Tuesday, 21 November 2017

Gainsborough Trinity 2 v Boston United 2 - Lincs County Cup Final (Gainsborough Trinity won 3-1 on penalties)

Tuesday 21st November 2017
Lincolnshire County Cup final
at the Martin & Co. Arena - the Northolme
Gainsborough Trinity (1) 2
Alex Simmons 24
Craig King 82
Boston United (1) 2
Reece Thompson 41, 86
Admission £8. Attendance 323
Gainsborough Trinity won 3-1 on penalties
The last time these two sides met was was in a National League North fixture, was last season, at the Northolme, on January 1st 2017, when Trinity took the lead through Jamie Reid, before Jay Rollins equalised for Boston and Josh Robinson snatched a last minute winner for the visitors. Blog report HERE
Until tonight, the two teams hadn't played each other during the current campaign yet , but they are scheduled to go head to head at York Street on Boxing Day and again at the Northolme on New Years Day.
When Adam Murray recently resigned his position at Boston United, the York Street based club instilled Shaw Lane AFC's Craig Elliott into their vacant manager's post, after Karl Hawley had filled in as caretaker for three games during the interim, while Murray subsequently moved on to Guiseley, where he has once again become assistant to Paul Cox, who he previously worked alongside at Mansfield Town.
After Cox left the Stags, Murray took on the manger's role there, assisted by none other than Karl Hawley, before they were replaced by Steve Evans, who of course, used to be Boston United's manager a few years ago.
The Pilgrim's lost Elliott's first game in charge at the weekend, 3-1 against Harrogate Town at Wetherby Road, while Dave  Frecklington's 'Holy Blues' picked up a morale boosting 1-0 win at the Northolme against FC United of Manchester.
En route to tonight's showpiece game, Gainsborough had beaten both Lincoln City (4-1) and Grantham Town (3-2) at home, while the visitors progressed to the final via wins against Grimsby Town (3-0) at home and Lincoln United (1-0) away.
Prior to tonight's kick off an impeccably observed minutes silence was held in memory of Mr Bernard Perkins, a long standing Trinity supporter, who sadly passed away recently.
Rest in peace Bernard. And condolences to all of his family and friends.
Gainsborough Trinity:
Henrich Ravas, Michael Jacklin, Kern Miller, Nathan Stainfield; Craig King, Jordan Richards, Shane Clarke (C), Liam King, Curtis Bateson; Ashley Worsfold, Alex Simmons (Bradley Wells 80)
Unused subs - Josh Lacey, Tom Davie, Matty Taylor, Ellis Storey.
Boston United:
George Willis, James Clifton, Jordan Keane, Brad Beatson, Jan Yeomans; Tyrell Waite (Harry Vince 89), Jamie McGuire (C), Jack Broadhead, Ashley Hemmings; Reece Thompson, Kabongo Tshimanga (Gregg Smith 83)
Unused sub - Karl Hawley.
"We're the pride of Lincolnshire!" sang (some of) the Trinity fans as Curtis Bateson, who only returned to the Northolme fold from North Ferriby United earlier this week, slotted his penalty kick past George Ellis in the shoot out that decided where the Lincolnshire County Cup was heading this season, after these two sides had played out an entertaining draw, in which the home side had taken the lead twice, through Alex Simmons and Craig King, only for the former Retford United, Frickley Athletic, York City and North Ferriby United striker: Reece Thompson to equalise twice, in the closing moments of both halves.
Tonight's final pitched seventeenth placed Trinity against Boston who currently lay in twenty first, five points behind their hosts and one place (and nine points) above the aforementioned bottom club North Ferriby United.
The home side probed forward, looking for an opening early on, with Craig King dictating the pace on the right hand side of the pitch, while the Pilgrims, who set up in a tried, tested and traditional 4-4-2 formation, initially seemed to favour a more direct approach, trying to utilise the pace of Thompson and the former England U17 wide man Ashley Hemmings.
George Willis moved swiftly from his line to deal with Michael Jacklin's right wing cross towards Ash Worsfold as play began to open up.
Willis is a former Gainsborough player, while Henrich Ravas, the Slovakian keeper who is earning rave reviews during his loan spell at the Northolme from Derby County as previously turned out for the Pilgrims in the Nationwide League, as well as having trials at Peterborough United a few seasons ago.
Dave Frecklington, the Holy Blues manager called the game "a pleasant distraction from the pressures of league football", as he locked horns once again with Craig Elliott, who he'd faced while he was still involved in Evo-Stik League management, at both Lincoln United and Spalding United, before he moved to Trinity, and Elliott recently took over the reigns at York Street having taken Shaw Lane AFC to the first round of the FA Cup v Mansfield Town earlier this month.
The industrious Liam King tried his luck from distance, but Willis was equal to his shot.
Both Kings, Liam and Craig, put in a great shift for the home side, with the former being named as man of the match, while the latter probably just shaded it input wise in my humble opinion and would have got my vote if push came to shove and I'd been asked to decide... but I wasn't, so hey ho!
