Norfolk Senior Cup final: Gorleston 2, Thetford 0
Gorleston boss Richard Daniels dedicated the Greens' Norfolk Senior Cup win at Carrow Road tonight to former President Jimmy Jones.
Jones' daughter, Elizabeth, fittingly collected the trophy on behalf of the Ridgeons Premier Division side after a first half brace from Ally McKenna and man-of-the-match Gary Williams settled a feisty final. Daniels said winning the prestigious competition was a perfect tribute to his late mentor against a Thetford side reduced to ten men when Steven Davies was red-carded in the closing stages.
'We have got so many good people in the club who work hard for nothing but we wouldn't have a club if it wasn't for Jimmy Jones,' he said. 'He is everything to me and to the lads and the emotion at the end with his daughter getting the trophy summed up what Jimmy's family meant to the club. The last words of my team talk before we went were, 'Jimmy Jones' and they knew.
'The big man was looking down and he would have enjoyed that because we played well. I think the first 20 minutes was key. We knew if we let them get a foothold it would be tough. With all due respect to Mark (Scott) and his side they deserved promotion and they had a great season but being honest apart from maybe a 15 minute spell at the start of the second half we dominated them.'
Daniels' men had to do it the hard way after knocking out Norwich City's youngsters in a tense semi-final to reach Carrow Road.
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'For me, this season, we were a little bit lucky in the first round but then the wins against Diss and Norwich City in the semi-final were deserved,' he said, 'I think we were worthy winners in the end. We found it hard and we were awful against Yarmouth in that first game but everybody says you need a bit of luck to win the cup. Norwich had a young side but they are going to be good technical players and that was a scalp for us. I don't know if we were favourites but if we were we took it on board and we handled that side of it.'
Thetford counterpart Scott was left to rue a sluggish opening 30 minutes when the newly-promoted Division One side failed to handle the big occasion.
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'We just didn't turn up for the first half,' he said. 'They were a lot sharper, they were a lot quicker and they outplayed us in the first half. At times you would have looked at it and thought, 'How did we make the final with a performance like that.' We were much better than that and hopefully our second half performance proved that. We came out and we showed we can play and we can compete at this level. Unfortunately we lost two key players to injury in the first half who were a big loss to us and we didn't do enough. We only have ourselves to blame but it is still difficult to take.'
Thetford were always on the back foot after Greens' midfielder Williams tested Ian Fancett inside the initial minutes with a penetrative burst the Thetford keeper gathered confidently. McKenna profited to open the scoring in the 14th minute when Fancett failed to grasp Williams' hanging free kick wide on the right. The Clarets' cause was hindered further when full-back Arron Joseph was forced off soon afterwards with a suspected hamstring injury.
Gorleston's Chris Sandford glanced wide from Liam Harvey-Cooper's probing cross with the favourites looking to convert their territorial dominance. Bruno Tavares spurned Thetford's first serious attempt on goal in the 19th minute with a speculative long range sighter. Bradley Hough then jinked his way past Luke Bailey but lifted narrowly over at the other end. The livewire Harvey-Cooper's half-volley brushed the side netting with the Greens' carrying a threat with each attacking foray.
Martin Carter's superbly-timed last ditch tackle foiled McKenna who looked poised to test Fancett again on 25 minutes, but Williams doubled their lead when he burst through before showing plenty of composure to guide the ball into Fancett's bottom left-hand corner.
Thetford's keeper frustrated McKenna with a superb point blank reaction save in first-half stoppage time to prevent Gorleston putting the tie beyond doubt when he parried the striker's venomous close range hit.
Tom Cusack lifted a free-kick over for the Clarets' on the restart in a brighter spell for Scott's side, but Fancett earned a slice of luck when he spilled Bradley Hough's driven cross only to grasp inches from his goal line at the second attempt.
Cusack rifled over on 66 minutes with Thetford probing for a lifeline. Davies appeared to strike the ball against Andrew Howell's hand in the 81st minute inside the Greens' penalty area, but the referee waved away huge appeals from the Clarets' bench.
Thetford's substitute, however, was dismissed minutes later after Green's full-back Thomas Daniels was left grounded in an off-the-ball incident. Keegan Middleton could have added a third in stoppage time when he drilled at Fancett from Daniels' burst.
• Thetford Town: Fancett, Joseph (Rocha 17), Bailey (Richards 82), Carter, Howard, O'Donnell, Bolton, Cusack, Tavares (Davies 28), Dixon, Morphew. Subs (not used): Mann, Welford.
• Bookings: Howard, Davies, Bolton
• Sending off: Davies
• Gorleston: Pride, Daniels, Hunn, Howell, Taylor, Thompson, Sandford, Williams, McKenna (Finch 85), Hough (Middleton 80), Harvey-Cooper (Garrod 68). Subs (not used): Forbes, Howell.
• Bookings: Thompson
• Goals: McKenna (14), Williams (28)
• Referee: Shon Meale
• Attendance: 1,145