Leiston progress to Suffolk Premier Cup final after narrow win over Needham Market

Leiston (blue shirts) V Needham Market, Suffolk Premier Cup Semi-Final at AFC Sudbury.
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Leiston (blue shirts) V Needham Market, Suffolk Premier Cup Semi-Final at AFC Sudbury. Leiston celebrate scoring after 56 seconds.

Leiston progressed to the final of the Suffolk Premier Cup with a narrow 1-0 victory over Ryman Premier Division rivals Needham Market, at AFC Sudbury, last night.

The Blues’ winner came just after 56 seconds when Christy Finch capitalised on William Crisell’s error, before beating Danny Gay with a cool finish from 18 yards.

Leiston, who will face the winner of tonight’s semi-final at Needham, between Lowestoft Town and Bury Town, could have doubled their advantage before the break when Kelsey Trotter’s volley from the edge of the box went just wide of Gay’s post.

The early goal deflated Needham, who produced minimal attacking threat in the first half, Ollie Fenn going closest for the Marketmen, in stoppage time, his near-post effort off target after a corner.

Needham were much better in the second period but lacked a clinical edge in the final third, Michael Brothers and Darryl Coakley, twice, dragging long-range efforts wide of Ashlee Jones’ post.

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The Blues had chances to double their lead in the second half, most notably from set-piece situations, but also lacked a cutting edge in the final third.

Both sides had named strong line-ups for the clash, despite the league still being very much their priority, in terms of chasing a play-off spot and avoiding relegation respectively.

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The Marketmen made four changes from Saturday’s 2-2 draw at Leatherhead – Crisell, Regan Pelling, Kem Izzet and Jordan Patrick replacing Ian Miller, Sam Nunn, Billy Holland and James Akintunde.

The Blues, meanwhile, made just a couple of changes from their 0-0 draw at Harrow Borough, Tom Winter and Patrick Brothers coming in for Jack Ainsley and Leon Ottley-Gooch.

Leiston got off to a dream start, opening the scoring with less than a minute on the clock.

Goalkeeper Jones sent a huge kick down field after collecting a Pelling cross, Crisell misjudged the bounce of the high ball and Finch took it on before finishing comfortably, firing the ball across Gay from the left and into the far corner.

Both teams prefer to play the ball on the floor, so the nature of the goal was quite ironic but helped the Blues settle.

Leiston were in the ascendancy for most of the first half, without creating too many clear-cut chances, Trotter firing wide and Patrick Brothers, finding acres of space down the left, forcing Gay into a good save.

There was plenty of effort and endeavour, but not much quality, and that theme remained during the second period, although more chances were created.

Ollie Mann dragged a late shot wide for Needham, while Luke Ingram, from distance, also forced Jones into action.

The Marketmen never looked convincing though and Leiston could have made the game comfortable, with Trotter, Jack Baker and Tom Bullard (twice) all going close.

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