Last-four torment for West Norfolk's Anglian Combination representatives
Anglian Combination outfits Gayton United and Heacham both suffered semi-final heartache in the Norfolk Junior Cup at the weekend.
Division Two Gayton lost 2-0 after extra-time against Sprowston Athletic at Lime Kiln Road, while Heacham endured the lottery of penalties to decide their tie with Gorleston Reserves after the game had finished 1-1 after an extra 30 minutes.
The results extinguished the dream of an all-West Norfolk final at Norwich City’s Carrow Road later in the season.
A huge crowd of 371 watched Heacham, who hit the woodwork four times, bow out of the competition against their Division Two visitors.
Gorleston Reserves shaded the first half to take an interval lead before Andrew Wood equalised for Heacham, who dominated the second period.
Joint Heacham manager Ross McNeil said: “We gave a great account of ourselves and we couldn’t have asked for any more from the players.
“We’re all bitterly disappointed as we absolutely battered them in the second half of the game.
“We’ve got to pick ourselves up and dust ourselves down quickly because we’ve got a League Cup semi-final coming up and our main aim is still to win promotion.
“It was a great day for the club and there was a fantastic crowd. We’d like to wish Gorleston Reserves all the best for the final as they are a good side.
“If we can get it right at Heacham, we know we’ve got the chance to continue the club’s progression into senior football over the next few years.”
Reflecting on Gayton United’s exit, manager Nick Malby, who has been at the helm for a number of years, said: “It is very difficult to take as we got so close.
“It wasn’t a particularly pretty game to watch, but the effort and commitment was there from both sides.
“There are four or five players who have been with the club since its days in the North West Norfolk League and I feel for them as it might have been their last chance of reaching and playing in a cup final.
“The only positive I can take out of the defeat is that I haven’t got to decide which players to leave out of the starting line-up in the final.
“We’ve still had a good season and the club have shown that Division Two of the Anglian Combination is where they belong.”
It wasn’t all doom and gloom on the cup front across the region, though, with Gayton United’s Reserve side winning their Norfolk Primary Cup last-four clash against Dussindale Rovers Reserves 3-1.
The victory sets up a repeat of last year’s final against Celt Rangers, with the final due to take place at the Bowthorpe-based Football Development Centre on Friday, March 29.