Tonight saw the eagerly awaited Final between two of the highest ranked teams in this Competition. The Junior Cup is a mandatory Competition for teams competing in Division One and below, and with the Ferryboat Inn sitting second in the League table, and with North Scarle just one place behind them, this promised to be an intriguing contest.
This was Ferryboat’s second trip to the LNER Stadium within five days, after their unsuccessful attempt to wrestle the Kelly Read Trophy out of Saxilby on Monday night. The question for them was could they pick themselves up and bounce back to winning ways against a side who have topped the League One table for much of the campaign?
Facing Ferryboat were a team who have come out on the wrong side of the three previous meetings already this Season, two in the League and one in another Cup Competition. The question for the North Scarle team was could they contain the dangerous Seb Lig in the Ferryboat team – a player that has an eye for goal and has proved that already this Season with a League and Cup total that is north of 50 goals and counting!
Ferryboat lined up from the start playing a 5-3-2 formation. In contrast, North Scarle went with what they told me was “the Christmas Tree formation”, whatever that is, and after all we are only in April!
On a coolish, and overcast Spring evening, it was the Ferryboat Inn that got the game underway, attacking the Stacey West end of the ground, as they did in the first half on Monday evening.
The opening minutes of the match can be described as “cagey” with neither side wanting to concede possession. North Scarle enjoyed the greater share of the early possession but it was the Ferryboat that registered the first shot on target, this coming in the 8th minute of the match when Guan Clay tried his luck from distance but Scarle keeper Max Madanski was ready and waiting and had little difficulty in dealing with the first shot of the match.
It was very apparent that the talent of Lig would need to be shackled closely by North Scarle, as he looked to create havoc whenever he received the ball at his feet. It was a genuine treat for the spectators to see a player running at defenders whenever the chance arose. It was equally apparent that it did not matter whether he received the ball on his left, or his right side, as he is equally adept at providing wizardry when moving forward from either side.
North Scarle created the best chance of the opening 15 minutes when Lewis Smith advanced on a splendid run before Ferryboat’s Kian Keeley put in a superb last chance tackle, sending the ball out for a throw in right down near the corner flag. From the resulting long throw the impressive Dean Szendry, who was pulling the strings for North Scarle in midfield, sent a wicked volley goalbound from 30 yards that hit a defender on the six yard line before going behind for a corner. Paul Leedle delivered a quality corner kick, something that he would go on to do consistently throughout the contest, and Josh Thompson headed wide from the centre of the box when he rose to meet the ball unchallenged.
This was the beginning of a prolonged spell of pressure from North Scarle, but the well drilled Ferryboat defensive line looked more than comfortable in soaking up the pressure that was being put on them.
The game saw the first goal arrive in the 20th minute. Lig received the ball about 40 yards out and jinked his way past 4 defenders as he drove into the box. It was pure class the way that he turned defenders, first with his right foot, then his left, and once he got through into the box the only question to ask was which foot did he use to slot the ball comfortably past keeper Madanski and into the corner of the net. The answer is “his left”!
So, Ferryboat found themselves a goal to the good, as they did on Monday night. This seemed to spark North Scarle a little, and they were a touch unfortunate on 22 minutes when Cameron Mundelly put in a peach of a cross down the left hand side and just when it looked as though Lewis Smith was going to have a free header from six yards out, Ferryboat keeper Harry Rember just got his finger tips to the ball to deny the Scarle forward.
North Scarle got their equaliser on 28 minutes when the lively Cameron Mundelly drove a cross in from the left, and Joe Sellers was on hand to hook the ball home from the tightest of angles. The technique involved in scoring from such an acute angle should not be underestimated and now it was all level again and “game on”.
The game ebbed and flowed for the rest of the half with neither side really threatening their opponents in anger.
The teams went into the break locked at one apiece and the game had been equally contested with both teams having played good, controlled possession football, and on the evidence of the first half nobody in the sizable crowd looking on would have any idea which way this game would go in the second half.
Half-time: The Ferryboat Inn FC 1-1 North Scarle FC.
The Ferryboat’s Guan Clay fired in a looping free kick from the corner of the penalty box on 51 minutes which was just a fraction too high, the ball landing on the top of the net rather than in it.
The game saw its first substitution in the 60th minute when the Ferryboat introduced James Hobson to replace Tom Buchanon-Spence.
The Ferryboat came close to retaking the lead in the 63rd minute in somewhat bizarre fashion. Elliot Turner worked his way into the box with the ball at his feet and looked to have a good chance to score. Unfortunately for him he stumbled and fell at the critical moment and the chance looked to have gone. Amazingly, Turner picked himself up and in a split second got his shot away which was heading for the top corner at pace, but the watchful Madanski was able to tip the ball over for another corner to the Ferryboat .
Connor Wilson tried his luck with a speculative effort for the Ferryboat on 73 minutes from fully 35 yards out, but he failed to trouble keeper Madanski on this occasion.
The pace that the game had been played at started taking its toll on players in the 73rd minute as players from both sides started struggling with cramp.
North Scarle introduced a couple of substitutes in the 78th minute with Declan Munnelly replacing Josh Thompson, and Hayden Ward replacing Kiam Dennett.
Joe Sellers showed great pace for North Scarle in the 84th minute when he skipped down the left side before Cameron Munnelly put in a timely tackle to concede another corner.
As the clock ticked over the 85 minute mark there were signs of fatigue in both sides and it was obvious that there would need to be a fair amount of time adding on to make up for the time lost to players who were needing to recover after giving their all for the cause.
After 90 minutes of normal time the scores were locked at one all. Extra time looked a certainty and as the game went into its 5th minute of time added on there were many in the crowd that were getting ready for the break that would follow before extra time commenced, BUT THEN………..!
Enter the man that I mentioned at the beginning. With literally seconds remaining in the contest the ball was played through to Seb Lig who advanced towards goal in a one-on-one with keeper Madanski. Well, you can imagine the outcome. As the keeper went to spread himself to cut down the angle, Lig cheekily chipped the ball over him and into the net to complete the scoring and secure the trophy for the team from Washingborough. There were amazing scenes from the Ferryboat players in celebration, after all they had just won the cup! Eventually Lig emerged unscathed from the mass that had burried him and the game restarted for the last few seconds before Referee Darryn Berry blasted on his whistle to bring to an end an excellent game of football, played in a tremendous spirit between two sides who should be very proud of themselves for the game that they had put on for those lucky enough to have watched it.
There were so many winners from this game, one of which was the League itself. It was a pleasure to host a final between two teams who respected the occasion, and the surroundings, and this was grassroots football at its best. Well done to all involved, including Referee Darryn Berry and his team of Officials, all of whom were excellent. Congratulations to Ferryboat, but also congratulations to North Scarle FC who put in a memorable performance to make this a very enjoyable occasion for all watching.
Final score The Ferryboat Inn FC 2-1 North Scarle FC.
The League’s Man of the Match award went to Seb Lig of The Ferryboat Inn FC.
Special thanks go to our League Sponsor, Mr Steven White, who assisted with the presentation. His company’s kind and generous sponsorship over the past seven years has been a financial lifeline for the League and it was fantastic to see two great legends at Lincoln City, in Gavin Gordon and Terry Fleming. Gavin and Terry completed the presentations to the games participants, and the League looks forward to the last two Cup Finals of this campaign which take place tomorrow at the same location.