Suffolk Under-18s goalkeeper James Bradbrook admitted he feared being sent off in the first half of Saturday’s FA County Youth Cup final.
The Needham Market custodian was shown a yellow, rather than a red, card by referee Kevin Johnson after rushing out of his penalty area and bringing down Lancashire’s Jack Williams in the 25th minute.
Suffolk lost 3-2 after extra-time following Corey Bent’s 117th-minute winner for the visitors at Ipswich Town’s Portman Road ground.
An enthralling match saw Suffolk take a fifth-minute lead through Needham Market’s Harrison Ford, but Lancashire hit back to equalise via Jack Williams on the half-hour-mark.
Joel Khambay put Lancashire ahead five minutes before half-time, only for Needham Market’s Sam Thrower — who came on as a substitute — to restore parity after 58 minutes.
Bradbrook said: “I honestly thought I was off, but luckily for me the referee made his decision nice and early and told everyone I was only going to get a yellow card.”
He added: “Obviously it is very disappointing to lose — I would rather lose 3-0 than lose to a goal in the last minute.”
Bury Town’s Tevan Allen, who was arguably Suffolk’s man-of-the-match, said: “This is the worst feeling I have had in a long time.
“Credit to Lancashire who are a good side.
“They have come out and beaten us, which is what football is all about.”
At the after-match dinner, Suffolk players Bradbrook, Ben Hope and Stefano Mallardo each received a memento for making four appearances for the county and Scott Kemp was presented with his cap for eight appearances.
Suffolk manager Andy Reynolds was also presented with a memento by Suffolk FA chairman David Porter for his contribution to the county this season.
SUFFOLK: Bradbrook, West (Newman 47 mins), Mallardo, Heath, Hope, Carver, Ford (Thrower 57 (Kemp 80)), Crisell, Ward, Howell, Allen. Subs not used: Wales, Planck.
n New Suffolk Football Association (FA) football development manager Nathan French said he is excited at overseeing the progress of football in the county.
Anyone who would like to meet Nathan to explore opportunities for the future can contact him on firstname.lastname@example.org or 07432 735987.
n Needham Market’s academy director Andy Gould has been appointed as football services manager at Suffolk Football Association (FA).
His role will be to proactively improve discipline across the county while ensuring a transparent and fair disciplinary process.
Gould was involved with Stowmarket Town Youth section from 1995-2004 and then Bury Town before joining Needham in October 2010.
The 53-year-old, who lives in Stowmarket, takes up his new post on May 1 and replaces Jairo Marin.