IT WAS Matt Blake’s destiny to score the winner in this season’s CNet Training Suffolk Senior Cup Final.
The former Leiston striker’s close-range finish in the 22nd minute following a good run and cross by Jacob Lay gave Ipswich Wanderers a 1-0 win over Leiston Reserves in Friday’s night’s final.
But Wanderers’ joint manager James Buckle admitted his side could have been 3-1 down at the interval at the Jobserve Community Stadium, home of Colchester United FC.
He said: “We knew they would come at us in the first 15 or 20 minutes as they are a young and very fit side.
“We could have been 3-1 down at half-time as they missed some good chances, but we tightened up in the second half.
“We pushed Jacob Lay wide in the second half as we knew we would get more success in the wide area and that worked well.”
Buckle said of former Leiston striker and match-winner Blake: “Blakey is Blakey – it was always going to be him that scored the winning goal against Leiston!”
Leiston Reserves' goalkeeper Harrison Podd dives to push away a curling free-kick taken by Ipswich Wanderers' Danny Cunningham (white shirt, No.8) after just eight minutes. Main photograph: Podd tips a deep second-half cross over the bar. Photographs: Paul Voller.
It was Wanderers’ second success in the competition in the last three seasons, after winning the 2019-20 final which was staged at their Humber Doucy Lane ground.
Buckle said: “There was a really good atmosphere inside the ground and it is surprising just how many fans we had here, and we hope to be able to take them forward with us into next season.
“To win the cup in a stadium feels so much better than before, even though we were playing on our home ground, so Suffolk FA have done a great job to get the final played here.”
Victory secured a coveted league and cup double for Wanderers, who have had it confirmed they will return to the Thurlow Nunn League Premier Division next season.
Buckle said: “We had a conversation at the start of the season when we set out that our main objective was to win the league, but we also wanted to win the Senior Cup.
“In my opinion, the Senior Cup is the biggest cup in Suffolk, and we wanted to win it and do the double, which we felt we could achieve with the squad we have had, so we are delighted to do so.”
Leiston Reserves manager Ryan Honeyman praised the resilience of his side and revealed it is almost certainly the last time they will all play together.
He said: “Everyone knows the quality that Ipswich Wanderers have got and they are capable of blowing any team away, but we showed great resilience after going 1-0 behind.
“We had some good chances to equalise and put them under pressure, but it just didn’t happen for us.
“I thought Kai Fletcher and Ollie Godbold were a constant threat and that we also defended really well, so I am really proud of all of them.
“We gave a good account of ourselves and on another day we could have taken it to penalties or even won it.”
Honeyman said he doesn’t expect several of his players to be at the club next season.
“They are a good set of lads and there are some really talented boys among them, but it is going to be difficult to keep this group together.
“Five or six of them are talking about going travelling or taking a step up next season, so it could be they have played their last game together for Leiston Reserves,” he added.