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Lakenheath boss Ben Cowling left frustrated as Biggleswade United progress in FA Vase with late drama





Frustration was the over-riding emotion for Lakenheath manager Ben Cowling after seeing their Isuzu FA Vase journey end in a penalty shootout loss at Biggleswade United on Saturday, following a 1-1 draw.

His side had been on the verge of ending their Spartan South Midlands League Premier Division hosts’ 10-game unbeaten home run in the last 64 third round tie until late on in Bedfordshire – which would have also equalled last year's club record run in the competition.

After having a goal ruled out for offside and seeing returning defender Dean Grogan hit the post with a header, their second-half pressure paid off with close to the hour mark.

Sam Hawley misses the chance to double Lakenheath's lead from the penalty spot late on in their FA Vase third round tie at Biggleswade United Picture: Cosmin Iftode www.phorostudio.co.uk
Sam Hawley misses the chance to double Lakenheath's lead from the penalty spot late on in their FA Vase third round tie at Biggleswade United Picture: Cosmin Iftode www.phorostudio.co.uk

Ross Bailey played a deep central free kick short to the left for Sam Peters to put a cross into the box from which Kaine Manels reacted quickest to a knock down to fire in from close range.

Heath then had a glorious chance to double their advantage from the penalty spot inside the final 15 minutes but saw captain Sam Hawley’s kick sail over the crossbar.

Biggleswade then went on to capitalise on an under-hit back pass to score a controversial 83rd-minute equaliser through Conor Inskip.

Casey Phillips puts his body on the line during Lakenheath's FA Vase defeat at Biggleswade United Picture: Cosmin Iftode www.phorostudio.co.uk
Casey Phillips puts his body on the line during Lakenheath's FA Vase defeat at Biggleswade United Picture: Cosmin Iftode www.phorostudio.co.uk

While there was calls for it being offside, having hit a player on the floor from the initial effort, Lakenheath thought they had then managed to hook the rebound shot off the line but the linesman convinced the referee it had gone over.

The ensuring penalty shootout saw Lakenheath go on to lose 3-1 with defender Tom Debenham the only man to score while Luke Young’s first kick was saved and Tom Walters and Tom Thulborn also both failed to score.

Cowling reflected: “We were the better team, we deserved to go through but we didn’t take the chances and in the end it cost us.

“Frustration is probably the main thing as it’s chalk and cheese with the performance we put out at Newmarket (1-1 draw) the weekend before.

Lakenheath manager Ben Cowling Picture: Mark Westley
Lakenheath manager Ben Cowling Picture: Mark Westley

“We dominated the game, hit the woodwork, missed a penalty and created more than enough chances to win the game.

“We restricted Biggleswade and their main threat to a couple of main chances at the beginning of the second half and all in all we played well.

“We did everything we needed to do, we just couldn’t take that final step.”

Of the controversial equaliser, he said: “If the linesman was where I thought the linesman was, how he managed to give that as a goal god only knows because I thought he was level with the penalty spot.

“And not a single one of their players appealed, but the referee was excellent.

“I’ve not seen it again but in real time I think there was a question mark about offside.

“The shot came in and hit one of their players lying prone on the floor who seemed to be beyond Charlie (Beckwith, goalkeeper).

“That said we should have cleared the danger away and ultimately we paid the price for that.”

He now wants to see his sixth-placed side replicate the performance on their return to Thurlow Nunn League Premier Division action, though he will not be caught under-estimating lowly visitors Fakenham Town on Saturday (3pm).

“Fakenham won’t finish 15th in the league, there is no doubt about that,” he said.

“They’ve played a large chuck of the early part of the season without striker Ashley Jarvis and I think their overall play was very good, they just didn’t have an end product.

“Probably the last time we played badly and didn’t get a result was at Fakenham when we went up there and lost 2-0 (October 1) so I think we owe them up, that’s for sure.

“But we need to keep putting that level of performance in.”

Striker Ryan Taylor is back available after being cup-tied while Young (ankle) is a doubt.