And so the Final of this year’s NCEL League Cup , to be held at Doncaster Rovers’ Keepmoat Stadium on Monday 13th May will be between NCEL Premier Division Champions, Worksop Town , and Liversedge, who missed out on a final place last season on a technicality. Worksop overcame Hemsworth Miners Welfare 2-0 in a thrilling encounter at the Distant Futures Stadium, and Liversedge edged past brave Division One Swallownest by the only goal at the Clayborn Ground-and the Bootiful Game wraps up the action form the two semis, writes Colin Muncie.
TBG joined the 141 crowd in Cleckheaton, where a fair number who had travelled from Rotherham Road saw their side take the game to their Premier Division hosts. Ollie Grady drew a fingertip save low down to ‘Sedge keeper Ed Wilzinski’s left before drawing another, more routine, ssave from distance. Grady was involved again, setting up Alex Nightingale whose left foot shot cleared the crossbar before shooting just over from the edge of the box. The home side gradually established a foothold in the game, and Joe Walton emphasised the danger with a powerful header from a corner which was brilliantly saved by Josh Lill, with the rebound fired over. Liversedge capitalised on a good spell of pressure with the opening goal six minutes before the break. Danny Farrar picked up a bouncing ball on the right hand size of the box, and looped a clever finish over Lill’s despairing fingertips to send the home side in one up at the break.
The second half started with both sides threatening; Farrar fired over early on for Jon Rimmington’s men, and Josh Statham saw his header claimed by Wilzinski. The visitors pushed for an equaliser, but Sedge’s defence, brilliantly marshalled by Jayden Armstrong and Tom Brook, missed virtually nothing in the air. Nightingale went close again, twice, and Alex Lill tested the keeper, before Luke Beedham’s left foot half volley struck the base of the beaten keepers’ left hand post. Grady went close with a half volley , and although Liversedge had good chances to kill the tie off on the break, Walton went close and Josh Lill made two outstanding stops to keep the visitors in it. A barrage of long throws gave one last chance to Alex Lill, but Wilzinski held on to book Liversedge’s trip to Doncaster after a hard-fought semi final and earn Jordan Stocks and his players deserved plaudits at the end.
A word of praise for last night’s referee, Mark Reeves, who tried to keep the game flowing and didn’t stand for much nonsense.
Liversedge’s Manager, Jon Rimmington, told TBG that he was glad to be in the Final.”It
was a tough game! They came all guns blazing, those boys” Jon admitted.”They didn’t really create many chances but they had a lot of possession. We had the clearer chances. Joe Walton had a bad back last night, and Tom Jackson my captain, was also missing Our left back was 16, one of our centre backs was 18 and our right back was 17”.
“We did alright” Jon agreed “We just had to get through really, that’s all. They put us under a lot of pressure. They hit the post with about ten minutes to go but we should have been home before then, with the chances we had in the second half. They put us under a lot of pressure in the last fifteen minutes; they got bodies forward and pinged balls into our box.
Reflecting on his side’s League run- in , Jon insisted that it had been “ really good, apart the from two games: at Barton where we got our Captain sent off on seven minutes ,and we had a player sent off at Eccleshill when we were winning 1-0. We lost both games but they’re the only games probably we lost in the last ten -so we’re doing something right.”
“Defensively we’ve got a bit tighter” he acknowledged “I know at Barton we got beat 4-0 but we thought we’d scored before then; we’d had a goal disallowed, our captain gets sent off on seven minutes and on that day it was red hot at Barton. We just had to sit in and defend. Eventually they were going to score and they scored two quite quickly in twenty minutes; then we didn’t concede until about eighty: a long-range shot and the ‘keeper spilled one in the last minute, which they scored from. We did alright at Barton and we did alright at Eccleshill. I thought we never looked in any danger at Eccleshill until we got a man sent off. I thought it was a yellow card there! “
Jon is positive that his players can be more than a match for Worksop Town in the Final. “Yes, I think we’ll give Worksop a game” he insisted “If we get our team out we’ll give anybody a game! You know what we’re like; we’ve had an up and down season because we’ve used too many players again. You’ve got to use 25-30 players, that’s it”.
“We don’t. Lads going away, do you know what I mean? It’s hard”.
Speaking on Twitter, Swallownest manager Jordan Stocks said “We were brilliant. I’m a proud gaffer but I’m gutted”.
Swallownest Assistant Manager Joel Evans felt that his players had given everything on the night, and allowed himself a quick look ahead to next term. “Looking back, it’s been a great season to be involved in” Joel admitted “Ties like tonight make it worth it. Obviously I’m absolutely gutted about tonight and the result, but I couldn’t have asked for any more from the boys. They dug in right to the end and that’s what pleasing for me to see.
