Leiston retain Suffolk Premier Cup thanks to Blake's hat-trick
PUBLISHED: 21:36 08 May 2019 | UPDATED: 22:02 08 May 2019
Leiston 3 Felixstowe & Walton United 2
Sharp-shooter Matt Blake bagged a slick hat-trick as Leiston held on to beat Felixstowe & Walton United to retain the Suffolk Premier Cup, in tonight's final at Portman Road, despite a dramatic late rally by the Seasiders.
Front-runner Blake scored early in both halves, on five and 48 minutes, before completing his hat-trick in the 78th minute, but there was a grandstand finish as Felixstowe scored two late goals.
Jack Ainsley converted an 86th minute penalty, after Dominic Docherty was sent off for the challenge (second yellow card), and Jordan Matthews headed home from a free-kick routine in injury time to make it 3-2, although they could not fashion a last ditch equaliser.
Earlier, Finch was the provider with a cross from the right flank for an unmarked Blake to side-foot home in the fifth minute.
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And the same duo combined to double Leiston's lead, three minutes into the second half, Blake ghosting in to stab home another precise low cross by Finch. Blake tucked home his third with 12 minutes to go, before Felixstowe staged a great rally.
Both sides eyed up the target early on, Finch blasting over on two minutes for Leiston, and the experienced Joe Francis cracking in a long-range shot which was comfortably saved by Blues keeper Marcus Garnham.
But Blake settled the nerves of the Southern League Premier side by netting a fifth minute opener - Leiston had failed to win any of their last 11 league games of the season, so they needed the tonic of that early goal.
And in truth, Leiston should have added to their tally before the break. Poor finishing let them down, although the Seasiders were always kept at arm's length by the centre-half pairing of Tom Bullard and Joe Jefford.
However, Leiston struck early in the second period, thanks to Blake's close-range finish from Finch's delivery on 48 minutes. The Seasiders exerted some pressure but were almost caught out on the break, Docherty clipping the top of the bar from a narrow angle.
At the other end, Marcus Garnham was forced into a rare save when parrying a thunderbolt from Miles Powell, before Blake completed his hat-trick on 72 minutes.
But Felixstowe ensured there was at least a sting in the tail with their dramatic late brace.