RYAN Honeyman said he was ‘over the moon’ after reaching the CNet Training Suffolk Senior Cup Final.
The Leiston Reserves’ manager saw his young side win a penalty shoot-out 3-1 against East Bergholt United following a 2-2 draw at Woodbridge Town FC on Saturday to reach the final for the first time.
Leiston Reserves led through Tom Bak after 33 minutes, but Graeme Butcher drew East Bergholt level five minutes later and the Macron SIL side took the lead through Jamie McGrath after 50 minutes.
Ashley Wilding restored parity just four minutes later and that’s the way it stayed, with Leiston Reserves scoring all three of their penalties in the shoot-out and East Bergholt just one of their four.
Honeyman, whose side play in Division One North of the Thurlow Nunn League, agreed East Bergholt were on top in the opening 45 minutes and praised the resilience of his young players.
He said: “We looked nervous in the first half and they were the better side, but you have to weather the storm and hang in there, and we stayed in the fight as it were.
“They had to dig in at times, which they did, against a good Bergholt side who were physical and stronger than us and we had to rise above that, so from that point of view I am absolutely so over the moon for the boys – they deserved that today.
“The character they are showing and building goes a long way. They have got a great team spirit and work together and there are no egos in the dressing room.”
Leiston Reserves’ goalkeeper Harrison Podd, who has just turned 17, saved two of the four penalties he faced with a third hitting the post.
Honeyman said of the shoot-out: “You are never confident when it comes to penalties. I didn’t see many of them because of the people stood in front of me, so that was a good thing!
“I just gauged the reaction of the people and the supporters, but sometimes youngsters don’t have that fear because they haven’t had that disappointment in the past, so maybe that was a blessing in disguise going into the penalties.”
Looking ahead to the final, which will take place at Colchester United FC on the evening of Friday, May 13th, Honeyman added: “It will be a great day for us whoever we play in the final, whether that’s Ipswich Wanderers or Old Newton; it will be interesting to see how that one goes come Tuesday night.”
Disappointed East Bergholt United manager Leighton Chenery, whose side had won a penalty shoot-out in the Morrison Freight Cup last Saturday to reach the semi-finals, admitted losing on penalties was tough to take.
He said: “There’s a few of them hurting in the changing room as we all are, but penalties are a bit of a lottery and we came out on the wrong side of it whereas last week we came out on the right side of it, but such is life.”
East Bergholt’s players claimed the ball had not crossed the line for Bak’s equaliser and Chenery said: “It was a scrappy goal – I can only go from what they are saying.
“I don’t think anyone had a good view of it including the officials, to be perfectly honest. There’s a view from our side that it didn’t cross the line, but you have to deal with those setbacks in games which I thought we did and reacted really well to it and got a quick leveller.
“We went in at half time with all the confidence and felt we had had the better of the game, but at least we had pulled back that injustice, as some of the players saw it.”
Chenery said he thought East Bergholt would go on to win the game once they got their noses in front early in the second period.
“In my head when that went in I thought that’s it now we go on and, I’ve got to be honest, I just thought our quality dropped in the second half in comparison to how we had played in the first half, but you have to give credit to the opposition as well they kept going and they worked hard.
“(Kai) Fletcher was a constant thorn up top and when our attacks did break down because of a lack of quality at times I thought they moved it and countered really well,” he said.
Of the penalty shoot-out itself Chenery said: “Fair play to their goalkeeper, who made a couple of cracking saves, especially the one from Matty (Hayward). When you are chasing in penalties it then compounds the pressure on the next person.”
Goalkeeper Harrison Podd is pictured above saving Matt Hayward's spot kick - one of two penalties he saved in the shoot-out as Leiston Reserves beat East Bergholt United to reach the CNet Training Suffolk Senior Cup Final. Photograph: Paul Voller.