MANAGER Liam Abraham said he was really proud of his Framlingham Town side after reaching their first CNet Training Suffolk Senior Cup Final for 27 years.
Two goals inside the final 20 minutes saw the Castlemen defeat lower-league Claydon 2-0 in Friday night’s semi-final at Hadleigh United FC.
The Thurlow Nunn League Division One North side created the lion’s share of the chances, but their Macron SIL Senior Division opponents displayed real resilience before the breakthrough arrived.
George Exworth rammed home from ten yards to give Framlingham the lead after 72 minutes.
It was 2-0 just two minutes later when Ethan Whittingstall headed home at the far post from a cross by Jake Conway, who had only just come on as a substitute.
Framlingham saw out the rest of the match, which was played in heavy rain throughout, to set up a final versus AFC Sudbury Reserves, who defeated Halesworth Town 3-2 in the other semi-final at Bury Town FC.
George Exworth (No.8) gives Framlingham Town the lead after 72 minutes in their semi-final against Claydon. Main Photograph: Ethan Whittingstall (right) is congratulated by team-mate Max Willett (left) after scoring Framlingham Town's second goal. Photographs: Paul Voller
It means that Framlingham, who have never before won the competition, will play in their first Suffolk Senior Cup Final since losing 3-0 to Grundisburgh in the 1995-96 season.
Framlingham Town manager Abraham said: “It’s something the club has not achieved for a long time, so I am really proud of our efforts and what we have done in each round of the competition.
“Claydon defended really, really well and were very resilient and hard to break down. I felt we were in control for the majority of the game and their keeper (Kelby Sharber) pulled off some great saves and they made some good defensive blocks.
“The longer the game went on I felt that the first goal was coming as we kept creating chances. When you get that first goal you often get a second, and it came quite quickly.”
Looking ahead to the final against AFC Sudbury Reserves, Abraham said: “We have played them twice in the league this season and met them in the quarter-finals of this cup two years ago, so we know them well.
“They are well drilled and well coached and they always get better as the season goes on. They are one of the best teams we have played this season, so it will be tough.”
Ethan Whittingstall (No.11) heads home Framlingham Town's second goal against Claydon. Photograph: Paul Voller
Kenny Kennedy, men’s lead of the Claydon management team, said he was proud of their efforts, but those two goals in quick succession were decisive.
He said: “The team did brilliantly to reach the semi-final and put in a tremendous shift, more than holding our own in the first half, which could’ve seen us leading with a bit more composure in front of goal.
“The second half saw us tire somewhat, with Framlingham’s fitness allowing their passing game to take advantage of the spaces that appeared.
“Despite some heroic defending, two goals in quick succession knocked the stuffing out of us. With one or two bodies missing from the squad we were unable to affect the outcome of the game, which in the end saw Framlingham progress.
“We are extremely proud of the effort shown tonight by all the boys on the pitch and will look to use tonight’s game as a springboard to finish the season strong.”
Framlingham Town: Edyn Cummings, Kit McCausland (sub Jake Conway, 74 mins), Niki Shopov (sub Levi Chapman, 82 mins), Cyrus Thorpe (sub Tom Humphrey, 87 mins), Simon Poacher, Joe Berry, Josh Lucraft, George Exworth, Max Willett, Josh Tysoe, Ethan Whittingstall (sub Shane Hambling, 90 mins). Unused sub: Joe Potter.
Claydon: Kelby Sharber, Tobi Stollery, Ryann Dennington, Liam Woodhouse (sub Charlie Coe, 47 mins), Jake Giles (sub Ash Smith, 77 mins), Josh Dowsing, Dan Parsons (sub Shaheen Temory, 73 mins), Kiefer Bultitude (sub Lewis Girling, 73 mins), Ryan Wragg, Dylan Buxton, Charlie Hooley. Unused sub: Jason Markham.
Referee: Anthony Coulter