Underdogs Downham win Norfolk Senior Cup

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Downham Town 4 Gorleston 2Fletcher Toll was the hat-trick hero as underdogs Downham Town lifted the Norfolk Senior Cup.Toll was in ominous form in front of goal as Downham ended a 58-year gap since their last Senior Cup to end Gorleston Town’s grip on the trophy.It was a momentous night for the Memorial Field outfit at Carrow Road – a week after their slender Thurlow Nunn Challenge Cup defeat at the hands of Harlow Town. The prolific Toll opened the scoring 13 minutes before the break and, although George Keys replied early in the second half, two more goals for the in-form frontman and another from Joe Jackson staved off a late fightback from the Greens.Downham came into the final winless in their last five league games while the higher-league Greens had tasted victory in three of their last five outings.Both sides had a splattering of ex-King’s Lynn Town players in their line-ups with Gorleston having at least six with midfielder Craig Parker perhaps the best-known having played 94 times in a Lynn shirt. Despite being clear underdogs going into the game, Downham – conquerors of Wroxham in the quarter-finals – showed no signs of nerves on their big night.After nine minutes, Gorleston was the first to threaten as Jacek Zielonka picked out Henry Pollock whose effort came back off the post. The Downham response was almost immediate with their first attack of the final a minute later.Jake Miller won the ball in his half before threading the ball through to Toll, who was desperately unlucky with an effort from 30 yards out after spotting Gorleston goalkeeper Jake Jessup well off his line. Former Linnet Zielonka’s effort was just wide of the target midway through the half and Downham broke straight upfield to win a free-kick, which Toll headed over the woodwork.Toll was running Gorleston ragged with some of his approach play and it was he who fired Downham in front in the 32nd minute following a flowing move down the right involving Eoin McQuaid and Jackson. Downham goalkeeper Duncan McAnally was at full stretch to keep out an effort from Ismael Fatadjo while Luke Johnson’s long-range effort fizzed past the post on the stroke of half-time.The Greens were back on level terms four minutes after the restart as Keys applied the finest of touches to Zielonka’s free-kick from the right. But their joy was short-lived when Downham regained the lead shortly after Jake Miller’s long-range effort struck Toll and wrong-foot Jessup between the Gorleston posts. The Thurlow Nunn Premier Division side were in dreamland as they extended their advantage three minutes later.Magic Smalls did all the hard work down the right and McQuaid spotted the run of Jackson into the box and the frontman drilled home a third.Gorleston’s night went from bad to worse 20 minutes into the second period when Joe Jefford was shown a straight red card for body-checking Toll with the striker bearing down on goal.Toll – hungry for a hat-trick – forced Jessop into a save at point-blank range as Downham remained largely in command.Christy Finch reduced the arrears with three minutes left on the clock but Downham’s Luke Reed was brought down in the box in injury time and Toll tucked away the spot-kick to complete his treble.The win was also a fitting end to Craig Dickson’s stint as joint manager with him stepping down after five-and-a-half years in the dugout alongside Dale Stokes at the Memorial Field.Downham Town: McAnally, Miller, Bird, Watts-Sturrock, Castellan, Smalls, Franks (Reed 60), Toll, McQuaid, Jackson (White 77, Prudence 83). Subs not used: Oughton, Gould, Bird.Gorleston: Jessup, Johnson, Ingram (Hall 78), Frary, Jefford, Johnson, Fatadjo, Keys, Pollock (Finch 59), Zielonka (Matthews 77), Parker. Subs not used: Tann, Ashman.Attendance: 715

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