Penalty heartache for Thetford Town

Gorleston 3, Thetford Town 1

AN incredible double penalty miss deep into extra time by striker Matt Blake saw Thetford miss out on cup glory last Friday.

Trailing 2-1 to Gorleston, the Brecklanders were given a golden chance to force a penalty shoot-out in the Ridgeons League First Division Cup final at Diss when they were awarded their second penalty of the game three minutes into the second half of extra time.

Blake fired his spot-kick straight at Greens goalkeeper Elliott Pride. But Gorleston cheers were extinguished when referee Carl Pearse ordered a re-take.

This time Blake pulled his shot wide of the target and salt was rubbed into Thetford’s wounds in the last minute when substitute Bradley Hough added a third for the title favourites.

Thetford had made a dream start with the early goal wanted by manager Mark Scott. Only 33 seconds had elapsed when Matt Dixon was bundled over in the penalty area. He regained his feet to convert the penalty kick.

That was the first goal conceded by Gorleston in the competition and it was almost two after 15 minutes when Blake headed Liam Bolton’s deep cross back into the six-yard box but Dixon’s attempt to power a header into the net was mistimed and the ball looped into Pride’s arms.

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The Greens came close to finding a way back when Steve Taylor’s corner was flicked goalwards by Thomas Daniels but Town keeper Mark Bowden flicked out an arm to divert the ball for another corner.

Pride pulled off a superb diving save to keep out Blake after 28 minutes while Gorleston came close to an equaliser just before half-time when Ali McKenna’s close-range header hit a defender on the line and was cleared.

Gorleston dominated the opening stages of the second half but had to wait until the 61st minute to equalise.

Winger Steve Taylor squeezed a cross in from a seemingly impossible angle and man of the match Chris Sandford fired in from the oppsite side of the goal.

Despite both sides going close, it was not until the second minute of extra-time that another goal came, this time Ali McKenna held off the challenge of two defenders and appeals for handball to fire into the net.