SUFFOLK PREMIER CUP SPONSORED BY RANSOMES JACOBSEN FINAL: Bury Town 4 Felixstowe and Walton United 1: Bury Town were given an almighty scare by Felixstowe and Walton United before easing away to retain the Suffolk Premier Cup.
Anthony Roulston headed the Blues in front against the run of play, but the Seasiders levelled through Danny Thrower and dominated the final for an hour, with only Marcus Garnham keeping them at bay.
Captain Tom Bullard and Joe Whight — both from cute play by Roulston in the penalty area — scored within the space of four minutes to finally establish control for the west Suffolk outfit and substitute Liam Wales added some gloss with a wonderful counter- attacking effort.
“It’s nice to end with a cup for all of us — for the fans who have stuck by us, the lads who have stayed and the youngsters who have come in,” said new father Bullard. “I’m not a big sleeper so being a dad’s been all right.”
Even with Russell Short back in the team, the Blues looked sluggish compared to their opponents from the Thurlow Nunn League Premier Division — two levels below Bury.
However, Felixstowe failed to create any clear chances and Bury responded by going in front when Roulston powered a header into the top left corner from Danny Cunningham’s drilled cross in the 17th minute.
Short followed up by heading straight at Danny Crump, but United were back on level terms a quarter of an hour later.
Thrower was afforded too much space on the right, cut in on his left foot and drilled a low, skidding shot beyond the despairing grasp of Marcus Garnham.
Felixstowe threatened to add to their lead as Bradley Barber sent a low 25-yard shot beyond Garnham’s left- hand post before the Blues’ custodian made a tremendous reaction save to keep out Thrower.
Ben Cranfield drilled over the top under pressure from a sliding Miles Smith and the lower league outfit’s dominance continued into the second period when Cranfield had a goal disallowed and Garnham made two more tremendous saves — from Cranfield and Rhys Barber.
Between Garnham’s latest two saves, Roulston really should have had Bury back in front.
Crump parried Cunningham’s shot into the Australian teenager’s path, but he could only guide the ball against the post from eight yards out.
Roulston made amends in the 65th minute when he showed cool composure to tee up Bullard inside the six-yard box.
Wales’ stabbed shot had been saved by Crump’s feet, but the ball fell to Roulston, who deftly teed up Bullard to scramble the ball into the bottom left corner.
Rather than relinquish control for a second time, Bury knuckled down and added a third three minutes later.
Cunningham’s left-wing corner was nodded down by Roulston and Whight — a spectator until this point — smashed the ball into the net.
Whight should have added a second from the penalty spot when Felixstowe’s Daniel Davis received a second yellow card and was sent off, but instead the former Ipswich Town player’s tame effort was easily saved by Crump.
In a whirlwind passage of play that followed, Felixstowe forced two corners from which Garnham denied Rhys Barber, but the Blues broke down the right wing and Wales placed a superb 20-yard shot into the far corner of the net with the outside of his right boot.
With United’s resistance broken, Bury comfortably saw out the closing stages in possession of the ball and were left to celebrate retaining the trophy — the third time they have won it in the last four seasons.
“When we took the lead from a brilliant cross and a great header, we should have stepped on it and put the sword in,” said manager Richard Wilkins. “Felixstowe had nothing to lose and we had everything — it was always going to be a potential banana skin because there was no pressure on them whatsoever.
“Everybody thought they were going to get beaten quite well.
“We were all over the shop in midfield in the first half — we didn’t get close enough and were a little bit deep with the back four, allowing them to get in a few times.
“But the difference was the finishing, it’s as simple as that.
“Marcus has made two or three saves, but as soon as we got the second I knew we would go on and win it.
“They threw everything at us for 60 minutes, but they didn’t have a lot left in the locker after that.
“I thought we used the ball very well in the last 20 minutes and ran out comfortable winners, but it could have been a lot different.”
Chairman Russell Ward added: “Perhaps the performance was a little bit disappointing, certainly in the first half, but our class showed in the second half.”