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AFC Sudbury lift third Suffolk Women’s Cup after netting double digits against Stowupland Falcons at Ipswich Town’s Portman Road

AFC Sudbury lifted their third MH Goals Suffolk Women’s Cup after an 11-1 rout over Suffolk Girls & Women's Football League Women’s Premiership outfit Stowupland Falcons in the final at Ipswich Town’s Portman Road.

Luke Mallet’s side, who ply their trade in the FA Women’s National League, three levels higher than their opposition, made light work of the final – taking a four-goal lead with only 20 minutes on the clock. Sophie Jeffery tapped home the opener and her corner crept into the net for a second, before she turned provider for Aliyat Lambe to nod home the third.

Goal number four was the pick of the bunch, a thunderous effort from Eva Frazzoni, as Kaylee Dodd and Alex Penny also got in on the act to put the Yellows six ahead. The only threat Sudbury faced was the weather conditions.

AFC Sudbury Women lift the MH Goals Suffolk Women’s Cup at Portman Road. Picture: Jonny Chick
AFC Sudbury Women lift the MH Goals Suffolk Women’s Cup at Portman Road. Picture: Jonny Chick

Play was suspended on 40 minutes due to a waterlogged pitch, with the rain hammering down on the Portman Road turf. After two pitch inspections and one hour and 20 minutes later, play resumed.

Sudbury, who had scored 19 goals in their three games on their route to Portman Road, recorded number seven just minutes after the re-start, as Yasmin Drake scored from the spot, before Jess Allen and Ava Jouvenel took the tally to nine.

Penn netted two more to complete her hat-trick and take the scoring into double figures, before the Falcons had something to cheer in the dying stages, when Enya Moore tucked home a consolation.

The game was only two minutes old when the higher-league opposition made their stamp on the contest. Frazzoni robbed Millie Gant of possession and drove into the box before playing a teasing ball across the face of goal that Jeffrey was on hand to turn home at the back post.

The start no-one in yellow and blue were wanting, and things almost got worse for Stowupland two minutes later, but Drake fired a strike from inside the box over the bar.

The rain poured down on the Portman Road turf and so did the goals, giving Stowupland a mountain to climb with only 18 minutes on the clock. Jeffrey’s corner found a way through the crowd to sneak into the back of the net before she turned provider from a left-wing free kick to set up Lambe who headed home a third.

While there were inquests for the first three Sudbury goals, there was absolutely nothing the Stowupland defence could do to stop the side in pink notching number four. A crisp, rasping strike from Frazzoni from the edge of the box thundered in off the crossbar.

And number five was added just minutes later to put the tie out of sight by the half-hour mark. Dodd was given the freedom of Portman Road to drive into the penalty area before curling an acute effort over Huggins that nestled into the corner.

Soon after, substitute Penny added to Stowupland’s misery as she sent a deep free kick from the right on target, that Huggins could only palm into the roof of the net.

The rain was excessive and a nuisance – slowing the ball up as the players kicked puddles with every step. After a few minutes deliberation, referee Isabel Chaplin took the players off the pitch for their safety and the game was temporarily suspended. The biblical downpour continued.

Part of the Cobbold Stand roof became a waterfall and large puddles started to emerge on the grass. A pitch inspection was arranged for 8.45pm and a second at 9.05pm. The ball was rolling better as the rain died off, but struggling to muster more than one bounce. Time ticked on and eventually the players were given the green light to warm up, as play restarted at 9.35pm with a five-minute half-time to follow.

Sudbury started where they left off and burst forward down the left. Ella Edwards’ cross was ajudged to have struck a Stowupland arm in the box and Mallet’s side had a chance to net number seven. Drake looked up to the task from the moment she placed the ball down on the spot, and the number nine rolled the ball into the bottom-left corner.

Many were expecting it to rain goals again in the second half but Martin Huggins and Simon Gant’s side defended better. However, Penny came inches away from notching her second of the final, as her looping shot rebounded off the crossbar.

The relentless Stowupland support, who were behind their side throughout the final, almost had a goal to cheer about as the game approached the hour mark. Caitlin Jackson broke free inside the box but fired her effort at Millie Carter – who responded well in the first time she was called into action.

Although the Falcons defended resolutely, number eight seemed inevitable. On 64 minutes it did come as Allen bagged her goal, lifting the ball into the left corner from just outside the box, with Huggins stranded.

Substitute Jouvenel was next to get in on the act, as the ball rebounded to her in the box and she excellently dispatched the ball into the bottom-right corner. It was always a case of when, not if, the scoreboard would tick over to double digits for the Yellows and it was Penny who got the 10th, as she rifled the ball home from inside the box.

The Sudbury winger then put herself in prime position for the match ball minutes later, when she tucked home her hat-trick and the Yellows’ 11th.

It looked like Jackson’s chance was the best opportunity Stowupland were going to get, to get themselves on the scoresheet, but they finally found the back of the net two minutes from time. The ball fell to substitute Moore in the box, who slotted the ball into the bottom-right corner and sparked jubilant scenes in the far corner of the ground. The players huddled together and celebrated with their friends and families.

AFC Sudbury: Carter, Harrison (cpt), Dodd, Bezant, Lambe, Provan, Jeffrey, Goodwin, Drake, Frazzoni, Allen.

Roll-on-roll-off substitutes: Egan, Jarvis, Jouvenel, Edwards, Penny.

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.

Suffolk News Player of the Match: Alex Penny – hat-trick hero and was a constant nuisance when coming on as a substitute.