All-star Coates lift the cup after a nerve-jangling night

Coates Athletic celebrate their PFA Senior Cup Final success. Photo: David Lowndes.
Coates Athletic celebrate their PFA Senior Cup Final success. Photo: David Lowndes.
0
Have your say

Coates Athletic now have the trophy to go with the nickname.

Top Peterborough Premier Division sides Coates Athletic and Netherton United meet in the PFA Senior Cup Final.

Andy Lodge’s ‘Allstars’, as they are known on social media, collected the most prestigious piece of silverware on the biggest night of the local football season.

They claimed a nerve-jangling 5-3 penalty shoot-out triumph over fellow Peterborough & District League Premier Division big-guns Netherton in a PFA Senior Cup final laced with drama and controversy at the ABAX Stadium last night (April 27).

Coates had been behind at the end of the first period and within seconds of glory until being stung by an equaliser in the dying seconds of the second period, but they eventually prevailed from the spot with goalkeeper Lewis Moat, who saved a penalty and scored one, taking centre-stage at the end of a night full of talking points.

Not least two highly controversial goals, a controversial penalty in the shoot-out and an even more controversial man-of-the-match award (even the recipient Joe Butterworth, who limped off after an hour, would agree with that).

But it ended with Lodge in possession of what he had no hesitation in billing the most satisfying piece of silverware he has ever won. That’s quite a boast from a man who won the Conference title during a fine playing career.

Lodge said: “We were not at it in the first half. We just didn’t perform and that might have been down to the big stage. We were much better in the second half and we thought we had the game won only for Netherton to score so late.

“People might not agree with a match like this going straight to penalties, but I was pretty happy about it because I knew ‘Moaty’ could win it for us.

“I’ve won leagues and cups during my playing career, but this one means more because it is with a squad I have built. It is my hometown club and we have a dressing room full of friends who go out there and fight for each other.”

There was little to report until Netherton hit the front on the half-hour as Tom Randall struck following a corner awarded by referee Craig Hardy from some distance behind the play. It’s safe to say most of those inside the ABAX Stadium felt sure it was a goal-kick.

Only a fine Moat save denied Harry Fitzjohn a second for the city lads before the break and that could certainly be classed as a key moment in the contest.

Coates were a different beast after the break and hit the front courtesy of two goals in the space of seven minutes after Netherton had been rocked by the loss of Fitzjohn to injury.

Big Matt Heron, who had been the target of regular aerial balls thoughout the opening period, received service into his path on the deck and delivered the perfect cross for Liam Harrold to rifle home an equaliser.

And ‘goal-King’ Harrold was soon at it again when clipping in his second with the aid of a kind bounce off the underside of the bar. The officials were adamant the ball had crossed the line – the opposition less so - but the veteran frontman cared little as he summoned Bolt-like speed for some exuberant celebrations.

They had hardly died down as Netherton levelled within 90 seconds. Dwayne Rankin darted clear, was upended by the diving Moat and still had the composure to slot the ball home despite being left on his backside on the turf. He probably spared the goalkeeper a red card in the process.

It was then Coates’ turn to come up with an impressive response as midfielder Adam Piergianni – a player more Matic than Hazard – produced a high-class finish from 20 yards.

And that looked set to be a worthy winning goal until Netherton were rewarded for plenty of late pressure with a last-gasp leveller in stoppage time as substitute Lee Clementson drilled a precise finish through a crowded penalty area.

Few would have complained at the prospect of another half-an-hour of action and it was a spectacle that deserved not to be settled from the penalty spot.

But such are the rules of PFA competitions that the trophy would be won from 12 yards and Coates quickly gained an advantage. Jamie Darlow buried their first penalty before Moat kept out Fraser Sturgess.

Heron then did his bit before Steve Mastin slammed Netherton’s second spot-kick against the bar to spark confusion.

The fact he turned away with his head in his hands was a hint that it probably didn’t cross the line, but the officials felt otherwise and ruled it would stand.

It did little to upset Coates’ flow with goalkeeper Moat turning goalscorer with probably the most venomous penalty ever seen and Chris Beeby striking against his old club.

Jake Sansby and Rankin kept Netherton in the hunt, but Coates were not about to fluff their lines and captain Jake Pell coolly tucked away the decisive kick before lifting the trophy.

Netherton boss Jon Harrison was left to reflect on a second final defeat for Netherton in the space of four seasons.

“It is a sickening way to lose a cup final,” said Harrison. “But the players will learn from the experience and come back stronger.

“I’m gutted for the boys, but not at all disappointed in how they played because they gave everything they have.

“Our season is far from over. We have the President’s Premier Shield final to come and we desperately want to defend that trophy.”

Teams:

Netherton: Ben Jex, Scott Taylor, Chris Hansford, Ben Daly, Craig Spink, Adam Scott (Wilkins Makate), Harry Fitzjohn (Fraser Sturgess), Jake Sansby, Tom Randall (Lee Clementson), Dwayne Rankin, Steve Mastin. Unused: Eddie Patten, James Wilson.

Coates: Lewis Moat, Jake Pell, Stuart Colbert, Rikki Wilmer, Kev Gilbert, Jack Bates, Chris Beeby, Adam Piergianni, Joe Butterworth (Harry Jenkins), Matt Heron, Liam Harrold (Jamie Darlow). Unused: Adam Moore, Ash Moore.

Referee: Craig Hardy.

Assistants: Paul Gale/Norman Vasey.

Fourth official: Lee Hartley.