Long Melford manager Jason Maher ‘gutted’ after Suffolk Senior Cup final defeat
LONG Melford manager Jason Maher admitted he was “gutted” after seeing his side lose the final of the Suffolk Senior Cup to a last-minute goal.
Holders Whitton United came from a goal down to retain the trophy thanks to an 89th minute strike from substitute Alan Mills in Wednesday’s showpiece final at Portman Road against their fellow Ridgeons League Division One opponents.
An emotional Maher, who had tears in his eyes, said: “It is hard to put into words, but as gutted as I am I don’t think my players could have given any more.
“I am ever so proud of them. We have had our off-the-field problems this season, but tonight the lads were superb.
“I couldn’t have asked for any more and I don’t think they could have given any more. “We tired in the last ten to 15 minutes, and Whitton kept the ball better than us.”
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Maher, who was appointed as manager at Stoneylands in December 2010, said he was also proud of the fact that ten of the players on duty at Portman Road had come through the club’s under-18 side.
“When I took over I said I wanted to take the club to a cup final and to finish in the top ten and some people laughed at me.
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“We reached the Senior Cup final and although we have come up short, I want to use it as a catalyst to have another go next season.”
Maher guided Long Melford to ninth place in Ridgeons Division One this season – their best finish for a decade – and Wednesday’s final was the club’s first appearance in a Senior Cup final since 2003/04 when they lost 7-6 on penalties to Hadleigh United after a 2-2 draw.
Long Melford had won the trophy a year earlier, trouncing Stanton 5-0, while Whitton became the first side to successfully defend the cup since Kirkley, who won it in 2000/01 and 2001/02.