The sun set on the Keepmoat Stadium – and on the NCEL season – last night, as Craig Denton’s all-conquering Worksop Town beat brave Liversedge 3-1 to lift the NCEL League Cup for the first time in their history and set the seal on a twenty-second consecutive win of the season; the scoreline, however, belies a terrific performance from Jonathan Rimmington’s players, who, on another day might have been taking the trophy back to the Clayborn Ground.
An outstanding crowd of 1075 provided a worthy backdrop to the NCEL’s showpiece final, so in our last match review of the 2018/9 season, Editor Craig Kendall caught up with both Managers after the game, and in interviews sumptuously transcribed by Ellie Dalglish, captured their reactions to a hugely entertaining contest, writes Colin Muncie. Liversedge settled the quicker, and would have been disappointed not to be in front at the break, with Emile Sinclair and Alfie Raw going so close; instead though, and from a 43rd-minute free kick on the left hand edge of Sedge’s penalty area, Steven Woolley curled a free kick over the wall which beat the unsighted Liversedge ‘keeper Ed Wilzinski down by his right-hand post to send the Tigers into the break a goal up.
The second half followed a similar pattern to the first, with Tigers’ skipper Danny Patterson and Sedge’s striker Joe Walton never far from the referee’s attention as they put heart, soul, and a few other body parts into the contest. It seemed inevitable that Liversedge would get back on level terms, with Rhys Davies, Walton, Raw and Sinclair always dangerous; but, again, it was Woolley who struck, curling in a wonderful right-footed free kick from a similar position to his first just before the hour, leaving Wilzinski clutching at thin air.
The referee, Anthony Tankard stepped into counsel the Walton/Patterson mutual admiration society in the celebrations, with Wilzinski seeing yellow. Game over, eh? Not likely, and suddenly Liversedge repeatedly found a way over the top to send their strike force in on goal; and from just such a move, Walton deftly cut back onto his left foot to finish expertly past David Reay just a minute later to put the boys from Cleckheaton firmly back in the game. Liversedge were pressing, but the game had opened up significantly, and with ten minutes left, and on the counter, Ross Goodwin pounced on the ball inside the eighteen-yard box to send his shot spinning home off Wilzinski’s left hand. Liversedge pushed to get back in the game, but at the end of five additional minutes, Worksop had completed a fine double with a 3-1 win and Liversedge had gained many more admirers.
Our Editor caught up with winning Manager, Worksop’s Craig Denton after the game, and started by asking him about twenty-two straight wins and an NCEL League Cup Double.
“I’m absolutely delighted that we’ve finished off the season on such a high,” Craig told us. “The latter part of the season has been a fantastic thrill with that great run and winning the League but to top it off, and to win the trophy at the Keepmoat in our League Cup is fantastic.”
TBG: There were over a thousand fans there, mostly Worksop Town fans. You must also be delighted for all of their support and for the fans as well.
CD: It’s magical to see such a vast amount of Worksop Town supporters come and cheer the lads on as they did. I’ve banged on about it all season, that this football club is built on the foundations of the supporters: it’s the supporters who hold this football club together. They come and support, home and away, and they really have spurred the lads on – with vast amounts of noise yesterday! It was just nice to win the game. We turned up yesterday and our aim was to win the game and to keep that win going as long as we can for the supporters, players, family and friends etc. Absolutely terrific for the supporters but it’s a great experience for the players and myself, the management team and the staff.
TBG: It was a tetchy opening thirty minutes or so. Not too many real chances, then you had a period of possession, got the break and scored. Liversedge brought the game to you, to be fair, and I thought they played well. They showcased themselves quite well and they’ve got that aggressive touch too. Just what a Northern Counties League Cup Final should be like.
