Spirited Hoxne suffer a defeat at final hurdle
VITAVIA VETERANS’ CUP
AFC Hoxne Vets 1
Woodbridge Town Vets 4
Such are the standards his side have set since their formation a little under two years ago, player-manager Colin Mayhew was disappointed when the final whistle was sounded on Sunday.
Few could argue that Woodbridge were worthy winners on the sun-drenched 3G playing surface at AFC Sudbury’s King’s Marsh Stadium — it took them just three minutes to open up a lead they never relinquished.
But Hoxne spurned some guilt-edged chances — particularly late in the first half — that had they been scored would have given proceedings a different complexion.
It was a bitter pill for Mayhew to swallow, but with his team having continually punched above their weight in their infancy, he is confident the future is a bright one.
Indeed, the last three Suffolk FA Veterans’ finals before the weekend had been contested by higher-league Woodbridge and Bury Town, but Hoxne broke up that monopoly by beating the latter on penalties in the semi-finals.
“When you start a team from a pub, have some players that cannot really play football and end up establishing yourselves as a team, it becomes really interesting,” said Mayhew.
“We have ability all over the pitch and people want to play for us now.
“Everything is growing. The friendships and the relationships between the players is great — we are all mates that socialise together.
“We are still learning, but it is a great process and everything looks really positive.”
The encounter was not even 180 seconds old when Woodbridge broke the deadlock — an unmarked Damien Pryke firing in from close range at the back post.
Hoxne goalkeeper Aaron Wick had to show good reflexes soon after to turn Adam Glencastle’s effort on to the crossbar, before Roy Bevis had three good openings in 10 minutes to bring his team back into contention.
The striker is Hoxne’s leading goalscorer this term, but on each occasion he either failed to hit the target or lost the battle with Woodbridge goalkeeper Gary Hammond, meaning the Woodpeckers held a one-goal advantage at the break.
That lead was duly doubled in the 54th minute when Paul Nozedar applied the finishing touch at a corner.
However, it was game on again within three minutes as Hoxne reduced the arrears.
Bevis was the creator this time, sending in a pinpoint cross from the right flank which a stooping Arun Lucraft was able to head home.
Moments late Lucraft blazed over from a good position and with it went Hoxne’s hopes of a comeback because, in the 70th minute, Woodbridge struck again.
Robbie Smythe was the scorer, turning in a chance from point-blank range, before Woodbridge’s victory was rubber-stamped by a Jimmy Andrews penalty after Wick had been penalised for a challenge on Matt Murphy.
“It is very disappointing because we did not take our chances,” said Mayhew.
“If we come in at half-time 3-1 up, it is a long way back for them.
“Roy has been great for us and he would usually score those chances, but it was not to be for him.”
Mayhew and his men will now turn their attention to securing promotion from the Norfolk & Suffolk Veterans League Division One North.
As league leaders they are well on course, with elevation to the Premier Division meaning they would rub shoulders with the likes of Woodbridge on a more frequent basis.
“We have come up right from the bottom,” added Mayhew.
“We have beaten Premier teams last season and again this year.
“It is all about learning, coming out of Saturday football and getting the mentality of vets football, where it is all about keeping the ball.”
Hoxne: Wick, Garland, Taylor, Metcalfe, Kerry, Martin, Davies, T Mayhew, Lucraft, Bevis, Solley. Subs: McKee, Whatling, C Mayhew, Webb, South