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Thetford pull off 4-2 extra-time victory in Norfolk Senior Cup semi-final against Mattishall

Thetford Town have set-up a Norfolk Senior Cup final clash at Carrow Road with Dereham Town, after overcoming lower-league Mattishall 4-2 in extra-time in Tuesday night’s semi-final.

Manager Danny White admitted his Step 5 side, who compete in the Thurlow Nunn League Premier Division, did not make things easy for themselves despite going two goals ahead within the opening five minutes at The FDC.

The Hadley & Ottaway Anglian Combination side, who sit 35 league places below Thetford, fought back hard as they found two scores – either side of half-time – to take the tie to extra-time.

MBFP-05-03-2019-005 Dream start, Thetford celebrate Valta Rocha's goal making it 2-0 after 4 minutes (7614225)
MBFP-05-03-2019-005 Dream start, Thetford celebrate Valta Rocha's goal making it 2-0 after 4 minutes (7614225)

But they were ultimately undone in this added period of play, with the fixture settled ahead of going to spot kicks, as Thetford re-found their clinical touch in the final third.

White said: “I’m absolutely over the moon that we’re through to the final. It’s a brilliant achievement.

“You look at the club a few year’s ago and they were fighting relegation but, in the last three years, we have finished seventh, made a League Cup final and now a Norfolk Senior Cup final, that really gives the club something to shout about.

“It has been a tough season in the league but we have a good squad here and if we have everyone available, then we’re a match for anyone – I’ve said that all along.”

They will travel to Championship side Norwich City’s ground for the clash with Step 4’s Dereham on Tuesday, April 30 (7.30pm).

Their Bostik League North opposition are currently caught up in a league relegation battle and could find themselves demoted to the same league from next season.

White said: “I’m absolutely buzzing about facing Dereham Town in the final. I’ve watched them a few times this year, I know a lot about them and it should be a good game.

“It’s two good footballing sides – we can’t wait. Plus we’re not so far apart in terms of league or quality.

“But, for me, the main thing was getting there. Now that we have reached that final, it’s about the lads going out and enjoying it.”

Thetford got off to the perfect start with Elliot Smith heading in from a corner after two minutes before Valter Rocha doubled the lead two minutes later with a calm finish from inside the area.

But Mattishall kept pushing forward, earning a penalty decision – duly converted – in the 24th minute, to keep their hopes alive into half-time. Thetford had the majority of chances, particularly as the second half wore on, and yet it was Mattishall who found an equaliser.

Declan McAvoy scored both of his team’s goals, with his second in the 62nd minute to bring it all square with less than 30 minutes to go.

Thetford replaced Nathan Clarke for Carlos Rocha as they pushed forward but could m find a winner as the game went to extra-time.

The first 15 minutes left an impression that penalties were the inevitable conclusion, but Bradley Sandell quickly changed the game shortly after the start of the second period with his goal.

Quevin Castro then scored with a powerful strike on the edge of the area giving the Mattishall keeper no chance as Thetford threatened to blast open the floodgates. But the 4-2 score proved enough to see the higher-league team through to the final.

White said: “On chances, we created a lot more and didn’t put it in the back of the net, it shows that if you don’t take your chances, it doesn’t matter how much possession or territory you have.

“They have done really well tonight and they’re a credit to their league. They were excellent and put us to the sword taking us to extra-time.

“I was disappointed with our lads, especially after such a good start, though. We should have put that game to bed sooner.

“We created a lot of chances, the way we have been all season, but we haven’t really had anyone to put the ball in the back of the net as such.

“We’ve been struggling with converting our chances of late and that game was an example.

“We can’t rely on only one or two players to score for us.”

Thetford: Viner, Bond, Bailey, Clarke, Carver, Sandell, Smith (c), V. Rocha, Priddle, Hutt, Morton. Substitutes: Castro, C. Rocha, Piggott, Humphrey

Attendance: 255

Free Press Man of the Match: Smith – kept disrupting Mattishall’s attacking play while continually pushing forward.

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