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Stowmarket one kick away from upset

PUBLISHED: 13:43 06 March 2002 | UPDATED: 11:29 03 March 2010

SOCCER: AFC Sudbury 0 Stowmarket Town 0 (After extra-time) AFC Sudbury win 6-5 on penalties. Ace marksman Stuart Jopling missed a sudden-death penalty that would have put underdogs Stowmarket Town into the final of the Suffolk Premier Cup.

AFC Sudbury 0 Stowmarket Town 0 (After extra-time) AFC Sudbury win 6-5 on penalties

ACE marksman Stuart Jopling missed a sudden-death penalty that would have put underdogs Stowmarket Town into the final of the Suffolk Premier Cup.

This was after Stowmarket had fought a splendid rearguard action to deny FA Carlsberg Vase semi-finalists AFC Sudbury.

When Paul Betson had his spot kick saved by Simon Nunn, Jopling had the chance to win the tie.

He had opted out of taking a kick in the initial stage of the shoot-out and looked nervous as he spent some time cleaning the ball with his shirt before making a 12-yard run-up. His shot was knocked into the air by the diving Ben Nower.

After John Bishop rifled the next kick into the roof of the net, Matthew Platt hooked way over the bar to give Jewson League champions-elect Sudbury victory.

"It was frustrating," said Stowmarket manager Mel Aldis. "Not many teams can hold Sudbury for two hours. When they took off Banya and brought on Bennett it brought home what strength in depth they have.

"We were one 12-yard shot away from going through and full marks to our defence who played so well.

"Keeper Simon Nunn has not had the best of times recently but he was outstanding while sweeper Ollie Langham and Mark Barnard didn't put a foot wrong. Darren Barnard was back in the first team after three months and he also did well."

On a superb pitch – a credit to Hadleigh's Dick Skinner and Alan Tilbury – Sudbury were bright and enterprising all night with Tracey having a shot deflected against the post after 33 minutes.

In the second half, Stowmarket came more into the game, and only a fine save from Nower denied Jopling before Gardner flashed a shot inches wide. Then Betson and Norfolk saw efforts go inches off target.

In the first period of extra time Nunn saved at point-blank range from Norfolk and Jopling shot over after Nower spilled a cross.

Tanner missed the first penalty but this was cancelled out when Langham missed for Stowmarket.

After five penalties each the teams were level on four. Stowmarket then gained the advantage before failing to convert their final two kicks.

It was a good night for Sudbury with their main league rivals Wroxham losing. They play Felixstowe and Walton United or Bury Town in the Premier Cup final.

AFC Sudbury: Nower, Norfolk, Tanner, Tracey (sub Hyde 36 mins), Bishop, Owen (R Devereux 60), Cheetham, Gardner, Claydon, Banya (Bennett 69), Betson. Sub: B Devereux. Starman: Cheetham.

Stowmarket Town: Nunn, Whatling, Ratcliffe (Knowles 80), Proctor (Pannell 75), M Barnard, D Barnard, Platt, Langham, Jopling, Yeomans, R Aldis. Subs: Crascall, Trinder, Hammond. Starman: M Barnard.

Attendance: 232.


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