Warrington Town won the inaugural NPLFA Cup thanks to a second half goal from double ‘Golden Boot’ winner Euan Woods on Sunday morning.
Held at the Bet365 Stadium (home of Premier League club Stoke City), the final was contested by two teams who were involved in the JOMA division title race.
Matlock Town were hoping to put the disappointment of the Grand Final behind them, whilst Warrington Town – who had less than 48 hours to prepare for the game after their semi-final victory over Kidsgrove Athletic on Friday afternoon – were looking to gain victory over their rivals after a draw and a home defeat in the regular league season.
The Gladiators’ had the first chance of the game through Jordan Lee after four minutes, the tricky forward beat his man on the byline and whipped in a shot which curled past the post.
Minutes later and John Brown, confident after a fantastic brace in the semi-final on Friday, had a long shot from distance that sailed wide.
The following twenty minutes was a cagey affair, both teams intent on attacking but having nothing to show for it with crosses into the box being collected easily by the respective goalkeepers.
Thes best chance of the half fell to Matlock’s Billy Whitehead in the 29th minute. Played through by Lee, his shot was saved by Josh Wainwright before the follow up was superbly blocked by Yellows’ defender Joe Ruane.
The Gladiator’s made several subs at the start of the second half but the deadlock was broken in the 57th minute by the Yellow’s and it had an old fashioned route one feeling about it, as a Wainwright punt upfield from a goal kick was flicked on by Brown and the onrushing Euan Woods calmly slotted past Jodan Pierrepont to give his side the lead.
Matlock immediately responded and the woodwork was struck after pressure in the box saw a Warrington defender head onto his own bar.
Five minutes later and Wainwright pulled off a fantastic one handed save. Whitehead’s cross was deflected off Kasie Jones and the stopper reacted quick to palm the ball away.
The final 20 minutes saw Matlock throw everything at the Yellow’s defence, the best chances coming from Ethan Knowles and Lee but they held out and the final whistle sparked wild celebrations as Warrington secured their first trophy in the NPL Football Academy.
It was hard luck once again for Matlock missing out again in an NPLFA final but Jamie Yates and his players can be very proud on their achievements this season and will no doubt come back stronger next term.
Congratulations to Warrington who have been excellent under coach Keith Southern this season.