Gorleston reach cup final after battle

Gorleston 1, Whitton United 0

Gorleston progressed to the final of the First Division Knockout Cup with a hard-fought victory.

Elliot Pride returned to keep goal and Danny Mitchell was given a start, in place of Bradley Hough. Reece Hunn replaced Chris Sandford.

The quality of the Gorleston squad was emphasised by the strength of the bench with recent signings Richard Woodrow and Ally McKenna sitting on it alongside Hough and this season’s top scorer so far, Mitch Forbes.

The Greens began with the strong wind in their favour but it was Whitton who created the first chance, the ball falling for Jamie Clark to bear down on goal but Pride was quick off his line to smother the danger.

Having scored eleven goals in their previous two games it was perhaps no surprise Whitton began on the front foot and held the upper hand in the opening exchanges, but Gorleston soon grabbed a hold in the game.

The Greens had a couple of corners and then a flowing move on the left created an opportunity for Gary Williams, who caught his shot well, but the ball went wide of the post.

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Pride was then in perfect position to hold a powerful Robbie Knott header from a corner, before a superb run by Hunn on the right saw him cut inside and hit a shot Whitton keeper Darren Moyse could only fumble into the path of Mitchell, who seemed certain to score but Moyse made amends with a reaction save, diverting the ball for a corner.

Whitton seemed intent on breaking up the Greens flow with a number of niggly challenges and the yellow cards flowed more regularly than goal scoring opportunities and the half ended goalless.

The second half began in similar fashion to the first with Whitton pressing but then manager Richard Daniels introduced new signing McKenna and, within eight minutes, Gorleston had taken the lead.

Kyle Howell did superbly on the right touchline, winning the ball and holding off the challenge of Marcus Josiah. He hit a dangerous cross which was only half cleared. The ball landed nicely for McKenna who smacked the ball into the goal with aplomb.

Whitton responded with some pressure but without threatening Pride in the Gorleston goal. Darren Cockrill was winning most aeriel tussles and what he missed was cleaned up nicely by Eddie Thompson and Adam Thurtle.

In the 74th minute the referee awarded Whitton a free-kick and waved a yellow card at Tom Daniels, which will now give him a suspension. From the free kick the ball was knocked back to Neil Shade but he blazed over the bar. Three minutes later Kevin Inglis was allowed to shoot but it was straight at Pride as Gorleston began to sit deep. Then it was Gorleston’s turn to create some chances.

A Howell cross was tucked back by McKenna to Cockrill who prodded wide from the edge of the box.

Then a good through-ball set Mitchell in but he shot tamely at the keeper. A minute later a deep cross found Mitchell’s head but he was stretching and could not direct it on target.

Six minutes from time Darcy De’ath had a free header from a corner but put it just over and then, in the 90th minute, an acrobatic overhead effort from Ronaldo Wright looked destined for the top corner but Pride, diving at full stretch, managed to tip it round the post.

Gorleston had to dig in for almost five minutes of injury time to repel all Whitton had to offer, and will now face Thetford in the final.