THURLOW NUNN LEAGUE FIRST DIVISION KNOCKOUT CUP FINAL: Haverhill Borough 5 Stowmarket Town 0
Haverhill Borough ran riot against Stowmarket Town at Mildehall Town FC on Friday evening, scoring five unanswered goals on their way to lifting their first ever trophy.
They carried a 3-0 lead going into the break via strikes from Craig Pruden, Scott Lodge and Jon Milne, while Pruden added his second after the break and Matt Staines completed the rout with a fifth in injury-time.
But Stowmarket can count themselves desperately unlucky to be on the wrong end of a score that did reflect either the chances they created or the balance of the game itself, with Borough goalkeeper Charlie Turner making a series of excellent saves.
It was Borough who got off to the better start with Craig Pruden opening the scoring inside the opening 10 minutes as he intercepted a pass from Ashley Holmes before beating Stowmarket goalkeeper Dan Joyce.
Haverhill’s Ryan Swallow was then unfortunate to see his free-kick hit the outside of the post from the edge of the box, but Scott Lodge made amends as his audacious long-range effort found the top corner of the Stowmarket goal which meant Borough had doubled their lead just three minutes after going in front.
Stowmarket then showed glimpses of the form that had seen them overcome Halstead, Ely and King’s Lynn en-route to the final, as Mical Moore first produced an outstanding save from Charlie Turner in the Haverhill goal, before Borough defender Rory Bone headed off the line from James Graham’s effort from the resulting corner.
Borough always looked a threat going forwards though, and scored their third just after half an hour of play as Bone’s cross from the left-hand side was met by Jon Milne’s looping header that found the top corner of Joyce’s net.
Stowmarket were down, but not out, and Remell Davis looked certain to score as he broke one-on-one with Turner, but again the Haverhill goalkeeper made a fantastic save to preserve his side’s three goal lead going into half-time.
Haverhill centre-back Cameron Watson blocked Davis’ shot immediately after the interval, before Borough broke again, and Craig Pruden’s half volley rolled agonisingly beyond Joyce to further extend Borough’s lead.
Turner was again called into action soon after, and completed a third superb save, denying Stowmarket captain Matt Dixon from close range when he looked certain to score.
Just after the hour mark, Stowmarket’s Baden Holmes saw his header cleared off the line, but Borough’s threat on the counter never diminished, with Ryan Swallow’s effort blocked by Ashley Holmes before an intricate Aaron Forshaw pass found Matt Staines, who was unable to beat goalkeeper Joyce.
Borough were not to be denied a fifth, however, as Staines poked the ball home at the back post in the second minute of injury time, the last decisive action of a game in which the final score did not reflect fully the balance of play.
But the night belonged to Martin Wescott’s Borough side, who captured their first trophy in their five years of existence in fine style.
BOROUGH: Turner, Halls, Bone, Watson, Geoghegan, Lodge (Thomas 71), Pruden, Milne (O’Connor 83), Swallow (Forshaw 63), Staines, Craig.
Subs: Forshaw, O’Connor, Thomas, Choat, Westcott.
Haverhill Man of The Match: Jon Milne.
STOWMARKET: Joyce, B. Holmes, Pleasance, A. Holmes, Cuddy, Graham, Davis, Moore, Mead, Dixon, Proctor.
Subs: Seccombe (Graham 52), Hewitt, Folkes, Rampley (Proctor 71), Walker.
Stowmarket Man of the Match: Remell Davis.
* For reaction from both managers, see Thursday’s Haverhill Echo and Friday’s Bury Free Press print editions.