Leiston boss issues ‘massive thank-you’ to fans after FA Cup defeat at Westfields
- Credit: Archant
Leiston manager Glenn Driver issued a “massive thank you” to the club’s supporters after their Emirates FA Cup run came to an end following an agonising defeat at Westfields in the fourth qualifying round on Saturday.
The Blues were dumped out of this season’s competition by the Herefordshire side, who ply their trade two leagues lower in the Midland League Premier Division.
After substitute Tom Winter had drawn Leiston level with 17 minutes to go, it looked like the two sides were heading for a replay at Victory Road.
But Westfields’ leading goalscorer Richard Greaves crashed home an effort right at the death to end Leiston’s hopes of a lucrative first round draw.
“It was unfortunate because we could not put our away our chances, which has been our strength this season,” the Leiston boss said.
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“We really should have been out of sight. We had four or five fantastic chances in the second-half.
“It was a really hard pill to swallow. I don’t want to sound disrespectful and I want to wish Westfields all the best, but we should have been in the hat for the first round.
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“In our preparation we left no stone unturned. The chairman and the football club gave us everything we needed to win the game.
“I’d like to say a massive thank you to the supporters. Three of our four games in the FA Cup were away.
“After we play Grays Athletic next Wednesday we’ll have played seven away games on the spin.
“Their support has been fantastic and I’d like to apologise for not getting the result we wanted. It’s a massive week for us now as we’ve got the Suffolk Premier Cup on Tuesday and then we go to Havant and Waterlooville on Saturday, which is first versus second in the league.”
Leiston, Suffolk’s only remaining non-league side in the FA Cup, started strongly and dictated the opening 50 minutes, spurning a host of chances to take the lead.
The visitors, in red-hot form in front of goal, were minus injured leading scorer Matt Blake, but still looked too strong for their hosts.
Christy Finch twice forced Westfields goalkeeper Kieron Blackburn into saves, while Patrick Brothers and Joe Francis missed chances as the opening goal of the game looked inevitable for the Blues.
It was clear Westfields, playing in their sixth game in this season’s FA Cup, would have their best opportunities via set pieces.
And so it proved as they took the lead on 57 minutes with their first real sight of goal. Captain Phil Glover out jumped the Leiston centre half pairing of Tom Bullard and Joe Jefford to glance home a header from a free-kick.
Leiston toiled for a response and deservedly drew level with just over a quarter of an hour remaining.
Substitute Winter’s clever movement created the space for him to meet Brothers’ left wing centre and fire his shot high into the roof of the net for a fine equaliser.
A replay at Victory Road was looming until Westfields stunned the Ryman League Premier Division leaders with just over a minute to go.
The Blues failed to clear a cross from the left and the ball fell invitingly to leading scorer Greaves, whose shot took a deflection before beating Danny Potter in the Leiston goal.
Leiston chairman Andy Crisp added: “It was a great weekend but unfortunately we just didn’t quite perform as a team as we should have done.
“Westfields are a great club and looked after us really well. We’re playing some really entertaining football and we’ve got a lot to play for still this season.”