AFC Sudbury Reserves’ manager Dave Cannon said it was a ‘fantastic feeling’ after seeing his side reach their first CNet Training Suffolk Senior Cup Final.
The Academy side overcame Halesworth Town 3-2 in Friday’s semi-final at Bury Town’s Alatian Servest Stadium to set up a final against Framlingham Town, who defeated Claydon 2-0 in the other semi-final.
The heavens opened half-an-hour before kick-off and the match was played in torrential rain almost throughout which made for a thrilling cup-tie in front of 226 spectators.
Louie Arnold’s scuffed shot crept inside the far post to give AFC Sudbury Reserves the lead after 24 minutes, before Pat Summerfield’s long through ball found Callum Read in acres of space to finish well and restore parity in the 38th minute.
The Thurlow Nunn League Diivision One North side went back in front in the 42nd minute when Jack Ladbrooke’s powerful header from Bobby Rea’s right-wing corner was adjudged to have crossed the line despite being cleared.
Read equalised for a second time in the 49th minute after a move that started in defence culminated in him sidefooting home after Lewis Chenery had helped on Summerfield’s pass.
Dan Smith scored what proved to be the winner in the 64th minute, finding the bottom corner of the net from just outside the penalty area.
A combination of profligate finishing and good saves by Alan Anderson prevented AFC Sudbury Reserves from wrapping up the tie.
The Macron SIL Senior Division side were reduced to ten men in the 92nd minute when Shaun Whiteman received a second yellow card, before they almost equalised when Jack Catley saved to prevent Read completing his hat-trick.
AFC Sudbury Reserves’ manager Cannon said: “It’s fantastic. It’s been one of our targets to make it to a Senior Cup Final and to do it is a great feeling.
“Their keeper kept them in the game in the second half and our keeper has made a brilliant save in pretty much the 94th minute.
“When we turned up, we said this is our type of pitch but by the time we got to kick-off it was really heavy. The rain was ridiculous and it created a classic cup semi-final tie.
“Mistakes were happening and if you were a neutral in the crowd you have had your six pounds worth.”
Cannon paid tribute to opponents Halesworth after pushing his side all the way.
He said: “I knew they were never going to go away and they would always keep coming. They are a really strong bond of a team. I know half those boys have been friends since primary school and they just keep going.
“I have seen results this year where they have been 2-0 down and have won games, so I knew that was going to come and fair play to Halesworth if they get where they want to and come into our league, they will be a fantastic addition.”
Looking ahead to the final against Framlingham, Cannon added: “We have had two good games against them in the league this season. They like to play football and we like to play football and there will be goals.”
Halesworth manager Carl Chenery said: “I am disappointed, but on the other hand I am proud of the boys because there was a time in the second half where Sudbury were really pushing to get the third goal and we stuck at it.
“We had got our second goal at the start of the second half and got ourselves back into it and Sudbury then got on top and got their third and after that I thought we showed real good spirit for the last 15 minutes to push and we did have one really good chance and there was a good last-ditch tackle at the end.
“That’s just how the game was tonight; the conditions were not great, but for a cup-tie the conditions were probably ideal.”
Although disappointed with the way in which his side conceded all three goals, Chenery added: “We said before the game if we are going to lose, we want to lose to a decent side and put in a good performance and as long as we give everything you can take that, and I think that happened.”
AFC Sudbury Reserves (yellow shirts) are pictured above launching an attack against Halesworth Town (black & white striped shirts) during the first-half of their semi-final.
AFC Sudbury Reserves: Jack Catley, Dylan Kirk (sub Jamie Eveleigh, 71 mins), Louie Arnold (sub Brae Smith, 86 mins), Jamie Bennett (sub Tom Chilvers, 86 mins), Dan Smith, Jack Ladbrooke, Joe Carroll, Liam Pearce (sub Alfie Lambert, 71 mins), Bobby Rea, Reuben Swann (sub Kaya Donahue, 43 mins), Brad Byrne.
Halesworth Town: Alan Anderson, Hayden Ling, Sam Newsom (sub Tane Backhouse, 71 mins), Chris Palmer (sub Jac Garrad, 84 mins), Will Ridgard (sub Toby Kerslake, 87 mins), Shaun Whiteman, Lewis Chenery, Callum Read, Toby Payne, Pat Summerfield, Ash Canham (sub Tommy Smith, 84 mins). Unused sub: Karl Goodwin.
Referee: Lee Kendrick.