SUFFOLK SENIOR CUP
Cornard Utd 2
Leiston St Margarets 3
by Ken Watkins
at Blackhouse Lane
CORNARD United’s hopes of a Senior Cup run to lift a so-far disappointing season were dashed on Saturday as they gifted victory to Leiston.
Had the SIL visitors been a little more ruthless with the chances they were given in the first half, the margin of victory might have been greater, but Leiston’s profligacy in front of goal kept Cornard in the hunt, and an improved second half display then had the game in the balance to the end.
Cornard invited punishment in the first half as they stood off their opponents, failed to compete sufficiently in midfield and operated an offside trap that was continually being sprung.
It took some excellent saves by Matt Walker, and a stubborn, battling defensive display by skipper Ben Russell to keep Leiston in touching distance at the interval.
Both performed equally well in the second half, but Leiston then found chances a little harder to come by.
In truth, Cornard created very little in the first half, their three chances all coming from free-kicks.
After the interval, they began to put together more penetrative attacks, but then Leiston rode their luck, and little good fortune went Cornard’s way.
Leiston took a 10th-minute lead when the ball flicked up off Matthew Short’s foot and struck his hand. James Blades scored from a harshly-awarded penalty.
Cornard were soon level. Scott Yearling hit the foot of a post with a 16th-minute free-kick, but two minutes later, from almost the same spot, his splendid set piece over the wall found the top corner.
Short then gifted a second goal to Leiston.
He disputed a decision, kicked the ball away after arguing with the referee, and was rightly booked. The free-kick was lofted to the edge of the box and Gavin Jennings flicked the ball over the advancing Walker.
Darren Harper and Blades wasted gilt-edged chances, and Jennings was superbly denied by Walker before Scott Yearling forced a fine fingertip save from Gary Lambert to keep out another fierce free-kick. Chances came in both boxes in the second half, Walker making a superb double save from Blades and Jennings on the hour to keep Cornard alive. And hopes were lifted in the 66th minute when Josh Hodgson picked up the rebound to rifle home after Lambert had beaten away his first shot.
For a while it was anyone’s game, but Cornard gifted Leiston the winning goal in the 75th minute. There seemed little danger as Jennings was forced wide, but he was allowed space to fire in off the far post.
Leiston were then happy to play for time, and closed things down. Cornard kept applying pressure, but were unable to create another opening as the visitors soaked it up.
Cornard Utd: Walker; Short, Hardman, Russell, Warner, D McEwan (Barber 46), Melia (Thomson 46), Pannell (Nwbarni 46), S Yearling, Hodgson, M Yearling. Subs not used: A McEwan, Barry.