Keeper Jones is penalty shoot-out hero

NEEDHAM Market's goalkeeping hero Liam Jones already had one up on Pip Boyland when the Leiston player came up to take the defining penalty at Portman Road last night.

Elvin King

NEEDHAM Market's goalkeeping hero Liam Jones already had one up on Pip Boyland when the Leiston player came up to take the defining penalty at Portman Road last night.

Boyland had to score to keep his team's hopes alive, but he placed his kick not far enough away from the keeper's left side for Jones to guess correctly and dive down to make a comfortable save.

“I saved a penalty from Pip earlier in the season and I gave him a bit of banter as he placed the ball on the spot,” said Jones, a former England Colleges Under-19 player.

“I watch a player's run-up and what his eyes are doing at the point of impact before deciding which way to dive.

“I try to make myself big but was beaten by the first four spot kicks including a dink that barely carried into the net.”

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When the chips were down and Danny George only had to convert to win the cup for Leiston, Jones was able to make a save to a not very convincingly struck shot to the keeper's left.

“I knew the importance of that one having confirmed with the referee how many more were left,” added Jones.

“And when Pip came up for the first of their sudden death kicks I knew that I already had one over him from before.

“We were all gutted to lose the FA Vase semi-final, but we have now played - and won - at one of the best grounds in the country and that means a lot.”

Needham manager Danny Laws, who was in charge of the Suffolk team when it won the FA County Youth Cup final at Portman Road three years ago, praised his players - and confirmed his burning desire to move up from the Ridgeons League next season.

He said: “Over 120 minutes we created the most chances, and it was disappointing that we didn't take any.

“But having beaten Bury Town, Felixstowe and Kirkley to get to Portman Road - and play well when we got there - I can only praise my players.

“They deserved to win, but full marks to Leiston player-manager Carl Chenery for his work with Leiston.

“We were without our injured leading scorer Craig Parker and others who were unavailable, but we will have fresh legs to bring in for our league match tomorrow night.

“Their keeper made some good saves and we wanted to win something.

“I didn't want us to be known as team that enjoyed a good year.

“I wanted us to be known as a team that won trophies this season.

“Watching a team celebrate reaching a Wembley final on your own pitch as we did against Kirkham and Wesham is not an easy thing to take.

“Now we must look to win the title (and the League Cup), and gain a place in the next level of football next season - I don't care if it is the Ryman League or any other league we move up to I just want us to make progress.”

Laws said that Tommy Smith would have “slotted the ball in” if he had not been fouled when clean through, and Leiston player manager Carl Chenery had no complaints about the red card.

“Ian Smith had to do it,” said Chenery, who came on for the final 13 minutes.

“This is three Premier Cup final defeats in a row for Leiston, but my first after my return to the club.

“We must take it on the chin, and look to make it fourth time lucky.

“It is a disappointing way to lose, but I cannot fault any of my players.

“Jamie Stannard did very well in goal for us and we did not let ourselves down in any way.”

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