A proper cup final contested by two proper teams - that was the Peterborough & District League President’s Premier Shield last night (May 12).
Premier Division runners-up Pinchbeck were 10 points better than Netherton over the course of a long league season, but there was just a solitary goal between the sides last night on the Peterborough Northern Star FC pitch.
The decisive contribution came from Liam Ogden, who stooped to glance in substitute James Gordan’s cross from the right with a quarter-of-an-hour to go.
It was a well-judged and rather delicate header which found it’s way past the previously unbeatable Ross Ingram.
The Netherton goalkeeper pulled off fine saves in the first half to keep out the top flight’s most prolific marksman, Ollie Maltby, and set-piece wizard Tyler Wright, but Ingram’s best contribution was a flying fingertip stop when diverting a Maltby header onto his crossbar in the second period.
Pinchbeck number one Ben Martin could have done with a crossword puzzle to keep himself occupied in the opening 45 minutes, but he was considerably busier after the interval.
His own collection of smart saves included a pair of stops from Dwayne Rankin and Pinchbeck were also reliant on three terrific goal-line clearances as they sat on their advantage.
Luke Gardner blocked a deflected Ben Daly header from a corner; goalscorer became goal-saver when Ogden kept out a Lee Clementson header after another flag-kick had sparked panic in the Pinchbeck defence, and last, but by no means least, Chris Shipley threw himself in front of a Tom Randall blast when the Netherton man looked odds-on to claim a stoppage-time equaliser.
But there was no way back for the city men, who were beaten in the final of this competition for the second time after being its first-ever winners back in 2014.
It was a match in which high-quality football was in short supply, but that certainly didn’t mean it was low on entertainment. Quite the opposite.
Referee Cliff Mills did his best to let the game flow, although that proved difficult on a night when almost every decision was followed by yelping and yapping from those on the pitch, and contested vociferously by those in two densely populated dugouts.
The official could, and probably should, have dismissed two players in quick succession just after the hour.
Pinchbeck defender Tom Brooks went through the back of Ash Jackson when already on a yellow card before Netherton skipper Herbie Panting appeared to lead with an elbow on Maltby.
The fact both teams retained a full complement at the final whistle was more of a surprise than the fact Pinchbeck succeeded in retaining the trophy.
Their success provided the first part of a possible four-day cup double. Dunn’s men now face another city side, ICA Sports, in the PFA Senior Cup final at the ABAX Stadium on Monday (May 15, 8pm).
Netherton: Ross Ingram, Ryan Wood, Lewis Brisbourne, Ben Daly, Chris Hansford, Scott Taylor, Herbie Panting, Ash Jackson, Tom Randall, Lee Clementson, Dwayne Rankin, Dan Fountain, Kenny Wheatland, Adam Scott, Grant Watson, Louis Hemming.
Pinchbeck: Ben Martin, Cal Lawe, Luke Gardner, Chris Shipley, Jack Smith, Tom Brooks, Liam Ogden, Nick Bishop, Tyler Wright, Ian Dunn, Ollie Maltby,James Gordan, Tony Edwards, Brad Murrell, Conner Eyes, Kofi Ross.
Referee: Cliff Mills.