NCEFL Cup Final – Penistone Church FC 4-1 Bridlington Town AFC

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Bramall Lane, home of Sheffield United FC – capacity 32,702 – attendance this evening….. a whopping 485!

I know I mentioned it on Monday, but I really don’t get why leagues choose to play their cup final at a ground that on the night had 32,217 empty seats?! It must appeal to sponsors or something, or maybe Bramall Lane offers a good sandwich at half time, I’ll ask the Chairman next time I bump in to him!

Bridlington travelled 82.9 miles, give or take a few hundred yards with a journey near to two hours (checked at 9.30am the day after, add time on for rush hour if you wish!) and Penistone travelled 14.8 miles, which takes around 40 minutes when searched on Google at the same time…

Why on earth wasn’t a venue found that is half way between? A more ‘intimate’ venue of Selby Town or maybe even Winterton Rangers? A crowd of 485 would have fit perfectly in to one of these NCEFL member club grounds, creating an atmosphere along the way.

Right. Rant over. If I make it to the final at The Keepmoat Stadium on Friday, maybe you’ll hear about their 15,231 seat stadium… let’s count the empties!

 

Penistone Church FC. The name looks rude, we get it. When they hosted a game on the NCEL15 hop, my mate bought a PCFC shirt from them for that very reason. It didn’t fit him then, won’t fit him now, but I’m sure the £3 he paid has aided PCFC in ways that a man of my calibre couldn’t imagine.

They had a good season, finishing 6th and winning promotion through the play-off competition. They only had one player I recognised, from his Parkgate FC days, in Scott Whittington and from my very lofty position in the stand, I could see why they play with passion and belief, constantly encouraged and guided by young manager, Ian Richards.

Bridlington Town AFC. Managed by Curtis Woodhouse, you know the chap… Birmingham City, Hull City, Sheffield United… oh, and throw a bit of boxing in to his CV. Another young manager, both 37 years of age, and passionate about the club he is currently at the helm. I just hope the result tonight doesn’t change that.

 

Penistone Church FC (NCEFL Div. 1) 4-1 Bridlington Town AFC (NCEFL Premier Div.)

The difference between the two sides tonight was preparation. Penistone seemed to be ready, eager and dare I say it, fitter. Both sides played the same 4-4-2 formation but Penistone were just better, front to back.

The opening goal came from a defensive slip on 28 minutes, Whittington nipped in and nudged the ball past the ‘keeper, the ball clearly over the line before the covering defender tried to hoof clear.

The game had been fairly level so far, but if Penistone had the bite of a tiger in their play, imagine the days where your nan took her teeth out to suck a jam sandwich at lunch time… that was Bridlington. Weak decision making, indecisive and taking too much time on the ball.

Come on lads, it’s a cup final you know!

Brett Lovell added another on 41 minutes, heading home at the far post, the pressure had been on since the first goal and the giant centre back jumped highest to force it over the line. The fella in the long, pink wig with his two squeaky horns went crazy. This chap walked in to the stand two minutes before kick off, looked someone square in the face and said, “watch out, the divvy is out”, you weren’t wrong mate but I can’t fault the support – it was excellent.

With half time approaching we ambled down to the concourse to get a drink. £2.20 for a coffee, that was a weeks wages when my Dad started work…. I think. Anyway, it was nice enough. First time I’ve had filter coffee at a Football League ground. The 6 sugars made it taste acceptable anyway.

I’ve only ever climbed a mountain once. There is a reason for that. Bridlington had one heck of a challenge in the second period, first of all they needed to play for pride, but also needed to get that bag of air in to the big white thing with the net on.

Penistone didn’t take their foot off the gas. Eleven minutes in to the second half and a tidy move down the right wing saw Whittington feed Andrew Ring who turned, left his defender sprawled on the deck, and fired in to the bottom left corner. A classy goal from a forward that will cause real problems at Step Five next season.

3 goals down and still no substitutions or changes of formation from Bridlington. I’d have subbed three of the lads and tried to put on three Wickes ceramic kitchen sinks, because sooner or later they would be needed!

If the contest wasn’t over now, it certainly was on 68 minutes when Daniel Barlow took a pass under neat control on the outside edge of the penalty area and rifled a low drive across the area in to the only area of the goal the beleaguered goalkeeper couldn’t get to.

Bridlington got their consolation goal with five minutes of normal time to go, sub Jake Day took control of a pass six yards out, took a touch and then planted it in the back of the net with real venom. It very nearly wasn’t celebrated…

I feel sorry for Bridlington. They have a team that has a set style of play that obviously works, you don’t finish 3rd in the NCEFL Prem. without having a winning mentality. This will have hurt them, and I hope it doesn’t affect any preparations for next season because after the way Woodhouse has prepared his team for this campaign, I’d be expecting big things if I was the Chairman at Queensgate.

I’m ready with my diary to see when these two play each other in the league next season, it will be worth a visit.

 

Next up

Either – (Friday 19th ) Sutton Rovers v Swinton Athletic – Doncaster & District FA Cup Final – 7.30PM at Doncaster Rovers FC

OR the Sunday (21st) Fun Day at Wembley…

Cleethorpes Town v South Shields – FA Vase Final – 12.15pm & Macclesfield Town v York City – FA Trophy Final – 4.15pm

 

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