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Thurston ease to Junior Cup victory

THURSTON manager ‘over the moon’ after his side complete a league and cup double.

MANAGER Martin McConnell said he was ‘over the moon’ after his Thurston side completed a league and cup double.

Thurston defeated Woolverstone 3-1 in Monday’s Parkers Pitches Suffolk Junior Cup Final at Portman Road to add to winning the Macron SIL Division One title.

They dominated the first-half, twice striking the crossbar in quick succession as well as Andrew Wood seeing his penalty saved, before Kaine Fryer slammed home a loose ball following a 43rd minute corner.

However, Woolverstone, who finished eighth in SIL Division One of the SIL and 37 points behind Thurston, drew level when skipper Lewis Wildling, who had conceded the earlier penalty for handball, nodded in from close range following a corner in the 48th minute.

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Woolverstone United goalkeeper Paul Dennington gets down low to his left to save Andrew Wood's 16th minute penalty. Main photograph: Thurston celebrate after being presented with the cup. Photographs: Paul Voller

Brandon Salisbury restored Thurston’s lead just before the hour, sliding home following Wood’s through ball, before the Blue Socks added a third in the 79th minute.

Goalkeeper Paul Dennington, who had made some good saves, failed to collect Harry French’s right-wing corner and the ball ended up in the net at the near post, with Fryer keen to claim the last touch.

Thurston comfortably saw out the remainder of the match to give departing manager McConnell the perfect send-off.

He said afterwards: “I am over the moon. To win the double with the group of lads I have got is amazing, especially to do it at Portman Road. Thanks to Suffolk FA for sorting it out, it’s amazing memories that are going to live on forever.”

McConnell admitted his side were wasteful in front of goal in the first-half until Fryer’s opener just before the break.

He said: “We are always going to create chances. That’s what we do - we score goals. If you look at our league form, we score a lot of goals and don’t concede many.

“But I was sitting there in the dugout thinking what is going to happen here with missing three or four, two hit the bar, we missed a penalty and the keeper has made some good saves, but luckily we got one just before half-time and that settled the nerves a little bit.”

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Woolverstone United's skipper Lewis Wilding heads home from close range to equalise in the 48th minute. Photograph: Paul Voller

Even McConnell was not sure who got the final touch for the third goal in the first county cup final to be played at Portman Road since the 2018-19 season.

He said: “I think they are all trying to claim it! I think Harry (French) who took the corner tried to claim it. I don’t think anyone really knew, it just went in and you take them all day long if that is going to make you 3-1 up and it takes the pressure off.

“To win a final 3-1 and to do the double, I couldn’t ask for any more from my last game in charge.”

Woolverstone United manager Clive Catchpole said: “We always knew it was going to be really hard. They are a good side, and the league table doesn’t lie; they didn’t lose a game all season and drew just two, while we won five.

“We have played well in this competition to reach the final, but this last hurdle was one too much for us.

“Thurston’s side is made up of Senior players, some who have dropped down two or three divisions, and we are a team on the way up and this is the highest standard of football we have played.

“We rode our luck and it could have been three or four nil at half-time, but our keeper was inspired in the first-half. We had good spells in the match but could not manage a sustained spell of 10 or 15 minutes.”

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Brandon Salisbury stretches to guide the ball home for Thurston's second goal past Woolverstone United goalkeeper Paul Dennington. Photograph: Paul Voller

Despite the result, Catchpole said everyone had enjoyed the whole experience.

“We are the smallest village side in the SIL and these players are now Woolverstone legends for being the first side in the club’s 100-year history to play at Portman Road.

“Thanks to Suffolk FA and Ipswich Town we have had a wonderful evening and most of these lads will never get to enjoy this experience again,” he added.

The cup and medals were presented by Suffolk FA Chair Phil Lawler, SIL Chair Keith Norton and Will Parker of competition sponsors Parkers Pitches.


The Teams

Woolverstone United: Paul Dennington, Jordan Harward, Declan Lee, Dominic Thrower, James Harbut, Lewis Wilding, George Sykes, Alex Gibson, Hayden Catchpole, Justin Davies, Marcus Lawrence. Used subs: Lewis Crawford, Aaron Gordon, Owen Slattery, Jack Knill, Daniel Knights.

Thurston: Dan Stobbart, Jack Stone, Jamie Barclay, Kerrin Lawrence, Lewis Kemp, Rhys Foster, Luke Austin, Charlie Cook, Brandon Salisbury, Andrew Wood, Kaine Fryer. Used subs: Alfie Gamble, Harry French, Ryan Jolly, Callum Steed, Will Stobbart.

Referee: Andy Eley

Attendance: 697.

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