Achilles edge out Felixstowe Harpers in Bob Coleman Cup thriller

Felixstowe Harpers' Ross White holds off David Grimwood for Achilles

Felixstowe Harpers' Ross White holds off David Grimwood for Achilles - Credit: Su Anderson

SIL Senior Division title-chasers Achilles edged a five-goal thriller at Felixstowe Harpers United to progress to a quarter-final clash at East Bergholt in the Bob Coleman Cup, next Saturday.

However, The Mighty A’s, who are eight points behind leaders Bergholt – but with two games in hand – were pushed all the way by a team that had lost the league fixture between the teams 6-0, on the same ground, earlier in the season.

There was never any danger of Harpers suffering a similar defeat this time and, but for some poor defending, they may have emerged victorious at Trimley Sports & Social Club.

As it was, two goals from Liam Hillyard and an Andy Coote strike eventually saw off a Harpers team, currently third from bottom in the Senior Division, despite Craig Rumens and Ben Woodhouse replying.

Achilles possessed that extra quality in attack, but they were fortunate not to be reduced to 10 men, 10 minutes after the break. However, last man Ricky Deacey’s tackle on Liam Hunn, who was running clean through, was adjudged not even to be worthy of a foul by referee Des Haynes, despite vehement protests from the Harpers’ bench.

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With Achilles near the top of the league and Harpers close to the bottom, the home side had to be at their best to get a result and could ill-afford gifting their visitors three goals.

But that’s what happened.

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After 25 minutes, Felixstowe’s Shaun Greening, standing on the front post, failed to clear Hillyard’s low corner and presented Coote with the easiest of finishes from three yards out.

The goal was harsh on the home team, who started brightly and were only denied going ahead by the woodwork, Ross White’s shot hitting the post.

Achilles weren’t helped by an early injury to goalkeeper Shaun Chaplin, who came off second-best in a challenge for the ball with Hunn.

The stopper struggled on until half-time, despite looking to have suffered a heavy blow to his rib area, but could not do anything to stop Rumens powering home a header from a Hunn corner, midway through the first period.

However, Achilles led going into the break, Hillyard making no mistake five minutes before the break, the forward connecting with a teasing right-wing cross from Daniel Pryke, although home goalkeeper Chris Chapman maybe should have done better in dealing with the cross.

Achilles were almost 3-1 up before the break, Coote, totally free in the box, heading the wrong side of the post from another Hillyard corner.

Kicking against the breeze in the second half, Harpers looked to have their work cut out, but battled manfully and deservedly equalised on 68 minutes, Woodhouse collecting a ball over the top of the defence, on the right-hand side of the box and lobbing substitute goalkeeper Jack Foster with aplomb.

The drama wasn’t over though and with Foster’s kicks proving dangerous, it was no surprise when the goalkeeper played a part in the winner.

The stopper launched a massive kick up field and after the flight of the ball was misjudged by the Felixstowe defence, Hillyard had the easy task of heading home at the back post, six yards out.

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