SUFFOLK FA PREMIER CUP REACTION: Felixstowe & Walton boss Kevin O’Donnell overjoyed at Seasiders’ achievements while gracious Needham Market boss Mark Morsley admits that the better team won
Delighted Felixstowe & Walton United manager Kevin O’Donnell heaped the praise on his players after their excellent 1-0 Suffolk FA Premier Cup semi-final triumph over Needham Market, naming numbers one - 16 as the Seasiders’ man-of-the-match.
Playing with no fear, the Seasiders, second in the Thurlow Nunn Premier Division, upset the odds to topple Ryman North giants Needham Market - a game many people thought the Marketmen would comfortably win.
Miles Powell’s sublime first-half strike was enough to send the Seasiders into a state of ecstasy at the final whistle, and Felixstowe will now face Ryman Premier outfit Bury Town, a team two leagues above the Thurlow Nunn high-flyers, at Portman Road in the final.
A delighted O’Donnell said afterwards: “We spoke before the game and did our homework on them, we knew the style of play that they had.
“Obviously they’ve got some outstanding players in that squad and we knew we needed to break down their play and hit them on the counter.
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“We rode our luck through the game at times, obviously you have to remind yourselves of the players they’ve got - they hit the woodwork and had some clear-cut chances, but then on the other hand we missed a penalty and we had some good opportunities ourselves as well.”
Powell’s goal was certainly one worthy of winning any game - a real gem that nestled into the far corner from 20 yards, with the otherwise unbeatable Andrew Plummer grasping at thin air.
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“What can you say about that? He pops up and he can pull off goals like that but again, we can do it throughout the squad,” added O’Donnell, who spent five years at Needham as a coach prior to joining the Seasiders in October 2012.
“I think the goal came at the right time as well, it was a sucker punch for them and it helped to drive us on and consolidate what we were trying to achieve.”
O’Donnell also paid tribute to his goalkeeper, Danny Crump, who pulled off numerous excellent saves to keep Felixstowe’s dreams alive.
“He pulled off some fantastic saves, that’s what he’s employed to do and I’ve always said he’s one of the best in the league at producing point-blank saves,” said O’Donnell.
“If I’m honest, if I had to go for a man-of-the-match, I’d probably go for number one through to 16, everyone had their own individual attributes that they contributed to the overall target.
“I thought Josh Hewitt at left-back needs a mention, some of the challenges and the penetrating attacks he made were out of this world.
“For such a young lad, it was good to see that he’s coming on leaps and bounds, but like I say man-of-the-match for me is the entire squad.”
Felixstowe now have Portman Road and Bury in their sights but O’Donnell isn’t looking too far ahead just yet.
He said: “It’ll be an interesting one and we’ll look forward to that at the end of the season.
“We’ve got some big games coming up in the league still, as well as a cup semi-final again next week so we’ll enjoy this and won’t carried away - we’ve got a big seven days coming up and we’ll make plans at the end of the season and will hopefully do it again against Bury.”
Although disappointed with his team’s display, Needham Market manager Mark Morsley was gracious in defeat after the final whistle.
“The best side won,” exclaimed Morsley.
“I thought they were better than us on the night, I thought they did very well, I thought they did their homework, they got their shape right.
“We weren’t brave enough, we wasted 45 minutes because in the first half they were far, far better than us and we were lucky to get in at 1-0.”
Morsley continued: “At the end of the day, in many ways they did what I thought we were going to do - they kept the ball well, they passed the ball well, and I think they deserved to win it on the night and I’ll hold my hands up to them, fair play.
“I wish them all the best in the final, of course so. If they can put that performance in against us, they can do the same against Bury.
“I think you’re looking for heroes in games like this and apart from my keeper, none of ours stepped up really. I thought Luke Ingram might be the one to do something, he started the second half well but it wasn’t to be.
“Promotion is of course our main aim but you want something for your supporters to look forward too and we haven’t done that for them, we didn’t show enough in the game really so that’s a bit disappointing but that’s football, and that’s cup football for you isn’t it?”