West Wratting manager Michael Bavester was gracious in defeat, as he said Linton Granta were ‘the best team on the night and deserved winners’ of this season’s Kershaw Premier League Knockout Cup.
His comments followed the 3-0 loss of his Kershaw Premier side in the final at Newmarket Town on Tuesday night, only the third time this season the side have tasted defeat in all competitions.
Linton Granta, meanwhile, have extended their own unbeaten run to 15 games in all competitions with victory, while going through all rounds of the Kershaw Premier Cup without conceding a goal.
Bavester said: “You have to turn up to games like this and in the first 25 minutes we didn’t and we were quickly punished.
“Congratulations to Linton, they were the better side on the night and they deserved to win.
“I’m not sure if the occasion got to us or if we maybe thought all we needed to do was be there and it would happen, but they were hungrier.
“We didn’t get close enough to them, they popped the ball off really quickly and defended well.
“We found ourselves a goal down quickly and deservedly so, they came flying out of the blocks and we were always trying to up our game to them, they caught us a bit flat-footed.
“I’m not going to be too hard on them because we have been superb all season.
“But I hope the loss hurts, I hope it really hurts, that can then drive us on. We aren’t going to want to feel like this again.
“So we’re turning our attention back to the league now, we can’t let this result affect us going in to Saturday.”
The side travel to Cambridge University Press (3pm) for the first of two away league fixtures before hosting Linton Granta on April 7 (2pm).
Linton, meanwhile, are without a fixture for the next two weeks and will be able to fully enjoy their victory before targeting a repeat performance.
Boss Lee Miller said the side had worked hard on organisation in training and it showed on Tuesday evening, with a well-drilled team pushing forward from the off.
He said: “We were full of energy and we looked like we really wanted to win. We’ve trained hard and it’s coming back to us with our results.
“We put in a complete performance which was exactly what we needed to beat the best teams.
“I wish them all the best for the rest of their season, I think they will probably win the league and they have another cup final so I wish them well.”
Linton chased everything, and closed West Wratting down on the ball as they constantly put their opponents under pressure across the pitch. And they were rewarded early, as Dale Archer put his side ahead after 16 minutes.
The side worked their way forward with ease throughout the game and, although West Wratting were not without chances, Linton also defended well at the other end of the field to keep them out.
Tony Beck had a chance for West Wratting but scuffed his shot after 22 minutes before Harry Atherton narrowly missed for Linton, with the ball rebounding off the crossbar in the 24th minute.
The second goal came in the 28th minute as Archer took the ball into the box on the right before passing across the face of the goal. Ben Nower saved but Simon Greathead got a boot to it to guide it in for Linton’s second.
At 2-0 up, they were cruising, making easy work of a final against a side that had only lost twice this season — one of those losses to a Step 4 side — and are on course to take a maiden Kershaw Premier League title.
But, on the night, West Wratting were outplayed, as they struggled to get a good run of possession together to work off, and they were given no space by Linton as they went in trailing at half-time.
Half-time gave them energy and they started pushing for a goal but just six minutes in, Linton found a third against the run of play.
Andy Palmer scored to leave West Wratting a mountain to climb and, although they were much livelier in the half, could not find a goal.
Echo Man of the Match: Dale Archer — Linton Granta: He was heavily involved with the first two goals and looked the most determined