. Main photograph: Players from Leiston Reserves celebrate their penalty shoot-out win. Photographs: Paul Voller
East Bergholt drew level just five minutes later when a free-kick by Jay, whose dead-ball deliveries caused problems all afternoon, saw Graeme Butcher get to the ball before Podd and his backward header dropped into the unguarded net.
Podd saved from another Butcher header straight after the restart, before East Bergholt took the lead when Jay’s left-wing corner was met by McGrath at the far post to head home.
At that stage East Bergholt looked favourites to go on and win the tie, but Lesiton Reserves restored parity four minutes later.
Right-back Ashdon Fowler cut inside and sent a well-flighted diagonal ball in behind the East Bergholt defence which was well-controlled by Ashley Wilding before he slotted home.
Both sides had chances to win, with Colver diving full-length to his left to parry Fletcher’s powerful 35-yard drive and James Gaffer striking the post, while at the other end Jay’s corner bounced in the goalmouth and over the crossbar and Scott Fryer scuffed his shot when well-placed following another corner.
The second period was punctuated by a series of injuries and substitutions resulting in five minutes of additional time, but with no further scoring it needed a penalty shoot-out to separate the two sides.
East Bergholt United: Sam Colver, Kyle Jay, Alex Prime, Morgan Rushton, Ben Bibby (sub Matt Hayward, 90+5 mins), Jordan Peck, Scott Fryer, Graeme Butcher (sub Owen Fletton, 76 mins), James Heathcote (sub Aaron Greenwood, 59 mins), Jamie McGrath, George Watson. Unused subs: Ben Yates, Brandon King.
Leiston Reserves: Harrison Podd, Ashdon Fowler, Callum Pearce, Tom Bak (sub Jacobbi Tugman, 90+1 mins), George Tuck, Kyle French, Ollie Godbold, James Gaffer, Kai Fletcher, Ashley Wilding (sub Cameron Young, 67 mins), Niki Shopov. Unused subs: Kareem Foster, Cameron Rayworth, Sam Allen.
Referee: Liam Chinery.