Town Youngsters Exit Premier Cup
Wednesday, 13th Mar 2019 22:58
Town's youngsters were dumped out of the Suffolk FA Premier Cup by Leiston after they were defeated 2-1 in their semi-final tie at Felixstowe & Walton United's Goldstar Ground on Wednesday evening. Tom Bullard gave the non-league side a half-time lead and although Thomas Hughes equalised for Town, sub Harrison Bacon sent Leiston through to the final with a stoppage-time winner.
Adem Atay's side - an U18s team plus U23s Pat Webber, Ross Marshall and Conor McKendry - struggled to get into the game early on and Toby Egan made a couple of good early saves to deny former Blues youngster Kyle Hammond and then Matt Blake, before Matt Rutherford fired a loose ball across goal but wide of the far post in the fourth minute.
A couple of minutes later, Kai Brown picked up the ball on the halfway line and burst forward before unleashing a fierce drive from 25 yards out which Marcus Garnham did well to parry away to safety.
However the pressure that Evo-Stik Southern League Premier Division Central side Leiston applied early on was rewarded in the 14th minute when captain Tom Bullard bundled the ball into the net from six yards out following Hammond's left-sided corner.
At the other end Lounes Foudil fed Hughes but his weak effort was comfortably gathered by Garnham, shortly before Egan again did well to block Rutherford's low effort with his legs.
Just after the half-hour mark, another ex-Blues scholar Seb Dunbar burst down the left and cut the ball back to Hammond but Bailey Clements blocked his first-time shot, and then Egan clawed Joe Jefford's goal bound header away from the top corner following another Leiston corner.
Egan was beaten two minutes before the break by Harry Knights's flicked near-post header but a number of Town players, including skipper Brett McGavin, combined to block the ball and hook it off the line to safety.
In truth, Town were lucky to only be one goal behind at the break but they came out fighting in the second half and Armando Dobra's drive was pushed away by Garnham, moments before the keeper did well to push McKendry's dipping effort away.
Just before the hour mark, Rutherford latched onto a long ball over the Town defence and beat Egan to the bouncing ball and although the Leiston man took it towards what appeared to be an unguarded goal, Webber got back on the line and managed to block his effort.
Although it was another let-off for Town, they soon resumed their early second-half pressure and Garnham acrobatically tipped McGavin's 25-yard freekick over the bar, and then reacted well to get down low to his left to push Dobra's snap-shot away.
The one-time Town trialist keeper was finally beaten on 68 though when Foudil's low cross from the right found Hughes and despite his first effort being blocked, he reacted quickest and fired the ball into the bottom corner.
Town dominated much of the ball in the second half with McGavin catching the eye in midfield but as the game went on, they struggled to create too many more chances and Leiston's Blake dragged a shot wide as the final whistle approached.
Just as the game looked to be heading towards a penalty shoot-out, in the second minute of stoppage time a good move down the Leiston right resulted in a low ball into the area being side-footed home by the on-rushing Bacon from close range.
Although there was still time for McGavin to fire a freekick over the bar at the other end, it was probably a fair result following the number of chances the non-league side had created in the first half.
Leiston, who also knocked Town out of the competition last season, but at the quarter-final stage, will face the winner of the Stowmarket Town vs Felixstowe & Walton United semi-final tie which was postponed last night because of a waterlogged pitch.
Meanwhile, a Town U23s XI was beaten 3-1 by Brentford in a behind-closed-doors friendly at Playford Road this afternoon.
Town XI: Egan, Crowe, Clements, McGavin, Marshall, Webber, McKendry (Simpson 80), Foudil, K Brown, Dobra, Hughes. Unused: Alley, Henderson, Ruffles, Baker. Att: 227.
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