Lincolnshire Premier League – Challenge Cup Final
Cleethorpes Town Res 2 Skegness United 3
Saturday May 10
Skegness United claimed their third trophy in just three seasons since their re-formation and immediately dedicated it to their late chairman Geoff Farrar.
In an epic final, the United came back from 2-1 down in the second half to become the first Skegness team to win the coveted Challenge Cup trophy.
United went into the final with only Arron Scutt missing from the starting line up and with a point to prove after a disappointing league campaign.
United started on the front foot and after a minute’s play Kurt Crossley got in behind the Cleethorpes defence and pulled the ball back to Luke Rayner-Mistry who slipped in collecting the ball and the danger was cleared.
However, on three minutes United made the perfect start when they went in front after Ryan O’Loughlin was found in space 20 yards from goal and he placed his shot into the far corner past Grant Bailey in the Cleethorpes goal.
On eight minutes, Cleethorpes had their first serious attack on the United defence when Jordan Vatcher put in a dangerous low cross, however Danny Stevens was on hand to clear the danger.
After 11 minutes from a free kick Kieran Wressell headed just wide of the post for Cleethorpes. Then United went down the other end and from an Andy Reeson corner and Jamie Skinner was just wide of the far post with his header.
On 15 minutes Cleethorpes drew level when the United defence was caught napping and Brody Robertson beat Danny Stevens to the ball on the edge of the United area before placing his shot past Chris Snaith to equalize.
At this stage Cleethorpes had come more into the game and after they played the ball across the field, Vatcher fired in a shot which went across the area and out for a goal kick.
The next action on goal came from United when from a throw-in the ball was played by Andy Appleby to Rayner-Mistry who brought out a stunning save from Bailey.
Kurt Crossley was a constant danger to Cleethorpes with his movement and close control, however on a number of occasions could not find the telling pass to open up the defence.
On 32 minutes from a Cleethorpes corner Snaith made a point blank save from a header to keep United on level terms before the danger was cleared. Five later minutes a nice passing move by United resulted in Sean Chamberlain firing over the bar when well placed. The first half ended all square which was a fair reflection on the game.
The first chance of the second half came after two minutes when a mis-placed pass by Callum Hyland released Luke Beecham for a clear run on goal, however his shot lacked power and was saved by Snaith. On 55 minutes Michael Howard replaced the injured Rayner-Mistry and shortly afterwards Cleethorpes took the lead.
Following a long ball down the United right which appeared to be going out for a corner a Cleethorpes forward retrieved the ball and laid it back for the oncoming Jordan Boyington who fired passed Snaith from 10 yards.
At this stage Cleethorpes had the upper hand with United left shell shocked by the goal.
However, on 60 minutes United’s Ryan O’Loughlin won a free kick after being brought down on the edge of the area. Quick thinking from him saw him curl the free-kick beautifully over Bailey who was off his line and into the top corner to bring the sides level.
It was the inspirational moment that turned this game on its head as United had looked in trouble before the goal which seemed to galvanise them.
On 65 minutes United re-took the lead for the second time when Ryan O’loughlin’s perfect delivery from a corner was headed home by Callum Hyland at the back post which was met with mass celebrations.
With the game entering the final ten minutes Cleethorpes threw everything at the United, however good defending from the back line of Muirhead, Stevens, Skinnerand Appleby with some timely saves by Snaith held them at bay. United always looked dangerous on the break and as the game moved into added time Andy Reeson had a good chance to seal the match, however Bailey made a good save with his legs has he came off his line.
In a tight match, United’s resolve and team spirit dragged them over the line to finish the season on high.
Manager Mark Hallam said: “We made the perfect start but took our foot of the gas and let them back into the game. At 2-1 down I just didn’t know where a goal was going to come from but this group of players never cease to surprise me. Their desire and determination to drag themselves back into the game and a little magic was there for all to see and I could not be more proud of every single one of them. There were lot’s of motivating factors to try and win this trophy, namely to try and make amends for a disappointing league campaign but for me, this trophy is simply a tribute to our chairman. It’s Geoff’s Cup”.
Ryan O’Loughlin was awared United’s man of the match, with two goals and an assist to his name.
Team: Chris Snaith, Ross Muirhead, Andy Appleby, Sean Chamberlain, Danny Stevens, Jamie Skinner, Andy Reeson, Callam Hyland, Luke Rayner-Mistry (Michael Howard), Ryan O,Loughlin and Kurt Crossley.
Unused Subs: Sam Sleight, Joe Martin, Tom Pickett and Corey Cunliffe.