Bury Town boss Richard Wilkins was ‘very confident’ of shoot-out success
BURY Town boss Richard Wilkins said he was “very confident” his side would win the penalty shoot-out against Leiston to reach the LB Group Suffolk Premier Cup final.
Holders Bury won 4-2 on penalties, following a 1-1 draw after extra time at Needham Market on Tuesday, to book a return trip to Portman Road and with it their second cup final of the season.
Wilkins revealed: “I decided who was going to take the penalties. I had six names written down as penalty-takers, but John Sands said he didn’t want to take one.
“I was very confident that we would win the tie when it went to penalties as we have got players who are confident from the spot.”
Lee Reed, Lee Smith and Billy Clark were successful for Bury as were David Head and Luke Hammond for Leiston, but after Rhys Henry and Stuart Boardley had seen their shots saved by Bury’s Marcus Garnham, Connor Hall fired home the decisive penalty.
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Hall, who produced an impressive display at left back, is in the England Colleges squad for their forthcoming tour to Italy, and Wilkins said: “Connor is only 18, but he is a quality player who is very calm on the ball, has a good turn of pace and a good left foot.”
And Wilkins also praised keeper Garnham, who was flawless throughout as well as saving two spot kicks.
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“Marcus is one of the most competent keepers in the Ryman League Premier Division, in my opinion.
“He had made just two mistakes in 40-odd games this season. I fancied him to save a couple because he has been close to saving penalties we have conceded this season.
“He was never very good at saving them, but he has picked up bits and pieces and improved a lot.”
The standard on show was a great advert for football in Suffolk, with Ryman League Division One North Leiston matching their Ryman League Premier Division opponents over the 120 minutes, before bowing out of the competition in heartbreaking fashion.
Wilkins admitted: “It was a really good game of football. It was very close and could have gone either way.
“I have always thought the standard of football in Suffolk and East Anglia is strong. We have always had teams have good runs in the FA Vase, but teams did not start to move up the non-league ladder until a few years ago.
“Leiston have done extremely well to be top of their table, but I have said to (Leiston manager) Mark Morsley they need to win the league.
“If you don’t it makes it very difficult if it is close to come second and to then win the play-offs.”
Bury will face the winners of the semi-final between Lowestoft Town and Haverhill Rovers, which has been rescheduled to Tuesday, March 20, after a waterlogged pitch caused Tuesday night’s match at AFC Sudbury to be postponed.
The date of the final has yet to be arranged, but Bury will face East Thurrock United in the Alan Boon Cup final at Staines Town FC on Wednesday, March 28.