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Stowupland Falcons Women’s joint manager Martin Huggins admits side have ‘something to aspire to’ after MH Goals Suffolk Women’s Cup Final defeat to AFC Sudbury

Stowupland Falcons Women’s joint manager Martin Huggins admitted his side’s 11-1 thrashing by AFC Sudbury in the MH Goals Suffolk Women’s Cup Final on Tuesday has given the team ‘something to aspire to’.

Three levels separated the two sides at kick-off at Ipswich Town’s Portman Road, as Sudbury recently confirmed their place in the FA Women’s National League Division One South East for a second successive season.

Huggins’ side, that is also spearheaded by Simon Gant and who finished runners up in the Suffolk Girls & Women’s Football League Women’s Premiership, saw their game-plan fly out the window just two minutes into the showpiece fixture – as they fell a goal down and shipped another five before the 40-minute mark.

Enya Moore nets a consolation goal for Stowupland Falcons Women against AFC Sudbury Picture: Paul Voller
Enya Moore nets a consolation goal for Stowupland Falcons Women against AFC Sudbury Picture: Paul Voller

Rain hammered the Portman Road turf excessively and referee Isabel Chaplin took the players off the pitch for their safety.

The game was temporarily suspended but, after two pitch inspections, play restarted almost an hour and a half later.

Following the restart, Sudbury netted five more times before the Falcons scored a consolation goal, that was celebrated by their travelling support like a match-winning strike. Enya Moore slotted the ball home to spark jubilant scenes in the far corner of the ground, as the players huddled together and celebrated with their friends and families in front of a record-high attendance for the competition.

“We can’t fault our girls, they continued to battle, they tried to play some football at times which was good and we’re proud of. On another day, with a bit more luck, it might’ve been a closer game,” said Huggins.

“For us, it’s about the occasion, it’s about being proud of our girls for getting this far and they’ve enjoyed the occasion and experience.

“It’s always disappointing to lose, however, when you look at it, you have to realise we are a few divisions apart, the facilities they’ve got and the coaching they get it so much better, and it shows. It gives us something to aspire to.

Huggins admitted the goal ‘capped the experience off’, and what a ride it has been for the Falcons – as they reached the final of the competition for the first time in their history. Their opponents lifted the trophy for the third time, which again shows the gulf in class and experience.

Asked whether the journey has been more important than the destination, Huggins said: “For us, that is the case.

“We’ve played some brilliant football, and those rounds (leading up to the final) have been the highlights of our season. This has been a bonus really, to then play here (Portman Road) and have the hospitality is fantastic.

“We told them (the players) we were proud of them, they kept on going, they didn’t give in, they kept on running for us, they kept battling and second half we played a lot, lot better.

“We calmed it down a little bit, got a bit more composure on the ball, got a little bit more tighter to them, and the goal came from the hard work and the perseverance.”

Stowupland Falcons: Huggins, Flack, Williams, Calvert, Gant, Rabey, Brame, Bevan (cpt), Gilson, Frost, Daly.

Roll-on-roll-off substitutes: Rampley, Bloom, Denny, Moore, Jackson.

Attendance: 920