Toolstation NCEL League Cup
Bridlington Town 1-4 Penistone Church
Penistone Church rounded off the greatest season in their history by lifting the League Cup following the shock victory over higher league Bridlington Town at Sheffield United’s Bramall Lane.
The trophy was remarkably won by the last third of the game as Church stormed ahead decisively through Scott Whittington, Brett Lovell, Andy Ring and Danny Barlow.
Penistone’s manager Ian Richards, who is by far the best young manager in the whole of NCEL, summed up his club’s joy by running down the touchline to celebrate the fourth goal.
In a one-off game scenario, Church have shown themselves to past masters. Few expected them to romp to victory in the Division One play-off semi-final at AFC Emley. Many shared the same view ahead of the promotion-winning win at Grimsby Borough.
Even more probably wrote them off for the League Cup final, played in an excellent venue.
Bridlington, who finished third in the Premier Division, were only able to show their class in the opening stanza. Deadly duo Brett Agnew and Joel Sutton both had chances. Sutton was charged down on one occasion as he bore down on goal, while Agnew hit the post with a deflected effort. That was the ‘what if’ moment for Brid.
Penistone soaked up the pressure and upped the ante. Barlow sent the warning flares out with a free kick that crashed against Bridlington goalkeeper Nick Baxter’s right-hand post.
While Church were expectational with their disciplined display, Bridlington were orchestrators of their own downfall. The hard-working kind of performance you expect from a Curtis Woodhouse side just was not there. Maybe the almost three week break since the end of the season was a factor. Once as the third goal went in, heads dropped and Church goalkeeper Adam Rhodes had little to do from there on.
The opener came from a defensive mistake. The Brid defence was stretched as Church counter-attacked and Alex Knaggs reacted slowly, allowing Whittington to sprint clear and place Church in front.
The next two goals were scored by the old-timers Lovell and Ring. Towering centre-half Lovell netted his 15th of the season with a trademark header from an in-swinging corner.
That gave his side a nice two-goal half-time cushion.
Brid threatened on a couple of occasions. Play-off final hero Rhodes played his part by diving at the feet of Sutton.
The contest was over following a wonderful move. Unsung hero Whittington won the plaudits as he used his strength to brush off a defender and cross low and hard from the right. The ball dropped beautifully into the feet of Ring, whose turn was exquisite. The finish was the easy part.
It was a dream for Penistone by this stage so when Barlow scored from a tight angle, their supporters were probably in heaven.
Even a late goal from Bridlington’s Jake Day could not take the shine off another glorious achievement by a club which was not expected to pull off the triumphs they have.
April 29th 2017 will be remembered by all at Penistone. So will May 17th 2017.
What They Said
Penistone Church manager Ian Richards
Bridlington Town: Baxter, Knaggs (Lewis 60), Walters, Taylor, Jenkinson, Papprill, Norfolk (Day 70), Fleming (captain), Agnew, Sutton, Adams (Harrison 60). Subs unused: Bedford, Fox.
Penistone Church: Rhodes, Richards (Jones 55), Young, Ellis, R Johnson, Lovell, Moore, Howes (captain), Ring, Barlow (L Johnson 70), Whittington (Stafford 80). Subs unused: Russell, Ambler.