Norfolk Senior Cup semi-final takes further twist as Gorleston turn down replay against Norwich United

Lowestoft Town goalkeeper Jake Jessup is on loan at Norwich United. Picture by Greg Kwasnik/Focus Im

Lowestoft Town goalkeeper Jake Jessup is on loan at Norwich United. Picture by Greg Kwasnik/Focus Images Ltd - Credit: Greg Kwasnik/Focus Images Ltd

Gorleston have turned down the opportunity to re-play their lost Norfolk Senior Cup semi-final against Norwich United – in a further twist to the tie, after a disagreement about the eligibility of a Norwich player.

United and the Greens had been told to re-play the tie following a Norfolk Football Association investigation.

The Thurlow Nunn Premier Division leaders beat Gorleston 3-0 at Plantation Park on Tuesday night but Greens manager Ricci Butler subsequently revealed his club believed the Planters should not have fielded on-loan goalkeeper Jake Jessup.

Norfolk FA released a statement last night, which said: 'A sub-committee of the cup committee have since met this afternoon and based upon the evidence submitted from both parties, have decided that the fixture will be replayed at Plantation Park on Tuesday, March 8, 2016.

'It was further decided that Jake Jessup will not be permitted to be involved in this fixture.'

However Gorleston chairman Alan Gordon has subsequently turned down the opportunity for his side to try and reach the competition's showpiece final at Carrow Road again – which would have meant a league game against Ipswich Wanderers would have needed to be rearranged.

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'After some serious deliberation between myself and our manager we have decided to decline Norfolk FA's offer of a replay and wish to consolidate our position within the Premier Division,' Gordon said.

'This was never about reaching the final by default but to point out a fragrant manipulation of the rules by our opponents to gain an unfair advantage.

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'We did not want the situation turning into a circus and after seeing some of the posts on social media we feel that we wish to nip it in the bud and move on to our important league game at the weekend.

'Thank you everyone for your support but as we say it's time to move on.'

Barring any further changes to the situation, Norwich will now face either King's Lynn Town Reserves or Dereham Town in the final at Carrow Road.

Norfolk FA have subsequently released a lengthy statement regarding Gorleston's decision, which states: 'Late last night Gorleston FC officially notified us, that following the decision of yesterday's sub-committee meeting, they have decided to decline the opportunity to participate in the rescheduled Senior Cup semi-final fixture arranged for next Tuesday, which is a decision they are entitled to make.

'However we were disappointed that this information was made public before we were notified.

'As people can imagine, the circumstances regarding the game have been of great interest to the footballing community and it is only right that we correct a number of inaccuracies that are being discussed on various social media platforms since the decision was announced at 4.45pm yesterday afternoon.

'For clarity under Cup Rule Seven, to play in a County Cup semi-final a player must have either been registered for the team before October 1 or have played two games for the team this season unless special permission is given.

'In line with the above, a request was formally submitted by Norwich Utd on February 20, following the postponement of their league fixture against Kirkley & Pakefield, which Jake Jessup was due to play in and which would have been his second appearance for the team.

'The request was submitted due to an injury to their regular goalkeeper Tom Wright and no other goalkeeper being eligible to play. A decision was made by a sub-committee of the Cup Committee on the basis that if the above mentioned fixture hadn't been postponed, Jake would have been eligible to participate without permission being required by us, just approval from his parent club, which was obtained.

'The decision was also based on the specialist nature of the goalkeeping position. At this point Norwich Utd had done everything expected of them in such a situation.

'Therefore for complete clarity, Jake Jessup was not ineligible for the game.

'Norfolk County FA does accept that, out of courtesy, they should have informed Gorleston FC of this decision prior to the fixture, and have apologised to the club for this oversight.

'However, notwithstanding that, it would not have made any difference in relation to the permission given for Jake to play in the fixture.

'The issue in question, relates to the night of the fixture. Again, for clarity Jake Jessup was eligible to play, as the formally submitted request under Competition Rule 7, was granted, on the basis that the goalkeeper position is a specialist position, activating the extenuating circumstance option available to the sub-committee members.

'The problem arose, when it was brought to our attention at the fixture, that Tom Wright, the eligible injured goalkeeper, was involved in the warm up and also named as a substitute.'

The statement goes on to further clarify the results of the FA's investigation, concluding: 'Having received relevant submissions from both clubs, a sub-committee of the Cup Committee met on Thursday afternoon, and based on all of the facts presented to the members, they came to the following decision:

• The fixture will be replayed next Tuesday, at Plantation Park, which is the chosen midweek fixture night of both clubs

• Jake Jessup is not permitted to participate in the rescheduled fixture as Tom Wright having been named as a substitute in the original fixture, coupled with the fact that it is alleged he played in a Futsal fixture on Wednesday, meant in the sub-committee's opinion he is actually fit enough to play a part in the game, if called upon.

• It is important to reinforce that the sub-committee members, having given full consideration to all the facts presented to them, including the reasons behind the original dispensation request, were keen for the matter to be concluded on the pitch, rather than via a committee room.

• Contrary to further inaccurate comments on social media, Gorleston FC would not have been out of pocket, as the profit from each Senior Cup fixture in which an entrance fee is charged is shared between the two competing clubs, once all relevant expenses have been paid out by the home club.'

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