(C) King played a great ball out to Shane Clarke on the right flank, who advanced forward before crossing towards Curtis Bateson, but Jordan Keane had read the situation well and cleared up at the back for the visitors.
Alex Simmons was fouled, twenty five yards from the Boston goal and elected to take the free kick himself, forcing a save out of Willis, who got down to his right to force the ball round the post at full stretch.
It was Simmons who broke the deadlock after twenty four minutes, drilling the ball past Willis at the second attempt, after (C) King's far post right wing free kick had been directed back across the face of Boston's six yard box.
The home side almost doubled their lead moments later, when (C) King's left wing corner picked out Nathan Stainfield who headed the ball against the crossbar.
The Pilgrims fans appealed for a penalty as Broadhead went to ground in the Trinity area, but the referee, Martin Chester was well placed to make a judgement and waved play on.
Jamie McGuire, the visitors captain, who is still involved as a development team coach at Mansfield Town, was conserving his energy well, wearing out a small circle of grass in the middle of the park, as Boston attacked towards the end of the first half... and Kabongo Tshimanga unlocked the Trinity defence with a 'keyhole surgery' pass through the narrowest of gaps to pick out Thompson who smashed home the equalising goal just inside the left hand post.
Having had the better of the first half, Gainsborough were almost undone with a sucker punch just before the half time whistle, when Willis launched a long free kick up the field, that released Jay Rollins on the left hand side of the Trinity area, but his knock across the face of goal lacked the power to trouble Ravas.
HT: Holy Blues 1 v Pilgrims 1
Trinity made a cagey start to the second half, with Jacklin being forced to hook the ball clear from in front of his own goal, after Thompson had put on a burst of pace to round Stainfield before delivering the ball towards Broadhead from the dead ball line and when the loose ball fell to McGuire he shot over the crossbar. Get back to doing your stuff in the centre circle pal!
But it was the home side who scored next... at least they thought they had, when Rollins made an unnecessary grab at Bateson as he advanced foward on the left flank. Clarke headed Simmons resulting free kick into the roof of the Boston net, but the assistant's flag was up for an offside and the goal was ruled out.
Hemmings combined well with James Clifton whose dipping cross found Tshimanga who couldn't quite get his header down and on target.
Having absorbed a spell of pressure from the visitors, Gainsborough upped the ante themselves, but Boston defended well against a string of dead ball deliveries into their area and it became apparent that with very little to separate these two sides,this one was going down to the wire.
Thompson had strayed a fag paper's width offside from Broadhead's forward pass and Bateson turned the ball wide of the Boston goal, when he had time and space to put the home side back in front, after (C) King's knock across the Pilgrims area found it's way through to the unmarked number eleven.
Worsfold picked the ball up thirty five yards out and played it out wide to (C) King, whose cross cum shot was held by Willis.
Brad Wells was sent on in place of Simmons, with ten minutes to go and started the move (and almost finished it) that led to the Holy Blues second goal, when he won the ball and laid it off wide to Stainfield, who combined with Clarke before crossing back to Wells... and when the ball skimmed off the substitutes striker's head and Boston failed to clear the loose ball, (C) King buried an angled shot past Willis with eight minutes remaining.
But as the engravers prepared to scribe the name of Gainsborough Trinity on the trophy, there was a late twist in the tale, as Broadhead dug in and won the ball, before spraying a pass out to Hemmings whose cross was met by Thompson who deftly planted his headed finish past Ravas to level things up again.
In stoppage time, Hemmings lobbed Ravas from the edge of the box, but the Trinity keeper twisted backwards and tipped the ball over his bar.
And that was that. The Lincolnshire County Cup final would be decided on a penalty shoot out.
FT: Gainsborough Trinity 2 v Boston United 2
Hemmings stepped forward and took the first kick and glanced the ball off of the wrong side of the right hand upright.
Liam King took responsibility for Trinity's first effort and capped off a great night's work with a good finish. 
Thompson, who had already found the net twice on the night, was thwarted by Ravas from the spot, as Boston failed to score from their first two attempts and Worsfold calmly made it 2-0 after two shots apiece with the nest effort.
Gregg Smith made no mistake with the Pilgrims third effort, but Kern Miller smashed Trinity's next penalty against the crossbar, which he hit with such ferocity it is probably still shaking right now.
Ravas pulled off a brilliant save from Clifton's effort, meaning that Trinity would win the shoot out outright if Bateson found the net with the next kick... and he duly delivered, to win the County Cup for the Holy Blues.
Gainsborough Trinity win 3-1 on penalties.
Congratulations to Dave Frecklington and his team. Whatever some people might think about staging a cup final in November, right in the middle of a busy fixture schedule, tonight's result has got to be a morale booster for the winning side, who now face Stafford Rangers in a FA Trophy tie at the Northolme on Saturday, while the Pilgrims entertain Kidderminster Harriers at home in the same competition.