Gorleston 6, FC Clacton 5
This was a game that had almost everything; goals, an own goal, penalties, three points for Gorleston and an unfortunate red card that could upset the Greens' Senior Cup final preparations.
Reece Hunn returned to the side with Kyle Howell injured. Eddie Thompson was rested and Josh Armes came in to make his first start for the first team. Christy Finch was preferred to Ally McKenna who dropped to the bench and Liam Harvey-Cooper replaced Keegan Middleton, who was also on the bench.
Gorleston took the lead in the 11th minute. Bradley Hough burst into the box on the right and crossed hard and low. Defender Matt Cripps tried to cut out the cross but only succeeded in diverting the ball past his own goalkeeper into the net.
However, in a sign of things to come, the lead lasted just six minutes.
Kyle Ingram had been an early replacement for Adam Mills, but his first involvement within a minute was to bring down Aaron Condon in the box. Kevin Coyle sent Elliot Pride the wrong way to equalise.
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With 25 minutes gone Gorleston went back in front. The ball was pulled back to Harvey-Cooper on the edge of the box who spotted the keeper off his line and cleverly chipped the ball over him and just under the bar.
The Greens had two free kicks on the edge of the box which Finch took, one going wide, the other tamely through to the keeper before Clacton came closest to scoring when a ball into the Gorleston box was only half cleared to Condon who hit a thumping drive which curled away from Pride but smashed against the top of the crossbar.
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With the next attack the Greens increased their lead in the 33rd minute. Finch laid the ball inside to Chris Sandford who turned his defender and hit the ball into the net from 12 yards.
Clacton wouldn't lie down and Ingram managed to block a goalbound shot but the score remained 3-1 at half time.
Keegan Middleton replaced Hough at half time, lowering the average age of the side and meaning three Under 18s were being given their chance.
With Gorleston's propensity not to be able to kill teams off even with a two goal lead Clacton were still in the game.
Pride pulled off two good early saves in the second half but, four minutes into the half, Clacton pulled a goal back when a cross from the right found the head of David Coyle and he gave Pride no chance.
Pride saved from Condon after the Greens played themselves into trouble and, on the hour, Gary Williams hit a great pass to pick out Harvey-Cooper who cut infield but drilled his effort wide.
There then followed an incredible passage of play which saw four goals in five minutes.
On 62 minutes Clacton equalised when a corner from the left found Lea Peacock in the middle of the box and he powered his header home.
From the restart Gorleston won a corner. Williams kick was turned back across the box by Finch where Armes rose at the back post to head in from a narrow angle and put his side 4-3 in front.
Almost immediately, Condon attacked down the Clacton left, holding off the defender and slotting the ball past the advancing Pride to once again equalise for Clacton.
With 67 minutes on the clock Gorleston were back in front. A Harvey-Cooper cross from the left found Sandford unmarked in the middle of the goal and he headed in his second of the game to make it 5-4.
There was a break of six minutes before the next goal went in and Gorleston regained a two goal advantage.
Williams threaded an excellent ball between two defenders for Middleton to latch on to. Middleton got to the byline and kept his cool to pull the ball back, picking out Finch who sidefooted into the bottom corner.
Again though Clacton responded and, with eight minutes to go, were awarded their second penalty of the game when Adam Wrycraft and Adam Thurtle tangled as Wrycraft was going through on goal.
The referee, as well as pointing to the spot, deemed Thurtle to have been the last man and showed him a straight red card. It was the first time Thurtle has ever been sent off but, unfortunately, it could mean he will now miss the Senior Cup Final.
Kevin Coyle blasted the spot kick past Pride.
Pride denied Condon soon after but the ten men held on to clinch the three points.
• Gorleston: Elliot Pride, Thomas Daniels, Reece Hunn, Adam Mills (Kyle Ingram, 16), Adam Thurtle, Josh Armes, Chris Sandford, Gary Williams (Ally McKenna, 80), Christy Finch, Bradley Hough (Keegan Middleton, 46), Liam Harvey-Cooper
Booking: Daniels (52)
Sent off: Thurtle (82)
Goals: Cripps (own goal, 11), Harvey-Cooper (25), Sandford (33, 67), Armes (63), Finch (73)
• FC Clacton: Ed Wootten, Harvey Cowler (Liam O'Shay, 87), Andy Lloyd, Adam Wrycraft, Lea Peacock, Matt Cripps, Kevin Coyle, Billy Wales, David Coyle, James Dunkley, Aaron Condon
Booking: Peacock (37)
Goals: K Coyle (pen, 17, pen, 82), D Coyle (49), Peacock (62), Condon (64)
• Attendance: 110