Great Yarmouth Town 0 AFC Sudbury Reserves 1 – No happy ending for Bloaters
- Credit: Archant
Great Yarmouth Town's hopes of finishing the season with silverware fell at the final hurdle on Friday night.
Yarmouth were beaten 1-0 by AFC Sudbury Reserves in the Thurlow Nunn First Division Knockout Cup final at Woodbridge Town's Notcutts Park.
The Bloaters went into the game after narrowly missing out on promotion last Saturday, drawing 1-1 at Saffron Walden when victory would have been enough to leapfrog the third-placed Essex side on the final day of the season.
The cup final offered Ricci Butler's side the chance to shake off that disappointment before their summer break.
Nerves appeared to get to some of the Yarmouth players early in the game though and Sudbury assumed control of the first half.
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Taurean Malloy had to be alert to punch clear under early pressure from big Sudbury striker Mark Ray in just the second minute and skipper Robin Anderson also reacted well to tackle back after Ray was put through by a quick throw-in.
Connor Deeks tried to get the Bloaters on the front foot in the 17th minute with a low shot from a free-kick 35 yards out, which rolled harmlessly wide.
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Five minutes later it was Molloy to the rescue with a brilliant diving save to his right after good work on the right wing by Scott Kemp saw danger-man Ray poke the ball goalwards from 10 yards.
Then a real onslaught began from Sudbury, as Yarmouth struggled to find their rhythm.
Centre-back Josh Kerridge missed a close-range header in the 23rd minute which he really should have scored, putting his effort over the bar.
That chance was created by winger Jordan Blackwell on the left and eight minutes later the same player caused problems on the right and his cross was met by Johnny Kerridge, only to see his prodded effort hit the post.
Sudbury finished the half with a succession of headers from crosses which were too weak and held by Molloy on each occasion – but couldn't force a goal.
Yarmouth were pleased to hear the half-time whistle and had the chance to make their opponents regret their missed chances.
After a more even start to the second half, midfielder Connor Deeks – who scored a hat-trick against Halstead in the semi-finals – forced a good diving save with a shot from the edge of the box.
But it was the Suffolk side who troubled the scorers first, Ray charging down the left and cutting on to his right foot to force a sprawling save from Molloy in the 74th minute, only for Blackwell to follow in and finish from the right of the penalty area for 1-0.
The Bloaters almost hit back immediately but Pete Oldham saw his header tipped onto the bar by Sudbury keeper Louis Johnson and the loose ball scrambled clear.
Substitute Leighton Crux burst through but fired wide and Yarmouth were unable to hit back, and very nearly conceded again.
Tom Wingfield seized on a loose ball to go one-on-one but Molloy foiled him and Anderson cleared for a corner.
Then another chance for Sudbury came in bizarre circumstances, as Molloy was booked for apparently picking up a pass-back under pressure, but Blackwell's close-range blast was deflected wide.
It was a disappointing end to the season for the Bloaters but a fourth-placed finish in the league and a cup final in Butler's first season in charge hint at a brighter future at The Wellesley.
For more photos from the match, see tomorrow's Eastern Daily Press or Norwich Evening News, and next week's Great Yarmouth Mercury for reaction from Bloaters boss Ricci Butler.
Yarmouth: Molloy, J Forbes (Butler 73), Anderson (C), Clements (Turner 88); Goreham; Ingram (Crux 73), Deeks, Oldham, Dale Cockrill, Thompson; M Forbes. Unused subs: Ager, Bailey, Turner, Butler.
Sudbury: Johnson; Chester (Blackman 88), Clements, S Mallardo, T Kemp; S Kemp, Josh Kerridge (C), G Mallardo, Johnny Kerridge (Wingfield 65), Blackwell; Ray. Unused subs: Brazitis, Pidgeon, Avery.
Goal: Jordan Blackwell (74)
Referee: Callum Walchester (Lowestoft)