SUFFOLK SENIOR CUP SEMI-FINAL
Ipswich Valley Rangers 2
Debenham LC 1
Goal scorer Reece Clarke bemoaned Debenham’s first-half display in their 2-1 Suffolk Senior Cup Semi-Final defeat to Ipswich Valley Rangers.
The Hornets’ sluggish start saw them two goals behind at half-time before the central midfielder’s 48th minute penalty gave the Thurlow Nunn outfit a way back into the game.
But it was not to be Debenham’s day, and the Hornets missed out on the chance to make their first ever Suffolk Senior Cup Final appearance.
“I’m really disappointed, we didn’t start very well and could have done a lot better. We turned up in the second-half but by then we were already two down and up against it,” said Clarke.
“I thought we had more of the play in the second-half, they were always deadly on the break but we were the better side.
“It’s one of those things, we just need to try to forget about it now and go to Great Yarmouth next week and get a win there,” added Clarke.
Debenham began the game as favourites against their SIL Senior Division opponents from one step below in the football pyramid.
But Ipswich Valley Rangers looked dangerous from the get-go and after two minutes, some hesitancy in the box led to Debenham goalkeeper Stephen Fenner kicking straight against Sam Taylor but the ball flew over the bar.
It was an early warning for the Hornets and a sign of things to come, as an apprehensive looking Debenham were finding life difficult against a well-organised Ipswich side.
Centre-half Harry Wales headed over as Ipswich Valley Rangers took the game to their Thurlow Nunn First Division opponents.
Rangers’ two forwards – Taylor and James Blades - were giving Debenham’s back-line a host of problems, and the two combined well in the 12th minute but Taylor could only curl his shot straight at Fenner.
The Hornets’ first real effort came from right-winger Ben Green, who saw his deflected shot squirm under Rangers’ goalkeeper Lewis Higgins, but captain Sam Cole was on-hand to clear off the line.
The SIL team were still having the better of proceedings and it was no surprise when they went in-front after 29 minutes, Clark Bruce’s wide free-kick headed in by the unmarked Munro Laflin.
A minute later and Debenham were nearly back on level terms as captain Rob Kemp’s flick header came back off the crossbar and the rebound just evaded the on-rushing Luke Austin.
Jon Ince then doubled Rangers’ lead, the left-back’s diagonal ball into the box from 35-yards going straight through a crowded penalty area and rolling past an unsighted Fenner.
It was a moment to forget for the ex-Bury Town stopper, but the goal finally sparked some life into Debenham who ended the half stronger.
Right on half-time, Austin’s shot was spilled by the nervy Higgins, but Kemp somehow failed to find the target from the rebound six-yards out.
The second half had barely begun when Debenham were handed a lifeline back into the semi-final.
Austin was up-ended by Ince in the penalty area and Clarke confidently stroked home from the spot to give the Hornets the early goal they craved.
But the goal did little to rejuvenate Debenham, and Ipswich Valley Rangers continued to be more of an attacking force, with Taylor, Blades and left-winger Bruce providing a constant threat.
Rangers’ right-back Alex Harvey’s well-struck shot was straight at Fenner after Bruce’s clean strike flew just over moments earlier.
Debenham brought on Shaun Thorrold for Green in the 59th minute before an unmarked Austin put a free header over the top from Lewis Kemp’s corner.
The Hornets then replaced centre-half Tom Goddard with forward Ben Golding as Debenham strove to find the equaliser that would take the game into extra-time.
The second half was proving to be a stop-start affair with Ipswich Valley Rangers happy to soak up any Debenham pressure and threaten on the break.
Rangers were still fashioning the better chances, and Bruce was involved again moments later when his shot hit Thorrold clean in the face and trickled wide with Fenner stranded.
With ten minutes to go, Rangers nearly grabbed a third but Kris Howlett could only stab the ball at Fenner from close in after Bruce’s deflected shot had fell to him.
Debenham added some late pressure and in the 90th minute substitute Golding just failed to connect with Clarke’s whipped free-kick and the ball ended in the grateful arms of Higgins.
In injury time, Thorrold went close from distance but his effort was wide of the target and the final whistle brought scenes of jubilation for the SIL club, who will face Lakenheath—3-0 semi-final winners over Cranes —in the final.