Dons double downs Swifts
Loddon United vs Castle Acre Swifts – The Norfolk Junior Cup Final
Carrow Road, 22.05.23, KO 7.45pm
Final Score: Loddon United 2 – 1 Castle Acre Swifts
DONS DOUBLE DOWNS SWIFTS
Loddon United became the 22-23 Norfolk Junior Cup winners at Carrow Road on Monday night after beating Castle Acre Swifts 2-1 despite going down to ten men.
Josh Knights opened to scoring for United in the first minute of the game, before Daniel King equalised half an hour later.
Robin Andersen received a red card just before the break which looked to put Castle Acre in control as they dominated proceedings in the second period, only for Tom Markham to put United ahead on the counter.
The Swifts failed find a second goal despite creating multiple chances and the ten men of Loddon were able to see out the game to lift the cup.
The opening goal came in the opening minute with the first meaningful attack of the match, as Loddon worked a throw in well to allow Robin Andersen to reach the by-line and cut the ball back towards the edge of the Castle Acre box. Josh Knights timed his run to perfection and connected sweetly with the ball to fire past the motionless Karl Gagen in the Swifts goal.
Aiden Howman almost equalised for Castle Acre in the 8th minute after he was played through one on one against Jack Whatmough. The forward attempted to lob the oncoming keeper however put too much on the effort and it sailed over the bar.
A mix up at the back for Loddon moments later gave the Swifts another chance to equalise, however Daniel King tried to place his shot only for it to fly straight into Whatmough’s hands. Up the other end a Josh Trett free kick was headed clear for a series of throws and then a corner which was eventually cleared by the Castle Acre defence.
As the game hit half an hour the West Norfolk side got the goal they were looking for, and again it was a chance that came from a mistake at the back.
United’s back line were caught in possession and a ricocheted tackle fell fortuitously to King who pounced on the loose ball and drove goalward. As Whatmough rushed out, the number nine calmy slotted the ball into the bottom left corner to level up the game.
Within the next minute Ben Carlton could have taken the lead for Castle Acre when a long ball toward the front post was dropped by Whatmough under pressure. The ball fell the wrong side of the Swifts man who had gone up for the header with the keeper, and the latter was gratefully able to gather.
Castle Acre began to exert more pressure, and had another chance when King floated a ball into the Loddon box from the right side and Howman came in from the left only to slice his volley over the bar.
On the stroke of half time a significant moment in the game went in favour of the away side, when Loddon’s left back, and creator of the opening goal, Robin Andersen saw red. The late, high, and two footed challenge on Ryan Scott gave Referee Ollie Sadd no choice but to send the United player for an early shower.
United survived the remaining minutes of pressure to keep the scores level at the break, and went in for the break knowing they faced an uphill battle in the second half.
Half time: Loddon United 1 – 1 Castle Acre Swifts
Castle Acre started the second period the more dominant side as Loddon opted to sit back and attempt to absorb the pressure. Some neat build up play saw Howman receive the ball just inside the area and fire over in the first real chance of the half.
Moments later it was the ten men of Loddon that took the lead when a counter-attack saw Tom Markham run on to a lofted pass. He waited for the ball to bounce across his body and delicately lobbed the on-rushing Karl Gagen to put United 2-1 up.
Straight from the kick off Swifts could have equalised when Scott was played through and made it into the area, the big forward got the bal caught under his feet however and United’s defence were able to hack the ball away. In the next minute King cut in onto his left foot an unleashed a strike that cannoned off the post, once again Scott was unable to find the right touch to send the rebound back into the goal.
Castle Acre continued to pile on the pressure and had another great chance when a lofted ball toward the edge of the area was well flicked on by Scott to King, his first-time strike was excellently stopped by the sprawling Whatmough who was out quickly to make himself big.
King came close again leading into the 60th minute, when a through ball saw him strike at the nearpost only for Whatmough to produce an excellent double save to the strike and Howman’s rebound. Curtis Head’s corner was brilliantly punched away by Whatmough and Danny Manning’s first time strike from range was well blocked by the defence.
In the following minute King was played through again, and this time rounded the keeper only to slide his shot agonisingly wide of the far post from a tight angle.
As the final five minutes approached, the game began to get scrappy with the away side becoming impatient as they searched for the goal they needed, and United content to play compact while still posing a threat on the counter. Substitute Alfie Cator looked dangerous down the left flank and Dek Ramsden rejoined the game adding some last minute energy, but the Swifts could not find the opening they needed.
The fourth official raised his board for six additional minutes and Castle Acre surged forward, with Nathan Chase having multiple deliveries thwarted by the United back line.
Loddon held firm as the time ticked by, showing good organisation and resilience to cap of a professional second half performance and become the 22-23 Norfolk Junior Cup Winners.
Final Score: Loddon United 2 – 1 Castle Acre Swifts
Loddon United: Jack Whatmough, John Riches, Robin Andersen, Jordi Forbes, Jimmy Blake, Garret Ward, Josh Trett, Elliot Hannant ©, Tom Markham, Alex Kounnas, Josh Knights.
Subs: Jason Thompson, Lewis Frost, Max Ayre, Mitch Forbes, Ben Gidney.
Castle Acre Swifts: Karl Gagen, Luis Gibbons, Curtis Head, Ash Hewitt, Ben Durrant ©, Josh Carlton, Dek Ramsden, Daniel King, Aiden Howman, Ben Carlton, Ryan Scott.
Subs: Alfie Cator, Nathan Chase, Nathan Cross, Danny Manning, Andrew Hunter.
Referee: Ollie Sadd
Assistants: Tom Rampling & Paul Gibson
Fourth Official: Auberon Limmer
Player of the Match: Josh Trett
Photography: Matt Usher