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Thurston manager Martin McConnell full of pride as side send him off with Suffolk Junior Cup victory at Ipswich Town’s Portman Road





Thurston manager Martin McConnell expressed his pride as his side ensured he departed on the ultimate high – by completing a league and cup double at Ipswich Town’s Portman Road.

The undefeated Macron Suffolk & Ipswich League Division One champions proved too strong for divisional rivals Woolverstone United in the Parkers Pitches Suffolk Junior Cup Final on Monday night, recording a 3-1 victory in a dominant performance.

Kaine Fryer eventually broke the deadlock in the 43rd minute, slamming home a loose ball at a corner, with Thurston’s Andrew Wood having seen a 15th minute penalty saved while they were also denied by the crossbar twice.

Thurston manager Martin McConnell lifts the Suffolk Junior Cup alongside captain Jamie Barclay after a 3-1 victory against Woolverstone United at Ipswich Town's Portman Road Picture: Paul Voller
Thurston manager Martin McConnell lifts the Suffolk Junior Cup alongside captain Jamie Barclay after a 3-1 victory against Woolverstone United at Ipswich Town's Portman Road Picture: Paul Voller

A Lewis Wilding header got Woolverstone back on terms early in the second half but the Bluesocks regained the lead 11 minutes later through Brandon Salisbury’s sliding finish.

It was a comfortable ending to the final for the village side based on the outskirts of Bury St Edmunds after a 79th minute Harry French corner caused goalkeeper Paul Dennington problems and he eventually fumbled it over his line.

McConnell, known as ‘Macca, said he had decided to leave his role at the start of the year to concentrate more on his daughter’s football as well as potentially seek out a new challenge, having also led them up undefeated last season. And he said the cup victory had fulfilled a long-held dream of his.

Brandon Salisbury stretches to guide the ball home for Thurston's second goal past Woolverstone United goalkeeper Paul Dennington in the Suffolk Junior Cup Final Picture: Paul Voller
Brandon Salisbury stretches to guide the ball home for Thurston's second goal past Woolverstone United goalkeeper Paul Dennington in the Suffolk Junior Cup Final Picture: Paul Voller

“I said to the lads before the game if you can send me off on a good trip down the road with a double,” said the former Old Newton United boss.

“I've been chasing this cup since I was playing, after missing out in four semis, so to come and do it with these boys is amazing.

“They are a good bunch of lads who deserve it.

“I think personally they had a hard way to get here and they showed on the pitch tonight that the game could have been done and dusted at half-time as far as I was concerned.

"But you live and you learn, probably one of the most experienced players missed a penalty, missed a few chances but the boys dug in and they got the result and I am so proud of them."

Woolverstone, who finished eighth in Thurston’s division but 37 points behind them, caused them a few nervy moments with some eye-catching passages of play but were largely indebted to their goalkeeper for keeping the scoreline down.

"I knew what Woolverstone were about and I knew they play a lot of football out from the back,” said McConnell.

“They are never going to give up, we're played them twice this year and the scorelines have all been similar (3-1 wins) and they have scored from set-pieces against us before so I knew it was going to be difficult to play against them. But the boys went and did the job and they're confident players."

McConnell described his last campaign at the west Suffolk village club as ‘amazing’ with not just his side ending up as double winners.

He said: "What a way to finish, you've got two trophies sitting there, the club in general has won four because the reserves have done the double as well so a team from Bury, Thurston village, have put Bury on the map.

"t's amazing and the club's had a great year. It's amazing for the club and it's amazing for the supporters to see how many are here tonight from a little village.

"I'm happy for them all and it's nice to see them here."

It remains to be seen who will suceed him as manager as the club gears up for their first ever season at what used to be termed 'Step 7’ of the non-league pyramid but he is sure they would be more than capable of holding their own.

He said: "If someone comes in they've got a good group of lads to take over. If they stick together they'll go a long way I think."