SUFFOLK PREMIER CUP
Bury Town 1 Leiston 1
(Bury won 4-2 on penalties)
SUFFOLK Premier Cup holders Bury Town moved a step closer to defending their title after reaching their second cup final of the season.
The Blues will face Lowestoft Town or Haverhill Rovers at Ipswich Town’s Portman Road at the end of the season after overcoming Leiston on penalties at Needham Market’s Bloomfields ground.
Marcus Garnham was the hero with two saves in the shoot-out, and team-mate Lee Smith believed it was about time the Bury goalkeeper delivered when faced with a spot-kick.
“He hasn’t saved a penalty in the four years I’ve known him, so I think he’s been saving them up,” said Smith, who was forced to form part of a makeshift defence in which skipper Tom Bullard was considered the only recognised regular.
Smith added: “We have kicked on massively since the start of the year – the treble is there.”
Garnham had to make a top-class save in the opening stages when tipping over Patrick Brothers’ fierce drive after it had taken a wicked deflection off Smith.
Former Needham Market and Team Bury man Rhys Henry fired wide after being afforded too much space, but Bury finally began to make advances towards the Leiston goal when Connor Hall and Sam Reed combined to tee up John Sands, who scooped the ball over when off balance.
The match improved as a spectacle after half-time and Bury took the lead when Sam Reed poked the ball through to Sands, who held off the challenge of two Leiston defenders and fired a wonderful, instinctive drive over Louis Johnson and into the net.
Sands was denied a second from Sam Reed’s left-wing corner on the hour-mark when Johnson reacted to scramble away his header via the post.
Leiston’s determination to bag an equaliser increased as the 90 minutes neared the end and Michael Brothers rattled the bar before fellow substitute Luke Hammond found the top corner in the 87th minute.
Sands could still have won it in the final minute, but was denied by Johnson again, while the best chance of extra-time fell to Leiston’s Henry, who was foiled one-on-one by Garnham.
The pressure of spot-kicks failed to tell on a confident Bury team, and although Garnham was unable to keep out David Head’s penalty despite getting a hand to it, he superbly denied Henry and Stuart Boardley.
Lee Reed, Smith and Billy Clark gave Johnson no chance with their penalties and, although Hammond kept the shoot-out alive for a little longer by pulling it back to 4-2, Hall coolly sent Johnson the wrong way to send Bury to Portman Road again.
Bury: GARNHAM 8, Kearns 6, Hall 7, Kennedy 6, Smith 7, Bullard 7, Clark 5, Sands 7, S Reed 6, L Reed 5, Cunningham 5 (Nurse 82, 5). Subs not used: Nunn, Hitching, Key, Robbins.
Shots on target 6 3
Shots off target 9 6
Woodwork 0 1
Corners 8 6
Offsides 2 2
FK conceded 16 19
Bookings: Bury: Hall (foul). Leiston: Smy (foul), Jefford (foul), Boardley (handball), Michael Brothers (foul).
Red cards: None.
Referee: Carl Fitch.