Suffolk's love affair with cup continues

SUFFOLK wrote another chapter in the history of the county's amazing love affair with the FA County Youth Cup at windswept Woodbridge Town.Second-half goals by Ben Seaman and Chris Henderson saw Suffolk reach their third final in four seasons thanks to a 2-0 victory over West Riding - a record which will be the envy of much bigger counties and has really put them on the map nationwide at this level.

Nick Garnham

SUFFOLK wrote another chapter in the history of the county's amazing love affair with the FA County Youth Cup at windswept Woodbridge Town.

Second-half goals by Ben Seaman and Chris Henderson saw Suffolk reach their third final in four seasons thanks to a 2-0 victory over West Riding - a record which will be the envy of much bigger counties and has really put them on the map nationwide at this level.

Semi-finals are rarely classics and Saturday's was no exception, but nor was it as tense and tight as it might have been as Suffolk never looked like losing, especially once they got their noses in front.

The Suffolk side, who watched a four-minute motivational DVD of the British Lions 1995 rugby tour to South Africa before the match, conquered early nerves and the conditions to deservedly go through and will now face Cambridgeshire in the final at Portman Road on a date to be arranged.

Within 60 seconds of the introduction to the attack of Richard Gammon, whose physical presence played a part in both goals, Seaman swept Suffolk in front after 56 minutes.

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Gammon battled for the ball and when it broke to Henderson he stabbed it through the square defence for Seaman to race clear and slot his shot into the bottom far corner.

Henderson, who had been booked for an ugly lunge on left back Luke Craven five minutes before the opening goal, then delivered the knockout blow in the 68th minute.

Again Gammon's presence put the visitors' defence under pressure as they failed to cope with clearing the ball on the edge of their penalty.

When it was headed out to Henderson he struck a splendid 20-yard dipping right-foot volley into the top far corner of the net with goalkeeper Jonathan Gardiner motionless.

The goal appeared to knock the stuffing out of West Riding, who defeated Suffolk in a penalty shoot-out at Bradford City's ground last season to lift the coveted trophy but did not have the enough in their locker to mount a comeback.

Marcus Edwards, who broke away down the inside left channel, spurned their best opportunity a minute before Suffolk's second goal, scuffing his shot across the face of keeper Tom Ross's goal.

Indeed, Ross was so well protected by his back four and defensive midfielders that he was only called on to make one real save of any note which came in the last minute of the opening period when Edwards got in behind them and saw his shot parried to safety.

Dale Smith, nicknamed 'Ronseal' after the advert which claims the product does 'exactly what it says on the tin' never put a foot wrong, and together with fellow centre half Luke Bailey, until he suffered a hamstring injury, and full backs Joe Bloomfield and Scott Manning, once again proved a formidable barrier.

In front of them Ben Garnham, who joined the attack to send two well-struck efforts from distance over the bar either side of the interval, and John Sargent stifled the visitors' attacking intentions and it is easy to see why Suffolk have only conceded four goals - two from penalties - in seven games this season. Nick Middlebrook, a late substitute, twice came close to extending Suffolk's advantage in the closing stages as the home team comfortably closed the game out.

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