Felixstowe fury at game replay

FELIXSTOWE United are to do everything in their power to avoid having to 'replay' their Metaltec SIL Senior Division game against East Bergholt.A management committee meeting of the SIL has decided that the game should be re-staged next April.

FELIXSTOWE United are to do everything in their power to avoid having to 'replay' their Metaltec SIL Senior Division game against East Bergholt.

A management committee meeting of the SIL has decided that the game should be re-staged next April.

“If necessary we will take the matter all the way to the Football Association headquarters in Soho Square,” insisted Felixstowe manager Andy Clarke today.

There was less than two minutes to play on November 26 when Bergholt player Jamie Willsher suffered a serious knee injury.

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Felixstowe were leading 2-1 and referee Ian Smillie had little option than to call a halt after the player was kept still until an ambulance arrived.

Felixstowe are not the only club up in arms, as Bergholt's rivals for the championship are also unhappy they have been given a chance to gain three points from a match that they were almost certainly going to lose.

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“At best they could have drawn,” said Clarke. “There is no feasibility in assuming they would have scored twice in such a short space of time.

“The referee confirmed that there 78 seconds remaining - and now we could lose a match that we spent almost 90 completed minutes winning.

“Everything that we thought would never happen has in fact happened. We have taken advice and researched our case and our letter asks the SIL to reconsider before we take the matter further.

“Suffolk FA would be our first port of call if the SIL stick to their guns, and if that fails we will appeal to the main Football Association in London.”

Ipswich-based fire-fighter Clarke said it was particularly galling as his team had been going through a poor patch.

He went on: “We had a meeting before the Bergholt kick-off and everybody had a chance to air their views.

“We cleared the air, and although I can be the biggest critic and I had nothing but admiration for the way the players performed against Bergholt.

“In our eyes we had gained a big win - and when we heard via an e-mail from the league that they wanted us to play again it was a shattering blow. They might well have a stronger side and could even include star striker Ian Gedny next time.

“We did all we could to help the lad as it was a very nasty dislocation - moving a portable dug-out to shelter him from the wind.”

Felixstowe will also have a financial price to pay, with the three officials for the original game costing over £60.

“And our players pay £3 match fees every game,” added Clarke.

Bergholt chairman David Goodchild at the time complimented the action of Clarke, Smillie and the Felixstowe club, and he confirmed that he expected the result to stand.

And today he said: “We are pleasantly surprised at the league's decision. I would like to reiterate my thanks to all the support and help given on the day from Felixstowe players and officials.

“I can understand if they see this as a huge kick in the teeth after all their efforts. We plan to discuss the whole issue at our January committee meeting.”

Alan Middle, manager of Achilles, backed Felixstowe United in the fight to get the original result to stand. He said: “It is unfortunate that one of our title rivals may have an opportunity to gain three points that looked lost.”

Last season Achilles were involved in an abandoned game at Stanton when there was still 18 minutes to go. A spectator had run on to the pitch - and the result was allowed to stand with Stanton leading 3-0.

Mary Ablett, general secretary of the SIL, said: “I can confirm that the Felixstowe United versus East Bergholt game is to be replayed as per our rules.”

The Ridgeons League ruled in a similar vein over a Premier Division game at Woodbridge Town last month that was fogged off with only eight minutes to go and Micky Stockwell's side 4-1 down to Mildenhall.

Willsher has returned to work and is having physio treatment. He is making good progress and hopes to be back playing by the end of February.

n DO you have a view on the SIL's decision to 'replay' a game that only had 78 seconds to run? If so contact elvin.king@archant.co.uk or by letter to Elvin King, sports department, Evening Star, 30, Lower Brook Street, Ipswich IP4 1AN.

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