Netherton United and Coates Athletic had to suffer nerve-jangling comebacks and a penalty shoot out on Saturday (March 28) before booking their places in the PFA Senior Cup Final at Peterborough United’s ABAX Stadium.
Netherton pipped holders ICA 3-2 on spot-kicks following a 2-2 draw after 90 minutes (extra time is not used in PFA competitions) at Ringwood in their semi-final, while Coates squeezed past underdogs Deeping Rangers Reserves 3-1 in their shoot-out following a 3-3 draw.
Captain Ben Daly held his nerve to convert the match-winning penalty to send Netherton through to the May Final. That was harsh on ICA who had fought back from 2-0 down to force the shoot-out thanks to goals from Luke Bonney and Nathan Glover. Steve Mastin had earlier scored twice for Netherton.
Coates also threw away a two-goal lead at Outgang Road. They were 3-1 up with seven minutes to go with former Deeping player Matt Heron, Liam Harrold and Simon Flanz on target, but the home side hit back to equalise in the final seconds.
Fortunately for Coates goalkeeper Lewis Moat saved the first three Deeping penalties enabling Harrold to score the decisive spot-kick.
“I couldn’t believe what I was seeing in the final few minutes,” Coates manager Andy Lodge stated. “But Deeping deserve all the credit available because they never stopped running and working even when the game looked beyond them. We didn’t play that well, but no-one will remember how you got to the final.
“I’m just relieved to have reached a final that should be a great advert for the Peterborough League.”
Second-placed Coates have an important Premier Division match this Saturday (April 4) when hosting third-placed Stilton United at Feldale Field.
If Stilton win all their remaining fixtures they will finish top. They also have current leaders Oakham to play.
Oakham stretched their lead at the top to four points with a 6-0 rout of Uppingham in the so-called ‘tractor derby’ on Saturday. Adam Rothery led the way with a hat-trick.
Stilton are eight points behind Oakham, but have two games in hand. Craig Smith’s goal was enough for them to pip lowly Crowland on Saturday.
Moulton Harrox are up to fouth as Macauley Grimwood scored twice in a 3-0 win at Riverside and Langoft United’s excellent first season at Premier Division level continued with a 1-0 win at bottom club Leverington. Dan Evans’ goal moved Langtoft up to sixth place.
PFA Senior Cup
Deeping Rangers Reserves 3, Coates Athletic 3 (Heron, Harrold, Flanz).
(Coates won 3-1 on penalties)
ICA Sports 2 (Bonney, Glover), Netherton United 2 (Mastin 2).
(Netherton won 3-2 on penalties).
Crowland Town 0, Stilton United 1 (Smith)
Peterborough Sports Reserves 1, Thorney 0.
Riverside 0, Moulton Harrox 3 (Grimwood 2, Wheeler)
Uppingham 0, Oakham 6 (Rothery 3, Eason, Nelson, Oliver)
Leverington Sports 0, Langtoft United 1 (Evans).