AN inspired substitution helped Pinchbeck lift a first-ever PFA Senior Cup crown at London Road on Monday night (30 April).
Player-boss Ian Dunn took himself off early in the second half after struggling with a back spasm and saw his replacement Tom Gosling fire the late winner that ensured they reigned in the rain.
Gosling is a bull of a man but displayed terrific finesse with five minutes remaining to deservedly seal victory in front of a crowd estimated to be in the region of 400 for a team who are also hot favourites to lift the Peterborough League Premier Division trophy.
“It’s the best substitution I’ve ever made,” insisted Dunn. “I was gutted to have to come off but it is all about the team.
“Tom is a hell of a player but I never realised he had a finish like that in his locker. He tried it in a reserve game on Saturday and got it all wrong, but pulled it off when it mattered.
“We are a team that everyone talks about and last night we delivered. Now we have to do it again in the league.”
All four other goals arrived in two quick exchanges during the first half.
The breakthrough arrived in the 12th minute when Tom Randall coolly converted after a mis-hit Ash Jackson drive fell perfectly into his path, but the Lincs lads were level inside a minute as Netherton number one Ben Carter suffered the sort of nightmare moment all goalkeepers dread.
Carter raced out to claim an over-hit Nick Bishop long pass but was left flailing as the ball bounced clean over his head and continued agonisingly on its way into the back of the net.
Carter redeemed himself with a super stop from Dunn after Keith Gray had headed against the bar from close range, but there was relatively little action of note until the teams traded goals again in first-half stoppgage time.
This time it was Pinchbeck’s turn to hit the front as Gray sprung the offside trap (in the opinion of assistant referee Reg Parker anyway) to latch onto a Dan Woods flick and fire under the body of Carter.
But their advantage lasted only seconds longer than Netherton’s had as the city side responded almost immediately.
Ben Cullen darted inside from the right flank, left full-back Dan Maddison (a man clearly not as quick on the pitch as he is at posting on local football forums) trailing in his wake and rifled a low shot past keeper Lee Drury from 15 yards.
Another hotly-disputed offside call cut short the Pinchbeck celebrations when man-of-the-match Woods (a man who celebrates his 21st birthday today) converted a Jonnie Clay cross early in the second period.
Woods also hit the side netting and was denied by a fine Carter save as Pinchbeck dominated the second period to such an extent that Netherton failed to register a single shot on goal.
Gray was also thwarted by a tremendous Carter stop but the Netherton keeper was powerless to prevent Gosling settling the tie with his classy late finish after a slip from young substitute Chris Hansford.
Nertherton boss Johnny Byrne said: “I’m so proud of the way the lads performed on the night and in getting here, but we’re obviously bitterly disappointed to be beaten.
“We made mistakes for all three goals and you can’t do that against a classy side like Pinchbeck who will go on to be league champions as well.”
Pinchbeck: Lee Drury, Luke Wilson, Dan Maddison, Lee Marshall, Matt Hocking, Jonnie Clay, Nick Bishop, Ollie Maltby (Paul Langford), Dan Woods, Ian Dunn (Tom Gosling), Keith Gray. Unused subs: Jimmy McDonnell, Andy Law, Tom Roberts.
Netherton: Ben Carter, Mark Kingston, James Taylor, Eddie Patten (Chris Hansford), Ben Daly, Tom Randall (Adam Scotcher), Jonny Spink, Ash Jackson (Jon Harrison), Alan Haine, Ben Cullen, Lee Clementson. Unused subs: Scott Quinney, Kammy Khan.
Man-of-the-match: Dan Woods (Pinchbeck).
Referee: John Bartlett.