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Mildenhall Town left to rue absence of main marksman in Thurlow Nunn League Challenge Cup defeat




When all is said and done, Mildenhall Town’s exit from the Thurlow Nunn League Challenge Cup on Tuesday evening came down to fine margins.

They were the better of the two sides for much of the quarter-final contest at Recreation Way, but in visiting Norwich United they came up against opposition that were more efficient and clinical in both boxes on their way to recording a 4-1 victory.

The hosts certainly created enough openings on the night to stretch their unbeaten run in the competition to 13 matches, but without the predatory instincts of the cup-tied James Hall, that all important killer touch was missing.

Football Mildenhall v Norwich Utd - Cup quarter-final Valter Rocha with a chance for Mildenhall Picture by Mark Westley. (28374288)
Football Mildenhall v Norwich Utd - Cup quarter-final Valter Rocha with a chance for Mildenhall Picture by Mark Westley. (28374288)

Hall has been somewhat of a revelation since joining the club from Godmanchester Rovers in December last year, with his goal during Saturday’s 3-1 Premier Division win over Swaffham Town taking his tally to 11 in eight appearances.

Norwich, in contrast, had no such issues in front of goal as the lively wing pairing of Finlay Barnes and Jordan Forbes – both of whom got their names on the scoresheet – set about implementing their counter-attack approach to perfection.

For Mildenhall boss Ricky Cornish the defeat ends any hope of silverware being won in his first full season at the helm, yet having seen his side rack up seven wins from eight in recent weeks, he is targeting a positive end to the campaign.

Football Mildenhall v Norwich Utd - Cup quarter-final Luke Butcher Mildenhall captain Picture by Mark Westley. (28374277)
Football Mildenhall v Norwich Utd - Cup quarter-final Luke Butcher Mildenhall captain Picture by Mark Westley. (28374277)

“We were by far the better side for the first hour or so and I think if Hally had been available we would have got through,” he said.

“Their second goal is a mistake from Rob Ruddy and he has held his hands up in the dressing room and apologised. To be fair to Rob, he doesn’t make many (mistakes) so we move on from that. Their third is a penalty that should not have been given and the fourth is against nine men (Luke Butcher and Matt Green having been sin binned for dissent).

“It is disappointing because we have created enough chances to win the game and instead we have been hit by sucker punches on the counter-attack.

“Fair play to Norwich, they were better in the areas that it really matters. It feels like everything conspired against us a bit on the night.

“At the same time, I have just told the lads how outstanding they have been during the last couple of months. We are disappointed because we wanted to win this cup, but far from dejected.

“We want to push on from here. We are sixth and they have been set a points target to reach for the end of the season that will hopefully push us into the top four.”

Mildenhall will now aim to bounce back at the first time of asking on Saturday when they return to their Premier Division commitments at FC Clacton (3pm).

The Essex-based Seasiders are currently two places and a couple of points adrift of Cornish’s side in the table.

Clacton go into the fixture having collected seven points from the last 12 on offer.

Mildenhall may be without left-back Joe Asensi for the trip with a hamstring injury picked up against Norwich, while loanee Harvey Steel will be absent due to commitments with parent club Cambridge United.