Mildenhall Town 2 Norwich United 1 – Bizarre late goal extends rare run of defeats for Planters
- Credit: Copyright: Archant 2016
The bewildered expressions of the Norwich United players at the final whistle of this cup final summed up just how dramatic the closing stages of the match had been.
The Planters looked to be on course to secure a league and cup double for a second successive season when they led 1-0 at half-time – yet it was Mildenhall lifting the Thurlow Nunn League Challenge Cup trophy at the end of the afternoon.
Hall keeper Josh Pope was slightly fortunate to not be sent off when crashing into Matt Blake in the 22nd minute, as United's prolific striker controlled a through-ball from Tim Henery cleverly and charged through in search of his 46th goal of the season. Matt Daniels stepped up to convert and put Norwich in control of a boisterous final, which saw seven players booked.
The Suffolk side came out a totally different side in the second half though and dominated the Premier Division champions with committed and determined attacking play.
It looked like their efforts would only be enough to force a penalty shoot-out against the Planters, until a disastrous finish to the match for the Blofield-based team.
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Super sub Dan Brown had already snatched the spotlight with a superb equaliser in the 81st minute, curling into the top corner with his left foot from just inside the penalty area, only six minutes after coming on.
Then Hall's top scorer took his tally for the season to 15 with a truly bizarre winner. The striker raced onto a flick-on from fellow forward Chris Bacon and muscled his way between Norwich defenders Steve Shipley and Josh Carus.
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The experience duo lunged in desperation and a penalty, and possible red card, looked imminent – only for United keeper Andy Wilton to take his eye off the ball and see Brown's low poke roll home and referee Josh Few left with little choice but to say the advantage was Mildenhall's, before he had a chance to award the spot-kick.
It condemned Norwich to a third consecutive defeat since wrapping up their retention of the Premier Division title, against a spirited Hall team who had finished in sixth place and brought a rowdy set of travelling fans, who relished their moment at the final whistle, after some rather over the top goading of United manager John Edridge throughout the game.
The Planters boss must now try and pick his team up for the Norfolk Senior Cup final against Dereham Town at Carrow Road on Friday, May 13, to try and maintain some momentum ahead of promotion to the Ryman League.
Norwich Utd: Wilton; Shipley, Eastaugh (C), Carus, Speller; Henery (Cooper 88), Mason (Page 73), Daniels, Hipperson; Jones (Thompson 64); Blake. Unused subs: Eastoe-Smith, Maychaya. Bookings: Jones, Mason, Speller, Carus. Goal: Daniels (pen, 23)
Mildenhall: Pope; J Brown, Butcher (C), Ruddy, Asensi; Enaro (Cooper 75), Simpson, Green, Parkinson; Sawyer (D Brown 75); Bacon. Unused subs: Harvey, Hilton, Evans. Bookings: Green, Pope, Bacon. Goals: Brown (81, 90+3)