A goal fit to win any game delivered a first Peterborough Premier Division title to Netherton United last night (May 1).
Karl Gibbs blasted a rocket of a shot into the roof of the net from 25 yards to give the city side an 11th minute lead they never really looked like squandering at Whittlesey Athletic. Netherton effectively needed a point to clinch top spot, but a 1-0 win meant the trophy could be presented by league officials at Feldale Field.
Some, like Gibbs, have only been at Netherton this season. Others like Ben Daly and Tom Randall have been loyal club members for over a decade. All celebrated in style together as did manager Jon Harrison who was picking up his first trophy as a manager after a few near misses.
And the success might not stop there. Next Tuesday (May 8) Netherton are at Northampton Town FC for a Northants County Cup Final and then it’s the Peterborough League President’s Shield Final against Thorney (May 12) and then the PFA Senior Cup Final against Moulton Harrox at Peterborough United’s ABAX Stadium on May 17.
If Netherton play like they did in the first 30 minutes at Whittlesey Athletic an awesome foursome could well be on the cards. This was no easy gig for Netherton against a side who had won their last 10 top-flight matches and who had lost just twice all season, the last on November 18.
But they struggled to cope with the pace and movement of Jack Barron and Tom Randall or the physical presence of Gibbs in the early stages. Barron missed a decent chance just before Gibbs’ goal, while Randall missed an even better one just after the wonderful strike.
Whittlesey dug in though and battled hard, but they lacked the quality to disturb outstanding central defenders Chris Hansford and Herbie Panting. They mustered just one shot on target all night and only then after Barron’s backpass fell short enabling Alex Dalton to shoot and Aaron Keir to save.
It was a tense and very scrappy second period. Barron was sin binned as five minutes of added time started, but Netherton rarely looked like conceding.
There is no doubt Netherton deserve their historic title success. They won 24 of their 30 fixtures, losing just twice. Netherton have scored the most goals, an astonishing 137, 51 more than any other team, and they’ve conceded just 29 goals, again the best in the division.
Netherton: Aaron Keir, Ryan Wood, James McDonagh, Chris Hansford, Herbie Panting, Louis Hemming, Ash Jackson, Mark Baines, Karl Gibbs, Tom Randall, Jack Barron. Substitutes used: Zack Fisher, Ben Daly, Steve Mastin.
As it happened Netherton could have lost last night and still claimed the title as sole challengers Moulton Harrox were held to a 2-2 draw at Sutton Bridge United!