Netherton United’s dominance of the local scene is now complete. Well at step seven level at least.
Last night’s (May 17) 4-2 win over a plucky, but often outclassed and outpaced, Moulton Harrox side in the PFA Senior Cup final at the ABAX Stadium completed a season manager Jon Harrison could only have envisaged in his wildest dreams.
Four major trophies, a first PFA Cup success and a first Peterborough Premier Division title among them, now reside at the Grange. Harrison hadn’t won a single thing as a manager before this season.
His team haven’t been fit and firing in the last week of a gruelling campaign. Their President’s Shield final success last Saturday was helped by early ill discipline by opponents Thorney and last night they suffered a rather alarming lull in the middle third of the game, one that looked like costing them victory.
Netherton had been excellent in the first 20 minutes, but couldn’t find a finish. They also finished the game strongly and thankfully for them they scored four times in the final quarter, more than enough to cancel out a lead Moulton Harrox had defended with plenty of spirit and commitment.
Just how Netherton weren’t out of sight in the first 20 minutes, lord only knows. If they were to have kicked themselves they’d probably have missed.
Jack Barron and Tom Randall had far too much pace for the toiling Harrox defence, but no-one in red could find a finishing touch.
Ryan Wood just failed to reach a Barron cross in the second minute, Randall then burst clear in the third minute only for Harrox ‘keeper Wayne Wilding to block.
Barron’s brilliance set up chances for Randall and Odain, but both shots were blocked by defenders. Another golden opportunity fell to Wood at the far post, but again Wilding was there to save.
One did start to wonder if missed chances would bring regrets and so it proved as Harrox sprung into life on the half hour when quick thinking from Declan Earth at a free kick freed the impressive Marcus Parry and he finished expertly.
The goal lifted the underdogs and they defended with some comfort after taking the lead as Netherton rather lost their way. The Premier Division champions had too many players strolling around waiting for something to happen, never a good idea against a side playing with great desire and heart.
The city side did create one more chance on the stroke of half time after an assistant referee fell asleep allowing Randall to streak clear from an offside position. Maybe guilt led the pacy striker to fire well wide.
And Netherton continued to toil in the second half until, out of very little, Odain converted Randall’s cross for 1-1 on 62 minutes.
It was 2-1 four minutes later as Netherton carved out a terrific second goal. Randall supplying a deft headed finish to a fine Panting cross.
Panting then headed home Ryan Wood’s free kick to make it three goals in under 10 minutes, but a soft penalty awarded against Mark Baines for handball enabled Harrox substitute Danny Maddison to pull a goal back.
But there was to be no comeback as Netherton created the best piece of football of the night to complete the scoring four minutes from time. Substitute Robbie Ellis was involved twice, laying off to another replacement James McDonagh who chipped a fine return ball which Ellis transferred to Barron. Barron still had plenty to do, but fired a shot from 20 yards into the corner, an act that probably clinched him the man-of-the-match prize ahead of Panting.
Certainly Barron’s form would have impressed Posh legend Dave Farrell, a similar direct, exciting winger and scorer of great goals on this ground, who had an otherwise frustrating night watching his son Jake sit on the Harrox substitutes’ bench.
Netherton: Aaron Keir, Ryan Wood, Herbie Panting, Chris Hansford, Callum Madigan (sub, James McDonough, 71 mins), Ash Jackson, Mark Baines, Jack Barron, Tom Randall, Ondre Odain (sub Ben Daly, 88 mins), Zack Fisher (sub Robbie Ellis, 80 mins). Unused substitutes: Karl Gibbs, Louis Heming.
Moulton Harrox: Wayne Wilding, Josh McGuire, Ainsley Johnson, Matthew Watkin, Jake Cawthorne, Billy King, Joe Townsend, Dalius KIsla (sub Danny Maddison, 83 mins), Ian Bradbury (sub Louis Steadman, 66 mins), Marcus Parry, Declan Earth (sub, Daniel Lambe-Hyner, 86 mins). Unused substitutes: Phil Groves, Jake Farrell.
Goals: Moulton Harrox - Parry (30 mins), Maddison (pen, 80 mins).
Netherton - Odain (62 mins), Randall (66 mins), Panting (71 mins), Barron (86 mins).
Cautions: Moulton Harrox - King (dissent), Steadman (unsportsmanlike behaviour)
Netherton - Barron (foul), McDonagh (unsportsmanlike behaviour).
Referee: Neil Smith
Moulton Harrox Reserves go in search of a treble tonight (May 18) when taking on Stamford Bels in the final of the PFA Challenge Cup at Yaxley FC (7.30pm). Moulton have already won the Peterborough Division One title and the Chairman’s Shield.