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League Cup Semi-Final Match Report

LONG MELFORD 4 - 3 BENFLEET

LEAGUE CUP SEMI-FINAL - WED 20 MARCH - Att: 106

For a video interview with manager Jamie Bradbury + video of the winning goal and action photos, head over to the Suffolk Free Press website  CLICK HERE

When 46 clubs entered the Thurlow Nunn League Challenge Cup at the start of the season, you'd have got very long odds on Long Melford and Fakenham Town being the finalists in May. 

But the two sides are there on merit having knocked out some very tough opponents on the way to the Final, which takes place on Bank Holiday Monday 6th May, 3pm kick off at Diss Town.

Tonight's semi-final was an entertaining contest that swung back and forth until Melford's Will Wingfield scored the decisive goal deep in stoppage time.

Melford started well and had the early pressure but it was Benfleet who went ahead against the run of play, just after the 10-minute mark.

In their first attack Benfleet worked the ball down the Melford right to MASON SHAVE who hit an excellent strike into the top corner, giving Michael Bett in the Melford goal no chance.

Melford were soon back on level terms when Ross Waugh had his shot saved and EMMANUEL MACHAYA pounced on the rebound.

Although Benfleet play in a lower division than Melford, they had won four matches to get to the semi-finals scoring 12 goals in the process, so they were always going to be dangerous opponents and they started to really grow into the game with confidence.

After Sam Dulieu hit the bar with a long range strike, Benfleet regained the lead in the 25th minute.

There was a tangle in the Melford penalty area and the referee Mr Tom Hancock had no hesitation in pointing to the spot. Up stepped GEORGE UNWIN to put away the penalty.

Melford then had a big let off when Benfleet's top scorer Ben Foord was through on goal. Melford keeper Michael Bett came off his line and got his side out of trouble, denying Benfleet a third goal that may well have killed the tie.

In the second half Melford started brightly and found an equaliser in the 53rd minute. A nice passing move played in ROSS WAUGH who showed good composure to calmly slot the ball past Benfleet keeper Flor Gislette.

On the hour mark Melford went ahead for the first time, when a good pass by Jacob Brown played in PABLO CHAVES down the left and his angled shot went into the net via a Benfleet defender.

Melford were playing well at this stage but then momentum started to swing Benfleet's way. An equaliser had looked on the cards for a while and eventually it came when GEORGE UNWIN scored in the 80th minute.

Then with a penalty shootout approaching, Melford won the cup tie in the fourth minute of added time.

A free-kick into the box was met with a diving header by WILL WINGFIELD to send Melford through to a first-ever League Cup Final.

It was harsh on Benfleet, but a nice moment for the Melford players and supporters who haven't had a lot to celebrate recently. 

Melford have this weekend off, then the relegation battle continues on Saturday 30th March at home to Godmanchester. 

But for now Melford can enjoy tonight's win. Reaching a Cup Final is a good achievement at any level of football and something for the club to look forward to in May. AC

LONG MELFORD: Michael Bett, Scott Sloots, Will Wingfield, Ross Waugh, Steve Adams, Anthony Waugh, Hassan Ally, Jacob Brown, Emmanuel Machaya, Nathan Rowe, Pablo Chaves

Subs used: Sam Bayliss, Andy Fisher  

not used: Josh Collins, Dan Smith, Stefan Robson (gk)

Att: 106

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