Cullercoats Reserves 0-1 Heaton Stannington A
Northern Alliance Team Valley Carpets Neville Cowey Cup Final
Wheatridge Park (Seaton Delaval)
Saturday 8 May 2021
After winning their first competitive trophy since 2013, this report has to start with congratulations to the Stan who, despite the competitive nature of the match and the miserable weather, managed to show professionalism and determination to edge a win and take the Neville Cowey cup back to Grounsell Park. A lot was stake for as well as the winning trophy, the Stan looked to revenge their 1-0 defeat by Cullercoats in the group stage and the 3-2 defeat in the league. This was the 2nd season in a row the Stan had made the final but last year’s was not played due to the covid lock down.
Due to covid restrictions, the match took place behind closed door at Wheatridge Park, the home of Seaton Dealval AFC. Weather wise it was a miserable afternoon. As well as it being very cold, much of the afternoon also involved heavy rain and relatively strong winds. It did seem to impact on the players to an extent especially at times as a result of the swirling wind. There were originally no changes from the semi-final but there was an enforced change and blow for the Stan just before kick off though when captain and star player Harry Poole went over on his ankle and had to be replaced by Kye Jones. This now also meant that Stan veteran Joe Wear was on the bench. The referee was David McCallum who did manage to an extent to play his invisible man character and avoid participating in a great escape for Cullercoats.
The Stan kicked off in their away strips but it was Cullercoats who attacked 1st although the 1st clear effort was in 2 minutes when a Westphal free kick went wide followed soon after by Harper shooting over. It was all Stan, although the Cullercoats defence was working well, until man of the match Harris stopped an attack in 6 minutes. There when then attacks at both ends before Westphal shot over and soon after he was booked for a block with a Cullercoats defender also going into the book for a bad tackle on Munir in 10 minutes. Things were getting a bit more even but the wind wasn’t helping. In 14 minutes a Harper shot was deflected for a corner. It was now Cullercoats turn to attack for a few minutes and a long shot went just over the Stan bar in 19 minutes. With both teams trying to attack, in 25 minutes the Stan had a good chance when Munir broke and supplied Walker whose shot was blocked by the keeper and the ball then went out to Jones whose shot went wide. It was relatively even although the Stan had more of the chances including another couple by Harper and one by Walker which were blocked. In 33 minutes Munir sent a great cross into Harper in the box but he was blocked. From the resulting corner, Harper’s header was deflected for another corner which the keeper stretched to save. Cullercoats countered but Ripken got to the ball first. In 36 minutes, a Westphal free kick just outside the box went over the wall and hit the bar before the keeper put Jones’s follow up header over the bar. The ball from the corner was headed wide by Dunne. There was then a rare Cullercoats attack which Harris did well to block allowing Munir and Jones to counter with the latter’s shot blocked by the keeper when it looked like it was going into the left corner of the net. Cullercoats had their 1st corner just before half time which saw a good block by Harris. The first half had been relatively even although the Stan were slightly the better team and had more chances.
The Stan started on the attack and Westphal shot wide after 49 minutes although the Stan defence finally had to work hard 2 minutes later at the start of a few minutes of opportunity for Cullercoats who had an attack cleared then another attack ended with them shooting just wide from distance although Ripken was down for it. 2 minutes later a Cullercoats counter attack saw Ripken come out of his box to tackle Cullercoats no8 whose shot went passed him and went just wide when it looked like going into the net. In 57 minutes, Westphal cleared a Cullercoats corner and there was more pressure from them although the Stan countered when they could. In 63 minutes, a long Cullercoats shot was deflected over Ripken and hit the post when it looked like going in. Almost immediately, Cullercoats should have scored again when a blasted long range effort gave Ripken no chance but hit the side netting. In 64 minutes Carr replaced Forster and Munir moved to left back but he still created a corner a minute later. The Stan began to get back into the match and in 66 minutes Carr supplied Harper whose shot was deflected for a Westphal corner. From it, an eventual long shot was mispunched by the keeper but Jones then some how shot wide in front of an empty net. There was now lots of action and Ripken came out to catch a high shot in 70 minutes and he then had to work hard to block another Cullercoats move. He blocked the resulting corner but then a Cullercoats long range effort went just wide. It was more like football tennis now as the ball went back and forward but the move that changed things came in 73 minutes after Ripken had to block again. A Stan attack saw Westphal supply Kevin Carr whose great 20 yards low drive went into the net to make it 1-0 to the Stan.
The closest came for Cullercoats in 86 minutes when a counter attack saw the ball go across the goal but no one was able to hit it when it should have been put in the net. The Stan then countered and Da Costa shot just wide after the ref played advantage when Harper was brought down. Cullercoats then shot well over from outside the box before their keeper had to come out to clear. There was a tense 3 minutes of added time but there was to be no extra time as the Stan held onto their 1-0 lead. The 2nd half had been a more even affair with Cullercoats getting more of the ball but once the Stan went ahead they worked hard to make sure that they won particularly through good defensive work.
This was the Stan’s 8th match of the competition, with them winning 7 of them, so credit has to go to manager Russell Ward and his coaches and squad not just for the final win but for all their performances over the cup campaign and the development in their skills and performances during this time. The Stan were presented with the trophy and medals which created a great end to the season for the club.
Stan: Ripken; Dunne; Forster (Carr 64 (Y)); Anjos; Harris; Riley; Walker (Da Costa 74); Jones (Bruce 84); Harper; Westphal (Y); Munir. Sub unused: Wear; Uweru