In the battle of the young gladiators, it was the older students – the Blues – who were victorious in a very tight and entertaining game at the DW Stadium, home of Wigan Athletic to retain the NPLFA Cup.
Both Matlock Town sides have been in fine form this season and it was no surprise to see them contest the NPLFA Cup Final, three days before they met each other in the NPLFA Grand Final as both teams have dominated on the field this season.
Any thoughts that the game would be a placid affair between friends were dispelled soon after kick-off in what transpired to be a competitive game with team pride at stake.
The Whites took the lead in the first half with a sublime strike from Matthew Leask from 30 yards which caught Blues keeper Alex Buttery off balance and were dealt a further blow when Josh Devereux was sent off for two yellow cards.
The ten men responded in fine fashion, first through Ethan Knowles who cooly slotted away a penalty after Louis Davies brought down Ed Finney. Knowles then turned provider when he put through Emmanuel Carre-Abolo and he finished smartly to put the Blues in front.
Finn Hunter was the saviour for the Whites when he finished from close range from a corner which took the game to penalties, a fitting but cruel way to separate the two sides who had had given everything in ninety minutes but could not be separated.
Buttery was the hero for the Blues as his three penalty saves sparked wild celebrations as they retained the NPLFA Cup in dramatic circumstances.
The two teams will battle it out again on Monday with the White’s looking for revenge on their club mates with the opportunity to be crowned Champions of the NPL Football Academy.
For photo’s of the game please visit HERE.