East Harling assistant boss Darren Iles says his side will learn from their 1-0 defeat to Mundford in last week’s Norfolk Junior Cup final, as they look to build on the progress made this season.
Harling, who had already been beaten by the treble-winning Stags in April’s Cyril Ballyn Cup final, edged a cagey first half in front of a 912 strong crowd at Carrow Road but a second half header from Richard Williams condemned them to defeat last Thursday.
The Greens rallied late on and went close to forcing extra time but Jack Barnett could only find the side netting.
However, Iles says his young squad have a lot to be proud of having also finished third in Anglian Combination Division Two.
“It was a good end to a good season,” he said. “We’ve got a lot of young boys and we’ve only been together two seasons and to be fair, to finish third in the league and reach two cup finals, there’s no more that the club or the boys could have done.”
Despite being disappointed with the outcome, Iles was pleased with his side’s application and hopes they use the experience to push on next season.
“It was an emotional game,” he said. “We’ve got some players who will never play here again but it was a great occasion.
“Yes, the result is a little bit different to what we would have wanted but the boys gave everything and a 1-0 defeat against a team who have just won the treble is no disgrace.
“We’ll learn from this experience. Next season will be different, we’ll move on, we’ll add a few and we’ll rise to the challenge.”
To all extents it was a cagey start by both sides who found it difficult to get the ball down on a big pitch. Harling eventually started to gain control and in Kamren Senior, they had a genuine threat down the left hand side.
His pace and skill caused all sorts of problems for Mundford right-back James Miller and a jinxing run into the box nearly saw him create the game’s first opportunity.
However, a strong tackle midway through the first half seemed to knock the wind out of Senior and with that Mundford grew into the game.
And it was the full-back Miller who came closest to giving the Stags a first-half lead, stepping past Senior with ease before firing a low shot which Harling goalkeeper Jamie Woodcock did well to push to safety.
Harling, and in particular Jordan Scent, were growing increasingly frustrated as Mundford, directed by impressive centre-back Ryan Sanders, seemed to be getting the rub of the green.
Spurred on by his frustration, Scent picked up the ball, strode into the Mundford half and crashed an effort just wide of the right-hand post.
Galvanised by the interval, it was Mundford who started the second half on the front foot. Craig Burton saw a lofted effort bounce off the crossbar before Roy Bland wriggled free in the box only to see his effort blocked by a last-ditch tackle.
To their credit, Harling responded and after a cleared corner was knocked back into the box, the influential Kieran Passey brought the best out of Mundford goalkeeper Alex Gathercole.
However, it was Mundford who took the lead, a goal their all round play had just about deserved. With 20 minutes left on the clock, a James Walters corner was headed in at the near post by left-back Williams, sparking wild celebrations both on and off the pitch.
Stacey Lawrence’s men pushed for an equaliser, but a jubilant Mundford held on to claim a priceless win and complete a famous treble.