MANAGER Liam Abraham admitted his Framlingham Town side rode their luck before winning the CNet Training Suffolk Senior Cup for the first time in the club’s history.
Framlingham Town were formed in 1887 – just a year after the first final in the competition’s illustrious history – but had never previously lifted the trophy.
For the first 45 minutes of Friday night’s final at Colchester United FC, it looked as though only their second appearance in the final would end in defeat as the first did 27 years ago.
AFC Sudbury Reserves were much the better side in the opening period, but failed to make their superiority count, and as so often happens in football, that ultimately proved costly.
A string of chances came and went, most notably on the half-hour when the lively Bobby Rea sidefooted wide with just keeper Edyn Cunnings to beat.
Framlingham grew into the game more after the interval, although it was the Academy side who went closest to breaking the deadlock when Brad Byrne’s header from Rea’s right-wing corner struck the crossbar just before the hour.
The Castlemen took the lead when striker Max Willett was left unmarked to steer Ethan Whittingstall’s deep right-wing cross back across goal and into the net after 70 minutes.
Max Willett shoots past AFC Sudbury Reserves keeper Jack Catley to give Framlingham Town the lead in the final. Main photograph: Framlingham Town players and officials celebrate after being presented with the trophy. Photographs: Paul Voller
They survived a scare when Joe Berry cleared off the line after Cummings had half blocked Jamie Bennett’s shot, before substitute Oliver Smith put the result beyond doubt in the third minute of time added on when he rammed home the second after keeper Jack Catley had failed to hang onto Willett’s shot.
Framlingham Town manager Abraham admitted afterwards: “We rode our luck in the first-half when they had the better chances and if they had been more clinical it could have been a different game.
“We said to the players at half-time you have put in a good shift, and that we would get chances in the second-half, which we did.
“We changed formation, which helped us to deal with their threat, and the message to the players was to be brave and be positive and they were right from the start.”
Abraham praised goalscorers Willett and Smith: “That’s what Max does. That’s 30 goals for him this season. It was a good run by Ethan (Whittingstall) who had a good game.
“We sent the big man on to give Max some support and what more can you ask for from a striker than to come off the bench and score?”
Abraham was well aware what winning the competition means to the club: “Syd Vice, our Life Vice President, said to me at our Presentation Night that the club have never won the Senior Cup before and what an honour it would be if we were to do so.
“That’s exactly what I said to the players out on the pitch after the game – you are the first group of players to represent the club to bring this trophy home.”
Framlingham Town's Joe Berry hacks the ball off the goalline after keeper Edyn Cummings had half blocked a shot from AFC Sudbury Reserves' Jamie Bennett (jumping over the goalkeeper) in the second-half of the final. Photograph: Paul Voller
AFC Sudbury Reserves manager Dave Cannon said: “You win football matches by scoring goals. We dominated possession and territory but weren’t able to convert the chances we created. Fair play to Framlingham, who did.
“When you are on top and create chances and don’t take them and then they score, it gives them something to defend and to fight for, which then makes it harder. They then scored their second goal at the end when we were chasing the game."
Cannon said the experience would benefit his players, who will be involved in the Suffolk Under-18 Midweek Cup Final versus Needham Market at the same ground on Wednesday.
“Whether these players benefit on Wednesday or some other Wednesday further down the line, they will be better players for it in the future,” he added.
The cup and medals were presented by former Ipswich Town and England captain Terry Butcher, who was guest of honour, Andrew Stevens of competition sponsors CNet Training and Suffolk FA Chair Phil Lawler.
AFC Sudbury Res: Jack Catley, James Eveleigh, Brad Byrne, Tom Chilvers (sub Jack Ladbrook, 86 mins), Dylan Kirk, Dan Smith, Reuben Swann (sub Kaya Donohue, 68 mins), Liam Pearce (sub Bill Walsh, 86 mins), Bobby Rea (sub Brae Smith, 82 mins), Jamie Bennett, Louis Arnold (sub Alfie Lambert, 77 mins).
Framlingham Town: Edyn Cummings, Kit McCausland (sub Oliver Smith, 57mins), Niki Shopov, Alex Ling (sub Tom Humphrey, 46 mins), Simon Poacher, Joe Berry, Ethan Whittingstall (sub Levi Chapman, 89 mins), George Exworth, Max Willett, Josh Tysoe, Jake Conway (sub Kian Wilson, 72 mins). Unused sub: Joe Potter.
Referee: Jak Clark