Mildenhall Town surrender early lead to lose Thurlow Nunn League Challenge Cup quarter-final against Norwich United
Mildenhall Town’s love affair with the Thurlow Nunn League Challenge Cup came to an end this evening at the hands of Norwich United.
The Hall had won the competition the previous two times they had entered it, with the unbeaten run stretching back 12 ties to December 2014.
However, in visiting Norwich - a side they defeated in the final four years ago - they came up against opposition that were more clinical in the key moments of this quarter-final match up, as the men from Plantation Park came from a goal down to triumph 4-1.
It was a very watchable first half at Recreation Way, where it took the hosts a mere eight minutes to break the deadlock.
Norwich full-back Harry Barker’s header was intended for his own goalkeeper Ryan Dickerson, but the execution lacked power and it allowed an alert Scott Chaplin to nip in and lob home from close range.
However, it was a lead that would last for only seven minutes, with the away side levelling things up in their first meaningful attack.
Mildenhall failed to deal with a low ball into the box and they were eventually punished by Jordan Forbes, who bundled the ball over the line.
Ben Yeomans had two good chances to put Mildenhall back in front before the half was out, but he flashed the first of those wide from a tight angle and then saw a low header tipped away by Dickerson.
Meanwhile, up the other end an unmarked Liam Jackson headed Forbes’ left-wing cross harmlessly over from 12 yards out.
In a carbon copy of the opening 45 minutes, Mildenhall got on the front foot early in the second half and they almost made it count through Phill Weavers in the 49th minute.
Norwich could not clear Chaplin’s floated free-kick and Weavers’ strike on the half volley was clean, but it drifted just wide of the target.
Mildenhall's Valter Rocha then went close on a couple of occasions before the pendulum swung Norwich’s way 20 minutes from time.
Home defender Rob Ruddy’s cross-field pass was intercepted by Finlay Barnes on halfway and the lively winger strode forward with purpose, jinked past Luke Butcher and found the net via the left upright.
With time running out Mildenhall now had to push forward and they were caught out in the 79th minute. Full-back Harvey Steel was adjudged to have fouled Connor Parsons while making a last-ditch challenge and Jackson stepped up the bury the resultant spot kick.
Parsons went on to have the final say on proceedings when he picked out the top corner from distance in stoppage time, while more salt was rubbed in the Mildenhall wound as both Matt Green and skipper Butcher were sin binned for dissent.
Mildenhall: Hayhoe, Steel, Butcher, Ruddy, Asensi (Nolan 65'), Steed, Green, Weavers, Rocha, Chaplin, Yeomans (Manels 65')
* For reaction to this defeat, plus a look ahead to what Mildenhall have to come, see the Journal and Free Press print editions.