Sporting ‘87 hearts are broken in 30th year as Hoxne grab last promotion spot

The 2016 Suffolk Junior Cup winners, AFC Hoxne, have won promotion to the SIL Senior Division.

The 2016 Suffolk Junior Cup winners, AFC Hoxne, have won promotion to the SIL Senior Division. - Credit: Sarah Lucy brown

Sporting ‘87 were unable to mark their 30th anniversary with a win against Claydon, allowing AFC Hoxne to claim the final promotion place into the Senior Division, with a 3-1 win over champions Benhall St Mary.

This was a fitting end to Hoxne boss Jamie Scales’ time in charge as he achieved his third promotion at the club, the club entering senior football for the first time next season.

Sporting had to switch the game to Rougham Community Centre because of cricket at the Victory Ground in Bury, but this seemed only to enhance the party atmosphere with a large crowd of around 120 in attendance.

However, it soon became clear that fourth-placed Claydon were going to prove difficult opposition, despite a poor recent run which led to them slipping out of the promotion picture.

The home side had an early scare when Liam Woodhouse fired narrowly wide from a Danny Knock corner, which was only partially cleared. Sporting replied with a series of deep free kicks which came to nothing before their experienced striker, Sam Marsden, showed great control only to have his goal-bound effort cleared by Elliot Blackman.

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The sides were proving evenly-matched, though the Sporting defence were being troubled by the trickery and guile of Stephen Cole.

Claydon full-back Josh Dowsing then forced Floyd Croll into two fine stops as the game remained in the balance at the break.

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The second period continued to be a tight affair with chances at a premium.

Cole fired two efforts straight at Croll while at the other end, Marsden’s pace was proving Sporting’s main threat.

It was Marsden who got through in the right hand channel on 70 minutes but he drilled his shot narrowly wide.

Almost immediately Croll pushed away a powerful drive from Dan Parsons.

Sporting then pushed forward for the goal they desperately needed, leaving more gaps at the back.

Knock forced Croll into action again as the game went into injury time and then, with time almost up, Parsons grabbed the winner as he drilled in a 20-yard effort which deflected into the top corner, to break Sporting hearts.

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