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Matt Grove full of pride despite Cornard United losing a seven-goal thriller in the Suffolk Senior Cup final at Portman Road

Despite Cornard United losing a seven-goal thriller by the odd goal in the CNet Training Suffolk Senior Cup final, Matt Grove said both Michael Schofield and himself walked off the pitch at Portman Road full of pride.

Achilles’ Lee Grimwood celebrates making it 2-0	Pictures: Gary Donnison
Achilles’ Lee Grimwood celebrates making it 2-0 Pictures: Gary Donnison

Cornard’s players had gone into Friday’s showpiece against Ipswich-based Touchline Suffolk & Ipswich League Senior Division side Achilles not only looking to end the club’s 30-year wait for a trophy, but aiming to end their players-managers’ reign on a high.

After guiding them to a mid-table finish in the Thurlow Nunn League First Division North, goalkeeper Grove and midfielder or full-back Schofield had stepped up to lead the side after a worrying start to the campaign in September. But they had announced they would be stepping aside to concentrate on playing again next season.

Despite a late fightback in added time – bringing the scoreline back from 4-1 to 4-3 with 10 men following Lewis Blanchett’s second yellow card – there was to be no fairytale ending to their short managerial tenure.

“I think if we put away our chances today maybe it could have been different,” said Grove.

“I walk off the pitch really proud of what we have achieved as Cornard United.

“We were known as the whipping boys but we are not that any more.

“I am proud of the boys, and Mike deserves more credit than me. He stepped up with me stepping down a little bit with my new job.”

He said both of them are happy to stay at the club in a playing-only capacity but would leave it to the new manager to decide if they are part of his plans.

After Cornard’s Brad Dix rattled the crossbar early on, lower-league Achilles took the lead via the penalty spot 19 minutes in after captain Dan Clark slipped on the wet turf and handled a low cross. Gavin Van Oene sent Grove the wrong way.

In an end-to-end affair Sean Bartlett had a goal ruled out for offside before the Ards went 2-0 behind in the 34th minute when Lee Grimwood shot in off the crossbar.

An early goal from Dave Grimwood in the second half looked to have put the outcome beyond doubt, especially when Blanchett’s back-chat saw him dismissed in the 86th minute.

But Charlie Hayes stabbed home in the 90th minute for 3-1 before two more Cornard goals, after Achilles had scored again through Ryan Wragg, from Andy Schofield and Ezra Drann, made for a grandstand finish.

Cornard: Grove, M Schofield, Dix (Hurley 75’), McGibbon (Walsh 71’), Hayes, Clark (c), Dinnell (Drann 71’), A Schofield, Bartlett, Blanchett, Graham. Unused subs: Brennan, Dowding. Attendance: 768

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