CD: Absolutely. I thought Liversedge in the first thirty minutes were the better side. They had a couple of chances more than us. I’ve banged on about it all season, but we just find a way to win and that little bit of quality. We’ve seen that during the season from the players or we grind that result out and get a win some other way. If we have to change how we play and if we want to be a little bit more direct, we can. If we keep hold of it for short periods of time, then we’ll keep hold of the ball. I just thought that last ten minutes of the first half we got a couple of chances and we scored from a free kick, which brings us in at half-time. Again, we continuously talk about our standards need to a little bit better than the first half. We knew that Liversedge were going to throw everything at us, which they did. We had a couple of chances again in the second half quite early on. Then Liversedge got back into it with a goal, which was fully deserved. I thought we went a little bit sloppy and it was a good head to head clash between two sets of strong, determined players.
TBG: ‘Sedges keeper probably should have done better for the first goal, but the second, however, was an absolutely superb free kick that no ‘keeper in the world is going to stop!
CD: The first one for us, we get a little bit of luck. I think the ‘keeper can do better but their ‘keepers pulled off a couple of good saves as well during the game. When you know the ‘keeper might make that slight mistake, it ends up with a goal, which I think it did: but the second free kick is class. We then get our third goal on the counter attack and Ross Goodwin pokes it in and over the line. That gave us a bit of breathing space when that third goal went in. We know when it’s 2-1 it’s the old cliché that the next goal’s the decider, the big goal. We had to deal with lots of their play. Our centre halves had to deal with Walton, who’s a strong figure as a centre forward. Regards to Rimmo, who made it a really difficult day.
They had individuals such as Rhys Davies, who’s great in wide areas. We had to deal with a lot of what they’ve thrown at us but we saw it over the line and picked the trophy up at the end of the day.
It was a disappointing end to a great Cup run for Liversedge, but their colourful Manager, Jon Rimmington, felt that his players deserved better on the night.
TBG Editor Craig Kendall suggested that his side’s performance wasn’t reflected by the 3-1 scoreline.
JR: Jonathan felt that his players were hard done by. “We played them at Christmas and I thought we were better than them – they got a penalty in the second half – and I thought last night we were better than them,” Jonathan insisted. “Over the ninety minutes they’ve won the game. They’ve scored one great free kick.”
“I thought we were the dominant party in the first 35-40 minutes then they got a free kick on the edge of our box, which was a little bit dubious. I was screaming for them to get out of the six-yard box – our team – and the ‘keeper let them drop and drop and drop and I think he just wasn’t concentrating enough. That shouldn’t have happened, I don’t think. Should we have gone in at 0-0? I think we should have been two up! We hit the post. The ‘keepers made a great save, I’ll be honest.”
“I never thought they were going to cut us open through all the game really. I know we started chasing the game late on and they had a few little skirmishes around the edge of our box but we were that set in and that rugged. They couldn’t cope with Joe Walton! They just couldn’t cope with him!”
“I’m just disappointed really that we didn’t bring it home because I thought we deserved it. I do, honestly! They’ve come away with a win and they know they’ve probably been second best for 60% of the game.”
TBG: Obviously it’s a disappointing end to the season for you but you must look at the positives that you’ve managed to get to the League Cup Final and ended the season at a football league ground with over a thousand people there. You’ve certainly showcased the club very well.
JR: The experience for our players last night! Even when we were coming home on the coach they were still smiling. Yes, they were gutted to lose but I have to say what a fantastic stadium the Keepmoat is. It’s well-kept, everybody was friendly, there was no “You can’t do this! You can’t do that!” It was brilliant, to be honest. I thought Doncaster Rovers treated everybody amazingly well. It was just a fine end to a decent season for us but we keep saying it, don’t we? We’ve got the ability to go and beat top teams then let ourselves down the next week. We’ve got to address that. We’ve got to play like that, like we did last night, even though we lost. We’ve got to take that into every three points. That’s our Cup Final every week but doing that every week is a big ask for some of these lads. Last night they ran their socks off and they were gutted to lose, honestly. I have to say thank you to the NCEL for going there; it’s a great place. It’s a great place to play football.”
The Bootiful Game would like to thank Worksop Town FC, Craig Denton, Liversedge FC and Jonathan Rimmington for their brilliant contributions to our on-line magazine.
Hopefully we’ll see all of our wonderful readers on the other side…have a great summer.