Monday, 16 July 2012

Grimsby Borough v Shirebrook Town Tuesday 1st May 2012 Wilkinson Sword Trophy Final

So the season had ended with both Borough's first team and reserves having reached a Cup Final. The first team were up first with their Wilkinson Sword Trophy Final being held at Parkgate's Roundwood Pavillion ground. I came here last season, and you can read the report of that visit here. Mrs Reynard does a bit of glory hunting and accompanies me to the game. As we sit in the car eating our tea the rain starts to come down harder and it is not looking good for many action pictures tonight. A bus arrives carrying the Shirebrook team and supporters and it's looking like we will be well outnumbered by the opposition fans tonight. It's then the turn of the Boro players and management to arrive. It's a bit of a worry as several senior players appear to be missing and there only appears to be two or three subs too. We decide to head into the ground so I can have a look to see what changes have taken place at the ground since I was here last.

The first thing we notice are the signs advertising the fact that this is the home of Rotherham United's training ground.

Training Ground sign

The cherry blossom  was in bloom and made for a nice background for a picture I took before.

Cherry blossom

Once inside the ground I notice a couple of changes. On the far side of the ground a new stand has appeared.

New stand

As we make our way over there to have a look I notice that the seated area has now been finished and is totally covered.

View of the seats

We carry on to have a closer look at the new stand. It is fairly basic but will be welcome on those wet days.

Another view of the stand

I also notice that a chain has been fitted to separate the terrace from the grass bank behind where fans had stood and watched the game last time.

Chain stopping access to the bank

In case you were thinking of hopping the chain there is also a sign warning you off.

Warning sign

We decide to get a coffee and sit down and as we reach the seats there are some Shirebrook fans putting up their new flag. We have some good banter with them and here they are.

The Shirebrook boys

The match kicked off in gloomy conditions but thankfully the rain had stopped. Boro found it hard to get into their stride, with the changes in the usual lineup not helping. Shirebrook had a couple of chances but wasted them. They did not waste the opportunity presented to them on 35 minutes. A simple back pass was cleared straight to Danny Naylor who returned it with interest and he delicately chipped it over the keepers head from about 25 yards out. This was the only goal of the half and Boro went in 1-0 down at half time.

Boro on the attack

The second half saw Boro hit further problems when David Unsworth was sent off for a second bookable offence. This was starting to look like it would not be Boro's night and the management team adopted a 4-4-1 formation to steady the ship and this proved successful as they held out against Shirebrook. They then made the change that turned the game. Luke Fanthorpe was moved up front to play alongside the hard working Ricky Creer. The new formation had Shirebrook on the backfoot and Boro fans started to believe an equaliser was possible. Several chances were squandered but on 83 minutes the leveller came.

Luke Fanthorpe goes forward

A ball from Boro's keeper was headed on by Ricky Creer and Luke Fanthorpe collected, turned inside and fired a shot in from the edge of the box that beat the Shirebrook keeper. The players and fans went bananas. It was all Boro now and Shirebrook had no answer to the sweeping movement of the Boro movement and Boro sensed a victory was on. One chance from Jack Richardson looked to be going in but just fizzed past the post. Boro then hit the top of the bar when Pottsy chipped the ball into the box deep into stoppage time. The whistle blows for full time and we are into extra time.
I have to say that I was just happy to have the chance of extra time and most of the small band of Boro fans were now happy whatever the final result.

From the restart Boro were straight on the attack and a cross reached Ricky Creer on the left of the box, he shot and the ball found it's way into the back of the net. Then on 95 minutes it was 3-1. Ricky Creer was fouled on the left corner edge of the box. Pottsy delivered a deep cross to the far post where a brilliant run From Luke Fanthorpes saw him get in front of the defender to volley in from about a foot out. Players and fans were in Blue heaven. To be honest, the rest of the game passed in a blur but Shirebrook were disheartened and were unable to trouble the Boro defence. The final whistle went and started wild celebrations on and off the pitch.

How big is that trophy?

The boys celebrate

"It was our best night since we've been formed in 2003," said Nigel Fanthorpe who manages the team alongside Steve Newby. To play that well with so many youngsters in the side was just awesome".

To be honest, this was one of my favourite nights in football. A big thank you to everyone at Grimsby Borough for making it such an enjoyable night.

Grimsby Borough 3-1 Shirerook Town
Att: 192
Admission: £5
Programme: £1.20