U18 Midweek Cup Haverhill Rovers red Bury Town blue May 2024 !

Rovers' Young Guns lift U18 Midweek Cup

HAVERHILL Rovers showed their resilience to win this season’s Suffolk Under-18 Midweek Cup.

HAVERHILL Rovers showed their resilience to win this season’s Veo Suffolk Under-18 Midweek Cup for the first time.

Rovers led 2-0 versus Bury Town in Wednesday’s final at Colchester United FC, but their opponents restored parity before half-time only for Rovers’ midfielder Micky Cipriani to net a 74th minute winner.

It is a notable achievement for the club, who fielded an under-16 side in the competition and have become the first winners other than AFC Sudbury since the first of their seven successive victories stretching back to the 2015-16 season.

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Josh Evans (red shirt, partly obscured) pokes the ball into the roof of the net to give Haverhill Rovers the lead after 11 minutes of the final. Main photograph: Micky Cipriani celebrates scoring the winning goal for Haverhill Rovers. Photographs: Paul Voller

Rovers got off to a flying start, scoring twice in the opening 13 minutes. Josh Evans had already headed against the post before poking home into the roof of the net from Micky Cipriani’s pass.

Two minutes later Fraser Bull slotted home into the bottom corner after being set up by Sonny Tully.

Bury reduced the deficit in the 23rd minute, Teddy Hogg rising unopposed to send a firm header back across goal and into the net from Harry Harvey’s deep free-kick.

And they were level after 37 minutes, Ben Curtis robbing one defender, cutting inside another and slotting home past Charlie Smith.

The second-half lacked the intensity and excitement of the first as players tired, but it was Rovers who got the all-important goal when Cipriani pounced on a defensive error to send a low shot past Ollie Kellett.

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Bury Town's Teddy Hogg (blue shirt, No.5) heads home his side's first goal. Photograph: Paul Voller

Bury, whose long throws by Hogg were a feature of the match, were unable to find a response and Rovers were relatively untroubled in the dying stages.

Proud manager Harry Zachariou said afterwards: “We have had such a small squad all season, playing sometimes with 11 or 12 players, and everyone knows we are an under-16 team, but even in a cup final they went back to what they know and just played football.

“As they get older they can learn other things, but tonight they stuck to their beliefs.”

“In other games against Bury this season they have started quickly and we have had to fight back, but tonight we got a good start, before being pegged back.

“We didn’t feel they deserved to be level at 2-2 at half-time, so to go on and win the game from there was fantastic.

“We had to play against an uncomfortable style of football with long throws - you expect that in the 85th minute, but they were doing it from the first minute, but we defended well as a unit.”

Zachariou said people had asked him what his objective was when he started managing the team.

“My objective is to turn up on a Saturday in the future and watch these lads at whatever level of football that may be.

“I think a few of these players will do well in their careers and it will be an honour to watch them play later in life,” he said.

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Haverhill Rovers celebrate after being presented with the cup following their 3-2 victory over Bury Town. Photograph: Paul Voller.

Daren Hayward, who is joint manager of Bury Town with James Jolland, said: “Nobody likes to lose, but someone has to in a cup final.

“We were very sloppy in the first 10-20 minutes, but we recovered very well in the last 10 minutes of the first half and the opening 15-20 minutes of the second-half.

“I felt we looked the more likely to score the winner in what was a very competitive game, but a lack of concentration when the ball was played inbetween our left back and centre half cost us.

“I am incredibly disappointed as it is the end of an era for James and myself. Some of these boys have been with James since they were seven or eight-years-old, and we have been coaching them as a team for several years.”

The cup and medals were presented by Suffolk FA Chair Phil Lawler and Vice-Chair Bruce Badcock.


The Teams

Bury Town: Ollie Kellett, Harry Harvey, Harry Edwards, Archie Cowe, Teddy Hogg, Theo Carter, Harry Hopkins, Henry Jolland, Ben Curtis, Alfie Lee, Theo Thomas. Used subs: Harry Hayward, Harvey Lott, Mikhim Bhujel, Fraser Gregory, George Talbot.

Haverhill Rovers: Charlie Smith, Sonny Tully, Theo Goddard, Milo Barton, Micky Cipriani, Fraser Bull, Illias Zachariou, Josh Evans, Harvey Child, Flynn Bobby, Finley Hopkins. Used subs: Josh King, Liam Powell, Kyle Batterbee. Unused sub: Kai Baxter.

Referee: Anthony Coulter.

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