Long Melford eye up cup final prize

MAN OF THE MATCH: Goalscorer Adam Rickwood's lively display was a positive for Long Melford
MAN OF THE MATCH: Goalscorer Adam Rickwood's lively display was a positive for Long Melford
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LONG Melford manager Jason Maher has set his sights on lifting the Suffolk Senior Cup after ending their league campaign with a disappointing 3-1 defeat to promoted Thetford Town.

RIDGEONS LEAGUE

FIRST DIVISION

Thetford Town 3

Long Melford 1

LONG Melford manager Jason Maher has set his sights on lifting the Suffolk Senior Cup after ending their league campaign with a disappointing 3-1 defeat to promoted Thetford Town.

Maher’s men were comfortably beaten at Mundford Road as Adam Rickwood’s 72nd-minute strike proved nothing more than a consolation after goals from Bruno Tavares, Matt Dixon and an own goal from goalkeeper Paul Wood effectively ensured victory for the hosts.

Maher admitted afterwards he changed his side with an eye on the cup final showdown with Whitton United on Wednesday (7pm), and revealed his sole focus is on lifting the title to end a ‘positive’ season on a high.

“We tried a few different things today with the cup final in mind and some of it worked and some of it didn’t,” he said.

“We came up against a strong team, they are one of the best in the league, which is why they gained promotion.

“However, we have got four or five players to come in for the final and I am confident that if we play to our level then we are capable of winning the game.

“That is what we are geared towards now, all of our attention and focus is on the final.

“If you would have told me that we would lose to Thetford, but win the cup final then I would have taken that all day long.

“It has been a positive season, we aimed to finish in the top 10 which we have done and we wanted a good cup run which we have done in reaching the final and that is a great achievement.”

The hosts started in determined fashion and were soon rewarded for their early dominance when Tavares opened the scoring after 23 minutes, following up Nathan Szyszlyk’s saved effort to tap home from close range.

Melford striker Dan Cann then saw his powerful free-kick from the edge of the area clip the cross bar on its way over before Thetford doubled their lead just after the half-hour-mark.

Neat play between Sean O’Donnell and Liam Bolton saw the latter race into the visitors’ area and as he tried to pick out Dixon with a drilled cross across goal, goalkeeper Wood inadvertently deflected the ball into his own net to gift the home side a commanding advantage at the break.

Wood’s afternoon would go from bad to worse seven minutes after interval as he was adjudged to have brought down Dixon in the area, leaving referee Fountain pointing to the spot.

Dixon picked himself up and made no mistake, sending Wood the wrong way, smashing his penalty into the top left corner.

Tavares rattled the underside of the crossbar with a stinging right-foot shot following Dixon’s cut-back, before Melford were given a glimmer of hope with 18 minutes remaining, reducing the deficit.

Justin Crissell released the lively Rickwood and the striker kept his cool, holding off pressure from Luke Bailey before drilling a right-foot effort across Ian Fancett into the bottom left corner.

However there was to be no come back and after Tavares tested Wood with another low shot to his right late on, the final whistle confirmed the hosts victory, leaving Melford to focus on clinching cup glory.

Melford: Wood 5, Attwood 6 (Waterfield 48, 6), Simpson 7, Walker 6, Durell 6, Crissell 7, Shipton 6 (Barnes 55, 6), Skeggs 7, RICKWOOD 8, Cann 7 (Thomas 55), Dan 6

Subs not used: Statham

n Seats are available for supporters (£6 each) on the Long Melford FC coach to Portman Road on Wednesday, May 2.

The coach will be a 53 seater, collecting at the George and Dragon in Long Melford at 4.15pm, and at the King’s Head in Cornard en route to Ipswich.

To book a seat on the coach contact Jason Maher on 07969 539921 or email info@longmelfordfootballclub.com