STOWMARKET Town will play in their first Turners Hyundai Suffolk Premier Cup Final for 25 years.
The Pitching In Isthmian North side deservedly defeated Leiston, who play a league higher in the Pitching In Southern League Premier Central, 3-0 in Wednesday’s semi-final at Needham Market FC.
An Ollie Saunders own goal after 31 minutes and two from Josh Mayhew, the first from the penalty spot just seconds after coming on as a substitute in the 75th minute, and the second after 89 minutes, sealed their success.
Stowmarket, who have not won the competition since the 1990-91 season, will play either Kirkley & Pakefield or Needham Market in the final at Colchester United FC on Thursday, April 21st.
Stowmarket handed a debut to Ipswich Town left-back Tommy Smith, who has joined on loan until the end of the season, and they were the better side throughout the 90 minutes.
However, it took until the 31st minute for them to break the deadlock thanks to a fortuitous own goal just after a combination of Stowmarket keeper James Bradbrook and the crossbar combined to scramble the ball to safety after a misdirected defensive header.
Stowmarket Town goalkeeper James Bradbrook arches backwards to save as the ball strikes the crossbar. Main photograph: The ball rolls into the unguarded Leiston goal after a defensive mix-up to put Stowmarket ahead in the 31st minute of the Turners Hyundai Suffolk Premier Cup Semi-Final at Needham Market FC on Tuesday evening. Photographs: Paul Voller.
His opposite number Sam Donkin scuffed his clearance straight to Reggie Lambe around 40 yards from goal. The striker advanced before trying to play in Luke Brown but Saunders, who tried to intercept and guide the ball back to Donkin, only succeeded in diverting it past the onrushing keeper and into an empty net.
Bradbrook left his line five minutes later to close down Adam Mills, who had looked Leiston’s most threatening player, and blocked his effort at the expense of a corner.
Leiston upped the tempo at the start of the second period and Stowmarket acting skipper Jack Ainsley had to clear at full stretch after Mills headed a long diagonal pass back across the face of goal.
The Blues then had penalty appeals waved away by referee Callum Walchester as Mills went down in the area just seconds after Bradbook beat away a fierce drive from Will Davies.
However, the official pointed to the spot at the other end soon after when Dunbar, a Stowmarket player until this season, was adjudged to have handled as Lambe tried to thread a pass through to Luke Brown.
Mayhew, who was waiting to come off the bench, did so immediately in order to take the spot kick and sent Donkin the wrong way to double Stowmarket’s advantage.
The striker added the gloss on Stowmarket’s display when he sidefooted home from close range after Donkin had parried Chris Casement’s low drive a minute from the end of normal time.
Stowmarket will have to wait until Tuesday, April 12th to see who they will meet in the final when Leiston FC host the second semi-final.
Stowmarket Town: James Bradbrook, Ollie Brown, Tommy Smith, Chris Casement, Jack Ainsley, Josh Curry, Willie Clemons, Craig Parker, Reggie Lambe (sub George Bugg 90+4 mins), Luke Brown (sub Josh Mayhew, 74 mins), Kane Munday (sub Maliq Jikiemi, 63 mins). Unused subs: Evan Collard, Ryan Capon.
Leiston: Sam Donkin, Ollie Saunders (sub Joe Marsden, 60 mins), Seb Dunbar, Baris Altintop, Jake Hutchings, Siju Odelusi (sub Rob Eagle, 56 mins), Finlay Barnes, George Quantrell, Will Davies, Iuri Fernandes (sub Brendan Ocran, 71 mins), Adam Mills. Unused subs: Adam Bailey-Dennis.
Referee: Callum Walchester.