Ben Cowling relieved to see Lakenheath come through Suffolk Senior Cup tie at Haughley United ahead of their charity cup final
Lakenheath boss Ben Cowling accepts they will have to be much better if they are to go all the way in this season’s CNet Training Suffolk Senior Cup.
After failing to convert their pressure and chances into goals at lower-league Haughley United on Saturday he was ultimately relieved to see his side win a penalty shootout 3-1 to book a quarter-final spot, following a 1-1 draw.
After Shaun Avis’ 22nd-minute lobbed finish replied to home captain Reece Golding’s second-minute opener, it was centre-back Hawley’s fifth-man penalty which eventually sealed the tie for Heath in a dramatic shootout.
But it was goalkeeper Charlie Beckwith, who made three saves, whom Cowling admitted deserved the plaudits.
“Make no bones about it, we weren’t very good,” he said.
“We started slowly but I thought after the first 5-10 minutes we dominated the first half and we should have probably gone in ahead.
“We had a lot of possession, got into a lot of good areas and we were into double figures for corners but we never really got the right quality.
“In the second half, beyond the threat with Tommy (Thulborn hitting the post) out on the left-hand side, we just didn’t go up a gear.
“Penalties are then a lottery and fortunately we rolled the dice and won this time.
“Absolutely fair play to Charlie (Beckwith), I thought that second save was tremendous.”
Lower-league Anglian Combination Premier Division outfit Beccles Town – 5-0 third-round victors at Leiston St Margarets – will now visit The Nest a week on Saturday (3pm) to contest a semi-final spot.
Cowling, who accepted Macron Suffolk & Ipswich League Senior Division side Haughley did have chances to have won the tie themselves, added: “We make no excuses for the performance but we’re through and ultimately, in cup competitions, that is all that matters at the end of the day and our season extends into May which is good as it means pre-season will be shorter.
“We are now going closer to hopefully playing at Portman Road.”
Lakenheath, who have confirmed the FA have been in touch to invite them to apply for promotion to Step 5 ahead of next season, fell behind inside 90 seconds after Casey Underwood under hit a back-pass, with Goulding going on to take full advantage.
A poor back-header in the 22nd minute was punished by Avis as he lifted the ball over the goalkeeper for 1-1.
Lakenheath huffed and puffed for a telling second though with Thulborn going closest with a 58th-minute effort cannoning off the left-hand post.
Plucky Haughley, who were reduced to 10 men in stoppage-time for Steve Vincent’s second yellow card, almost won it on a late breakaway move but midfielder Niall McPhillips fired well over.
Beckwith then made himself the hero of the shootout with Avis, James Buckmaster and Hawley all scoring, while Thulborn and Clarke hit the goalframe.
Joint Haughley manager David Thompson said: “I can’t be disappointed in the boys. They put in a cracking performance and went toe-to-toe with one of the better sides at their level. We had chances but penalties becomes a lottery.”
Lakenheath will warm up for the quarter-final with the final of the British Legion Cup, at home to Mundford, tomorrow (3pm).
Lakenheath: Beckwith, Webber (Buckmaster 70’), McIntosh, Hawley (c), Corbyn, Underwood, Weaver, Clarke, Avis, Thlborn, McCabe (Banks 75’).
Suffolk News Man of the Match: Charlie Beckwith.