“We now have a break to regroup, refresh and hopefully progress even further next year” Joel told us “Hopefully we can stay together as a group, but for obvious reasons out of our control, some lads will leave so new ones will have to step in.
“Thanks again to you at the Bootiful Game for the fantastic news reports- and to all Managers, Assistants, and Coaches who also deserve a break”
Meanwhile, over in Fitzwilliam, Worksop Town were extending their regular season to a week on Monday with a 2-0 win in a thriller at ten-man Hemsworth Miners Welfare in front of a bumper crowd of 299. The Tigers were a goal up at the break thanks to Craig Mitchell’s goal midway through the first period, and Matthew Sykes sealed the final place with his 32nd goal of a superb campaign.
Talking to the Tigers Website, Worksop manager Craig Denton admitted that it had been every bit as tough a challenge as he had expected –and he had kind words for the hosts. “First of all, I just want to say a huge thank you to Hemsworth for their hospitality and their guard of honour: a big thank you for that” he said. “We certainly knew it was going to be a really tough game tonight; you know, Hemsworth for me are a really well-drilled side and they make it extremely difficult for you”.
Craig was pleased with his side, which featured a few new-ish faces on the night “As you would have seen in the line-up, we had to make a few little changes” he noted.” Dave and Matt Reay are away on holiday and Wardy and Hilly were cup-tied, so we brought three Under-19s into the sixteen”.
Reflecting on the pattern of the game, Craig told us “I thought we started quite brightly, to be honest; we were on the front foot and got ourselves a 1-0 lead. I think our centre halves have been absolutely fantastic tonight. Wankiewicz was just outstanding. I thought Pendle was fantastic as well. Do you know what? Everyone was- but I just thought Vanks really stood out for me. Ben Townsend’s not played a single game of football this year and he steps in and keeps a clean sheet. He’s been awesome. His kicking was absolutely fantastic. He stood in some big shoes instead of Dave Reay; but I’m delighted that we came away with a 2-0 win”.
Asked about completing their season on a professional pitch in a professional stadium, the Tigers boss was unequivocal “Yes, it’s great” he nodded “You know, we’re looking forward to that. We can now look forward to it now we’ve won this evening. But the quality, the strength and the depth of our squad is fantastic and that’s testament to our recruitment. I think our recruitment has shone through; it’s been quality. Lads have been able to step in other people’s shoes and we were able to bring in the under -19’s too Aiden Spowage has done fantastic with the 19s. They’ve been great and it’s been brilliant for us to be able to drip-feed those players into the first team. That’s testament to the football club and the working relationship between me and Spow and the 19s.
“We’re delighted we can go to the Keepmoat; the supporters will come and back us, and hopefully we’ll have a fantastic day in the Final”.
Wells Manager Wayne Benn was disappointed to lose but delighted by the way his team had taken the game to the Champions. “I couldn’t be prouder of the lads performance last night despite the defeat “he told us. “We played very well, particularly in the first half and if we take our chances in the first half alone it would have been a totally different story. We had three or four great chances in the first half, and more in the second;, we hit the post twice and had two efforts cleared off the line; and you just know when you don’t take these chances it will come back to bite you, especially against the better teams”.
Wayne believes the game changed when his side saw red in the first half. “The goal we conceded in the first half was an individual error that you just can’t legislate for from a lad who has been superb for us all season, but even with that set back we were the better team at that point ,I felt” Wayne insisted. “Then the complexion of the game is completely changed by an awful decision from the referee, who in fairness was really poor all night and clearly the game was too big for him. Both benches agreed it wasn’t a sending off and it’s just so frustrating for a game of that magnitude to be ruined as a spectacle inside thirty minutes. After that it was always going to be really tough but we continued to cause Worksop problems; our work rate was fantastic and my players really did leave everything on the pitch. I couldn’t ask anymore from anyone and when they give me that I don’t have any complaints whatever the result”.
Wayne was generous in his assessment of Craig Denton’s side. “Worksop showed why they are champions” he acknowledged. “They do the basics better than everyone else and don’t make many mistakes, and I have to say their second goal is a hell of a strike, so full credit to them. Their fantastic season continues and they deserve all the credit n the world, they have a great chance of doing the double -although I’m sure Liversedge will have something to say about that. We gave it everything last night and ultimately came up a bit short but I’m so proud of my players. They are a brilliant bunch to work with”.
“Finally if I could add my congratulations to the whole TBG team” Wayne nodded “You all do a fantastic job in raising the profile of the individual clubs and the League as a whole”.
“Your coverage really is first class and long may it continue”.
The NCEL League Cup Final takes place at the Keepmoat Stadium, Doncaster on Monday 13th May, 2019, Kick –Off 7.30 p.m.
There‘s a better than evens chance that TBG will be there.