KIRKLEY & Pakefield player-manager Jack Herbert has spoken of his side’s ‘massive achievement’ after winning 4-0 at Felixstowe & Walton United in the Turners Hyundai Suffolk Premier Cup Quarter-Finals.
The Royals stunned their hosts, who play a level above them, to reach the last four of the competition for the first time since the 2017-18 season.
Cameron Russell put the visitors ahead after 11 minutes before Kyle Haylock struck either side of half time (33 & 46 minutes) and then Miugel Lopez rounded off the scoring with a 61st minute penalty.
Herbert said: “It’s a massive achievement going away to a team who are the league above, have quality and experience, and to walk away 4-0 winners.
“It was a really proud moment of my short managerial career so far; the boys were excellent and it was one of the best performances I’ve seen and been a part of throughout my time at Kirkley and Pakefield.
“It means a lot for us to be in the semi-finals with the likes of Stowmarket Town, Leiston and Needham Market. It’s certainly good company and a tie we are going to relish playing in and we can’t wait for the draw.
“It’s been a long time since we have been in a cup final, and that will be our motivation going forward.”
Kirkley & Pakefield (blue shirts) defend their goal at a set piece against Felixstowe & Walton United (red & white striped shirts) during Tuesday's Turners Hyundai Suffolk Premier Cup Quarter-Final at the Goldstar Ground. Main photograph: Kirkley's players applaud supporters as they leave the pitch at the end of the tie. Photographs: Thomas Bradford.
Kirkley travelled to the Goldstar Ground without three regulars from their usual first team squad, but welcomed back a number of players from injury.
Herbert continued: “It was always going to be a tough fixture with Felixstowe’s quality and experience, they have winners all over the pitch.
“We knew we were not going to dominate possession and we would need to be well organised and disciplined in our shape, which we were.
“We stuck to our game plan and executed it superbly. We played to our strengths and looked to use the counter-attack and exploit any mistakes, whilst being organised and resolute in our defending.
“The first 10-15 minutes Felixstowe utilised the space well and made the pitch big and looked to stretch us. We defended really well as a team, when we had the opportunity to attack, we did so effectively. The likes of Connor Swan, Kyle Haylock, Louis Tillett and Cameron Russell led the line excellently and pressed together and exploited mistakes.
“Ben George and Miguel Lopez were everywhere and protected the back four really well and got forward to support the attacking players regularly, as well as winning the ball back on numerous occasions.
“Alex Blowers made some excellent saves to keep it at 0-0 and to cement the clean sheet throughout the 90 minutes. The back four were resolute throughout and dealt with everything Felixstowe had to throw at us.
“The lads who came on and impacted from the bench deserve a special mention too, as we all know coming off the bench can be difficult to catch up to the speed of the game, but those lads did it really well and helped us see the game out.”
In Tuesday evening’s other tie Leiston won 1-0 at Mildenhall Town to reach the final four of this season’s competition thanks to a Will Davies goal after 25 minutes.
The draw for the semi-finals will be broadcast on BBC Radio Suffolk at 8.30pm during Thursday night’s Non-League Hour and simultaneously released via the Suffolk FA Twitter feed.
Turners Hyundai Suffolk Premier Cup Quarter-Finals: Felixstowe & Walton Utd 0 Kirkley & Pakefield 4, Mildenhall Town 0 Leiston 1.